Peter Escapes from Prison
For scripture, objectives, and background - see above.
- Write the names of the characters on individual slips of paper.
- lace in a basket.
- Digital Camera
- Copy of script (for older age group -- teacher will serve as narrator for younger age group)
- Signs for each scene -- see below
- Adventures with Peter storybook (from previous rotations)
- Copy the script for the older age group.
- Make signs for each scene (The Church is persecuted, Peter is thrown into prison, Escape, Mary's House, The Next Morning)
Early Arrival Activity:
As children arrive, have them choose a slip of paper for their role in the skit. Next have them select costumes and props.
Welcome the children and take time for introductions. Tell the children that today you will be learning about another of Peter's adventures -- when was thrown into prison and saved by an angel!
Please open with prayer. “Dear God, Thank you for this day and for the amazing stories in the Bible that teach us about you. AMEN.”
Important Teacher Notes:
Each workshop includes the Bible story. One of our primary goals is to improve the children’s Bible literacy! If children did not bring their Bibles from home, use the classroom Bibles. Shepherds should help the children locate the stories. Use the handout “Helping Children Learn to Use their Bibles” and the Background Information to help you introduce the story.
Remember that as the rotation progresses; the children will become more familiar with the story. When this happens, allow the children to tell you what they know. The children should still locate the story in their Bibles every week. Use the bold headings in their Bibles to guide your discussion. You may want to review some of the Bible notes as well. Be sure to fill in any missing information and add additional details using the Background Information to help you. One of the greatest advantages of this model is that children who come regularly learn the story in great depth.
Each lesson contains more Background Information and discussion questions than can be used in one session. Remember, children are studying this story for four weeks! Be sure to follow the time guidelines and leave ample time for the activity.
Introduce the Story:
Last month we learned that God sent the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles, the non-Jewish people. A soldier named Cornelius became a believer and the church spread to many more people.
This month we will learn about a very sad time for the early church. The Jewish religious leaders were not happy about the followers of Jesus. They did not believe that Jesus was truly the Son of God and they tried to stop the believers from worshiping and telling others about Jesus. Peter had already been in prison once (with John after healing the lame man), but now things are much worse. Let's see what happens….
Bible Study - Grades 1-3
Ask: Where in the Bible would we find a story about Peter and the early church? (Acts, New Testament)
Pass out The Picture Bible to each pair of children. Help them locate page 711. Read "Angel - Open Gate" on pages 711-713. (The Picture Bible is written in comic book form. The pictures should help the children visualize the story.)
Next help them find "An Angel Helps Peter Escape from Prison" on page 377-378 of the Little Kids' Adventure Bible. Read and discuss:
Did you know: How did Peter escape from prison? Page 377
Bible Study - Grades 4-6
Ask: Where in the Bible would we find a story about Peter and the early church? (Acts, New Testament)
Today’s story is found in the book of Acts. Acts is the only book of history in the New Testament.
Have the children locate Acts 12: Peter's Miraculous Escape from Prison in their Bibles. Assign volunteers to read as the other children follow along in their Bibles:
Review the following Bible note with the children:
Did you Know? How did Peter escape from prison? Page 1214
- What happened to the apostle James? (he was killed by Herod)
- What did King Herod do to Peter? (put him in prison, planned to kill him)
- What did the believers do when Peter was in prison? (prayed)
- How was Peter guarded? (16 soldiers, two chained to him)
- What happened in the middle of the night? (angel came and set Peter free)
- Where did Peter go? (Mary's house, where people were gathered praying)
- What happened when Peter knocked on the door? (Rhoda answered, left him outside)
- Why do you think Rhoda didn't let Peter in?
- Why do you think the people didn't believe Rhoda? (didn't think it could be true, thought she was imagining things)
- How do you think Peter felt being left outside?
- What are the six types of prayer? (praise, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, petition, listening)
- What types of prayers do you think Peter prayed while in prison?
- What types of prayers do you think the believers prayed when Peter was in prison? After he was released?
- Why do you think the people in the church felt the need to pray?
- How do you think they learned that God answers prayers?
- Do you believe that God hears and answers all our prayers?
- How did God answer the prayers of the church while Peter was in prison?
