Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 57

Joshua 7–9, Acts 7–9

Bible text(s)

Achan's Sin

1The LORD's command to Israel not to take from Jericho anything that was to be destroyed was not obeyed. A man named Achan disobeyed that order, and so the LORD was furious with the Israelites. (Achan was the son of Carmi and grandson of Zabdi, and belonged to the clan of Zerah, a part of the tribe of Judah.)

2Joshua sent some men from Jericho to Ai, a city east of Bethel, near Bethaven, with orders to go and explore the land. When they had done so, 3they reported back to Joshua: “There is no need for everyone to attack Ai. Send only about two or three thousand men. Don't send the whole army up there to fight; it is not a large city.” 4So about 3,000 Israelites made the attack, but they were forced to retreat. 5The men of Ai chased them from the city gate as far as some quarries and killed about 36 of them on the way down the hill. Then the Israelites lost their courage and were afraid.

6Joshua and the leaders of Israel tore their clothes in grief, threw themselves to the ground before the LORD's Covenant Box, and lay there till evening, with dust on their heads to show their sorrow. 7And Joshua said, “Sovereign LORD! Why did you bring us across the Jordan at all? To hand us over to the Amorites? To destroy us? Why didn't we just stay on the other side of the Jordan? 8What can I say, O Lord, now that Israel has retreated from the enemy? 9The Canaanites and everyone else in the country will hear about it. They will surround us and kill every one of us! And then what will you do to protect your honour?”

10The LORD said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on the ground like this? 11Israel has sinned! They have broken the agreement with me that I ordered them to keep. They have taken some of the things condemned to destruction. They stole them, lied about it, and put them with their own things. 12This is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies. They retreat from them because they themselves have now been condemned to destruction! I will not stay with you any longer unless you destroy the things you were ordered not to take! 13Get up! Purify the people and get them ready to come before me. Tell them to be ready tomorrow, because I, the LORD God of Israel, have this to say: ‘Israel, you have in your possession some things that I ordered you to destroy! You cannot stand against your enemies until you get rid of these things!’ 14So tell them that in the morning they will be brought forward, tribe by tribe. The tribe that I pick out will then come forward, clan by clan. The clan that I pick out will come forward, family by family. The family that I pick out will come forward, one by one. 15The one who is then picked out and found with the condemned goods will be burnt, along with his family and everything he owns, for he has brought terrible shame on Israel and has broken my covenant.”

16Early the next morning Joshua brought Israel forward, tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was picked out. 17He brought the tribe of Judah forward, clan by clan, and the clan of Zerah was picked out. Then he brought the clan of Zerah forward, family by family, and the family of Zabdi was picked out. 18He then brought Zabdi's family forward, one by one, and Achan, the son of Carmi and grandson of Zabdi, was picked out. 19Joshua said to him, “My son, tell the truth here before the LORD, the God of Israel, and confess. Tell me now what you have done. Don't try to hide it from me.”

20“It's true,” Achan answered. “I have sinned against the LORD, Israel's God, and this is what I did. 21Among the things we seized I saw a beautiful Babylonian cloak, about two kilogrammes of silver, and a bar of gold weighing over half a kilogramme. I wanted them so much that I took them. You will find them buried inside my tent, with the silver at the bottom.”

22So Joshua sent some men, who ran to the tent and found that the condemned things really were buried there, with the silver at the bottom. 23They brought them out of the tent, took them to Joshua and all the Israelites, and laid them down in the presence of the LORD. 24Joshua, along with all the people of Israel, seized Achan, the silver, the cloak, and the bar of gold, together with Achan's sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys, and sheep, his tent, and everything else he owned; and they took them to Trouble Valley. 25And Joshua said, “Why have you brought such trouble on us? The LORD will now bring trouble on you!” All the people then stoned Achan to death; they also stoned and burnt his family and possessions. 26They put a huge pile of stones over him, which is there to this day. That is why that place is still called Trouble Valley.

Then the LORD was no longer furious.

