Some mormon statue at the state Capitol, Utah.
Monday, 22 August 2022
And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Acts 9:38
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In the previous verse, Tabitha is said to have died. With that remembered, Luke next records, “And since Lydda was near Joppa.” The verb is a present participle, “And Lydda being near Joppa.” Luke is describing the narrative as if it is ongoing. Understanding that, he continues with, “and the disciples had heard that Peter was there.” Again, the verbs are present tense, “and the disciples having heard that Peter is there.”
Tabitha has died, it is understood that Peter is in Lydda and Lydda is not that far away. Luke is weaving his words together to join his reader in the narrative as it continues. The sadness of the situation, the loss that has been experienced, and the immediate pressing nature of the situation is highlighted by the use of his words.
Because of this state, Luke next records, “they sent two men to him.” Many scholars tie in the coming internment with the urgency of the request while, at the same time, denying that Peter was being called for the purpose of a hoped-for miracle. In other words, an example of the reasoning is that Peter’s presence was needed “to comfort those that were concerned in the great loss of so good a woman” (Matthew Poole).
If this was the case, it would hardly matter if Tabitha was buried or not. Comfort can be provided if a body is above ground or in the grave. It is obvious that they have hope that Peter can, in fact, appeal to the Lord for a miracle. It would make no sense to rush Peter to Joppa unless this was the possible outcome. But the next words give just that sense of urgency, saying they were “imploring him not to delay in coming to them.”
The verse ahead will clearly show that Tabitha was not someone Peter knew well, if at all. And yet, he is being summoned to come quickly. However, just a few verses ago, it said –
“And Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.’ Then he arose immediately. 35 So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.” Acts 9:34, 35
The word had gone out all around the surrounding area that Peter had accomplished this miracle. It was understood from Jesus’ ministry that He had not only healed but that He had also raised the dead. The anticipation is that Jesus, through the apostleship of Peter, might again perform such a miracle.
Life application: Luke’s words are meticulously recorded to show an ongoing narrative, one thing often leading to the next. This is certainly the case here. The final note concerning the healing of Aeneas going out in a great manner was provided for just this reason, meaning it was intended to lead into the next section of the narrative.
Likewise, if you come to the end of this passage about Tabitha and look it over, you will see a connection to the next section. This is not uncommon in Scripture and such clues show that what is being detailed is not a haphazardly recorded account, but a purposeful compilation intended to lead us through the narrative to a more perfect understanding of what God has done in order to establish His church.
Pay attention to such cues because they will help provide a clearer sense of why things are occurring at the times they occur. Acts is a vital part of God’s word, even if it is not prescribing things for us to do. It is showing us that God’s hand was with His church as it began, and thus we can know that His hand continues with His church today.
The miracles, for example, helped establish a sense of surety within the church until the word was written. Those same miracles can provide us with the exact same sense of surety now that the word has been received.
Lord God, we can look to the wonderful things You have done for Your people in the past as are recorded in Your word. Now, we can have faith that what is provided there is true and reliable, and we can have confidence in the future concerning Your guiding hand being with us. Thank You for the surety Your word provides us as we continue forward in time, awaiting the fulfillment of all the things it promises are yet ahead. Amen.