Acts

9:32-43

2. The gospel reaches into Judea and Samaria, 6:1-12:25

x] Aeneas and Dorcas

Synopsis

Luke's story swings back from Saul to Peter as he recounts Peter's travels from Samaria back to Jerusalem along the Judean plain. Luke records two significant healings undertaken by Peter: First, Aeneas, a paralyzed man living in Lydda; Second, Dorcas, a woman living in Joppa and renowned for her "good works and charity", but who has "become ill and died."

 
Teaching

Peter's messianic miracles authenticate his apostolic ministry, and thus the authority by which he will include the Gentile Cornelius in the way, which inclusion, by implication, authenticates Paul's Gentile ministry.

 
Issues

i] Context: See 6:1-7.

 

ii] Structure: This passage, Aeneas and Dorcas, presents as follows:

The healing of Aeneas, v32-35;

Setting, v32;

The healing, v33-35;

The healing of Tabitha / Dorcas, v36-43:

Setting, v36-38;

The healing, v39-43.

 

iii] Interpretation:

Before the book of Acts begins to focus on the gospel's move beyond Samaria and Paul's part in that move, Luke outlines Peter's ministry among the Jews of Judea, and in particular, his part in the inclusion of Gentiles in the way, 10:1-11:18. Peter is visiting existing Jewish Christian communities and has yet to confront the issue of Gentile conversions. In the passage before us Luke records two significant healings by Peter. For Luke, the stories indirectly serve to authenticate Paul's Gentile ministry, of the gospel's move from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. The miracles Peter performs are Christ-like / messianic, and as such they authenticate his gospel ministry, and thus the authority by which he includes the Gentile Cornelius in the way. The radical inclusion of Gentiles in the way is not down to Paul the interloper, but rather down to one of the most respected of apostles - a man whose miracles align with that of Jesus.

Luke gives us a detailed description of the two healings, probably to maintain continuity between messianic signs which are evident in the early church, evident in the ministry of Jesus and also in the prophetic ministry of Elijah and Elisha. Note the parallels. Note also the resultant conversions, v35 and 42.

 

iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

 
Text - 9:32

Peter performs two healings on his way to Caesarea, v32-43: i] The healing of Aeneas, v32-35. a) Setting, v32: Luke now records Peter's itinerant ministry in Judea. Lydda is the Old Testament town of Lod, and obviously there is a community of believers in the village, possibly converts of Philip's evangelistic preaching.

diercomenon (diercomai) pres. part. "as [Peter] traveled" - passing. The participle is probably temporal, "during his travels amongst them all", Barclay. Barrett suggests the word is used of a missionary journey.

egeneto Petron (oV) acc. "Peter" - it happened Peter [to come down]. "Peter" is the subject of the infinitive katelqein, "to come down", in an accusative infinitive construction forming a infinitival clause, the subject of "happened", untranslated in the NIV. "It happened that Peter visited one place after another and eventually came to God's holy people living in Lydda", NJB.

dia + gen. "about" - through (in time or place).

pantwn adj. "the country" - all. The sense is obscure, but probably "through the whole region" rather than "amongst them all (ie. Peter passed through all the local Christian communities)", Barclay.

kai proV - [to come down] also to. The sense is a little confusing.

touV aJgiouV "the saints" - "Christians", but probably "Jewish Christians" in particular.

katoikountaV (katoikew) pres. part. "-" - dwelling [in Lydda]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, "who were dwelling."

 
v33

b) The healing, v33-35: Aeneas, paralyzed for eight years (or possibly paralyzed since he was eight years old), is healed with a word of authority and told to "take care of" his "mat" - in plain English, "get up and make your bed" (or possibly, "get up, set your table and get yourself something to eat." Luke often notes the need of nourishment for the sick). News of the healing spreads, opening the gospel to other scattered Jewish communities.

euJren (euJriskw) "he found" - "Found" in the sense of "there he met", CEV.

onomati (a atoV) dat. "named" - [a certain man] by name [Aeneas]. Dative of reference / respect; "with regard to his name, Aeneas."

h\n paralelumenoV (paraluw) perf. pas. part. "a paralytic" - [who] had been paralyzed. The participle is possibly adjectival, predicative, "he was a paralytic", as NIV, or taken with the imperfect of the verb to-be forms a periphrastic pluperfect; "There he found a man, Aeneas by name, who, being paralyzed, had been lying helpless on his bed for eight years", Cassirer.

katakeimenon (katakeimai) pres. part. "who had been bedridden" - laying. The participle is adjectival, attributive, modifying/limiting man/Aeneas.

epi + gen. "-" - upon, on [a mat, bed]. Spacial.

