Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 9:36-43
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 9:36
v36: Joppa is the only natural harbor between Haifa, near the northern border of Israel, and Egypt. It’s located 35 miles from Jerusalem and historically served as the city’s seaport (D.F. Payne in The New Bible Dictionary, J. D. Douglas, ed., Eerdmans, 1971, p.654). Lydda was situated on the road which connected the two cities, about 12 miles southeast of Joppa. News had reached Joppa that Peter was in Lydda, so when a beloved member of the church died, they immediately sent two men. The messengers were young enough to walk rapidly or jog the intervening miles, but it was still at least a three to four hour journey each way.

Monday: Acts 9:36
v36 (continued): The level of faith among the believers in Joppa can be seen by their response to this woman’s death. In their minds it was genuinely possible for her to be raised to life, even though Peter would not be able to arrive for at least six to eight hours. Their confidence in him also reveals the remarkable degree of power at work in Peter’s ministry during those days. Jesus had promised His disciples that they would be able to do the same type of miraculous works which He did (Jn 14:12), and indeed here we see Peter doing exactly what we would have expected Jesus to do in this situation. The passage reads like one of the events in the gospels.

Tuesday: Acts 9:36
v36 (continued): Luke says the deceased woman’s name was “Tabitha,” an Aramaic word for “gazelle” (Greek: Dorcas), and he specifically identifies her as a disciple by using a feminine form of the word. This shows that women, as well as men, were referred to as “disciples.” He says she was “full of good works and merciful deeds,” and an example of her compassion was revealed when Peter arrived at Joppa. She must have been a skilled seamstress because “all the widows” showed Peter the clothes she had made for them. She had lovingly provided for women who had been left in poverty (v39).

Wednesday: Acts 9:37
v37: We have no idea how old she was, nor is there any indication of what may have caused her death. Luke simply says, “And it happened in those days, being weakened, she died…” His reference to “those days” seems to point to the days during which Peter was in the area, meaning something sudden and unexpected may have happened to her. Her loss was deeply felt, and the response by the church shows they did not think that her ministry (assignment from God) had been completed. This was not an anticipated passing of an elderly member, but rather the abrupt removal of a vital member of their Body. To prevent speculation about whether or not she truly died, Luke mentions the fact that they washed her corpse and placed it in an upper room. In other words, no one should look for a natural explanation for her resuscitation. The normal things that happen when people die had happened to her.

Thursday: Acts 9:38, 39
vs38-39: When the two men reached Peter, they implored him not to remain in Lydda any longer but to come to Joppa. Peter immediately stood up and went with them. As soon as he arrived, Peter was led to the upper room where the body had been laid and it was full of widows weeping for her. It’s not hard to imagine the excitement that stirred in them when Peter entered. They gathered around to show him the clothes they were wearing because Tabitha had made them. Obviously, they were trying to persuade him to do a miracle by convincing him that she was a wonderful person, and they were also communicating to him how desperately they still needed her. None of this, of course, was necessary. The Spirit led Peter to respond to their request the moment the messengers arrived or he would have stayed in Lydda.

Friday: Acts 9:40, 41
vs40-41: Peter asked everyone to wait outside and, once the room was quiet, knelt down to pray. We’re not told how long he remained there, but he took enough time to prepare himself spiritually and receive instructions as to how to proceed. He had watched Jesus minister in a situation very similar to this when He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead in Capernaum (Mk 5:21-24, 35-43). While still on his knees, when he was ready, Peter turned and spoke to the body. He said, “Tabitha, stand up!” She opened her eyes, looked at him, and then sat up. He reached out and took her hand, undoubtedly to steady her and help her up, because the miracle itself had already happened. Then Luke says he called “the saints and widows” back into the room so they could see her standing beside him. By distinguishing between “saints” and “widows” he may be indicating that this group of widows included unbelievers. Tabitha’s generosity may have extended far beyond the boundaries of the church.

Saturday: Acts 9:42, 43
v42: Word of what happened swept through the city. Again, as had been the case in Lydda, there were so many credible witnesses to this miracle that its validity simply could not be contested. Tabitha had come back to life. “And it became known throughout all Joppa and many believed upon the Lord” (literal). v43: The spiritual awakening ignited by this miracle continued long enough to require Peter to make arrangements for his own housing. There must have been a steady flow of people needing hands laid on them for the baptizing of the Holy Spirit, and to be water baptized. And, of course, they needed to be taught how to be Jesus’ disciples, and who better to do this than Peter? So he stayed there until the work was strong enough to carry on without him. The room he found was in the house of a tanner named Simon, whose trade produced terrible smells. In fact, because the type of work required constant contact with the bodies of dead animals, a tanner was almost always ceremonially unclean in the eyes of the Jewish community (Lev 11:39, 40). So for Peter to stay in such a place indicates he was already moving away from the constraints of the ceremonial laws.

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