Who Was Dorcas In The Bible

The Bible is home to a number of notable women. From the wives of Abraham and Jacob, to the only women mentioned by name in all of Paul’s epistles, the Bible has many gutsy ladies. Dorcas was certainly one of the more noteworthy women in Scripture, although it can be challenging to track down much information on her. We take a look at who this woman was and what she did.

There are many women named Dorcas in the Bible. However, the most important is Dorcas of Joppa (Acts 9:36 – 42). Some people think that her gift of making and selling clothes is a weak example of generosity. They think it is a sign she was a snob or there were not enough jobs in Joppa for her to support herself and others. But this may not be true. In ancient societies, it was common for wealthy families to have hired help so they would have time to do other things besides work. This supports the idea that Dorcas did not need to sell clothes to live because of family wealth. She sold them instead as an act of generosity since she could have easily kept the clothes for herself in order to wear them.

Dorcas was a disciple in the early church who is known for her good works. Incidently, doer is spelled with a ‘c’ in Dorcas because she was from Cyprus.

Dorcas means gazelle in Hebrew. In the New Testament, Dorcas is named in the Acts of the Apostles as being filled with the Holy Spirit and having great faith. She was also charitable, generous and hard-working. St. Lydia donated all her material goods to serve the needy.

Who Was Dorcas In The Bible

As the Apostle Peter was ministering in the neighboring town of Lydda, Dorcas fell ill and died. According to the custom of the day, her body was bathed and groomed and placed into an upper room awaiting burial.

Peter Raised Tabitha (Dorcas) From the Dead. Image: Section of Healing of the Cripple and Raising of Tabitha by Masolino da Panicale, 1425.  

However, when the disciples in Jaffa learned that the apostle Peter was in Lydda (which was around a 17-mile journey), they sent two disciples to summon him back to Joppa. Peter did not hesitate to accompany them back. When they arrived in Joppa, the disciples led him to the upper room where Dorcas’ body laid.

As he entered, he was greeted by many grieving widows who wept for Dorcas. They shared stories about Dorcas with Peter, even showing him many of the garments and coats that she had produced while she was alive. While it is not explicit in the text, it is inferred that these widows were the recipients of these gifts woven by the loving hands of Dorcas.

After listening to them, Peter ordered the widows out the room and knelt down and prayed next to Dorcas’ body. Then, he said “Tabitha, arise.” (Tabitha was her name, in Aramaic.)

Upon his utterance, Dorcas opened her eyes and sat up when she saw Peter. He then reached out his hand to Dorcas and she arose from her deathbed. Peter then called for the widows and other disciples and presented Dorcas alive before them all! It must have been a moment of overflowing joy and amazement!

Soon, the fact that the Apostle Peter had raised Dorcas from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit spread like wildfire throughout the town of Joppa, causing many to trust in the Lord.

There’s nothing like raising someone from the dead to inspire salvations!

Who Was Dorcas In The Bible

Dorcas, or Tabitha, in the Bible lived in the town of Joppa, a city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Dorcas was also called Tabitha—Dorcas is a Greek name meaning “gazelle,” and Tabitha is the Aramaic rendering of the same name. Dorcas, or Tabitha, was a charitable person who made things, especially clothing, for the needy in Joppa. The story of Dorcas in Acts 9 is notable because Peter raised her back to life after she had died.

Dorcas was known for her good works and acts of love for the poor (Acts 9:36); she was much loved in the community of Joppa. When she became ill and died, the believers who knew Dorcas heard that Peter was in the nearby town of Lydda, and they sent for him. The Bible does not specifically say that the disciples at Joppa were hoping for Peter to resurrect Dorcas, but they did call urgently for him (Acts 9:38). When Peter arrived at the home where Dorcas’ body had been laid out, he went up to see the body. There were many widows there, weeping. They all showed Peter “the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them”—tangible evidence of Dorcas’ loving service (Acts 9:39).

What happened next is proof that our God is full of glorious, unrestrained power: “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 for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord” (Acts 9:40–42).

Bringing Dorcas back from the dead was not done for Dorcas’ sake—Peter knew she was in paradise, with Jesus, and that her life after death was preferable to her life on earth (see Luke 23:43). Peter’s motive, at least in part, for raising Dorcas to life may have been for the sake of the widows and others in Joppa who needed the help Dorcas could provide. The resurrection of Dorcas was also a major reason so many people in Joppa believed. This miracle performed in the name of the Lord led many to faith in Christ.

Dorcas is a fine example of how we are to meet the needs of those around us. Christians are to “continue to remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10). Part of “religion that God our Father accepts” is “to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). This was the type of religion Dorcas practiced.

We also see in the story of Dorcas how the Body of Christ functions as a whole. We are united in Christ, and the believers in Joppa mourned the loss of Dorcas as a close family member. “There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (1 Corinthians 12:25–26). Dorcas was one of their own, and her absence left a huge void in their lives.

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