Jesus' apostles, though beaten by the Sanhedrin for preaching the gospel, were nevertheless undeterred from fulfilling their calling. They not only rejoiced at being worthy to suffer for the truth, they also continued preaching in the many house churches in Jerusalem.
Then they departed from the presence of the Sanhedrin (who met in Jerusalem), rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and in the houses, they did not cease teaching and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 5:41 - 42, HBFV).
These home fellowships immediately sprung up after Pentecost in 30 A.D. when God began to pour out his Spirit among the people (Acts 2:46).
Persecution in the home
A great wave of persecution, the first to affect the entire church, swept through Jerusalem after the martyrdom of Stephen. Leading the onslaught was a young man named Saul whose zeal to uphold the teachings of the Pharisees was unmatched among his peers (Galatians 1:13 - 14).
Saul was willing to do whatever it took to destroy those who believed Jesus was the promised Messiah. He thought nothing of surprising Jewish converts in their Jerusalem homes and offering them the stark choice of either blaspheming against Jesus or be sent to prison.
But Saul was ravaging the church, going from house to house, entering in and dragging out men and women, and delivering them up to prison (Acts 8:3 see also 26:10 - 11).
An unbelievable miracle
Herod Agrippa I, in the spring of 44 A.D., murders the Apostle James and has Peter arrested (Acts 12:1 - 3). While he is in prison the many house churches in Jerusalem fervently pray for God to intervene. God answers their prayers by sending an angel to set Peter free so that he can continue to spread the gospel!
Peter, after being miraculously freed, travels to the home of Mary, the mother of the gospel writer John Mark. Her home, one of many house churches in Jerusalem, is full of people praying for the apostle.
And as he (Peter) was pondering this (his release), he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was surnamed Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying (Acts 12:12).
Peter's appearance at Mary's Jerusalem home so shocks the house church that it takes a bit of convincing for them to accept their prayers were answered in such a powerful manner (verses 13 - 16)!