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The Scriptorium

Aeneas and Dorcas

Pointing to the scope of the Gospel. Acts 9.32-43

What’s in a Name? (6)

Pray Psalm 95.1, 2, 6.
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms…
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

Sing Psalm 95.1, 2, 6.
(Tidings: O Zion, Haste, Thy Mission High Fulfilling)
Come, let us sing with joy to God, our Savior!
Let us with joy to Him, our Rock, bow down!
Come now before Him, grateful for His favor;
let joyful psalms break forth from all around.
Refrain v. 6
Come let us worship, kneel to our Lord;
worship our Maker: Father, Holy Spirit, Word.

Read Acts 9.1-43; meditate on verses 32-43.

Preparation
1. Which apostle returns to center stage in these verses?

2. What does he do?

Meditation
Before we become too swept up in the ministry of Saul of Tarsus, Luke returns us to the Gospel’s roots – Peter, the Rock. In Lydda Peter “found” (was he looking for him?) a man who had been paralyzed for eight years (vv. 32, 33). There must have been many such people in Roman Judea at this time. Why this man, Luke? Peter preached the Gospel to him, and he was made well (v. 34). The response in Lydda and Sharon was not unlike what we saw in Jerusalem and Samaria (v. 35).

“Aeneas” is not a Jewish name. It was, with slight modification, a Roman name. Peter ministering to a Gentile? More than that, Aeneas was the name of the refugee from Troy who supposedly founded the city of Rome! Whoa, Luke! What are you trying to say? Are you suggesting Rome is going to hear the Gospel? Maybe be transformed by the Gospel?

The death of Dorcas was a great loss to her community in Joppa (vv. 36, 37). She was a woman of many good works and good gifts, who created and bestowed delightful artifacts of culture on appreciative friends. For now, she lay dead, her body being made ready for burial. Peter prayed, then called the woman to arise (v. 40). And she did.

The raising of Dorcas has predicable results: more believers added to the Lord (vv. 41, 42). Dorcas and Tabitha both mean “gazelle.” We wonder why Luke chose to include this story. A “gazelle” who is a maker of lovely cultural artifacts, a doer of many good works, lies dead; the Word of the Gospel restores her to life, and awakening breaks out in Joppa. Is Luke suggesting that the Gospel brings restoration to creation and culture? That this is part of the ongoing work of Christ?

The Gospel was breaking out all over the place, saving multitudes, healing many, restoring the world, sowing hope, bristling with power, making all things new, and aiming at farther horizons still.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Good works are always so good. So nice. So satisfying. But unless the good works have a point, they have no real purpose.

In Lydda and Joppa the point of the good works had eternal consequences: “So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw [Aeneas healed] and turned to the Lord” (Acts 9.35).

And in Joppa the same result: “And [Tabitha’s restored life] became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord” (Acts 9.42).

As Jesus taught His disciples: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5.16). On point.

Paul adds this reminder as we do our good works: “…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” (Phil. 2.13-16).

Peter’s faithful good works gave healing to Aeneas and Dorcas; and they gave eternal hope to those who observed. Good works done in Jesus’ Name are always a blessing.

Out in the highways and byways of life, Many are weary and sad;
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife, Making the sorrowing glad.
Make me a blessing, make me a blessing,
Out of my life may Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone to today.

(Wilson, 1909/Schuler,1924)

For reflection

1. What opportunities for doing good are before you in your Personal Mission Field today?

2. How do today’s verses stretch your vision of the Gospel and its impact?

3. Being a witness for Jesus (Acts 1.8) involves good works and true words. Explain.

Power went along with the word, and Dorcas came to life. Thus in the raising of dead souls to spiritual life, the first sign of life is the opening of the eyes of the mind. Here we see that the Lord can make up every loss; that he overrules every event for the good of those who trust in him, and for the glory of his name. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 9.36-43

Pray Psalm 95.3-11.
Pray that the Good News of God’s salvation will ring out from His people over all the earth, and that multitudes will hear, believe, and be saved.

Sing Psalm 95.3-11.
(Tidings: O Zion, Haste, Thy Mission High Fulfilling)
Great are You, Lord, a King above all nations.
All of earth’s depths lie hidden in Your hand.
Yours are the mountains, Yours the sea, You made it;
You by Your hands created the dry land.
Refrain v. 6
Come let us worship, kneel to our Lord;
worship our Maker: Father, Holy Spirit, Word.

You are our God, we are Your sheep, Your people:
Speak, Lord, and let us hearken to Your Word.
Let not our hearts grow hard through sin, and feeble,
as when our fathers sinned against You, Lord.
Refrain

Long years You loathed that wicked generation,
who in their hearts, rebelled against Your path.
Them You forsook, and kept from Your salvation;
them You subjected to Your fearsome wrath.
Refrain

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

Have you mapped out your Personal Mission Field? Watch this brief video, then download the worksheet and get started. Our monthly Personal Mission Field Workshop is chock-full of helpful suggestions for doing the ongoing work of Christ day by day.

If you find Scriptorium helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this daily ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal or Anedot, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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