The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.Acts 9:31
And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.Act 9:32
The Final Reader’s Question for this Section
- I know you said verse 31 is section marker Ian but why and what does it mark? What does it mean?
- I thought about the impact of Saul’s conversion and the significance of that event and then came to a position on the pivotal points in Christianity: Any comment?
Notice that I have given you above the following verse (9:32). Think on what follows 9:31 before the next Gem.
So 6:8 and 9:31 mark for us a long segment in Luke’s writing between his two uses of this formula above. Notice that we have a very short bridging chapter in Chapter Six (discussed already) which also introduces seven new players. After which Luke gives us the following:
- The opposition of the Synagogue of Freedmen who make accusations against Stephen
- Stephen’s speech which counters those accusations
- Stephen’s martyrdom
- Paul is introduced as the main antagonist to Christianity
- Philip’s ministry in Samaria
- The focus on Simon and his motivation
- Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian
- Then back to Saul / Paul again
What is it that holds all this together? Clearly this pattern in the Book of Acts is important, relating to how the Church or the number of believers increased. So too is the geographic location of the action or the spread according to the pattern of Acts 1:8. Luke is helping us to see the factors which were involved. But there is also another factor involved which links the Acts 8 portion together with its surroundings and which adds another dimension. It is that factor which makes Luke’s description of the Ethiopian as both a Court Treasurer and a eunuch important. Following that we switch to Saul and his conversion, then after the section marker in 9:31, Luke takes us back to Peter again and uses his experiences in Lydda and Joppa to make a bridge to a most important part of the Book of Acts. Remember I told you that we could consider Acts to be set in geographic segments relating to the spread of the Gospel in accord with Acts 1:8. Or it could be structured according to the theme of Witness, where the focus is on the disciples and others becoming witnesses. Or alternatively all of the above.
Yes, you are right in saying Paul’s conversion is a pivotal point in Christianity. But so too is Peter’s encounter with the Cornelius and the Macedonian Call. Luke is giving us a very structured account of the development of Witnesses (after Acts 1:8), not only focusing on the growth of Witnesses, but also the geographic spread of the Gospel (after Acts 1:8). So much of the way the story is told hinges on verse 1:8. The material Luke chooses to include and the way he tells the story is highly significant as well. Nothing is a throw-away line. But we would expect that of Luke after what we saw of how he told the story of Jesus’ ministry in his Gospel.
Notice too that in what follows Luke’s story takes a major turn by going back to Peter again as a prelude to the content of Acts 10 and 11. Following which we will stay with Peter until the end of Chapter 12, apart from a brief mention of Saul in Acts 11:25-30 before turning back to Peter again for the whole of Chapter 12 until Barnabas and Saul are mentioned again at the end of the chapter. There are lots of mouth-watering, brain-teasing moments ahead before Saul becomes Paul. Acts 13:9 marks the moment where Luke’s use of Saul as a reference for Paul stops and from there after he is referred to as Paul – “Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye.” Curious, why is that?
Time now to ponder the significance of the next segment. You know what to do – pay attention to the details in the text and be prepared to ask your questions.
Meanwhile, Peter traveled from place to place, and he came down to visit the believers in the town of Lydda.
There he met a man named Aeneas, who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years.
Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Get up, and roll up your sleeping mat!” And he was healed instantly.
Then the whole population of Lydda and Sharon saw Aeneas walking around, and they turned to the Lord.
There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor.
About this time she became ill and died. Her body was washed for burial and laid in an upstairs room.
But the believers had heard that Peter was nearby at Lydda, so they sent two men to beg him, “Please come as soon as possible!”
So Peter returned with them; and as soon as he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for them.
But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, “Get up, Tabitha.” And she opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up!
He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the widows and all the believers, and he presented her to them alive.
The news spread through the whole town, and many believed in the Lord.
And Peter stayed a long time in Joppa, living with Simon, a tanner of hides.Acts 9:32-43
The best teacher is one who inspires his listener with a wish to teach himself.Ian Vail
Your life is a result of your choices. If you don’t like the life you’re living today, then it’s time to make better choices.Sidney Mohede
Some one will always be prettier, smarter n more talented than you. Yet they can never be you. Always remember to be a better you everyday.Melinawati Lioe
If you’re not sowing much, don’t expect to reap much.Lavonia Grabau
Give someone else more of you and you will experience more of God.Anon