On the Acts of the Apostles.

Chapter 9:32-37.

Taken from The Bible Treasury Number 342 - November 1884

 

Chapter 9:32-37

Having given us the peaceful and prosperous condition of the church throughout Palestine, the Spirit of God now turns to speak of Peter. He that wrought effectually in him, the great apostle of the circumcision, had just shown us the mighty vessel of His grace called to do work among the Gentiles. But Saul of Tarsus is dropped for the present and we have the familiar figure of Peter brought before us, not in Jerusalem, nor yet in Samaria as once with John, but alone on a visitation of Judwa. If there was peace for the church, there was no less power than at the first in him who was behind none since Pentecost.

"Now it came to pass that Peter going through all [parts] came down also to the saints inhabiting Lydda. And there he found a certain man named Ăneas, for eight years lying on a couch, who was paralysed. And Peter said to him, Ăneas, Jesus [the]1 Christ healeth thee: arise up and make thy couch. And immediately he rose up. And all that inhabited Lydda and the2 Sharon saw him, who also turned to the Lord" (ver. 32-35).

Grace thus used the apostle, not merely for the edification of the saints, but for winning fresh souls to God. Lydda or Lod was at this time a considerable town,—as Josephus informs us, not behind a city in size. And there God wrought a miracle, to arrest unbelievers, in the person of Ăneas. It does not appear that he was a believer, being described as "a certain man." Indeed, as the rule, believers were not objects of miraculous power, however often they may have been its instruments. Timothy is exhorted by the apostle to use ordinary means. "Be no longer a water-drinker but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." Epaphroditus drew out in his sickness deep exercises in Paul's heart; and Trophimus, the apostle left at Miletus sick, instead of healing him. The Lord has His special dealings with such: not even an apostle would interfere. But as tongues were for a sign to unbelievers, so on such power was free to act to God's glory, and the cure of the long-palsied Ăneas became a striking testimony to all the dwellers around.

The manner of Peter's action and his words are remarkable. Ăneas, Jesus [the] Christ healeth thee: rise up and make thy couch." And so it was straightway: power to help himself as well as to rise up. The power of God was exercised in a serious case of one palsied for eight years, through the true but rejected Christ. Jehovah-Jesus was the healer of disease. It was but a testimony now. What He did on a small scale during this present evil age is only a sample of the world or age to come. Then He will prove Himself the forgiver of all Israel's iniquities and the healer of all their diseases, according to Psalm ciii. when $is kingdom ruleth over all.

Meanwhile the word of God acts; the gospel is blessed; for "all who inhabited Lydda and the Sharon saw him, who also turned to the Lord." Their souls were impressed, se that they gave heed to the truth and turned to the Lord. It was a real work of the Spirit of God, and not mere astonishment at a miracle. But it had also the peculiarity of being very extensive and all-embracing! Whole communities were brought in. Nor was it only that they professed, or were baptized: of this the Holy Spirit says nothing. All in those parts saw the paralysed man who was on the spot healed in the name of Jesus; and they turned to the Lord. Some who seem disposed to doubt the work of grace in "households" and anxious to reduce it to a mere intellectual recognition of the Lord if even so much as this, might profitably consider the great work done at Lydda, consequent on the healing of Ăneas. The language here is wholly inconsistent with a sponsorial profession; it was a wide but real action of divine grace, the external sign which no doubt followed as a conferred privilege, being not even named.

It may be added that ΚŘhn÷l has as utterly failed in the grammar as in the exegesis, when he would have this last passage to mean merely that all the Christians (i.e. all those who had turned to the Lord) saw Ăneas restored to health. For though the aorist may occasionally bear or require a pluperfect force in English, in the sentence before us such a rendering is not only uncalled for but destroys the power and dignity of the narrative; whereas the ordinary meaning in the simplest way maintains all that could be desired, crowning the miracle wrought, with a worthy and blessed spiritual result, instead of a close so frigid and feeble as to sink below not scripture only but any writing whatever. Grammatically too the indef. relative is just the word proper to introduce the statement of a moral nature or character.

But it may interest some to know that Lydda in the New Testament is no other than the Lod of 1 Chron. viii. 12; Ezra ii. 33 : Neh. vii. 37; xi. 35, called Ludd or Lidi to this day, scarcely so "miserable a village" as Messrs. Webster and Wilkinson think, if we are to credit the popular report of Dr. Thomson, who represents it as a flourishing community of two thousand persons, evidently thriving and industrious, embosomed in noble orchards of olive, fig, pomegranate mulberry, sycamore and other trees, and surrounded every way by a fertile neighbourhood. Ono, Hadid, and Neballat, of old associated with Lod, have still their representatives distinctly enough under their modern disguise.

Further, though Calvin lays it down confidently that the Sharon (or Assaron,3 as he calls it) was a city hard by, and slights Jerome's thought that thereby is meant the plain lying between Caesarea and Joppa, there is no good reason to doubt that the early translator is right, not the reformer. And the minute accuracy of the Greek text affords a striking evidence to the reader in the article prefixed to "Sharon," net to Lydda. So invariably is it in the Hebrew, where the same district is referred to (1 Chron. xxvii. 29; Cant. ii. 1; Isa. xxxiii. 9; xxxv. 2; lxv. 10); whereas the article is dropt where the same name is applied to a different locality on the other side of Jordan and not improbably a town of the Gadites. " The Sharon " lay north of another district, "the Sephelah," which in our Version has fared worse than "the Sharon" in having been quite stripped of its character as a proper name and reduced to "the vale," &c.

Here then it was that the energy of the Spirit was pleased to win glory to the Lord Jesus and to bless souls by Peter, at the very time when sovereign grace was preparing another and yet more favoured servant of Christ, not only to proclaim the gospel in the whole creation, but to complete the word of God, the mystery that had been hid from ages and from generations. Yet another and greater exertion of divine power 'vas soon to follow, and a, mere distinct testimony of grace to the Gentiles through Peter himself, as we shall see in the immediate sequel and according to a wisdom that never failed. But one may not anticipate more at this time. Grace would ere long work more profoundly as well as indiscriminately; the heavenly side of the gospel must shine out more distinctly and suitably to Him who sits, the glorified Man, at the right hand of God. But it was from no lack of zealous testimony en Peter's part; nor was it that power from above failed in his ministry to put honour on the name of Jesus, or to shed blessing on the souls that believed. But all the divine counsels must be duly revealed as well as accomplished in their season; and God has His fitting ways no less than His counsels. And we do well to take heed to His word which reveals all this and more, that we may be completely furnished to every good work.

 

 

1) A Bpm C with half a dozen cursives, &c. omit the article which is supported by the great mans of copies.

2) I presume the Revisers mean to distinguish between the town and the district by "at Lydda and in Sharon."

3) So H L P and many cursive, manuscripts which probably point to the Hebrew article. Cf. Josh. xii. 18. The Sinitic indeed erroneously omits the article before the word, but it is added as a correction.