THE MIRACULOUS HEALINGS OF PETER

Peter restores life to Tabitha

36 Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. 37 And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, “Do not delay in coming to us.” 39 So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. 40 But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord43 And Peter stayed many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon (Acts9:36-43)

In terms of Peter’s ministry in particular, an important aspect was the miraculous healings and as in the case of the saintly Tabitha, occasional resurrections. Actions speak louder than words and it resulted in many “believing in the Lord” (v42). That was in Joppa which since the time of Solomon was the main port of Jerusalem. The question has often been posed as to why such miraculous activity largely subsided after the death of the apostles. As is evident in this passage such events result in many being added to the local church, ensuring that a fledgling community of believers becomes an established witness in the area. However, in the Gospel of John Jesus had indicated that these more extraordinary gifts were not for the apostles alone but for all believers, and by implication, all generations:

  Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father (Jn14:12NASB).

As will hopefully become clearer later in Acts in the preaching of Paul, the miraculous activity was a particular witness to the Jews concerning the One they had had crucified. Peter and all the apostles always made it clear that what they were doing was not through their own authority or power but in the name and authority of the Messiah so many of them had rejected. And as I explained in an earlier post it was not the Jews’ role in the crucifixion per se but their rejection of the post-Ascension apostolic witness concerning it that resulted in their being usurped as sole inheritors of the Kingdom (cf. Acts13:46). This more than any other factor explains the temporary nature of such miraculous activity, not to mention the many other mysteries pertaining to the course of the history of the current age and the subversion of some earlier biblical prophecies concerning it (e.g. Is2:3-4; Zech8:23; Mt10:23; cf. Acts1:6-7; Eph3:9)