When you read the story of Dorcas’ death and the miracle that follows it in Acts 9:36-42, please—for the love of Scripture—leave your assumptions about women and widows at the door. Instead, do this:
- Read the text as it is written.
- Read it slowly.
- Read it in more than one translation.
- If you have a study Bible or commentary, check the notes against the actual text.
Why? Because there are way too many assumptions about this passage
The Expositor’s Commentary refers to the widows as “poor and destitute.”
NOTE: Nowhere in the text does it say or infer this.
C.K. Barrett’s commentary says, “They are mentioned not as an order…but as poor.”
NOTE: Nowhere in this passage does it say or infer this.
Marshall states, “The Greek phrase may indicate that these were the clothes that they were actually wearing.”
NOTE: Nothing in text implies that they were showing Peter the clothes they were wearing.
Neither does it say that the widows were recipients of her charity, almsdeeds, or clothing.
The Greek literally states that the widows were there mourning and showing Peter the garments (inner & outer) that Dorcas made WITH THEM.
Luke uses the preposition “meta” with the Genitive case. According to the rules governing prepositions:
Meta (Genitive, Accusative)
1. With Genitive
- Association/Accompaniment: with, in company with
- Spatial: with, among
- Manner (Attendant Circumstance): with
2. With Accusative
- Temporal: after, behind
- Spatial (rare): after, behind
What this means is this: Dorcas made the clothing WITH the widows, not “for” the widows. In order to get that meaning out of the text, Luke would have had to use not only a different preposition but also a different case (Dative).
We’re always making interpretations. The goal is to stay as faithful to the text as possible.
Remember that not all women were poor and destitute…
MANY of them actually FUNDED Jesus’ ministry.