By Ken R. Speakman
Member, Tulip Grove Baptist Church, Old Hickory
As we continue our study of Acts 9, we find Peter performing two miracles – he heals Aeneas and raises Dorcas from the dead. During the events of Saul’s conversion, Peter has been engaged in an itinerant ministry with John (Acts 8:25), and finds himself visiting the believers in Lydda, a city close to Jerusalem. It’s possible this area had been evangelized by converts at Pentecost, or by believers who had been scattered during the great persecution. Philip could have ministered there when leaving the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:40).
Before we can fully understand and apply our text, we must have a clear understanding concerning the special gifts given to the apostles by the Lord Jesus. Healing and raising a person from the dead will both happen in Acts 9. In Matthew, chapter 10:5-9, the apostles were given these specific gifts. The Lord Jesus raised people from the dead as did Peter and Paul. Obviously, the Lord would not have commanded them to do these miraculous things without giving them the power to do them.
These supernatural gifts were used to prove the apostles were indeed commissioned by God to reveal His new plan of salvation by faith. After the church had the completed Scriptures, miraculous events were not needed. In Galatians 1:6-9, Paul explicitly relates these certain gifts with the office of an apostle. We do not have apostles today since the Scripture tells us a true apostle had to see the resurrected Christ and had to have been personally taught by Him. Paul defends himself as an apostle and relates these miraculous gifts with the office of apostle (II Corinthians 12:11-12).
Christ and the apostles did not heal simply because people were sick. Why? There were many they did not heal because they were surrounded by sick and impoverished people. They did not do this because sickness and death are the result of the fall of man. To remove sickness and death from mankind would overturn the consequences of sin. There was a purpose in what Jesus and the apostles did. The miracles of healing were for a sign to the people that God was instituting a new era that we call grace. I am not saying that God never miraculously heals. He does! I am not suggesting we do not pray for healing today. We do!
Peter heals a man in Lydda named Aeneas who has been in bed eight years sick with the palsy. He told this man that Christ Jesus has made him whole. Aeneas got up immediately. As a result the towns of Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord (vv. 32-35).
In verses 36-43 Peter is summoned to the nearby village of Joppa. A much loved believer has just died. The church has a great loss. Was it a deacon … a gifted teacher? No! It was a much loved woman who was a seamstress. “She sewed this for me.” Peter emptied the room, prayed, and told Tabitha to get up. Then he called in the believers and they saw her alive. The news spread throughout the area and many believed as a result of this miracle.