Reference: Acts 12:13-16
Heart of the Story: When Peter knocked on the door where Christians assembled, Rhoda was so excited to tell the others that Peter was free that she forgot to let him inside.
Story Line: About 10 years after the death of Christ, King Herod Agrippa 1 had the apostle James beheaded and put Peter in prison. Agrippa planned on putting Peter on trial. The night before the public trial, an angel appeared in Peter’s cell. Without disturbing the guards, the angel woke Peter. The chains fell off Peter’s hands and the angel led Peter out of prison. On the street the angel left Peter. Then, it dawned on Peter that he wasn’t having a dream; he was really free! Peter’s first thought was to go to Mary’s home.
Mary was the mother of John Mark and an early believer in Christ. Her home was a gathering place for church members. Members were there that night praying for Peter’s release. Probably they were holding an all-night prayer meeting. Losing another church leader, particularly one of Peter’s stature, would have devastated the new church.
Mary’s home was fairly spacious. The house had an outer courtyard door which faced the street. The door was without a window or peep hole; it was only opened when someone inside the home recognized the knocker’s voice. When Peter knocked on the outer door, Rhoda, a servant girl, answered the door. More than likely, she asked, “Who’s there.” Rhoda wasn’t about to open the door in the middle of the night! When Peter identified himself, Rhoda recognized his voice. In her joy, Rhoda forgot to open the door. Instead she ran back to the praying group and said, “Peter is at the door!”
Although the church was praying for Peter’s release, they told her, “You’re out of your mind.” When Rhoda insisted that Peter was at the door, the members declared that it wasn’t Peter but his angel. The early church believed that everyone has a personal angel who ministered to them (Hebrews 1:14). Peter kept on knocking at the outer door and eventually someone opened it. When the members saw Peter, they were astonished.
Analysis of the Story: Rhoda was a servant in Mary’s household. She was called a girl, therefore about 10-12 years old. Because she was assigned to opening the outer door of the house, she was conscientious and sensible. Rhoda could discern who to let in and who to contact the owner before admitting.
Rhoda knew Peter’s voice. In the early church, slaves and/or servants worshiped jointly with owners and other free men. She heard Peter preach and pray. Probably Rhoda even had direct conversations with Peter. Rhoda was so excited that Peter was free that she wanted everyone in Mary’s house to know. Likely Peter understood that it was Rhoda’s joy that caused her to leave him exposed outside the door. In his own way, Peter was just as excited and stunned by his release as Rhoda.
Although young and probably lacking in worldly experience, Rhoda believed that God answered prayers. She had no problem believing that Peter, not his ministering angel, was at the door. She persisted in telling the church that Peter was there.
Conclusion: Rhoda exemplified Christ’s words that followers needed childlike faith. Often children believe in the outcome of prayer while adults spend time pondering reasons God won’t answer them.
If you want to learn more about the important roles that servants played in the Bible, go to my website Carolyn Roth Ministry (http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com). Check out my Store where I sell copies of Lesser Known Bible Characters. In the book there is an entire chapter devoted to Servants/Slaves in the Bible.
Copyright February 23, 2015; Carolyn A. Roth. All rights Reserved.