The Capture and Destruction of Ai

1The LORD said to Joshua, “Take all the soldiers with you and go on up to Ai. Don't be afraid or discouraged. I will give you victory over the king of Ai; his people, city, and land will be yours. 2You are to do to Ai and its king what you did to Jericho and its king, but this time you may keep its goods and livestock for yourselves. Prepare to attack the city by surprise from the rear.”

3So Joshua got ready to go to Ai with all his soldiers. He picked out 30,000 of his best troops and sent them out at night 4with these orders: “Hide on the other side of the city, but not too far away from it; be ready to attack. 5My men and I will approach the city. When the men of Ai come out against us, we will turn and run, just as we did the first time. 6They will pursue us until we have led them away from the city. They will think that we are running away from them, as we did before. 7Then you will come out of hiding and capture the city. The LORD your God will give it to you. 8After you have taken the city, set it on fire, just as the LORD has commanded. These are your orders.” 9So Joshua sent them out, and they went to their hiding place and waited there, west of Ai, between Ai and Bethel. Joshua spent the night in camp.

10Early in the morning Joshua got up and called the soldiers together. Then he and the leaders of Israel led them to Ai. 11The soldiers with him went towards the main entrance to the city and set up camp on the north side, with a valley between themselves and Ai. 12He took about 5,000 men and put them in hiding west of the city, between Ai and Bethel. 13The soldiers were arranged for battle with the main camp north of the city and the rest of the men to the west. Joshua spent the night in the valley. 14When the king of Ai saw Joshua's men, he acted quickly. He and all his men went out towards the Jordan Valley to fight the Israelites at the same place as before, not knowing that he was about to be attacked from the rear. 15Joshua and his men pretended that they were retreating, and ran away towards the barren country. 16All the men in the city had been called together to go after them, and as they pursued Joshua, they kept getting farther away from the city. 17Every man in Ai went after the Israelites, and the city was left wide open, with no one to defend it.

18Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Point your spear at Ai; I am giving it to you.” Joshua did as he was told, 19and as soon as he lifted his hand, the men who had been hiding got up quickly, ran into the city and captured it. They immediately set the city on fire. 20When the men of Ai looked back, they saw the smoke rising to the sky. There was no way for them to escape, because the Israelites who had run towards the barren country now turned round to attack them. 21When Joshua and his men saw that the others had taken the city and that it was on fire, they turned round and began killing the men of Ai. 22The Israelites in the city now came down to join the battle. So the men of Ai found themselves completely surrounded by Israelites, and they were all killed. No one got away, and no one lived through it 23except the king of Ai. He was captured and taken to Joshua.

24The Israelites killed every one of the enemy in the barren country where they had chased them. Then they went back to Ai and killed everyone there. 25-26Joshua kept his spear pointed at Ai and did not put it down until every person there had been killed. The whole population of Ai was killed that day — 12,000 men and women. 27The Israelites kept for themselves the livestock and goods captured in the city, as the LORD had told Joshua. 28Joshua burnt Ai and left it in ruins. It is still like that today. 29He hanged the king of Ai from a tree and left his body there until evening. At sunset Joshua gave orders for the body to be removed, and it was thrown down at the entrance to the city gate. They covered it with a huge pile of stones, which is still there today.

The Law is Read at Mount Ebal

30Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel. 31He made it according to the instructions that Moses, the LORD's servant, had given the Israelites, as it says in the Law of Moses: “an altar made of stones which have not been cut with iron tools.” On it they offered burnt sacrifices to the LORD, and they also presented their fellowship offerings. 32There, with the Israelites looking on, Joshua made on the stones a copy of the Law which Moses had written. 33The Israelites, with their leaders, officers, and judges, as well as the foreigners among them, stood on two sides of the LORD's Covenant Box, facing the levitical priests who carried it. Half the people stood with their backs to Mount Gerizim and the other half with their backs to Mount Ebal. The LORD's servant Moses had commanded them to do this when the time came for them to receive the blessing. 34Joshua then read aloud the whole Law, including the blessings and the curses, just as they are written in the book of the Law. 35Every one of the commandments of Moses was read by Joshua to the whole gathering, which included women and children, as well as the foreigners living among them.

