Acts 9:32-43

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 28, 1997

Introduction

Weíve seen how a persecution arose against the early church through a young man named Saul. When the Christians were scattered, one of them, Philip the evangelist, went north to Samaria where many were brought to the Lord. During that time Peter and John were sent to Samaria to check things out, and after praying with the Samaritans to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they headed back to Jerusalem.

Weíve also seen how Jesus met this young Saul on the road to Damascus, and Saul has now become a believer.

We now go back to look a little more at the ministry of Peter, who has been in Jerusalem.

:32-35 Peter heals Aeneas

:32 as Peter passed throughout all quarters,

Apparently, Peter now has a traveling ministry.

:32 he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.

Lydda Ė a little town about 24 miles northwest of Jerusalem, down in the plain. It is the present city of Lod.

We mentioned earlier that the reason there are Christians in Lydda may have been due to the fact that Philip the evangelist had passed through there earlier (Acts 8:40)

:33 Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years

Literally, he had been lying in bed for eight straight years.

:33 was sick of the palsy.

sick of the palsy Ė paraluo Ė (paralysis), to have a weak limb, to be paralyzed.

:34 Jesus Christ maketh thee whole

Literally, "Jesus Christ heals you"

I like this, Peter is making it very clear who is doing the healing here. Itís Jesus.

Lesson:

Giving Jesus the credit.

We are to be doing all that we do in Jesusí name.

Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Part of what this means is to be doing it as Jesusí representatives, to be "standing in" for Jesus. And that means that when we do a good job, people ought to be giving the credit to Jesus, not us.

Jesus said,

Mat 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. {15} Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. {16} Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

The focus of these verses is not just letting people see our good works, but that people would see our good works in such a way that the credit all goes to God and not to us.

:34 arise, and make thy bed

make thy bed Ė stronnumi Ė to spread; furnish; to spread with couches or divans

Lesson:

Make your bed. J

The man hasnít made his bed in eight years.

Now I know what youíre thinking. Kids, you canít use the Aeneas excuse to not make your bed. You canít say "Mom, Iím paralyzed and I canít make my bed". J

If you do, your mom can reply, "Aeneas, Jesus heals you, arise and make your bed!"

You might reply to her, "But youíre not the apostle Peter", to which your mother may just as well reply, "And youíre no Aeneas!". So donít even try to use this argument to get out of making your bed.

In fact, on behalf of mothers everywhere (you can pay me later), I must note that the first thing Peter commands Aeneas to do after standing up, is to make his bed. So there. Make your bed.

For those of you wanting to do further study on the Biblical principle of making your bed, read John 5, where you will read that Jesus said,

(John 5:8 KJV) Ö Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

And you will also observe that Jesus even commanded the man to make his bed on the Sabbath, thereby refuting the claims of those who say they cannot make their bed on Saturday lest they break the Sabbath law.

So, one last time. Make your bed.

:34 And he arose immediately.

Note that it doesnít say he made his bed. But then on the other hand, it doesnít say that he didnít make his bed.

arose Ė anistemi Ė to cause to rise up, raise up; to raise up from the dead

Last week, as we looked at another aspect of the Christmas story, we looked at a prophecy of the old man Simeon over the baby Jesus Ė

(Luke 2:34 KJV) And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

Though the word "rising again" can refer to a resurrection from the dead, it can simply mean to get up, or to rise up from a low place.

Here we see Aeneas rising up from his bed at the name of Jesus Christ.

:35 And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron

Saron = Sharon. The coastal plain extending along the Mediterranean Sea for 50 miles from Joppa to Mt. Carmel.

:35 saw him, and turned to the Lord.

Of course, the thing that influenced people was not whether or not the man made his bed, but that a man paralyzed for eight years had been healed!

:36-43 Peter raises Dorcas

:36 Now there was at Joppa

Joppa Ė this was the seaport for Jerusalem, 35 miles northwest of Jerusalem. Today it is known as Jaffa, a suburb or Tel Aviv. Joppa is also famous for being the city where Jonah got on board a ship heading for Tarshish as he ran from Godís will.

:36 a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas

Apparently "Tabitha" was the womanís name in Aramaic, while "Dorcas" was the Greek version of her name. Before you get all weird about the "dorky" name, understand that both the Greek and Aramaic names mean "gazelle", an animal associated with beauty.

