2. The gospel spreads into Palestine, 6:1-12:25

x] Aeneas and Dorcas


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 paralysed 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."


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.


i] Context: See 6:1-7.


ii] Background:

iSigns and Wonders in Acts, 4:23-31.


iii] Structure: Aeneas and Dorcas:

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.


iv] Interpretation:

Before the book of Acts begins to focus on the gospel's move beyond Palestine 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, and the signs evident in the ministry of Jesus, but also, signs which are evident in the prophetic ministry of Elijah and Elisha (note the parallels). Note also the resultant conversions, v35 and 42.


v] Homiletics: Living and Loving

[The healing of Dorcas] The raising of Dorcas images the raising of the widow's son by Elijah in 1Kings 17:17-24, and the raising of the Shunemmite woman's son by Elisha in 2Kings 4:8-37. It is a significant sign heralding the new age of God's kingdom in the ministry of Peter and the early church, in much the same way as the raising of Jairus's daughter by Jesus heralded the coming of the kingdom. The healing of Dorcas, as with Aeneas, signalled the realisation of Israel's messianic hope of a coming kingdom where the dead find new life and the poor and widowed can rejoice in plenty. Of course, the significance of the sign is only for Jewish eyes. The miracle "becomes known all over Joppa, and many people (most probably Jews) believed in the Lord." You may remember that with Jesus' signs, people tended to be "amazed", but now they believe. When the dead are raised and the widows rejoice, then is the kingdom in our midst.

Our heritage in the Western church derives more from the Gentile mission of Paul than the Jewish mission of Peter. Although messianic signs were for the children of Israel, the evidence of the kingdom for Gentiles is still to be found in the life of the living dead and in the joy of the broken and destitute. God's people are a people set free by the Lord's transforming power; only a living God can empower new life. Only God can transform death into life, sadness into joy, carelessness into compassion.

In the post-Christian era of the secular city, creeping Marxism is slowly whittling away at the remaining elements of Christian civilisation. In the engulfing darkness, the Christian fellowship is called to be a light set on a hill, a radiant transformation of death unto life, sadness unto joy and carelessness unto compassion - a gospel proclaimed not just in word, but sign.



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.

egeneto de "-" - but/and it happened, became. Transitional, indicating a major step in the narrative; see egeneto de, 5:7. The rest of the sentence, an infinitival clause formed by the infinitive katelqein, "to come down", stands as the subject of the impersonal verb "it happened", with "Peter" serving as the accusative subject of the infinitive; "Peter, who was passing through all (travelling all over), to come down to (visit) the saints, those living in Lydda, happened." "It happened that Peter visited one place after another and eventually came to God's holy people living in Lydda", NJB.

diercomenon (diercomai) pres. part. "as [Peter] travelled" - [peter] passing through. Often treated as adverbial, temporal, as NIV, so Kellum; "During his travels among them all", Barclay. Culy argues that it is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Peter"; "Peter, who was travelling all over." Barrett suggests the word is used of a missionary journey.

pantwn adj. "[about] the country" - [through] all. The sense is obscure, but either "through the whole region", or "amongst them all (ie., all the local Christian communities)", Barclay; "many villages in Samaria", TH..

kai proV + acc. "-" - [to come down] also toward. The construction is adverbial, adjunctive + spatial, direction. The sense is a little confusing.

touV aJgiouV "the Lord's people" - the saints. "Christians", but obviously "Jewish Christians" in particular.

touV katoikountaV (katoikew) pres. part. "-" - the ones dwelling [in lydda]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "saints"; "the saints who were dwelling."


b) The healing, v33-35: When Peter arrived in Lydda, euJren, "he found" ("stumbled upon", Kellum), a paralysed man. Aeneas, paralysed for eight years (or possibly paralysed 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" - "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.

onomati (a atoV) dat. "named" - [but/and he found there a certain man] by name [aeneas]. Dative of reference / respect; "with regard to his name, Aeneas." "There he met a man named Aeneas", CEV.

h\n paralelumenoV (paraluw) perf. pas. part. "a paralytic" - [who] was had been paralysed. The perfect participle, with the imperfect verb to-be, forms a periphrastic pluperfect construction, probably serving to emphasise durative aspect; "There he found a man, Aeneas by name, who, being paralysed, had been lying helpless on his bed for eight years", Cassirer.

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

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

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


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

iatai (iaomai) pres. "heals [you]" - [aeneas, jesus christ] heals [you]. A punctiliar present tense, although a variant pointing is perfect, "has healed you."

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

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

euqewV adv. "immediately" - [and] immediately [he got up]. A typical feature of miracle stories; the healing was immediate.


The NIV shapes the verse with a focus on the pronoun oi{tineV, "who" = "these", the nominative subject of the verb "to turn"; those living in Lydda and the region of "the Sharon", namely, the coastal plain between Joppa and Caesarea.

oiJ katoikounteV (katoikew) pres. part. "[all] those who lived in" - the ones dwelling [in ludda and the sharon saw him]. The participle, modified / limited by the adjective "all", serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to see."

epestreyan (epistrefw) aor. "turned to" - [who = these] turned toward [the lord]. A conversion word. Often, throughout the gospels, crowds react with amazement to miracles, but here we have them turning to the Lord - the new age is upon us and people are deciding for the kingdom.

epi + acc. "-" - upon = to [the lord]. Spatial; a stylistic use of the preposition, given the epi prefix of the verb "to turn."


ii] The healing of Tabitha / Dorcas, v36-43. a) 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 visit them, given that a beloved member of the fellowship has fallen sick and died. She was a person greatly loved for her charitable works.

en + dat. "in [Joppa]" - [but/and] in [joppa there was a certain disciple. Local, expressing space; "living in Joppa."

onomati (a atoV) dat. "named" - in name [tabitha]. The dative is adverbial, 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, best classified as temporal; "Her Greek name was Dorcas, which means 'deer'", CEV.

plhrhV adj. "always [doing]" - [this one = she was] full. Predicate adjective. "Abounding in kindness."

