Chapter

Acts 9:37

ESV In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.
NIV About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room.
NASB But it happened at that time that she became sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upstairs room.
CSB About that time she became sick and died. After washing her, they placed her in a room upstairs.
NLT About this time she became ill and died. Her body was washed for burial and laid in an upstairs room.
KJV And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.

What does Acts 9:37 mean?

The Mosaic law doesn't give instructions for burial, and it's thought the practice was dictated by local custom more than a more universal ceremony. Because of the warm climate and the law that said touching the dead made one unclean (Numbers 19:11), burial was typically performed quickly after death.

The "upper room" may have been a shed on the roof. In the Old Testament, a Shunammite woman made a room on the roof for the prophet Elisha. When her son died, she placed him on Elisha's bed until she could call on him in hopes he could raise her son (2 Kings 4:18–37). Something similar happens here.

When Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had very little time to bury Jesus before the Sabbath began, so they hastily wrapped His body in linen with myrrh and aloe (John 19:38–40). The women who followed Jesus intended to finish the preparations after the Sabbath (Luke 23:55–56). Considering Tabitha sits up when Peter tells her to, she was likely not prepared for burial: itself an act of faith that Peter would come and God would raise her.

Once again, God empowers His disciple to perform a miracle of healing to validate the disciple's message about Jesus. In today's world, this likely would not work as well. When presented with a miracle, half the people would find a scientific reason to explain it away. The other half would believe too quickly and accept even fake miracles or sleight of hand. Since we have the completed Bible, we have another way to determine if a teacher's message is from God: compare it to what God said.
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