The Gibeonites Deceive Joshua

1The victories of Israel became known to all the kings west of the Jordan — in the hills, in the foothills, and all along the coastal plain of the Mediterranean Sea as far north as Lebanon; these were the kings of the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 2They all came together and joined forces to fight against Joshua and the Israelites.

3But the people of Gibeon, who were Hivites, heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4and they decided to deceive him. They went and got some food and loaded their donkeys with worn-out sacks and patched-up wineskins. 5They put on ragged clothes and worn-out sandals that had been mended. The bread they took with them was dry and mouldy. 6Then they went to the camp at Gilgal and said to Joshua and the Israelites, “We have come from a distant land. We want you to make a treaty with us.”

7But the Israelites said, “Why should we make a treaty with you? Maybe you live nearby.”

8They said to Joshua, “We are at your service.”

Joshua asked them, “Who are you? Where do you come from?”

9Then they told him this story: “We have come from a very distant land, sir, because we have heard of the LORD your God. We have heard about everything that he did in Egypt 10and what he did to the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan: King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth. 11Our leaders and all the people that live in our land told us to get some food ready for a journey and to go and meet you. We were told to put ourselves at your service and ask you to make a treaty with us. 12Look at our bread. When we left home with it and started out to meet you, it was still warm. But look! Now it is dry and mouldy. 13When we filled these wineskins, they were new, but look! They are torn. Our clothes and sandals are worn out from the long journey.”

14The Israelites accepted some food from them, but did not consult the LORD about it. 15Joshua made a treaty of friendship with the people of Gibeon and allowed them to live. The leaders of the community of Israel gave their solemn promise to keep the treaty.

16Three days after the treaty had been made, the Israelites learnt that these people did indeed live nearby. 17So the people of Israel started out and three days later arrived at the cities where these people lived: Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath Jearim. 18But the Israelites could not kill them, because their leaders had made a solemn promise to them in the name of the LORD, Israel's God. All the people complained to the leaders about this, 19but they answered, “We have made our solemn promise to them in the name of the LORD God of Israel. Now we cannot harm them. 20We must let them live because of our promise; if we don't, God will punish us. 21Let them live, but they will have to cut wood and carry water for us.” This was what the leaders suggested.

22Joshua ordered the people of Gibeon to be brought to him, and he asked them, “Why did you deceive us and tell us that you were from far away, when you live right here? 23Because you did this, God has condemned you. Your people will always be slaves, cutting wood and carrying water for the sanctuary of my God.”

24They answered, “We did it, sir, because we learnt that it was really true that the LORD your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you the whole land and to kill the people living in it as you advanced. We did it because we were terrified of you; we were in fear of our lives. 25Now we are in your power; do with us what you think is right.” 26So this is what Joshua did: he protected them and did not allow the people of Israel to kill them. 27But at the same time he made them slaves, to cut wood and carry water for the people of Israel and for the LORD's altar. To this day they have continued to do this work in the place where the LORD has chosen to be worshipped.

Stephen's Speech

1The High Priest asked Stephen, “Is this true?”

2Stephen answered, “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! Before our ancestor Abraham had gone to live in Haran, the God of glory appeared to him in Mesopotamia 3and said to him, ‘Leave your family and country and go to the land that I will show you.’ 4And so he left his country and went to live in Haran. After Abraham's father died, God made him move to this land where you now live. 5God did not then give Abraham any part of it as his own, not even a square metre of ground, but God promised to give it to him, and that it would belong to him and to his descendants. At the time God made this promise, Abraham had no children. 6This is what God said to him: ‘Your descendants will live in a foreign country, where they will be slaves and will be badly treated for 400 years. 7But I will pass judgement on the people that they will serve, and afterwards your descendants will come out of that country and will worship me in this place.’ 8Then God gave Abraham the ceremony of circumcision as a sign of the covenant. So Abraham circumcised Isaac a week after he was born; Isaac circumcised his son Jacob, and Jacob circumcised his twelve sons, the famous ancestors of our race.