:36 this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.

almsdeeds Ė eleemosune Ė mercy, pity; doing things that show mercy; it comes from eleos, "mercy", which is showing kindness towards those who are miserable and afflicted.

(Micah 6:8 KJV) He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Dorcas was a gal who loved mercy so much, she filled her life with deeds of mercy.

:37 she was sick, and died

This happens. Even to good people.

:37 whom when they had washed

This was a Jewish custom, to wash a dead body, anointing it with spices, then burying it.

:38 forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa

Joppa is only about 11 miles northwest from Lydda.

:38 to come to them

Iím kind of curious at what they expected Peter to do. Could it be that they expected him to raise Tabitha from the dead? Or were they just wanting Peter to perform a funeral?

:39 all the widows stood by him weeping

weeping Ė klaio Ė to mourn, weep, lament. This isnít the full "wailing" that happens in the middle east, but this is more like the crying of a hurt child.

Why are the widows weeping? It seems likely that these are some of the people that Dorcas helped with her good deeds and mercies.

:39 and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made

This is a very touching, tender scene, as these women who loved Dorcas so much are showing Peter all the things she used to do, crying as they share with him.

Lesson:

Love and faith are action words.

Sometimes we get the idea that loving someone simply means sitting back and having "warm fuzzies" in our hearts for them. Yet in truth, Godís kind of love is very, very action oriented.

(1 Cor 13:4 NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud

The word translated "kind" means "doing good things for others". Our supreme example is the fact that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16).

Saying you have faith is the same. You canít always sit around and claim to be trusting God, when God has been asking you to get up and help someone.

(James 2:14-17 NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can't save anyone. {15} Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, {16} and you say, "Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well"--but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? {17} So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is no faith at all--it is dead and useless.

:40 But Peter put them all forth

The language is a little strong here, showing that Peter is taking charge and herding the ladies out of the room.

The prophet Elisha, when praying for the dead son of the Shunammite, had everyone leave the room while he prayed. (2Ki. 4:33)

Even Jesus, in certain situations, cleared a room before He would do a miracle.

Mark 5:39-43 And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. {40} And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. {41} And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. {42} And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. {43} And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.

There was no need for distractions. Peterís not here to put on a show, heís here to pray. Heís not here to pray to the people in the room, heís here to pray to God.

Lesson:

Prayer is easier without distractions.

Itís not that you canít pray in a busy place.

But sometimes your prayers can be more focused, and your time with the Lord more sweeter when there arenít distractions all around.

Put away the distractions. Turn off the TV. Get up a little earlier.

:40 and kneeled down, and prayed

As youíll see, heís not praying to the body (because he turns to speak to it later), heís praying to God. Heís praying on his knees.

Lesson:

Positions in prayer.

There are many different positions a person can be in when praying.

I find that sometimes when youíre having difficulty praying, to try doing something different.

Try getting on your knees., laying flat on your face, taking a walk.

:40 Tabitha, arise

Note that Peter doesnít tell her to make her bed.

I think itís interesting again to note that the word Peter uses for "arise" is that same word that also means "resurrection" (anistemi as in verse 34).

I think itís interesting to note that the apostles were to be witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and the three times we see Peter speaking to and healing someone, in each case he uses the same word, "arise" (anistemi), the word also translated "resurrection". (The lame man at the gate Beautiful, Acts 3:6; Aeneas, Acts 9:34; Tabitha, Acts 9:40)

:41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up

lifted her up Ė again, the word for resurrection, "rise up" (anistemi)

:42 and many believed in the Lord.

God used this tremendous miracle to bring many to faith in Jesus.

These people began to turn to the Lord for help. They began to realize that Jesus was who He claimed to be, Godís Savior for mankind.

:43 he tarried many days in Joppa

Probably preaching the gospel and teaching the new believers.

:43 Simon a tanner

A tanner was a person who took animal hides and turned them into leather. This dirty profession involved skinning dead animals, cleaning the skins of the dirt, soaking them in a "tanning" agent, stretching, and drying the skins. Sometimes the skins were put into dogís dung for dehairing.

