At the beginning of Acts 12, Herod arrests Peter and puts him in jail during the Passover festival (12:3-4). Just as the first Passover in Egypt led to Israel’s liberation from slavery, God replicates that initial Passover night when an angel releases Peter from prison. The disciple’s individual Passover and exodus underscore the continued presence of the God of Israel with the first Jewish followers of Jesus.

While Peter sleeps in prison, an angel of the Lord appears during the night, and tells him, “Gird yourself (ζῶσαι; zosai) and bind on (ὑπόδησαι; hupódesai) your sandals” (Acts 12:8). The angel’s directions to Peter on this night echo God’s words to the Hebrews on the night they eat the Passover lamb: “Thus you shall eat it with your belt girded around (περιεζωσμέναι; periezosménai), and your sandals (or “bindings,” ὑποδήματα; hupodémata) on your feet” (Exodus 12:11 LXX). These similar instructions to Israel and Peter both precede a miraculous release from bondage. More, when Peter and the angel come to the boundary of the prison grounds, a gate of “iron” (σιδηροῦς; siderous) opens for them and they escape into the city (Acts 12:10). Luke’s attention to gate’s metal recalls Israel’s liberation from Egypt, the “furnace of iron (σιδήρεος; sidéreos)” (cf. Deut 4:20; Jer 11:4 LXX).

Alongside these similarities, there is also a striking difference between the two Passovers. In order to liberate the Hebrews from slavery, God slays the firstborn: “I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike (πατάσσω; patásso) all the firstborn of Egypt” (Exodus 12:12). In Acts, instead of striking Peter’s captors, God’s messenger strikes Peter to enact his exodus: “The angel of the Lord… struck (πατάσσω; patásso) Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly!’ And the chains fell off his hands” (Acts 12:7). Whereas God had once passed over the homes in which the Hebrews slept, the angel enters a sleeping Peter’s cell and strikes him! Though the “striking” of Peter is nowhere near as severe as the divine strike against Egypt, Luke’s use of Exodus language reruns the original Passover event and reminds us that the God of Exodus guides the early Jesus movement.

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

35 COMMENTS

  1. I find connections between Old and New Testaments fascinating. This is one (probably among many) that I have missed. Thank you. I will give it deeper study.

    • Thank you for reading, Jim. Yes, there are many connections between Israel’s Scriptures and the New Testament — many, indeed, that I am yet to see. All the best in your continued studies.

  2. I never thought about it in that context but once again it shows the mightyness and mercy od ADONAI. GLORIOUS ARE HIS WORKS

  3. We have kept the Passover and Annual Holydays as outlined in the gospels for years but this year started questioning whether or not as Jesus did. I specifically noticed it was after supper He added the wine and unleavened bread and the foot washing. John13:2 seems to indicate 2 ceremonies

    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Jewish Gospel of Matthew and The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!

  4. This is a good WORD of encouragement for me as I am imprisoned with paralysis on the left side of my body for nine years waiting on the LORD to fulfill his prophetic promise to release me from my confinement. Amen all things are possible with those who have faith

    • IN
      May the Lord strike you like he did to Peter and let the chains break and fall off in Jesus' name. Amen. I proclaim liberty and healing in the authority given by Christ.

      It was really wonderful to read this explanation(revelation). God has repeated miracles in a unique way. Tnx for this article.

    • AU
      god can do wonders ibrahim your mid however isnot paralysed use it to the fullest praising god write all you can and nurture ad nourish others minds live in hope

      live in hope ibrahim god can work miracles use the talents you have to praise god

  5. I stand amazed. No surprise. God repeats repeats and repeats so that we might just get how great His love is for us. Old and new supporting g each other. Wow

    • Thanks for reading, Alice. Yes, repetition (what some scholars call “recapitulation”) is a key feature of Scripture.

  6. Mat 13:52 Then He said to them, Therefore every scribe who is instructed to the kingdom of Heaven is like a man who is a householder, who brings out things new and old out of his treasure.
    Wonderful!!!!

  7. Dr eli-lizorkin-eyzenberg, I enjoy your articles very much although I feel that I must present my reservations with the way you present certain things. You lways refer to the Jewish God and the Jewish Jesus or Yeshua. Why not just God or Jesus? After all this is why Jesus came.

    • John, we are glad that you enjoy the articles. In response to your question, (1) Dr. Lizorkin-Eyzenberg is not the author of the above post; (2) the terms “Jewish God,” “Jewish Jesus,” or “Yeshua” do not appear above — it’s just “Jesus” in this article; (3) Jesus is a Jew and his God is the God of Israel (as opposed to a god of another Ancient Near Eastern nation), so it’s appropriate to refer to them as such; (4) IBC approaches Scripture from a Judaic perspective and seeks to highlight Jesus in his Jewish context, so using “Yeshua” can aid in this endeavor; (5) Jesus did not come to humanity so that we could use an English translation of his name or forget his ethnicity (cf. Rom 1:3; Heb 7:14; Rev 5:5).

  8. Awesome insight of word of God.
    This reminds me of Jesus Christ giving a parable about mending an old cloth on the new one and putting new wine into an old wine skin, that’s what I have come to understand the word of God.

  9. Hi Dr Nicholas, great article. Lev 23:5-6, makes a clear distinction between Pesachand days of unleavened bread. According to the Bible, Herod detains Peter during Chag HaMatzot (many days), but intended to release him after the Passover seder service (1 day). Maybe I shouldn’t focus too much on terminology.

    • Thanks for reading, Thandu. There’s not as clear a distinction as Leviticus might make it seem. Compare Exodus 12:11-20. By the first century, the “Days of Unleavened Bread” was another name for Passover (the weeklong feast), and that’s how Luke uses the terms.

    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Jewish Gospel of Matthew and The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!

  10. I believe there are no similarities at all. the event of peter’s release is purely specific to that moment that event and has no other relevance. i guess if jewish scholars could rewrite the bible disproving the divinity of Jesus they would
    milroy martyn

  11. I am overwhelmed with the parallel of 3000. When Moses came down from Sinai with the Torah and the Israelites had broken the covenant, 3000 people died as a result. Then when the Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost, 3000 new Jewish believers were saved!

Leave a Reply to denise smith Cancel reply

Please enter your name here
Words left: 50
Please enter your comment!