Tabitha / Dorcas, Disciple at Joppa, Leader of Local Church?
Tabitha / Dorcas has been held up in the western world for 200 years as a "good example" of a "good neighbor".
Tabitha, is was believed, was one who did good deeds for her neighbors, and when not busy actually helping them, made costs and garments for them, which she simply gave away.
This type of person would certainly be commendable, but Tabitha was involved in a much greater Ministry: Let's first read the Scripture regarding her.
Acts 9:36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman * was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
Acts 9:37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed *, they laid her in an upper chamber.
Acts 9:38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there *, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.
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.
Acts 9:40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down *, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
Acts 9:41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
Acts 9:42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.
Acts 9:43 And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.
It is “assumed” by many Christians, that Tabitha / Dorcas made coats and garments and gave them to the poor - and indeed this would have been commendable, but there is not a single word to declare this.
Scripture simply declares that Peter was shown her handiwork as a seamstress. This fact by itself doesn’t tell us much. Based upon this statement alone, Tabitha could have
> > made her living this way as a tailor . . .
> > or simply may have been an accomplished sewer as were each of my grandmothers, who made all of their own dresses and quilts, and knitted all manner of sweaters, sofa-afghans, etc., etc.
However, the Greek word used here for what Tabitha did is as follows in Strong’s Exhaustive Lexicon:
Ergon (er'-gon); Noun Neuter, Greek, Strong's #2041
Definition: A business, employment, that which any one is occupied, that which one undertakes to do, an enterprise, an undertaking
Acts 9.36 Scripture does say she was “full of good works and alms deeds” of which the word for “works” is the Greek “ergon” or business employment (see above), and giving alms is basically for money and the good deeds it can produce. This implies Tabitha was a manufacturer of coats employing tailors and seamstresses.
In fact, Tabitha did much better than to give a poor person here or there, a home-made coat now and then.
Tabitha provided the poor with income, with good steady jobs doing good work, making coats and outer mantle/garments in her palce of business, by which means she provided for herself and perhaps "the other widows", who Scripture specifically says mourned her passing.
Tabitha, also from her own business prosperity, was generous with her money to give alms and do good deeds with her money.
Thus Tabitha seems to be a "Proverbs 31" type of woman, as she was Godly, goodly, wise, productive, prosperous, generous, helpful, kind, and able to lead a business and get things done.
Tabitha is the only one mentioned in any kind of leadership of the Church at Joppa, and may have either started that fellowship, or had the gatherings in her home, or place of business.
Thus of the millions who have died, God saw the need for her to be resurrected - not because she wanted to "enjoy life" or even because she had children to care for, but because she was a spiritual giant:
Tabitha was a Barnabas-kind-of-Minister.
> > Barnabas sold Real Estate, gave the proceeds to the Apostles and Ministered the Gospel himself.
> > Tabitha had her garment-&-textiles business, providing jobs and alms, as well as leading spiritually in the community of Joppa.
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