9“Jacob's sons became jealous of their brother Joseph and sold him to be a slave in Egypt. But God was with him 10and brought him safely through all his troubles. When Joseph appeared before the king of Egypt, God gave him a pleasing manner and wisdom, and the king made Joseph governor over the country and the royal household. 11Then there was a famine all over Egypt and Canaan, which caused much suffering. Our ancestors could not find any food, 12and when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent his sons, our ancestors, on their first visit there. 13On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and the king of Egypt came to know about Joseph's family. 14So Joseph sent a message to his father Jacob, telling him and the whole family, 75 people in all, to come to Egypt. 15Then Jacob went to Egypt, where he and his sons died. 16Their bodies were taken to Shechem, where they were buried in the grave which Abraham had bought from the clan of Hamor for a sum of money.

17“When the time drew near for God to keep the promise he had made to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had grown much larger. 18At last a king who did not know about Joseph began to rule in Egypt. 19He tricked our ancestors and was cruel to them, forcing them to put their babies out of their homes, so that they would die. 20It was at this time that Moses was born, a very beautiful child. He was cared for at home for three months, 21and when he was put out of his home, the king's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22He was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became a great man in words and deeds.

23“When Moses was forty years old, he decided to find out how his fellow-Israelites were being treated. 24He saw one of them being ill-treated by an Egyptian, so he went to his help and took revenge on the Egyptian by killing him. 25(He thought that his own people would understand that God was going to use him to set them free, but they did not understand.) 26The next day he saw two Israelites fighting, and he tried to make peace between them. ‘Listen, men,’ he said, ‘you are fellow-Israelites; why are you fighting like this?’ 27But the one who was ill-treating the other pushed Moses aside. ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?’ he asked. 28‘Do you want to kill me, just as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’ 29When Moses heard this, he fled from Egypt and went to live in the land of Midian. There he had two sons.

30“After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31Moses was amazed by what he saw, and went near the bush to get a better look. But he heard the Lord's voice: 32‘I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and dared not look. 33The Lord said to him, ‘Take your sandals off, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34I have seen the cruel suffering of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans, and I have come down to set them free. Come now; I will send you to Egypt.’

35“Moses is the one who was rejected by the people of Israel. ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?’ they asked. He is the one whom God sent to rule the people and set them free with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush. 36He led the people out of Egypt, performing miracles and wonders in Egypt and at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert. 37Moses is the one who said to the people of Israel, ‘God will send you a prophet, just as he sent me, and he will be one of your own people.’ 38He is the one who was with the people of Israel assembled in the desert; he was there with our ancestors and with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and he received God's living messages to pass on to us.

39“But our ancestors refused to obey him; they pushed him aside and wished that they could go back to Egypt. 40So they said to Aaron, ‘Make us some gods who will lead us. We do not know what has happened to that man Moses, who brought us out of Egypt.’ 41It was then that they made an idol in the shape of a bull, offered sacrifice to it, and had a feast in honour of what they themselves had made. 42So God turned away from them and gave them over to worship the stars of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:

‘People of Israel! It was not to me

that you slaughtered and sacrificed animals

for forty years in the desert.

43It was the tent of the god Molech that you carried,

and the image of Rephan, your star god;

they were idols that you had made to worship.

And so I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’

44“Our ancestors had the Tent of God's presence with them in the desert. It had been made as God had told Moses to make it, according to the pattern that Moses had been shown. 45Later on, our ancestors who received the tent from their fathers carried it with them when they went with Joshua and took over the land from the nations that God drove out as they advanced. And it stayed there until the time of David. 46He won God's favour and asked God to allow him to provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47But it was Solomon who built him a house.

48“But the Most High God does not live in houses built by human hands; as the prophet says:

49‘Heaven is my throne, says the Lord,

and the earth is my footstool.

What kind of house would you build for me?

Where is the place for me to live in?

50Did not I myself make all these things?’

51“How stubborn you are!” Stephen went on to say. “How heathen your hearts, how deaf you are to God's message! You are just like your ancestors: you too have always resisted the Holy Spirit! 52Was there any prophet that your ancestors did not persecute? They killed God's messengers, who long ago announced the coming of his righteous Servant. And now you have betrayed and murdered him. 53You are the ones who received God's law, that was handed down by angels — yet you have not obeyed it!”