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

w|n gen. pro, "-" - [she did] which. The pronoun is the direct object of the verb "to do", genitive by attraction to ergwn, "works".


Note 1 Kings 17:19.

de egeneto (ginomai) aor. "-" - but/and it happened. Transitional; here introducing the next scene as part of narrative development.

en + dat. "about [that time]" - in [those days]. Temporal use of the preposition; "during the time Peter was in the area", Peterson.

asqenhsasan (asqenew) aor. part. "[she] became sick [and died]" - [she] having become sick [to die]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the infinitive "to die"; "she to become sick and to die" = "she became ill and died", ESV. The infinitive apoqanein, "to die", and its attendant participle "having become sick", and its accusative subject "she", serve as the subject of the impersonal verb "it happened"; "she becoming ill and died happened in those days" = "It so happened that she fell ill and died at that time", Cassirer.

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

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


oushV (eimi) "[Lydda] was .... so" - [but/and, lydda] being [near to joppa]. The genitive participle of the verb to-be and its genitive subject "Lydda" form a genitive absolute construction which is probably causal, "Since Lydda was near Joppa", Barclay. Often egguV, "near to", will take a genitive, but here with the dative, "near to Joppa", BAGD 1b.

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

oJti "that" - that [peter is in it]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what they heard, namely "Peter is in it (Lydda)."

parakalounteV (parakalew) pres. part. "urged" - [they sent two men toward him] 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 shrink from = hesitate = delay. A negated hortatory subjunctive.

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

eJwV "-" - until = to [us]. Expressing extent up to, here spatial; "please come to us without delay", ESV.


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 has made for them, in fact, they are probably wearing some of the clothing. Peter asks them to leave and raises Dorcas from the dead, using much the same language that Jesus used when he raised Jairus' 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 is actually Peter's profession and that fishing is a sideline. Both healings are Christ-like and so authenticate Peter's apostolic ministry.

anastaV (anisthmi) aor. part. "-" - [but/and] having arisen. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to go together with"; "Peter rose and went with them." Possibly expressing haste, "straight away, Peter went with them", CEV.

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

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

autw/ dat. pro. "[stood around] him" - [and all the widows stood by] him. Dative of direct object after the para prefix verb "to stand beside."

klaiousai (klaiw) pres. part. "crying" - crying, weeping [and showing tunics and garments]. As with epideiknumenai, "showing", the participle is adverbial, best taken as 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]" - [as many as dorcas was making] being [with them]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV. The preposition meta, "with", expresses association, "with them."


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!), but also of Elisha's healing of the dead boy.

ekbalwn (ekballw) aor. part. "[Peter] sent them [all] out" - [but/and peter] having cast out [outside everyone, and having put upon = fallen upon the knees, he prayed]. The two participles, "having put out" and "having put upon = fallen upon", may simply be taken as attendant on the verb "to pray", but often treated as adverbial, temporal; "Then Peter put them out of the room, knelt down and prayed", Williams. Barrett suggests that the use of the masculine pantaV, "everyone", indicates that there were men in the room along with the women. .

epistreyaV (epistrefw) aor. part. "turning" - [and] having turned [toward the body he said, tabitha, get up, and she opened the eyes of her]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "said", "he turned ...... and said", but often treated as adverbial, temporal, "Then he turned to the body of Dorcas and said", CEV.

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


Helping her to her feet, Peter presents her to the believers with the same words used of Jesus' resurrection appearance in 1:3.

douV (didwmi) aor. part. "he took" - [but/and] having given. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to raise up" (help her to her feet)", as NIV, but possibly adverbial, temporal, "On giving her his hand, he helped her to her feet."

auth/ dat. pro. "her" - [the = his hand] to her. Dative of indirect object.

fwnhsaV (fwnew) aor. part. "[then] he called" - [but/and] having called [the saints and the widows]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, "After calling the widows and other believers into the room ...."

zwsan (zaw) pres. part. "alive" - [he presented her] living, alive. The participle serves as the accusative complement of the direct object "her" standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the object "her"; "he presented (verb) her (object) living (complement)" - See Wallace 182.


Again, rather than amazement, belief is the response of the general population to the miracle - a kingdom realised! Their belief is not in Peter the wonder-worker, but in the Lord, God's anointed risen-one.

kaq (kata) + gen. "all over [Joppa]" - [but/and it became known] down from, throughout [whole, all joppa]. Here with a distributive sense, "throughout".

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


It is unclear whether Luke is making a point here, or just relating tradition, given that tanning is regarded by the Pharisees as an unclean profession. The issue of ritual cleanliness sparks the conflict between Paul and Peter when Peter withdraws from his unclean Gentile brothers in Antioch, cf., Gal.2:11ff.

egeneto de "-" - but/and it happened. Transitional; see 5:7.

meinai (menw) aor. inf. "he remained" - [Peter] to abide, remain, continue [in joppa sufficient = many days]. The accusative 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


Exegetical Commentaries


[Pumpkin Cottage]