About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church.2 He killed James the brother of John with the sword, 3 and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread.
The rest of this chapter describes Peter’s rescue from prison and how he was spared from impending death. The question that arises from these circumstances, is why did James have to die and Peter was spared? In reality we can’t answer this question this side of eternity. What we can know for sure is that even in the death of James God had a purpose. The evil perpetrated against James, and even Peter, was not random or without purpose, but it was meant to be used to glorify God. God often decrees the use of evil to advance his redemptive work. Think of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers – they meant it for evil, God meant it for good. More importantly God ordained the use of evil that brought about the death of his Son. Why? For his glory and your good – that is for your salvation. Knowing that God uses evil for his glory we can come to the same conclusion here, that James was killed and Peter was spared for his glory.