The Stoning of Stephen

54As the members of the Council listened to Stephen, they became furious and ground their teeth at him in anger. 55But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw God's glory and Jesus standing at the right-hand side of God. 56“Look!” he said. “I see heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at the right-hand side of God!”

57With a loud cry the members of the Council covered their ears with their hands. Then they all rushed at him at once, 58threw him out of the city, and stoned him. The witnesses left their cloaks in the care of a young man named Saul. 59They kept on stoning Stephen as he called out to the Lord, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60He knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord! Do not remember this sin against them!” He said this and died.

1And Saul approved of his murder.

Saul Persecutes the Church

That very day the church in Jerusalem began to suffer cruel persecution. All the believers, except the apostles, were scattered throughout the provinces of Judea and Samaria. 2Some devout men buried Stephen, mourning for him with loud cries.

3But Saul tried to destroy the church; going from house to house, he dragged out the believers, both men and women, and threw them into jail.

The Gospel is Preached in Samaria

4The believers who were scattered went everywhere, preaching the message. 5Philip went to the principal city in Samaria and preached the Messiah to the people there. 6The crowds paid close attention to what Philip said, as they listened to him and saw the miracles that he performed. 7Evil spirits came out from many people with a loud cry, and many paralysed and lame people were healed. 8So there was great joy in that city.

9A man named Simon lived there, who for some time had astounded the Samaritans with his magic. He claimed that he was someone great, 10and everyone in the city, from all classes of society, paid close attention to him. “He is that power of God known as ‘The Great Power’,” they said. 11They paid this attention to him because for such a long time he had astonished them with his magic. 12But when they believed Philip's message about the good news of the Kingdom of God and about Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Simon himself also believed; and after being baptized, he stayed close to Philip and was astounded when he saw the great wonders and miracles that were being performed.

14The apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had received the word of God, so they sent Peter and John to them. 15When they arrived, they prayed for the believers that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16For the Holy Spirit had not yet come down on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18Simon saw that the Spirit had been given to the believers when the apostles placed their hands on them. So he offered money to Peter and John, 19and said, “Give this power to me too, so that anyone I place my hands on will receive the Holy Spirit.”

20But Peter answered him, “May you and your money go to hell, for thinking that you can buy God's gift with money! 21You have no part or share in our work, because your heart is not right in God's sight. 22Repent, then, of this evil plan of yours, and pray to the Lord that he will forgive you for thinking such a thing as this. 23For I see that you are full of bitter envy and are a prisoner of sin.”

24Simon said to Peter and John, “Please pray to the Lord for me, so that none of these things you spoke of will happen to me.”

25After they had given their testimony and proclaimed the Lord's message, Peter and John went back to Jerusalem. On their way they preached the Good News in many villages of Samaria.

Philip and the Ethiopian Official

26An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get ready and go south to the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This road is not used nowadays.) 27-28So Philip got ready and went. Now an Ethiopian eunuch, who was an important official in charge of the treasury of the queen of Ethiopia, was on his way home. He had been to Jerusalem to worship God and was going back home in his carriage. As he rode along, he was reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah. 29The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to that carriage and stay close to it.” 30Philip ran over and heard him reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah. He asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

31The official replied, “How can I understand unless someone explains it to me?” And he invited Philip to climb up and sit in the carriage with him. 32The passage of scripture which he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep that is taken to be slaughtered,

like a lamb that makes no sound when its wool is cut off,

he did not say a word.

33He was humiliated, and justice was denied him.

No one will be able to tell about his descendants,

because his life on earth has come to an end.”

34The official asked Philip, “Tell me, of whom is the prophet saying this? Of himself or of someone else?” 35Then Philip began to speak; starting from this passage of scripture, he told him the Good News about Jesus. 36As they travelled down the road, they came to a place where there was some water, and the official said, “Here is some water. What is to keep me from being baptized?”

38The official ordered the carriage to stop, and both Philip and the official went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away. The official did not see him again, but continued on his way, full of joy. 40Philip found himself in Azotus; he went on to Caesarea, and on the way he preached the Good News in every town.

