This week’s Bible reading from Acts 9:36-43 tells about the resurrection of a woman named Tabitha – also called Dorcas.
Dorcas was a disciple. Dorcas was a woman.
It isn't a "maybe she was, but maybe she wasn't" scenario. The Bible calls Dorcas a disciple. The Greek word "mathetria" is the feminine equivalent of the masculine word "mathetes." Both mean disciple. Feminine and Masculine forms of the word don’t downgrade or raise the value of one over the other. Dorcas was a disciple - period. She is one of many significant and strong women in the Bible – Elizabeth, Mary, Mary Magdalene, Lydia, Priscilla, and Dorcas
So Dorcas, the disciple, cared for others. When she died, other disciples called for Peter, who prayed and called for her to get up. She did. People saw that she was alive and they believed.
For the twelve year old in all of us -- I know that there may be a few reader snickering about the name of this resurrected disciple. Dorcas. I know it sounds like a completely different word in English. The meanings of the word and the name are radically different, however. Tabitha, a Hebrew name, and Dorcas – its Greek equivalent, mean ‘gazelle.’ They don't mean clumsy or strange or ‘’nerdish.” Dorcas was respected and loved by those in Joppa. She was loved and respected by Jewish people and Gentile people. That’s why her name is listed in this week's reading in both Hebrew and Greek.
That Dorcas was a disciple seems to break the rules of some Christian denominations today. She was a leader of men and women. It was the kind of thing that broke the rules of the culture where Dorcas was a disciple.
And that's just be beginning. There’s a lot of rule breaking in this week’s Bible reading.