Explore the Bible Study: Bold

7:30 AM

Who are your favorite superheroes? I love watching the new Agents of Shield series and the Captain America movies. Whether they wear a cape or perform amazing feats, superheroes are known for taking bold actions. But bold action isn't just for superheroes. As believers we are called to take bold action when being witnesses. While we don't possess super powers, we can see God work in amazing ways as we take the initiative to join Him in His mission to share the gospel. Our Explore the Bible study, Bold, takes a look at this topic as we examine two extraordinary individuals - The Apostle Peter and Tabitha (Dorcas).

As we look at how Peter responded to a grieving community of believers and learn about the reputation of Tabitha (Dorcas), let’s consider how we should continue to boldly respond to needs around us for the sake of the gospel.

Ideas for Teaching Acts 9:36-43

LOOK UP: Getting focused on the text
I have provided two options.

Option One: PowerPoint pictures of superheroes. Use it to guide the group to identify the superheroes and to describe their powers. Click here for PowerPoint.

Option Two: Superhero quiz. Guide the group to guess the following superhero based on the description.
  • Avengers Assemble. (Captain America)
  • Cowabunga. (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
  • Go Joes! (G.I. Joe)
  • Here I come to Save the Day. (Mighty Mouse)
  • I am Diana, princess of the Amazons. (Wonder Woman)
  • I’m the fastest man alive. (The Flash)
  • There’s no need to fear; _______________ is here. (Underdog)
  • Shazam. (Captain Marvel)
  • Sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them. (X-Men)
  • The Caped Crusader (Batman)
  • The Emerald Crusader. (Green Lantern)
  • The man without fear. (Daredevil)
  • Up, up, and away! (Superman)
  • With great power comes great responsibility. (Spiderman)
  • You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. (Incredible Hulk)
LOOK IN: Unpacking the text
Discussion and Illustration Options

Acts 9:36-37
Based on these passages, how would you describe Tabitha?
Can you think of someone who lives a similar lifestyle?
What are some emotions people feel and questions people ask following the death of someone who was loved like Tabitha?
How should believers react when someone like Tabitha dies? (Evaluate our service, consider how we can pick up where she left off, rejoice for her, etc.)
How can God use the death of a strong believer to further the mission of spreading the gospel?

Acts 9:38-39
How did Peter respond? (got up and went with them)
Do you recall someone else we recently studied about who responded to a request in a similar way? (Philip with the Ethiopian Eunuch.)
Why do you suppose the congregation summoned Peter? (The disciples had heard Peter was nearby and that he had healed a paralyzed man. They possibly hoped that Peter would restore life to Tabitha.)
What can we learn from Peter's response?
What were some of the good works Tabitha performed?
For whom did she make the robes and clothes? (widows)
How did this further the cause of the gospel?
What can we learn from Tabitha’s ministry of good works?

Acts 9:40-41
Display on markerboard or PowerPoint slide: “Miracle”
  • What situations or events do we describe today using the word “miracle”? (a team winning a game; someone being rescued; someone healed in some way; etc.)
  • Many times we use the word to refer to athletic victories, to a business deal falling into place, to a marriage remaining strong through stormy seasons, and to medical breakthroughs. 
  • In what ways do people sometimes confuse miracles with hard work or some other tangible explanations? (In PSG, p. 112)
  • Why do some people search for any explanation of a true miracle that eliminates God from the equation? 
  • Is this miracle hard for us to understand or comprehend? Does it mean that it didn’t take place just because we can’t understand how it could happen?
  • How does Tabitha’s life restored demonstrate the power and the message of the gospel? (It was a witness to those around that Jesus Christ has conquered death!)
  • Considering all the new believers in the church, explain the significance of this miracle in solidifying their faith in Jesus Christ.
Illustration Option (ETB Leader Commentary):
Around 1819, in the later years of his life, Thomas Jefferson completed The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, a work that came to be known also as the Jefferson Bible. As the longer title implies, Jefferson sought to present a compilation—drawn only from the Gospels—of Jesus’ pure ethical principles. Using a razor, he literally cut and pasted together selected passages, purposely omitting most passages that featured miracles or referred to Jesus as Deity.

The problem with Thomas Jefferson’s approach was (and is) that the inspired Scriptures do not offer readers the option of cutting and pasting what they prefer to accept. In the Bible, God’s message and His miraculous activities are woven together inseparably.  These passages offer a clear example of how God continued to validate the gospel message about Jesus through miraculous works done by Jesus’ apostles.

Acts 9:42-43
  • If we only see the miracle, then we miss half of the message. We must see the purpose behind the miracle. 
  • This miracle not only resulted in gratitude by the church, but also prompted evangelism in Joppa. Many believed in the Lord as the story of Dorcas’s resuscitation led to presentations of the gospel. 
  • The main point was so that the church would be witnesses to the world of the gospel (Acts 1:8).
LOOK OUT: Responding to the text.
Tabitha’s boldness to minister to the needs of others and Peter's boldness to come and allow God to use Him to restore Tabitha from the dead was a witness to the church and community of the power of the gospel. They were truly super heroes of the faith to the church in Joppa!

Bold faith requires bold action. God desires to demonstrate His power, especially the power of the gospel, through you.
  • Ask God to give you the heart of Tabitha and the obedience of Peter.
  • Ask God to give you the boldness to step out of your comfort zone in order to comfort others and share the gospel.

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