- How have you experienced God answering your prayers?
- Why does God not always answer our prayers the way we want?
- Have you experienced a sudden answer to prayer?
- Have you experienced a time when God's answer was "wait?"
- When was a time you suffered for doing the right thing?
- How can we respond when we suffer unjustly?
- When do you pray?
- What makes it easier for you to pray? Harder?
- How has prayer changed you?
- What have you learned about God from this story?
Each rotation we encourage the children to memorize the Rotation Memory Verse. Review it with the children at this time. Children will be recognized at the conclusion of each rotation for memorizing these verses. Children with their own Bibles should highlight the verse using the Bible highlighters provided. Please do not mark in the classroom Bibles.
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
Tell the children that Peter wrote two books in the New Testament, 1 and 2 Peter. These letters were written toward the end of Peter's life during a time of very intense persecution of Christians.
What does it mean to cast our anxieties on him?
Why do you think Peter wrote this?
How did God care for Peter?
How does God care for us?
(Older children might be interested in hearing the rest of Peter's story. See background information for additional details.)
Eventually Peter was killed. He was crucified (after being forced to watch his own wife be crucified first). Tradition says Peter asked to be crucified upside down as he didn't feel worthy to die in the same way Jesus had.
Drama - Prison Break!
Narrator, Peter, King Herod, Rhoda, Believers, Prison Guards.
Costumes: basic biblical costumes, angel costume and soldier's costumes
Peter - chains
King Herod - crown
Guards - swords, helmets
Black foam core board cut to resemble prison bars
- Quickly assign parts and get into costume.
- Children who do not wish to have speaking parts can move props and hold signs.
- Read through the script pausing to allow children to act it out. The script follows the text of Acts 12 very closely. Feel free to pause for discussion or to answer questions. The goal is deeper understanding of the story, not a polished performance.
- At the end of each scene, pause and take a still photograph that includes the prepared Scene Sign for the Adventures with Peter storybook.
Option for Younger Children:
Narrate the entire script allowing the children to act out in between the narration. Encourage them to repeat some of the shorter lines in the script.
The last 10 minutes should be reserved for Journal and Reflection time. This is an opportunity for processing and reflection about what the children have learned. Ask the shepherds to pass out the journals and pencils/pens and the journal sticker for the day. (Note: Journal questions are color-coded for each age group – purple for 1-3 and blue for 4-6.) Workshop leaders and shepherds should sit down with children in small groups to facilitate discussion and writing in Faith Journals. Memory verse stickers are also included for each lesson. Children may also copy the memory verse and illustrate.
Grades 1-3: Draw a picture of Peter in prison.
Grades 4-6: What did you learn about God from this story?
Encourage the children to come back next week for another workshop, and to invite their friends. Remind the children of one word or concept from today’s session. Faith, prayer, trust, trials, persecution, angels are some possibilities. Ask for prayer requests and pray together.
Help Shepherd collect Journals and nametags and put away. Gather all the props and costumes and put them away. Please turn off air conditioner and turn out lights before leaving classroom.
Release children only to parents, older siblings, or by prior arrangement with parents.
After your rotation is completed, please:
- Remember to return all supplies to the storage areas in the classroom or the supply closet in the hallway. Please help us keep our rooms neat!
- Do you have suggestions on how to improve our lessons? Email Jaymie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Return un-used journal questions and lesson materials (you may leave them in the classroom).
- If you need to be reimbursed, turn in your receipts to DCE office.
- Thanks for being part of our G.R.E.A.T. Adventure Team!
- Let us know if you would like to teach again or check the yearly schedule posted at the top of the stairs and sign up for the Rotation and workshop of your choice.
Script: Prison Break!
Scene 1: The Church is Persecuted, Death of James
Narrator: It was about this time that the church and followers of Jesus began to be persecuted. The Jewish leaders hated the believers and did everything they could to stop them. Now there was also at this time an evil king, called Herod Agrippa. He wanted the Jewish leaders to like him. What better way to become popular with the Jewish leaders than to arrest and persecute the Christians!
King Herod: Arrest and kill the apostle James with your sword.
