Tabitha, Arise!
Two men, dusty and sweaty from their hurried twelve mile walk from Joppa, urged Peter to return immediately with them. He wasted no time. Peter left the town of Lydda with them and hurried the twelve miles back to Joppa. The civil law required a burial must take place within three days. Much of that time had already passed.

Peter entered the upstairs room. Tabitha’s body lay washed and dressed for burial. Tabitha’s Christian friends and the widows she had helped were crowded into the small room. They were all weeping and grieving over her unexpected death. The widows wore and carried the garments Tabitha had made for them. They wanted Peter to know how generous and compassionate Tabitha was. She was loved and needed.

Joppa was a seaport and sailing was a dangerous way to make a living. There were many ways for a family man to lose his life. Those who died left behind wives and children who struggled to survive. Tabitha had given them more than new clothes. She restored their sense of value; she restored their sense of dignity. Now they could walk the streets and eke out their living with their heads up. She replaced their despair with hope. 

“But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, ‘Tabitha, Arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.” (Acts 9:40 NASB)

After helping Tabitha up (grave clothes were restrictive) he called for her friends to come back up. They rejoiced to find her alive. They saw the hope of the resurrection in the fact that Tabitha had died and was now alive. They spread the amazing story of her revival throughout the city of Joppa. “…And many believed in the Lord.”

Peter stayed in Joppa rather than return to Lydda. He would be available to help teach these new disciples.

Tabitha was an ordinary woman who used her skill as a garment maker to help the poor in her community. Luke’s account implies these widows were not yet Christians. That didn’t stop Tabitha from being concerned for their welfare. She didn’t pressure them into accepting her faith. Tabitha had shown her faith by her good works. She gave them hope by her gifts to them. Her life was a witness of God’s love, of the love of Jesus whom she had accepted as her Lord and Savior.

Then God used her sudden death and miraculous resurrection to show his power to raise the dead. She became a witness to the real, the literal hope of the resurrection. Death had truly been conquered and vanquished. The news of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth was given credibility through the belief, obedience, and prayers of an Apostle of Jesus Christ, Peter, and the good character and deeds of a woman disciple, Tabitha. (Or Dorcas, in Greek.)

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide:Tabitha, Arise! Christ in you-the Hope of Glory

Scarlett Stough