Acts 9:39
Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
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(39) All the widows stood by him weeping.—We have apparently the same organisation of charity as that which prevailed in the Church at Jerusalem. The “widows” of the Church were the object of a special provision. (See Note on Acts 6:1.) The “coats,” were the close-fitting tunics worn next the body, the “garments” the looser outer cloaks that were worn over them. (See Note on Matthew 5:40.) These were now exhibited by those who were mourning over the loss of their benefactress. It is probable that the garments were for the use of men and boys, as well as women, and that the “widows” had been fellow-workers with her in making them. She was, as it were, at the head of a Sisterhood of Mercy.

Which Dorcas made.—More accurately, used to make.

Acts 9:39-41. Then Peter arose and went with them — Doubtless God inclined him so to do, intending to work an extraordinary miracle by him, for the manifestation of his truth and glory. And when he was come — To Tabitha’s house; they brought him into the upper chamber — Where she was laid out. And all the widows — Who had been relieved by her benevolence; stood by him weeping, showing the coats, &c. — Here was no need of mourning women to be hired: the death of this woman was a common loss; these coats were made by her in her life-time, to clothe the poor and naked therewith. But Peter put them all forth — That he might with the more freedom pour out his soul before God in prayer on this occasion, and not be disturbed with their mournful lamentations. And he kneeled down and prayed — In his healing Eneas there was an implicit prayer; but in this greater work he addressed himself to God in solemn prayer, as Christ did when he raised Lazarus; but Christ’s prayer was with the authority of a Son, who quickens whom he will; Peter’s with the submission of a servant, who is under direction, and therefore he kneeled down when he offered it. And then rising, and turning to the body, he said — As with the voice of authority, in the name and presence of his great Lord, the Sovereign of life and death; Tabitha, arise — Words which were immediately accompanied with a divine power, so that she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, sat up — Showing that she was really and truly alive. And when he had called the saints and widows — Who were all in sorrow for her death, and were near the chamber, waiting impatiently for the event; he presented her alive — And in perfect health, as all were that were miraculously cured. Who can imagine the surprise of Dorcas, when called back to life? or of her friends, when they saw her alive? For the sake of themselves, and the poor, there was cause of rejoicing; and much more for such a confirmation of the gospel. Yet to herself it was matter of resignation, not joy, to be called back to these scenes of vanity: but, doubtless, her remaining days were still more zealously spent in the service of her Saviour and her God. Thus was a richer treasure laid up for her in heaven, and she afterward returned to a more exceeding weight of glory, than that from which so astonishing a providence had recalled her for a season.

9:36-43 Many are full of good words, who are empty and barren in good works; but Tabitha was a great doer, no great talker. Christians who have not property to give in charity, may yet be able to do acts of charity, working with their hands, or walking with their feet, for the good of others. Those are certainly best praised whose own works praise them, whether the words of others do so or not. But such are ungrateful indeed, who have kindness shown them, and will not acknowledge it, by showing the kindness that is done them. While we live upon the fulness of Christ for our whole salvation, we should desire to be full of good works, for the honour of his name, and for the benefit of his saints. Such characters as Dorcas are useful where they dwell, as showing the excellency of the word of truth by their lives. How mean then the cares of the numerous females who seek no distinction but outward decoration, and who waste their lives in the trifling pursuits of dress and vanity! Power went along with the word, and Dorcas came to life. Thus in the raising of dead souls to spiritual life, the first sign of life is the opening of the eyes of the mind. Here we see that the Lord can make up every loss; that he overrules every event for the good of those who trust in him, and for the glory of his name.Then Peter arose - See the notes on Luke 15:18.

And all the widows - Whom Dorcas had benefited by her kindness. They had lost a benefactress; and it was natural that they should recall her kindness, and express their gratitude, by enumerating the proofs of her beneficence. Each one would therefore naturally dwell on the kindness which had been shown to herself.

39. all the widows—whom she had clad or fed.

stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas had made—that is, (as the tense implies), showing these as specimens only of what she was in the habit of making.

It was strange that Peter should be sent for, or that he should go on such an account, viz. to raise one that was dead; but God, who had ordered this miracle for the manifestation of his truth and glory, so wrought in their hearts, that they did this out of faith; though if others should think to imitate it, it would be but presumption.

Weeping; here needed no mourning women to be hired; the death of this good woman was acommon loss: these coats were made by Dorcas in her lifetime, to clothe the poor and naked with.

Then Peter arose and went with them,.... After the messengers had delivered their message, and made their request to Peter in the name of the brethren, he at once agreed to go with them, and accordingly did; whether he went to restore Dorcas to life, whose death the messengers had informed him of, and whether this was the view of the brethren with respect to that, is not certain. However, he might go with them on other accounts, as to comfort them under the loss of so valuable and useful a person, and to strengthen and establish them in the faith, and to exhort and animate them to the discharge of their duty.

