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Acts 9:32-43 – The raising of Aeneas and Dorcus

This part of Acts continues the story of the gospel’s advance from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria – Peter visits the saints in Lydda and Joppa. There are already followers of the Way there due to Philip’s preaching after his encounter with the Samaritans and with the Ethiopian eunuch. We are given two stories of Peter performing a powerful sign that is accompanied by the gospel advancing along the seacoast of Judea.

The first is the healing of a lame man named Aeneas whom Peter commands to “rise” and he rises. The healing of the lame where they are raised from the dust in which they beg is a sign pointing to the fact that Jesus raises the dead. The second sign is Peter’s raising Tabitha, also called Dorcas, from death itself. Peter commands her also to “rise” and she rises. Again, Jesus is identified as the one who raises the dead. This theme is what binds the two stories together.

The result of Peter’s preaching is that all the residents of Lydda turned to the Lord and many in Joppa believed in the Lord.

What is also apparent in this passage is that the two signs are worded in such a way that they point to Peter as one who is continuing the acts of Jesus. The way that Aeneas is told to rise and take up his bed recalls Jesus’ raising of a lame man. Peter’s words “Tabitha koum” to Dorcus sound very similar to Jesus’ words to a little girl “Tabitha koum”. In other words, Peter must be an authentic apostle because he does the work of Jesus.

It is important to establish this about Peter because he is about to become a witness of a very surprising development in the story of the church and his credentials will be important when it comes to convincing others of this surprising turn of events. The next event is going to be the conversion of a Roman centurion – a gentile. These stories are an introduction to that story. The Jewish people healed in this passage have Greek names – Aeneas and Dorcus. Dorcus is known for her good works and acts of charity – characteristics of Cornelius as well. Peter was called to Joppa specifically to heal Dorcus but they last verse says that he stayed there with one Simon the tanner which is where the Spirit will have Cornelius send messengers to summon him.

Jesus is the sovereign Lord of the gospel’s expansion in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and ultimately to the ends of the earth. The third movement is soon to start with a preview in the story of Cornelius.