ex (ek) + gen. "for [eight years]" - out of, from [years eight]. This preposition, when used of time, expresses duration, "for", as NIV, rather than "from the age of eight."

 
v34

autw/ dat. pro. "[Peter said] to him" - Dative of indirect object.

iatai (iaomai) pres. "[Jesus Christ] heals [you]" - An aorist (punctiliar) present tense, although a variant pointing is perfect, "has healed you."

anasthqi kai strwson "get up and take care of [your] mat / roll up [your] mat" - get up and spread/arrange/furnish. The object of the imperative verb "spread" is not supplied and so we have to guess. The NIV sentence is virtually meaningless. The words could mean either "get up and make your bed", REB, in the sense that he will no longer need it, or "lay a table for yourself (for something to eat)", Beggs.

seautw/ dat. ref. pro. "your [mat]" - Dative of interest, advantage; "for yourself."

euqewV adv. "immediately" - A typical feature of miracle stories; the healing was immediate.

 
v35

oiJ katoikounteV (katoikew) pres. part. "[all] those who lived in" - the ones dwelling. The participle serves as a substantive.

epestreyan (epistrefw) aor. "turned to [the Lord]" - turned toward [the Lord]. A conversion word. Again, it is typical of miracle stories to note the response of the crowd.

epi + acc. "-" - to, toward. Spacial, although redundant due to the prefix, epi, used with the verb strefw.

 
v36

ii] The healing of Tabitha / Dorcas, v36-43. b) Setting, v36-38: Joppa is on the Judean coast, a Hellenistic town. Tabitha, Aramaic with the Greek translation, Dorcas, means "an animal of the deer family", eg. a Gazelle. The Christian community at Joppa (modern Jaffa), north west of Lydda on the Mediterranean cost, hears about the healing of Aeneas and sends a delegation of two men (delegations tend to be made up of two men) to see whether Peter can come and heal one of their number. Dorcas had fallen sick and died. She was a person greatly loved for her charitable works.

en + dat. "in [Joppa]" - Expressing space/sphere; "living in Joppa."

onomati (a atoV) dat. "named" - Dative of reference/respect; "with respect to her name."

diermhneuomenh (diermhneuw) pres. part. "[which] when translated [is Dorcas] / in Greek her name [is Dorcas]" - [which] being translated [means Dorcas]. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal, as NIV, or less definitive; "which may be translated Dorcas, or Gazelle", Moffatt.

plhrhV adj. "always [doing]" - full. "Abounding in kindness."

ergwn (on) gen. "doing [good]" - of [good] works. The genitive is adjectival, of content, expressing what she was full of, namely, "voluntary acts of love", Calvin.

 
v37

Note 1 Kings 17:19.

de egeneto (ginomai) aor. "-" - and it happened. Maintaining the movement of the story.

en taiV hJmeraiV ekeinaiV "about that time" - in those days. Temporal construction; "during the time Peter was in the area", Peterson.

asqenhsasan (asqenew) aor. part. "[she] became sick" - having become sick. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verbal aspect of the aorist infinitive apoqanein, "to die", which, with the accusative authn, "her", forms an accusative infinitive construction, the accusative "her (this one)" being the subject of the infinitive, with the whole clause serving as the subject of the verb egeneto, "it became / happened"; "she becoming ill and died happened in those days" = "but she became ill and died", CEV.

lousanteV (luw) aor. part. "her body was washed" - having washed. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "they put", as NIV, or adverbial, temporal; "after they washed here body ...", Moffatt. Anointing was usually also practiced, although this is not mentioned.

uJperw/w/ (on) "[in] an upstairs room" - an upper room. Possibly a Christian meeting place, or an appropriate place to store a dead body.

 
v38

oushV (eimi) "[Lydda] was .... so" - Genitive absolute of the verb to-be, probably forming a causal clause, "since Lydda was near Joppa", Barclay.

egguV adv. "near" - This is one of a small number of improper prepositions found in the New Testament, here functioning as an adverb. Usually followed by a genitive, but here by the dative Iopph/, "Joppa"; "near Joppa."

akousanteV (akouw) aor. part. "when [the disciples] heard" - having heard. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal; "the disciples, when they heard that Peter was near, sent two men."

oJti "that" - Introducing dependent statement of perception expressing what they heard, namely "Peter is in it (Lydda)."

parakalounteV (parakalew) pres. part. "urged" - calling, summoning, asking, requesting, exhorting. The participle is adverbial, probably expressing purpose, "in order to ask him." Possibly "urged", but this is reading a bit into it. Also, the "please come at once!" is a bit strong. The Greek reads "do not delay to come to us", but this is just a polite way of saying "please come to us."

mh oknhshV (oknew) aor. subj. "please [come] at once!" - do not hesitate [to come]. A negated hortatory subjunctive forming a negative command.

