Tabitha in the Bible – 9 Powerful Lessons For Us

The story of Tabitha in the Bible verses of the Book of Acts occupies only a few lines but leaves a powerful impact in our minds.  It’s an inspirational story of how good works and acts of charity can leave a legacy for generations to come. 

Tabitha is one of the most inspiring women we read about in the New Testament. Just like other women, like Priscilla and Lydia, she played a special role in the early church. She may have been an ordinary woman, but she served her community faithfully in an extraordinary manner. 

Tabitha’s life touched many lives and made a tangible difference in the lives of the widows around her. Because of that, she was celebrated both in life and death. 

Through the life of Tabitha in the Bible, we learn some rich lessons we can apply in our own lives. So, who was this woman? Let’s take a deep dive into what the Word of God tells us about her. 

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Who is Tabitha in the Bible?

Tabitha’s name is an Aramaic name. Tabitha in the Bible means “gazelle” or “deer.” The gazelle was a symbol of graceful beauty. Her Greek name is Dorcas, and both names have the same meaning. 

The Bible tells us that Tabitha lived in the city of Joppa near Lydda. Joppa was a port city on the Mediterranean Sea in Israel. Today the Biblical town of Joppa is known as Jaffa and is located in the southern region of Tel Aviv, Israel. 

Tabitha’s story is found in the Book of Acts 9:36-42. Even though she only has a few verses dedicated to her life, we learn a lot from her.

The first thing we learn is that she was a female disciple, so called because she had accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, and everything she did was because of her intimate relationship with Him. This is the only time in the New Testament that the feminine form of the Greek word for disciple (μαθήτρια), is used. 

What Did Tabitha Do in the Bible?

As a believer, Tabitha was rich in acts of kindness and charity which she continually did. She was aware and intentional about helping those in her community, especially those in need. 

She was a seamstress who used her skills and gifts to serve widows. Dorcas made clothing and robes for the widows because she knew that they were some of the most vulnerable and forgotten members of her community.

The Bible tells us to have both faith and good works, and Tabitha is an example of someone who followed this command. 

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

James 1:27

What Happened to Tabitha in the Bible?

We aren’t told exactly what happened, but Tabitha got sick and died. Her dead body was washed and taken to the upper room in preparation for burial. The disciples who heard that Tabitha had died sent two men to call Apostle Peter since he was in Lydda, a city near to Joppa. 

Peter came to Tabitha’s home and was taken to the upstairs room where the widows were crying and showing him the robes and tunics Dorcas had made for them. The first thing he did was to send them all out of the room. 

When he was left alone with Tabitha’s body, he knelt and prayed. He then turned to the dead woman and told her to arise. She opened her eyes, looked at Peter, and sat up. Apostle Peter gave her his hand, helped her up and presented her alive to the believers and widows who were waiting outside. 

The miracle of Tabitha being raised from the dead was good news that spread throughout Joppa, leading many to believe in the Lord. 

This story is similar to when Jesus raised a little girl (Jairus’ daughter) from the dead in Mark 5:21–43. Peter, and James, and John the brother of James witnessed the miracle. The Aramaic words Jesus used were “Talitha koum!” translated to “Little girl, get up.” Similarly, Apostle Peter uses Tabitha’s name in Aramaic which translates to “Tabitha koum!”  or “Tabitha, get up.

The same power Jesus revealed was now in His disciples, and they used similar ways to raise a dead person back to life!

What Kind of Person Was Tabitha?

The account of Tabitha’s death shows us that she was a kind Christian woman who loved and served her community. She cared for and protected the widows and helped them in practical ways.

She was known and well-loved because of her charitable deeds. Those she had ministered to loved her and even went on to ask Peter to come and see what he could do because Dorcas’ death was a great loss to her community. 

Tabitha stood out as a unique and different person. She was extraordinary, and her reputation for being caring and having concern for others preceded her. Tabitha was a devoted disciple of Jesus who obeyed His instructions and principles, as evidenced by her loving care of the widows she knew. 

​Tabitha was a devoted disciple of Jesus who obeyed His instructions and principles, as evidenced by her loving care of the widows she knew. 

Lessons From Tabitha in the Bible

From reading the story of Tabitha even in a few verses we can see that she made a significant impact in the kingdom of God and her community. 

She doesn’t say anything in the Bible, but the way she was mourned showed that she was a remarkable woman. For this reason, we can look at her life and find valuable lessons that she can teach us.           

1) Tabitha’s story teaches us about leaving a legacy. 

Tabitha, through her faithful obedience in doing deeds of kindness, left a legacy behind her. When she died, it was a great loss to the widows and the greater Christian community around her. 

She teaches us to do good things for others and be intentional about how we want to be remembered. Many, many years later organizations have opened in her name such as the Dorcas Society Ministry which meets the needs of people spiritually, emotionally, and physically in Africa and beyond. 

Dorcas would never have thought that she was leaving a legacy, and we will never know in this life, either. But we can obey God and make an impact on those around us. God will use that beyond our wildest dreams and imagination. 

