Online Bible Commentary
It’s Not Over Until God Says it’s Over
Acts 9:36 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. 37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 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. 39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put 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 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. 43 So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner. (NKJV)
The Apostle Saul, later known as Paul, has fled to Tarsus for a few years because the Jews in Jerusalem tried to murder him. The Lord had spoken to him in the temple that he should go far away to minister to the Gentiles because the Jews would not accept his ministry (Acts 22:17-31). The apostles then took him to Cesarea where he boarded a ship for his hometown of Tarsus, located in what is now southern Turkey.
With Saul out of the picture for now, the focus turns to Peter as he carries the gospel through Judea. First, Peter traveled northwest from Jerusalem to Lydda and brought many to Christ when the Lord healed Aeneas, who had been paralyzed and unable to walk.
The next stop for Peter would be Joppa, located about nine miles northwest of Lydda. Joppa was a major seacoast town on the Mediterrenean, and the port for Jerusalem. It is now known as Jaffa and its Hebrew name is Yafo. It is now combined with Tel Aviv.
“At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas”, in the Greek (v. 36a). Tabitha is an Aramaic word which means “female gazelle.” Dorcas was a woman who “was full of good works and charitable deeds” (v. 36b). She was a disciple known for making clothing for the poor.
Dorcas “became sick and died” and the body was laid “in an upper room” for viewing (v. 37). The disciples had heard that Peter was nearby in Lydda and sent for him (v. 38).
When Peter arrived in the upper room “all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them” (v. 39). “Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed” (v. 40a). “Turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up” (v. 40b).
“Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive” (v. 41). As this miracle became known throughout Joppa “many believed on the Lord” (v. 42).
Peter then stayed on “many days” in Joppa as he had work to do with evangelism and discipleship (v. 43a). While in Joppa he stayed in the home of “Simon, a tanner” (v. 43b). Tanners were considered to be ceremonially unclean by the Jews because they handled dead animals but, as a Christian, Peter was no longer bound by the Jewish law.
Dorcas’ death and subsequent healing brought many to Christ. And Dorcas continued on. She continued to serve the Lord with her life.
So, even in death, the Lord had a plan for Dorcas. He was not finished with her. He had more in store for her. His plan for her was not yet finished. It’s not over until God says it’s over.