31 Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
32 Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers,* he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. 33There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralysed. 34Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!’ And immediately he got up. 35And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
36 Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas.* She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. 37At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. 38Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, ‘Please come to us without delay.’ 39So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. 41He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. 42This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.
In verse 31, Luke provides a transition, moving from Paul’s story back to what was happening in the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. Remember that “fear” in this verse does not mean to be afraid, but means to respect and to be in awe. And through the power of the Holy Spirit the church was increasing in numbers.
Then Luke moves over to the story of Peter, whom we had left some time back to tell Saul’s story. Peter was traveling about among all the believers, sort of like a bishop or a superintendent visits churches under his charge. One of those places was called Lydda, and there was a man named Aeneas there who had been bedridden for a long time – Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you”. This is important to note – Peter was not “healing” but was bringing Christ to people through the Spirit, and it was Christ who healed.
And then he went to Joppa, because some believers from Joppa came to him and begged him to come with them. There was a woman in Joppa, a disciple, whose name was Tabitha, or Dorcas. She had done much good work among the widows of her community. But Dorcas became ill and died; they had lain her out in an upper room, and took Peter to her. Peter put everyone out of the room and knelt down and prayed. And then he said, “Tabitha, get up.” And Dorcas woke, saw Peter, and sat up, and Peter helped her up. And then everyone came back into the room, praising God!
These two events show the growing church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, reaching more and more people. Remember, Peter did these miracles, not in his own name, but in the name of Jesus; and not in his own power, but in the power of the Holy Spirit. Luke includes these particular stories (there must have been many stories in the early church) to show us the power of the Sprit, and that it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that the church will grow and thrive.