The Conversion of Saul

(Acts 22.6–16; 26.12–18)

1In the meantime Saul kept up his violent threats of murder against the followers of the Lord. He went to the High Priest 2and asked for letters of introduction to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he should find there any followers of the Way of the Lord, he would be able to arrest them, both men and women, and bring them back to Jerusalem.

3As Saul was coming near the city of Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed round him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?”

5“Who are you, Lord?” he asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you persecute,” the voice said. 6“But get up and go into the city, where you will be told what you must do.”

7The men who were travelling with Saul had stopped, not saying a word; they heard the voice but could not see anyone. 8Saul got up from the ground and opened his eyes, but could not see a thing. So they took him by the hand and led him into Damascus. 9For three days he was not able to see, and during that time he did not eat or drink anything.

10There was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. He had a vision, in which the Lord said to him, “Ananias!”

“Here I am, Lord,” he answered.

11The Lord said to him, “Get ready and go to Straight Street, and at the house of Judas ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying, 12and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come in and place his hands on him so that he might see again.”

13Ananias answered, “Lord, many people have told me about this man and about all the terrible things he has done to your people in Jerusalem. 14And he has come to Damascus with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who worship you.”

15The Lord said to him, “Go, because I have chosen him to serve me, to make my name known to Gentiles and kings and to the people of Israel. 16And I myself will show him all that he must suffer for my sake.”

17So Ananias went, entered the house where Saul was, and placed his hands on him. “Brother Saul,” he said, “the Lord has sent me — Jesus himself, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here. He sent me so that you might see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18At once something like fish scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he was able to see again. He stood up and was baptized; 19and after he had eaten, his strength came back.

Saul Preaches in Damascus

Saul stayed for a few days with the believers in Damascus. 20He went straight to the synagogues and began to preach that Jesus was the Son of God.

21All who heard him were amazed and asked, “Isn't he the one who in Jerusalem was killing those who worship that man Jesus? And didn't he come here for the very purpose of arresting those people and taking them back to the chief priests?”

22But Saul's preaching became even more powerful, and his proofs that Jesus was the Messiah were so convincing that the Jews who lived in Damascus could not answer him.

23After many days had gone by, the Jews met together and made plans to kill Saul, 24but he was told of their plan. Day and night they watched the city gates in order to kill him. 25But one night Saul's followers took him and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.

Saul in Jerusalem

26Saul went to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples. But they would not believe that he was a disciple, and they were all afraid of him. 27Then Barnabas came to his help and took him to the apostles. He explained to them how Saul had seen the Lord on the road and that the Lord had spoken to him. He also told them how boldly Saul had preached in the name of Jesus in Damascus. 28And so Saul stayed with them and went all over Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29He also talked and disputed with the Greek-speaking Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30When the believers found out about this, they took Saul to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus.

31And so it was that the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had a time of peace. Through the help of the Holy Spirit it was strengthened and grew in numbers, as it lived in reverence for the Lord.

Peter in Lydda and Joppa

32Peter travelled everywhere, and on one occasion he went to visit God's people who lived in Lydda. 33There he met a man named Aeneas, who was paralysed and had not been able to get out of bed for eight years. 34“Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ makes you well. Get up and make your bed.” At once Aeneas got up. 35All the people living in Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.

36In Joppa there was a woman named Tabitha, who was a believer. (Her name in Greek is Dorcas, meaning “a deer”.) She spent all her time doing good and helping the poor. 37At that time she became ill and died. Her body was washed and laid in a room upstairs. 38Joppa was not very far from Lydda, and when the believers in Joppa heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him with the message, “Please hurry and come to us.” 39So Peter got ready and went with them. When he arrived, he was taken to the room upstairs, where all the widows crowded round him, crying and showing him all the shirts and coats that Dorcas had made while she was alive. 40Peter put them all out of the room, and knelt down and prayed; then he turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41Peter reached over and helped her get up. Then he called all the believers, including the widows, and presented her alive to them. 42The news about this spread all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43Peter stayed on in Joppa for many days with a tanner of leather named Simon.

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