Powerful Participation – Acts 9:19-43: Reflection Guide

Reflection Guide

Key Terms

The Son of God – An honorific title that by the time of Jesus had become associated with the Messiah. Verse 20 is the only time this phrase is used to describe Jesus in the book of Acts, but would become central to Paul’s theology and teaching (See Ro 1:4 & Gal 2:20).

Comfort of the Holy Spirit – Comfort comes from the Greek word paraklésis, meaning “encouragement, exhortation, comfort, or consolation.” This word is used as a proper name for the Holy Spirit in John’s Gospel (see Jn 14:16 & 26, the Helper).

Lydda & Joppa – Two cities west of Jerusalem toward
the Mediterranean Sea. Joppa in particular was a predominately Greek city that was inhabited by many Gentiles (Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles).

Did you know?

When Peter says Tabitha, arise (v. 40), the words he spoke would have been “Tabitha cumi” in Aramaic, which is only one letter different from the words Jesus spoke, “Talitha cumi,” when he raised Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5:21-23.


After his conversion, Luke says that Paul immediately proclaimed Jesus in Damascus (v. 20) and all who heard him were amazed (v. 21) that this was the same man arresting Christians just days earlier. Eventually Paul, previously the persecutor, becomes the persecuted, as Luke says when many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him (v. 23). Although Luke doesn’t give a specific time reference, we know from Galatians 1 that Paul actually spent about three years spreading the gospel in Damascus and parts of Syria before leaving for Jerusalem. This is significant because even though it’s been three years since his conversion, when Paul arrives in Jerusalem, the Church does not believe that he is a genuine disciple until Barnabas affirms him (v. 27). Luke concludes this section in Acts, which was marked by persecution on the one hand but the advance of the gospel in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria on the other, saying the church…had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied (v. 31).

The narrative then shifts back to Peter and his activity west of Jerusalem, entering into Gentile territory. Luke first reports Peter healing a paralyzed man named Aeneas, which leads to many in Lydda and Sharon turn(ing) to the Lord (v. 35). Luke then reports Peter raising Tabitha, a generous widow, from the dead. The result again is that many believed in the Lord (v. 42) in Joppa.

Going Deeper

Read 2 Chronicles 17:6-10, Proverbs 1:7, and Isaiah 33:2-6. What do these verses say about “the fear of the Lord?” How would you explain what it means to fear God? Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. What does Paul say our fear of the Lord ought to lead to?

Reflection Questions

Learning the Word

  1. Read Acts 9:19-43. Make 5-7 quick observations about these verses. What strikes you as you read?
  2. Which details in these stories point to the power of the Holy Spirit behind all that is taking place (see verses 22, 31, 34, & 40)?
  3. What is the significance of verse 31 to the book of Acts as a whole?
  4. What is the relationship between the two miracles Peter performs and the spread of the gospel in Lydda, Sharon, and Joppa (see verses 35 & 42)?

Living the Word

  1. In what specific ways has your life been personally changed by the power of Jesus and the gospel?
  2. What are some reasons it can be difficult to move from personal salvation to corporate participation in the mission of God in building his Kingdom? In other words, many people trust Jesus for salvation but never participate with the Church in seeking salvation for others and the restoration of that which is broken in the world. Why do think that is?
  3. What positive examples have you seen of the Church or Christians seeking to bring goodness and wholeness to our broken world?
  4. How do these stories in Acts 9 challenge you to participate in the explosive, transforming power of God in our city?

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