dielqein (diercomai) aor. inf. "come" - to come. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the main verb "hesitate".

 
v39

b) The healing, v39-43: Following the custom of the time, Dorcas is laid out in an upper room and ministered to by mourning friends and relatives. When Peter arrives he finds that she is surrounded by many of the widows she had helped over the years. They proudly show off the clothing Dorcas had made for them, in fact, they are probably wearing the clothing. Peter asks them to leave and raises Dorcas from the dead using much the same words as Jesus used in raising Jairus's daughter - "Talitha qumi" for Peter's "Tabitha qumi." Her eyes open and she sits up. Peter then presents her to the widows, along with the other Jewish believers ("the saints"). The miraculous sign prompts many citizens of Joppa to put their trust in Jesus. Peter stays on in the town, living with Simon the tanner. His religious scruples are obviously fading, given that tanning is by no means a ritually clean profession. It has been suggested that tanning was actually Peter's profession and that fishing was a sideline. Both healings are Christ-like and so authenticate Peter's apostolic ministry.

anastaV (anisthmi) aor. part. "-" - having arisen. The participle is adverbial, consecutive expressing result; "so Peter rose and went with them", ESV. Possibly expressing haste, "straight away, Peter went with them", CEV.

autoiV dat. pro. "[went with] them" - Dative of direct object after a sun prefix verb.

paragenomenon (paraginomai) aor. part. "when he arrived" - [who] having arrived. The participle is usually treated as adverbial, forming a temporal clause, as NIV. None-the-less, the presence of the accusative relative pronoun o{n, obviously serving as the object of the verb anhgagon, "they brought up", may indicate that the participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting him who is taken to the upper room; "they brought up to the upper room, him (namely Peter) who had just arrived."

autw/ dat. pro. "[stood around] him" - [stood by] him. Dative of direct object after a para prefix verb.

klaiousai (klaiw) pres. part. "crying" - crying, weeping. As with epideiknumenai, "showing", the participle is modal, expressing the manner in which the action of the verb "stood around" is accomplished. The middle voice used for "showing" possibly indicates that the widows are showing off the gifts by actually wearing them, or possibly the middle voice is expressing something like "showing with pride."

ousa (eimi) "while she was still [with them]" - being. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal, as NIV.

 
v40

Parallels continue with Jesus' healing of the daughter of Jairus, Mark 5:40, 41, (note how the parallels are closer to Mark's account than Luke's account!) and Elisha's healing of the dead boy.

ekbalwn (ekballw) aor. part. "[Peter] sent them [all] out" - having cast out. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal; "then Peter put them out of the room", Williams.

pantaV adj. "all" - Barrett suggests that the use of the masculine indicates that there were men in the room along with the women.

qeiV (tiqhmi) aor. part. "then he got down on his [knees]" - having placed, fallen [the knees]. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal as NIV; "then he knelt down in prayer", Moffatt .

epistreyaV (epistrefw) aor. part. "turning" - turning [to the body]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "said"; "turning ..... he said" = "he turned ...... and said."

idousa (eidon) aor. part. "seeing" - seeing. The participle is again adverbial, probably temporal; "when she saw Peter she sat up", Williams.

 
v41

douV (didwmi) aor. part. "he took [her by the hand]" - having given [to her a hand]. The participle is probably attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the verb "raised up (helped her to her feet)", as NIV.

fwnhsaV (fwnew) aor. part. "then he called" - having called. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal, as NIV.

zwsan (zaw) pres. part. "alive" - [he presented her] living. The participle serves as an object complement, the complement in a double accusative object complement construction, in which construction, "her", the object of the verb "presented", and the object's complement, "alive", is in the accusative case; "he presented (verb) her (object) living (complement)." See Wallace 182.

 
v42

kaq (kata) + gen. "all over [Joppa]" - down from, throughout. Here with a special sense, "throughout".

epi "[believed] in [the Lord]" - upon. This preposition, followed by the accusative, takes the sense of movement onto something. "Believe in" is certainly commonly used in English, but the sense is "came to rely on." Note the other common preposition used of belief in Jesus: eiV, movement toward, "believe into" and en, static inclusion in, "belief in."

 
v43

meinai (menw) aor. inf. "he remained" - to remain, continue. The subject of the infinitive, namely "Peter", is assumed. The infinitive forms an infinitival clause which functions as the subject of the verb egeneto, "it happened"; "abiding in Joppa with a certain Simon a tanner happened" = "so it came about that Peter stayed ...", Williams.

para + dat. "with [a tanner named Simon]" - with [a certain Simon a Tanner]. Here expressing association; "with".

 

Acts Introduction

Exposition

 

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