When he was come; that is, to Joppa, and to Dorcas's house there:

they brought him into the upper chamber; where the corpse of Dorcas lay:

and all the widows stood by him weeping; these were poor widows, to whom Dorcas had been very liberal and beneficent, who stood about the apostle lamenting the death of their benefactress, and by their tears expressing their desire of her return to life, if it could be:

and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made while she was with them; the Vulgate, Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read, "which Dorcas made for them"; and the Syriac version renders it, "which Tabitha gave unto them, while she was alive"; which last clause aptly explains, "while she was with them"; for now she was not, with respect to her better part, her immortal soul: the coats and garments were the inner and upper ones, wore in these countries; and it seems that she did not buy these garments, and give them unto them, but that she made them up herself for them, or at least wrought with them in making of them; which shows her diligence and industry, as also her humility, as well as her beneficence: and these the widows produced, and are shown as proofs of the same; which was expressive of gratitude in them, and was done with a design to move Peter to be concerned for restoring so useful a life.

Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
Acts 9:39. The widows, the recipients of the ἀγαθῶν ἔργ. κ. ἐλεημοσ., Acts 9:36, exhibit to Peter the under and upper garments, which they wore[252] as gifts of the deceased, who herself, according to the old custom among women, had made them,—the eloquent utterance of just and deep sorrow, and of warm desire that the apostolic power might here become savingly operative; but, according to Zeller, a display calculated for effect.

ἡ Δορκάς] The proper name expressed in Greek is, as the more attractive for non-Jewish readers, and perhaps also as being used along with the Hebrew name in the city itself, here repeated, and is therefore not, with Wassenberg, to be suspected.

[252] Observe the middle ἐπιδεικν. (only here in the N. T.), they exhibited on them selves. There lay a certain self-consciousness, yea, a grateful ostentation, in their being able to show the pledges of her beneficence. See on the distinction between the active and middle of ἐπιδεικν., Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 21. Comp. also Ast, Lex. Plat. I. p. 772.

Acts 9:39. It is not said that they sent for St. Peter to work a miracle, but his near presence at Lydda would naturally make them turn to him in a time of sorrow.—παραγενόμενον: a characteristic Lucan expression (Weiss), see above Acts 5:21.—τὸ ὑπερ.: here the article would naturally be used on referring to the chamber, cf. Acts 9:37, in which the body lay.—αἱχῆραι: they may have been the poor of the Church, Acts 6:1, whom Dorcas had befriended, or those who had been associated with her in good works (see also Plumptre’s suggestive note). In connection with St. Luke’s marked sympathy with women, we may note that the word χήρα is used by him no less than nine times in his Gospel, three in Acts.—κλαίουσαι, cf. Luke 7:13; Luke 8:52, Hamburger, u. s. (Acts 9:37).—ἐπιδεικ.: only here in middle voice, perhaps as pointing to the garments which they were themselves wearing (so Blass, Wendt, Felten, Grimm-Thayer), which Dorcas had given them.—χιτῶνας: “coats,” close-fitting undergarments; the word was used in classical Greek of men and women, more perhaps like a dressing-gown or cassock; “Coat,” “Dress,” Hastings’ B.D.—ἱμάτια, the long flowing outer robes.—ὅσα: “all which,” i.e., so many (Blass, Page, Hackett, Knabenbauer); see reading in [233] (Blass), critical notes.—ἐποίει: imperfect as denoting her customary mode of action.

[233] R(omana), in Blass, a first rough copy of St. Luke.

39. Then [And] Peter arose and went with them] We may be sure that the Apostle knew, by the Spirit, that it would please God to do something for the help of the distress at Joppa, when he set out with the messengers.

and all the widows stood by him weeping] These were the women who, with the dead Dorcas, had been busy in the good works to which they were all devoted. The petition of such a company was sure to have power with the Apostle, and their action shews how they place the good deeds of her whom they had lost far above their own.

Acts 9:39. Συνῆλθεν αὐτοῖς, came with them) An indication of his humility. Comp. Acts 9:43.—μετʼ αὐτῶν οὖσα, when she was with them) i.e. before she died.

Verse 39. - And for then, A.V.; and when for when, A.V. All the widows. The article may denote all the widows for whom Dorcas had made garments, which the middle voice (ἐπιδεικνύμεναι), found only here, indicates perhaps that they had on them at the time. But it is quite as probable that αἱ χῆραι means the Church widows, as in Acts 6:1 and 1 Timothy 5:9, and that we have here an indication that the model of the Jerusalem Church was followed in all the daughter Churches. Dorcas's almsdeeds would naturally have for their first object the widows of her own communion. As naturally would they all come to meet the apostle at her house. Acts 9:39Coats and garments

See on Matthew 5:40.

Which (ὅσα)

Lit., as many as.

Made (ἐποίει)

The imperfect: was accustomed to make.

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