Whilst at school, I was never interest in subjects like Geography for one simple reason. It required study and writing examinations. Once I started at Bible School many years later, such subjects, although not taught there, became interesting to me. The next passage in the Book of Acts is:
Ac 9:32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. 34 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. 35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. 36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas ), who was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 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!” 39 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. 40 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. 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. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.
In this passage we see three places, namely Lydda, Sharon and Joppa. Before digging into the text, let’s consider these to get a mental picture of where they are located. Remember, Christianity’s main concentration so far was Jerusalem. Once the persecution started, mainly sparked by the Grecian Jews, (See chapter 6:8 to chapter 8:2), we saw Saul step forward to lead the persecution. The result was:
Ac 8:1 On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
This was followed by:
Ac 8:4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
Once Saul was converted, Damascus became evangelized. Naturally this was what the Lord Jesus required in the Great Commission:
Ac 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
We don’t have a time frame without speculation, but I would suggest that the Early Church was aggressively active in evangelism because they believed the Gospel, which is all about God’s Rescue Plan in Jesus, was from God as His final Word for salvation for the Jews and Gentiles. In our passage today we see believers in three places.
(1) Lydda was situated 40 kilometers northwest of Jerusalem and 15 Kilometers from modern Tel Aviv. Originally she was known as Lod. The road to and through Lydda was an important trade route. She was even a regional administrative town.
(2) Then we see a place called Sharon also known as Saron. Sharon was the Plain of Sharon, often referred to in the Bible such as:
1Ch 5:16 The Gadites lived in Gilead, in Bashan and its outlying villages, and on all the pasturelands of Sharon as far as they extended
1Ch 27:29 Shitrai the Sharonite was in charge of the herds grazing in Sharon
Isa 35:2 it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God
SS 2:1 I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.
My reason for these verses is to show that at first reading, the Acts verse seems as though Sharon is a town, but this is actually a plain known as the Plain of Sharon. She stretched for some 48 kilometers long and between 13 to 24 kilometers wide.
(3) Joppa was an ancient Palestinian coastal town on the Mediterranean Sea, today called Jaffa. In the Old Testament she was called Japho, a town given to the Tribe of Dan. Jonah boarded a ship to flee from God here. Jerusalem used Joppa as her main import and export harbor.
1) The apostle Peter was an active itinerant Gospel Preacher:
Ac 9:32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda
At this stage, it appears that Peter was still the leader of the Christian Church. He most likely wanted to see what was happening in the Church communities where the Gospel had moved too. In his travels he visits Lydda to see the “saints”. We should never be distracted by how some Church grouping might use words found in the Bible. Luke uses the word “saint” here. These “saints” were living Christians. There are those who incorrectly (sinfully), to satisfy their warped doctrines, say “saints” are those who served their “Church Community” well, have died and the Church elevates them to “sainthood”. The Truth be told … every Christian … that is, every soul born again by God’s Spirit is a saint! It is not related to your service, behavior or length of time following Jesus. The moment you become a Christian you are a “saint”. You are one of those separated from the masses of humanity for the exclusive purposes of God. That makes one a saint. And more, you don’t wait until death to be proclaimed a saint. Consider this verse carefully:
Ps 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
The believer is already a saint when he or she dies! Beloved this might seem trivial, but it actually amounts to wrong doctrine when they say at death some “good servants of their Church” are made saints by the Church. God makes the saint at salvation! That is what He calls His people. A misunderstanding or wrong doctrine could easily include other errors slipping into your belief system so subtly that once resident you take them as Gospel Truth. This is the reason you as a follower of Jesus need to have more than a Bible at your disposal.
Before I left South Africa, I stayed with good friends. The husband purchased a new iPad and was unable to take his Study Bible off the old iPad and put it onto the new one. To him this was a huge issue because he needed to have Bible resources with him wherever he went. I am not suggesting you need an iPad with a Study Bible on it, but I am suggesting you need at best a Study Bible at home where you can reference things that arise in sermons, daily devotions and when people speak about things that happen in their Churches. One caution … unless you know where to search the internet for good Biblical material, be cautious. There is a lot of garbage out there.
Thank You, Lord, for making me one of Your saints. Help me to live and behave pleasuring You. Amen.