Women of the Bible - Dorcas A Woman of a Giving Heart by Kathryn Capoccia Young Adults Sunday School Class All Scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. © Copyright Kathy Capoccia 2000. This file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold. I. Introduction A. Prayer Requests B. Review of Last Week's Lesson/Verse
II. Character Profile: Dorcas, A Woman of a Giving Heart A. WHO WAS SHE? (ACT 9:36-43) "In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, 'Please come at once!' Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, 'Tabitha, get up.' She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord." 1. WHERE DID SHE LIVE? In Joppa a) A seaport 35 miles NW of Jerusalem on the Mediterranean Sea: the only natural harbor in Israel between Egypt and Ptolemais. b) It had been in the possession of Egypt until 197 BC, then Greece tit 63 BC, then Rome- in 47 BC Julius Caesar returned it to the Jews, but in 37 BC Herod the Great captured it again. c) It was one of the earliest cities to have a Christian population. Philip, the evangelist, had preached the Gospel to all the cities along the Mediterranean Sea from Ashdod (Azotus) to Caesarea, which included Joppa. His message of forgiveness recognized Gentile believers as equals with Jewish believers (see Acts ch. 8), and since he had been a deacon in the Jerusalem Church concerned with the care of the poor and widows, he undoubtedly preached this concern as well. 2. WHAT WAS HER NAME? Her name was Tabitha, in Hebrew, or Dorcas, in Greek. Both words mean "gazelle". 3. WAS SHE A BELIEVER? She is called "a disciple". a) Mathetes = one who receives instruction, a learner b) She was a follower of Christ and a member of the church at Joppa (ACT 9:38). B. WHAT DID SHE DO? 1. SHE DID "GOOD WORKS"-A BENEFACTRESS a) She was always doing good - "always" means "full"; from a word meaning to swell from a burn, i.e. bursting: she was bursting with deeds that were generous and stemmed from feelings of pity. b) She helped the poor (ACT 9:36) c) She sewed clothes (ACT 9:39) 1) robes=chiton or tunic *A tunic was the inner garment of clothing, worn next to the skin. Sewing was a difficult process; first the material had to be made (or purchased, if one had the money) then it had to be stitched together - all of which had to be done laboriously by hand. The whole endeavor was slow and tedious. 2) other clothing=himation or outer garment, a mantle, cloak *Cloaks were difficult to make because they were made by hand. They were made from animal skins, goat or camel hair, or wool. If the cloak was made of animal hair the hairs had to be spun into thread or yarn and then woven into cloth. This cloth would have to be sown together by hand to form the cloak. Because they took so long to make they were considered to be valuable and a gift of one was an honor. d) She helped widows (ACT 9:39) *This continual service to the needy not only speaks of a giving heart but of opportunity to do something about her desire to help: she must have been a woman of some means or she would not have been able to give so much, and she must have had some sort of income or her time would have been spent in making a living, not in helping others. 2. SHE WAS RAISED FROM THE DEAD a) She died 1) she suffered an illness that resulted in her death (ACT 9:37) ACT 9:37 "About that time she became sick and died." 2) her body was prepared for burial (ACT 9:37) ACT 9:37 "About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room." 3) her friends mourned her death (ACT 9:39) ACT 9:39 "All the widows stood around him [Peter] crying..." b) She was raised to life 1) the disciples sent for Peter a] they had heard that he was nearby (ACT 9:38) ACT 9:38 "Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, 'Please come at once!'" b] they knew that God used him to perform miracles (ACT 9:32-35) ACT 9:33-35 "There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. 'Aeneas,' Peter said to him, 'Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.' Immediately Aeneas got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord." 2) Peter came and prayed for her (ACT 9:40) ACT 9:39,40 "Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, 'Tabitha, get up.' She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up." *Peter had witnessed several resuscitations before: the widow's son at Nain, Jarius's daughter, Lazarus, and even the Lord Himself, so he had the faith to believe that she could come back if the LORD willed it. 3) Peter presented her to the disciples alive (ACT 9:41) ACT 9:41 "He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive." 3. SHE WAS THE CAUSE OF AN EVANGELISTIC EXPLOSION ACT 9:42 "This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord." *Like Aeneas in Lydda, the Lord chose to use Dorcas to display His power and cause many to come to faith. In the New Testament we see miracles occurring when God wants to authenticate the message of salvation- in Joppa we see Him using Dorcas to show the world His truth about who He is, the All powerful One who controls life. 4. HER EXAMPLE GENERATED A CHARITABLE SOCIETY-THE DORCAS SOCIETY dedicated to doing acts of charitable service. C. WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM HER? 1. God requires believers to do good to others, especially the poor and widows. GAL 6:10 "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." JAM 1:27 " Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." 1TI 6:18 "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." 2. Our good works testify about our faith: they prove that we are believers. JAM 2:26 "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." 3. God will use our good works to not only benefit others but to bring glory to Himself. MAT 5:16 "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." 4. God can use our lives to draw men toward salvation. III. What fruits of the Spirit can we see in her? A. love B. kindness C. goodness IV. Memory Verse: 1JO 3:18 "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
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