Tanners werenít very popular guys. To deeply Pharisaical Jews, a tanner was an "unclean" person, because they always handled dead things. Keep these things in mind as we look more at how God is going to use Peter in Acts 10.

About all these miracles Ö

Ö reminds me of what is going on in India today.

The Gospel comes to Gondwana (from Gospel for Asia newsletter, Nov/Dec. 1997)

Silhouetted on the horizon and distorted by waves of heat radiating from the parched earth, the lone bicyclistís form flickered like a candle in the distance. He was the only one who dared defy the furnace-like afternoon temperatures as farmers, livestock, and even wild birds and animals sought refuge in the shade of the large Banyan trees.

Life had come to a blazing standstill in Gondwana, except for this young man on his bike.

Entering the village he quickly made his way to one particular hut. Quickly finding the two Gospel for Asia native missionaries inside, he blurted out in one breath, "In Ghanamar village, Peresthai is very seriously ill. Please you come pray for him or he may die."

Grabbing their shoulder bags full of tracts and Bibles, Gyan Singh and Teerath Singh immediately headed out the door. Mounting their bicycles, the native missionaries began the two-hour ride they hoped would bring rivers of living water to the previously barren village.

This break was an incredible answer to prayer - Gyan and Teerath had met severe opposition during several previous visits to this area. On one occasion the townspeople ran Gyan out of their village saying, "vedayse dharum prechred ko bhegave!" which means, "the preacher of the foreign religion should be sent out!"

Now as they pedaled over the broken terrain, Gyan and Teerath prayed that the Lord would go before them and open a door for the Gospel.

Though overheated and exhausted as they rode into Ghanamar, the two missionaries located the sick manís home. Pushing through the crowd that had gathered outside the hut, the missionaries went inside to pray for Peresthai. He was in bed, struggling for life and surrounded by sobbing women.

Putting everyone else outside, the two missionaries knelt beside the manís bed as he tottered at the brink of death. They poured out their hearts to God in intercession for his life - that He might heal Peresthai and give them an opportunity to share the Gospel with him.

As the missionaries prayed in faith, the man sat up and began praising God saying, "Yasu nai mughako chaunga keya!" or "Jesus has healed me!" He immediately gave his life to Christ.

Outside another commotion quickly began. Believing that this Jesus preached by the two missionaries was the living God, the villagers had rounded up their idols and were throwing them into the Narmeda River, shouting "Yesu Mashie ke Jai," or "Praise the Lord."

The Lordís answer to Gyanís and Teerathís prayers for Peresthai opened a much-needed door for the missionaries to visit the village on a regular basis and to preach the Gospel to the villagers.

Lesson:

Jesus still works the same today.

Some people would like to say that Jesus doesnít do the kinds of things today that He did back in the New Testament times. I would beg to differ. The Bible says,

(Heb 13:8 NIV) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

I think that if thereís a problem between the difference between the stories weíre reading about, and our own lives, the problem lies in us, not in whether Jesus has changed the way He works.

(Mark 9:17-30 KJV) And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; {18} And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. {19} He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. {20} And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. {21} And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. {22} And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. {23} Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. {24} And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. {25} When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. {26} And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. {27} But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. {28} And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? {29} And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

Wouldnít it have been sad if in verse 19 Jesus had answered the people, "Iím sorry, but I donít do demons anymore Ö"

Jesus seems to indicate that the problem of casting out this demon was not in His power or the Fatherís power, it was in the peopleís unbelief, including the disciplesí.

To the disciples, Jesus seems to indicate that prayer and fasting would have made them more equipped to handle this problem. Why? Because prayer and fasting strengthen a personís faith, so they arenít "unbelieving".

A call for fasting and prayer.

Iíd like to call for a fast for our church on Wednesday, Dec. 31. If youíve never fasted before, donít try jumping into something huge like a 40 day fast. Just try skipping a meal or two. Try spending some time with God in prayer. Try feeding your spirit and not just your flesh. Then come to Bible Study that night as we seek Godís face, and focus on the soon coming of our Lord Jesus.

Try taking the Prayer List and praying over the needs of those in it.

Donít be praying necessarily for God to work great miracles in our midst (though weíre not opposed to that), but for the greater goal, that God would give us souls. Pray that God would move by His Spirit to bring many to Him, especially those near to us who donít know the Lord.