Narrator: And just as Herod ordered, it was done. James, the brother of John, was killed. The believers felt terrible as you can imagine. How could something so terrible happen to James? But through their sadness, they continued to meet together, to worship God and to pray.
Not everyone was sad about James' death. The Jewish leaders were happy to see him gone. And King Herod was happy that the Jewish leaders were happy. He was getting more popular by the minute! If killing James made him popular, what would happen if he had Peter killed? After all, Peter was the leader of the church! Killing Peter would definitely make King Herod VERY popular with the Jewish leaders. But he also knew that it was Passover, the time of a very special feast for the Jews. The Jewish leaders would be angry if a killing took place at Passover. He would have to wait until after Passover.
Scene 2: Peter is Thrown into Prison
King Herod: Arrest Peter! Put him in prison!
Soldiers: Yes Sir! (walk off stage and drag Peter onto stage and into "prison")
Narrator: King Herod assigned four sets of guards to Peter. Two guards stayed inside the cell with him, chained on either side of him. Two were outside. The sets of guards rotated their watch. King Herod wanted to make sure Peter didn't escape!
(Soldiers chained to Peter and sitting on stage floor)
Narrator: Now the church was very upset about the news. They began praying very hard to God for Peter. They continued to pray….
The night before Peter's trial, while Peter was sleeping between the two guards suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a bright light shone in the darkness.
(Angel stands beside Peter and guards. Turn on spotlight.)
The angel touched Peter on the side and woke him up.
Angel: Peter, quick! Get up!
Narrator: Peter obeyed the angel. He stood up and the chains fell away.
(Peter stands up and the chains fall away. Rubs eyes as if trying to wake up.)
Angel: Quick! Get dressed and follow me.
(Peter puts cloak on himself and follows angel out of prison)
Scene 3: Escape!
Narrator: Amazingly, the two guards who were chained to Peter didn't wake up. The guards outside the cell didn't notice anything either. Peter and the angel walked right past them! Peter did not know what was really happening. He thought he must be dreaming.
Peter: This must be a dream… like the dream I had of the sheet with animals before.
(Peter and angel link arms and pretend to walk away)
Narrator: Peter and the angel walked out of the prison past the guards. They came to the iron gate that led to the city. It opened up for them and they passed through. They walked down one more street and suddenly the angel was gone.
Then Peter realized that he was not dreaming after all! God had sent the angel to save him!
Peter: Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel to rescue me! Praise God!
(Peter looks around for angel, then raises his hands to praise God)
Narrator: Peter hurried to Mary's house, where he knew the people would be gathered praying.
Scene 4: Mary's House
Narrator: Peter arrived at the house and knocked at the outer door. A girl named Rhoda heard the knock and came to answer the door.
(Believers kneeling on stage praying hard. Peter knocks on side of prop box and calls out in a loud voice)
Peter: It's me, Peter. Let me in.
Narrator: Rhoda recognized Peter's voice and she was overjoyed to hear him….but instead of opening the door to let him in, she ran back to the group.
(Rhoda moves to side of stage by prop box, holds hand to ear as if listening, then acts excited and runs back to church people who are still praying)
Rhoda: Peter is at the door!
Narrator: But the people did not believe Rhoda. They thought she was crazy!
Believers: What! You must be out of your mind!
Rhoda: No, really! It's true! Peter is at the door! I heard him. I would know his voice anywhere!
Believers: It must be his angel.
Narrator: But Peter kept knocking. Finally they opened the door and saw him. They were astonished!
(People act surprised, hugging Peter and bring him in to the center stage)
Peter: God sent an angel to rescue me. He filled my prison cell with bright light and the chains fell right off me. Then we walked right out of the prison and no one stopped us!
Scene 5: The next morning…
Narrator: Now the next morning, there was a huge commotion! The soldiers could not believe that Peter was gone!
Soldiers: How can this be? We were chained to him! It's impossible that he escaped.
Narrator: Herod was furious. He ordered a search for Peter but no one could find him. He was so angry, he ordered all the guards to be executed!
But the believers rejoiced that God had saved Peter. And they continued to worship God and to pray prayers of thanksgiving and praise!
A lesson from State Street UMC,
A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.