Whilst in the area, Peter is called upon to come to Joppa in which lives a disciple named Tabitha. A valued member of the Christian community there, she was full of good works and acts of charity. Tabitha, whose name in the common language of the day was Dorcas, became ill and died and Peter arrives to find her body prepared for burial (v.37).
The words of Jesus ringing in his ears (Mark 5.38-43) Peter put [everybody] outside, and knelt down and prayed. Using Jesus as his guide he said simply
“Tabitha, get up.”
(Acts 9.40, NET)
She is miraculously resuscitated and is presented to everyone as alive. There is always a method and a meaning to the miracle and the resuscitation of Tabitha (she was not resurrected to new life, simply resuscitated to her old life) drew people to the true miracle worker and many believed in the Lord.
Peter then stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner. Ritually and ceremonially unclean from their work, a tanner was forced to live at least 25 metres outside of a village or town. We see that Peter is becoming less and less concerned with ritual and ceremonial customs and traditions and more concerned with the purity that comes from a vibrant faith in the risen Lord Jesus.
If we are considering Acts as prescriptive or descriptive, is this something we should all be doing on a regular basis, resuscitating people by command? But then why wasn’t Stephen miraculously brought back to life in Acts 8.60? Contrary to what some false teachers might have you believe, miraculous resuscitation is not the mandate of all believers. If it were, nobody would ever die and nobody would ever go to be with the Lord (Philippians 1.22, 1 Thessalonians 4.16b). The Apostolic miracles recorded in Acts are just that, Apostolic. They established the new movement, they brought many to faith, they evidenced what was being presented for the very first time, they were the firework exploding to give others light by which to see and understand. Friend, it is not your role to miraculously resuscitate others by command and you’re not falling short as a believer in Jesus if you don’t.
For more on Acts as prescriptive or descriptive, check out our intro to this series here: