They Turned to the Lord
Acts 9:31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. 32 Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda. 33 There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. 34 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. (NKJV)
The New Testament church got off to a rocky start. After Jesus was crucified the apostles also feared for their lives. The apostles were harassed, threatened, and ultimately flogged by the Jewish religious leaders of the Sanhedrin. The disciple Stephen was stoned to death.
Then Saul, later named Paul, came on the scene and severely persecuted the new believers of Christ. Saul then had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and was converted. Saul, now seen as a turncoat, was met with threats and attempted murder by the Jews, resulting in him fleeing to his hometown of Tarsus, in present day Turkey. Despite the persecution, the New Testament church grew to great numbers, possibly as many as 20,000 converts, or more.
Now, with the departure of Paul, things seem to have quieted down. “The churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied” (v. 31).
Galilee was the area bordering the Sea of Galilee to the west. Samaria was south of Galilee following the Jordan River, and Judea was south of Samaria continuing along the Jordan River to the Dead Sea. This area covered much of Israel.
The church has expanded to these areas and is flourishing during this time of peace. The time is now A.D. 39 or 40, some nine or ten years after the crucifixion.
With the departure of Saul to Tarsus for a few years, the spread of the gospel focuses now on Peter. Peter advanced “through all parts of the country”, spreading the gospel, until he reached Lydda (v. 32).
Lydda was located just west of Judea, on the road from Jerusalem to Joppa. Joppa was a city northwest of Jerusalem on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Lydda was located about nine miles from Joppa and was the first town you come to when traveling from Jerusalem to Joppa.
Lydda is the Greek name, which means “strife”. It has been known as Lidd and Ludd and is now known by its Hebrew name “Lod”. It is a mixed Jewish-Arab city of about 75,000 people located 15 km. southeast of Tel Aviv.
At Lydda Peter “found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed” (v. 33). “Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed’ ”, and Aeneas “arose immediately” (v. 34).
“All who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw” this miracle and, as a result, “turned to the Lord” (v. 35). Lydda is located at the southern tip of a large plains region called “Sharon” which borders the Mediterranean Sea. Likely, Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, is not referring to the entire region of Sharon but just to the area surrounding Lydda where visitors to the city may have witnessed the miracle.
So the people saw the amazing physical change in Aeneas and came to the Lord. But Peter had to be there to give the credit to the Lord and to evangelize the people. The Lord uses it all to bring people to Himself.
The Lord continues to work in much the same way today. Now He uses spiritual healings more than physical healings. Evidence of a changed life draws people to want to know more. And then someone, like Peter, explains the reason for the changed life.
We can all be Peters. We can be the one who explains why our lives have changed since becoming Christians. All it takes is a willingness to tell others our personal testimony. Then, we also may be able to rejoice “they turned to the Lord.”
Online Bible Commentary