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."

Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Kathy Capoccia's Sunday School Lessons" by:

Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
Box 119
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
Websites: www.biblebb.com and www.gospelgems.com
Email: tony@biblebb.com
Online since 1986