The book of Acts has had many names throughout its life—for example, “The Deeds of the Apostles,” “The Acts of All the Apostles,” “The Acts of the Holy Spirit,” and “What Jesus Continued To Do.” Some of these titles seek to express the truth that in the gospel is the record of what Jesus did in His life on earth, while in Acts we have the record of what Jesus continues to do through His Spirit, as He sits at God’s right hand.
The account of Peter’s raising Dorcas is very similar to the account in Luke 8:49–56 of the raising of Jairus’s daughter. There is no doubt that the girl and the woman are dead—the professional mourners for Jairus’ daughter have arrived (Luke 8:52) and Dorcas’s body has been washed ready for burial (Acts 9:37). Peter had been with Jesus at the resurrection of Jairus’s daughter and he is so bold as to pray that Jesus would do it again in the case of Dorcas.
A creation miracle is required for resurrection to take place. The brain would have to return to life, for it has been denied oxygen. But the fact that so many trust in the Lord as a result of Dorcas’s resurrection (v. 42) underlines its reality. Why do we find it so hard to believe in resurrection? Jesus is Lord of life and death. He has defeated death and He exercises rule over it as He sees fit.
Blaise Pascal put it like this:
Atheists: What reason have they for saying that we cannot rise from the dead? Which is more difficult; to be born, or to be raised from the dead, for what has never been to exist, or for what has been to exist again? Is it more difficult to come into being than to return to it? Custom makes the one seem easy, while unfamiliarity makes the other impossible. But that is a popular way of judging!*
In what ways does Dorcas model Christian character for us? Acts 9:32–43 is a description of a vital church life. What qualities described can we pray that God would duplicate in His church today? What has been the most encouraging aspect of these studies in Acts 1–9 for you?
*B. Pascal, Pensées; Selections (London: SCM Press Ltd., 1959).