God’s Word for You
Acts 9:32-35 A man named Aeneas
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, February 17, 2020
32 Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he also went to visit the saints living in Lydda. 33 He found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralyzed. 34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and prepare your dining couch!” Immediately, Aeneas got up. 35 Everyone who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
Lydda was known as Lod in Old Testament times. It was built on the road from Jerusalem to Joppa by a descendant of Benjamin, Shemed, whose mother Hushim had been divorced from her husband Shahariam (1 Chronicles 8:8-12). The longevity and success of this city is a reminder that God does not abandon those who are divorced, even though he hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). If they have sinned, their sins can be forgiven. If they have been sinned against, he will be a refuge for those who trust in him (Nahum 1:7).
Verse 32 sketches the work of the apostles at this time; this episode merely shows us one incident from the ministry of Peter which would lead to another important vision later. The apostles went throughout the region, visiting the churches. But notice that rather than “churches,” Luke says “saints.” It is people, not buildings, that makes a congregation. And the people who put their faith in Christ are not merely those under a roof, but holy ones, saints, made righteous by the blood of Jesus.
The name Aeneas comes from Greek semi-historical mythology; our paralyzed man was named after a hero of the Trojan war who became King of Troy after the defeat of the Greeks (the historical Trojan war happened in the days of the Judges). The only thing we know about this Aeneas is that he had been paralyzed. We could understand the Greek phrase ex ekton okto to mean either “for eight years” or “from eight years old,” but the former is the more likely.
Peter healed Aeneas with the name of Jesus Christ. This kind of miracle seems almost commonplace in the early days of the church. Anyone who has lost a loved one or who has faced death themselves has surely wished that these miracles still happened today. Perhaps there have been times when they really have taken place, but we won’t dwell upon that. What we need to remember is the reason for the miracles, especially from the point of view of God in heaven. These miracles were permitted by God to further the growth of the gospel by underscoring the truth of his word. The miracles were God’s stamp of approval on Peter’s message here in Lydda. The people of Lydda and throughout the coastal plain of Sharon saw Aeneas and realized that God himself had worked through Peter. They believed the message Peter preached, and they put their faith in Christ.
Let’s return to the healing. After Aeneas was healed, Peter told him, “Get up and prepare your dining couch.” Here we have a translation question, since the verb stroson can be either “prepare you dining couch” or “make your bed.” Most translations opt for the “make your bed” option (NIV and EHV have “take care of your mat”). The “dining couch” option seems more likely to me because it’s the same term that we find when Jesus gave his disciples instructions about “preparing a place” for the Lord’s Supper (Mark 14:15; Luke 22:12). Either way, this is a signal to Aeneas that he was healed permanently. I was recently told that soldiers are taught to make their beds so that they always know that they have a safe place to return to at night that is absolutely secure for them because they themselves prepared it. “Prepare your dining couch” may need more explanation. In New Testament times, people ate meals reclining on a long couch known as a kliné (see the footnote on Mark 7:4). A man who had been paralyzed for many years would have no place at the table, and Peter would have been telling him to get ready for a meal. Jesus showed concern for the people he healed when he told Jairus and his wife to “give something to eat” to their daughter when he raised her from the dead. These details remind us that the accounts in the Bible are not fables or allegories. The Biblical accounts are also not just impressions of famous people who lived long ago, or historical fictions like the Latin legend of the ancient Aeneas. The Biblical record gives true accounts of historical incidents. Peter himself was a good eyewitness to what happened in Lydda on this day.
The most important historical fact of the Bible is the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. He died to atone for the sins of mankind. The preaching of the apostles was about that one truth, which led thousands upon thousands to faith in Jesus. The miracles of Peter and the other apostles showed God’s stamp of approval on that message, and we trust the same message today. Through Jesus, we have the hope and the assurance of everlasting life. But we won’t have to get our own dining couches ready or make our own beds. Jesus has already prepared a place for us (John 14:2); we only need to put our faith in him.
Pastor Timothy Smith