Bible Study (Acts 9:36-10:8) – Wednesday February 28, 2024

While Peter was in Lydda, Luke introduces a disciple in Acts 9:36 named Tabitha who lived in Joppa. Tabitha (translated as Dorcas in Greek) wonderfully embodied the commands of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, continually doing good to and for others in the Christian community in Joppa. Quite unexpectedly, Tabitha became severely ill and died shortly afterwards. Her body was partially prepared for burial; but once the Christians heard that Peter was a 3-hour walk away in Lydda, they urgently sent 2 men to plead with Peter to come back with them to Joppa right away. Peter immediately returned to Joppa with the men. Upon reaching Joppa, Peter was escorted to the upper room where Tabitha’s washed body lay. A great number of widows whom Tabitha had ministered to wept with grief and showed Peter various clothing that Tabitha had kindly made for them. What a pillar Tabitha was within this Christian community!

Peter then sent everyone out of the room, and he fell to his knees in prayer, asking God for guidance and wisdom. Having demonstrated his submission to God and his complete dependence upon Him, Peter turned towards her dead body and commanded Tabitha to arise. Through the strength and authority of Jesus, Tabitha suddenly had her life restored, and she opened her eyes. After sitting up and seeing Peter, Peter helped her to her feet, summoned the mourners, and presented Tabitha to them ALIVE. What a joyous occasion and what a demonstration of the resurrection power of the exalted Christ! News of such a miracle spread very quickly, and the news of this event caused many to believe on Jesus as Lord.

After such a wonderful life-restoring divine miracle, Peter continued to live in Joppa, residing with Simon, a tanner. And it was while Peter stayed in the house of a man whose trade was despised by the Jews as a distasteful, unclean, ritually impure occupation … that Luke shifts his narrative to another man living about 30 miles from Joppa in Caesarea. This other man named Cornelius lived in Caesarea. This Roman centurion who was part of the Italian Cohort had rejected the gods of the military and the gods of Rome, and instead demonstrated a fear of God along with his extended household, gave money generously the poor within the Jewish community, and followed the Jewish practice of praying 3 times a day.

One day as Cornelius was praying at 3pm, a set time for afternoon prayers, an angel was sent by God to Cornelius who suddenly appeared to him in a vision and called him by name. Awestruck by such an experience, Cornelius responded, “What is it, Lord?” The angel informed Cornelius that God had regarded his prayers and almsgiving as equivalent to the sacrifice of a Jew at the temple. Cornelius had appropriately responded according to the light of general revelation had had received, and God would soon give him the full revelation of Jesus Christ. Despite such devoutness in trying to follow after the Jewish religion, Cornelius still needed to hear the proclamation of the gospel.

The angel then instructed Cornelius, a Gentile, to send messengers to Joppa to find Simon Peter, a Jew, at the house of Simon Tanner. No further instructions are recorded here by Luke, and then the angel departed. Cornelius immediately obeyed the angel’s command and gathered 2 trusted household servants and 1 pious Roman soldier as a protective escort. He explained everything that had transpired with the angel, leaving nothing out and then sent these 3 men to Joppa to seek out Simon Peter. The narrative would next resume in Joppa.

You can listen to this teaching on Acts 9:36-10:8 by clicking on the following link: From Death to Life – What About the Gentiles?