lesson
20

Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

The disabled and dead arise
Acts 9:32-43

warm up
Which of the following would you like people to say about you at your funeral?
          [ ] that stingy rascal? [ ] what a generous person?
How should we live if we expect to leave a fitting epitaph? 
wise up
  

    Because the churches had rest (Vs 31), Peter was free to travel as he pleased throughout the various "quarters" of Judea, Galilee and Samaria (Vs 32.) The church multiplied during this time of peace and those who were already Christians were edified or strengthened in their faith. Two examples of the kind of miracles that created or increased faith are found in this study.

I. The disabled walk: Vs. 32-35
   1. At the city of Lydda, Peter found a man named Aeneas who had been bed ridden for eight long years. The length of his illness would leave no doubt that a miracle had occurred.

    2. Who did Peter give credit to for the miracle? Was the man partially or completely healed? How do you know? Of the following reasons, why do you think Peter told this man to "make his bed?" 

[ ] Peter did not like a messy room with unmade beds. 
[ ] The man's bed was probably in the way. 
[ ] The bed was no longer needed because the man was well.                                 
[ ] This would be final proof of the man's restored health. [  ] Other.

II. The dead arise: Vs. 36-41
    1.
In the nearby community of Joppa (a sea coast town near Lydda) a disciple named Tabitha had become sick and died. Which of the following was true about this woman:

[ ] She and Dorcas were sisters.
[ ] She and Dorcas were mother and daughter. 
[ ] She was a kind and generous woman. 
[ ] She was a seamstress. 
[ ] No one liked this woman.

    2. Tabitha is the Hebrew name of this woman while Dorcas was her Greek name. (Her English name would have been "Gazelle.")
    3. Discuss what it means to be "full of good works and alms or charitable deeds." What were some specific things that Tabitha had done for the widows in the community? From the way that the widows grieved, do you suspect that Tabitha's generosity was rare in those days? Did widows back then have social security or welfare benefits? Do you think their poverty made them more appreciative of what Tabitha had done? Do you think people appreciate charity as much as they use to? Often churches, groups or organizations may be noted for their collective charity but how often are individuals remembered for the charitable generosity that they personally extend to others? Do you think people like Tabitha are still rare even in an affluent society like ours today? Why?
    4. Discuss some ways that women today can use their talents to help those who are needy.  For example: How can a generous woman today use her cooking skills, business skills or hospitality? How can she use the telephone, mailbox, computer, etc, to make life a little better for those who are hurting or in need? If you were to teach a ladies class called a "Tabitha class," what  would you teach women to do?
    5. This story gives us a peek into the way that the deceased were prepared for burial in those days. (See. Vs 37-39.) When her body was prepared for burial, the brethren sent for Peter who was in the nearby city of Lydda. He was asked not to delay. (Vs. 38.) In the hot climate, her body would begin to decay rapidly and would need to be buried. The fact that Peter was asked to come quickly implies that he was expected to speak or at least be at the funeral to comfort and counsel the living. If they expected him to raise her from the dead there would not have been a need to hurry.  Imagine the surprise the widows and friends experienced when Peter presented her alive! Luke doesn't even begin to try to record the reaction of those who witnessed this miracle. Obviously, the sobbing in the upper chamber was silenced and turned into joy and praise. But that doesn't compare to the joy and celebration that will occur on the final day when all who are in their graves shall rise! 

III. The doubtful believe: Vs. 35, 42-43
   1. In Verse 35, we learn that after the disabled man regained his health, this miracle had a profound effect upon all who lived in the communities of  Lydda and Saron. What did those who saw this man do?

    2. In Verse 42-43, this amazing miracle was published throughout the city and the result was evangelistic. Luke states that, "Many believed in the Lord." Like the previous miracle by Peter, it was Jesus that was credited and praised.

wrap up

   1.  Sometimes we wonder why sickness comes upon good people and why good people like Tabitha prematurely die. In this life we may never understand all the reasons. But perhaps these things are reminders to all of us of our mortality and the brevity of life. And reminders that we should be trying to make the most of the time we have doing good for others and serving God. We are all going on a trip. Some of us may not have much time to prepare. It is urgent to prepare and remain prepared.

Assignment

  Please read Acts 10:1-8 for next week    copyright 2001