2) Tabitha in the Bible teaches us that God can use anyone in His Kingdom. 

We aren’t given details about Dorcas’ marital status or her social status and family. Some Bible scholars have said she may have been a widow herself. While society places a lot of importance on positions and possessions, the Lord doesn’t. Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles focuses on how she lived for the Lord.

​Tabitha was a female disciple who did amazing work for the community. This teaches us that God can use anyone for the work in His kingdom. Don’t worry about what you have or don’t have according to this world’s standards because God only considers what’s in your heart. Your identity is in Christ and being part of the family of God.  

But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7

3) Tabitha teaches us that miracles happen with the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus promised the disciples that when He would leave the earth they wouldn’t be left alone. The Holy Spirit would come upon them and allow them to receive power and do miracles similar to what He had done, and more. 

Since we as believers in Jesus as Saviour have the Holy Spirit in us, God can use us in His miracle work in the world today, that of bringing others to know Jesus as Saviour, too! 

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Acts 1:8

4) The story of Tabitha teaches us to have good works and faith. 

Faith is the foundation of Christianity. The Bible even goes on to tell us that without faith, we can’t please God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith must be accompanied by good works, as well. Good works have no part in salvation, but a saved soul will desire to do good out of love for their Saviour

This is something we learn from the life of Dorcas. Her love for her Saviour gave her love for her neighbors, who she helped in practical ways. As believers, we are encouraged to do the same. 

If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

James 2:15-16

5) Tabitha’s story shows us that Christ Jesus is our Source of hope.

Looking at this initially one would have thought there was no hope in this situation. A dead person lay in the upper chamber, and all those around her were overcome with grief and sadness. But we see that Christ is our Source of hope because Tabitha did rise from the dead! 

In our own lives, some situations can cause us to be discouraged.  Maybe it’s a situation we’ve been struggling with for years. A child with an addiction, an unbelieving husband, a sickness that won’t go away, or a dire financial situation. God can breathe a miracle into any situation. He is all-powerful. Continue to trust Him and put your hope in Him.

For more help growing in your walk with God, you’ll want to be sure to check out all these Practical Ways to Get Closer to God Today!

6) Tabitha in the Bible teaches us to use our gifts to help others. 

Tabitha was a talented seamstress. She had a skill and gift that she used to do good deeds, serving in God’s kingdom. In our own lives, we too can use what the Lord gives us to serve and help those around us. 

7) Tabitha’s story teaches us to be selfless. 

Tabitha’s charitable work for the needy widows is commendable. She was a true servant of the Lord. She cared for others and was able to look beyond her own needs and help her community powerfully. We may have different roles and responsibilities to take care of towards our own families, but we are encouraged to look beyond that and help those in our community or even globally.

Our biggest example of a selfless person is Christ Jesus Himself. He was able to leave the comfort of heaven and take on the form of man. He endured a painful and humiliating death on the cross so that we could be saved and inherit eternal life. Let us learn from His example. 

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Philippians 2:3-4

8) Tabitha’s story shows that there is a blessing in being generous.

The Lord promises blessings for those who are generous. These blessings or “fat” can be in the form of wealth, abundance, good health or peace. When we help others in their time of need, we will also get help in our time of need.

Tabitha’s life was dedicated to doing kind acts for others. And God saw fit to raise her from the dead! 

The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.

Proverbs 11:25

9) The story of Dorcas shows us that all things have a purpose. 

So many people ask themselves why the Lord allows bad things to happen. We find the answers in the Word of God. In John 11:1-45, Jesus Christ was told that Lazarus was sick and that He should come and see him. He didn’t go right away but waited until Lazarus died. But that gave Him the opportunity to perform a miracle and raise Lazarus from the dead! 

Jesus Christ explained that He had to wait until Lazarus died so He could perform a miracle and demonstrate His power. Similarly, Tabitha’s resurrection led many to believe in Christ, and the Christian community grew as a result. This teaches us that God uses painful situations for a purpose, so we need to trust Him always. 

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28
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Tabitha is a significant woman in the New Testament. She is the only woman to be referred to as a female disciple showing that she was a devoted and faithful follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

When she died, her community suffered a great loss. While the situation seemed hopeless, Apostle Peter, through the power of the Holy Spirit, performed a miracle raising her from the dead. 

She served others in their time of need and she received God’s grace and mercy in her time of need. Tabitha’s resurrection reinforced her worth in the community. The good news spread across the city of Joppa, and many people repented and believed in the Lord. 

We can learn many lessons from the life of Tabitha in the Bible. Her faith and deeds of kindness inspire us to obey God, be faithful disciples, and intentionally leave a legacy of faith and faithful service for generations to come. 

Learn More About the Story of Tabitha in the Bible

If you’d like to dive deeper into the story of Tabitha in the Bible, you’ll want to check out this free resource! 

FREE! Character Bible Study on Tabitha

Download these Tabitha Bible Study Questions for FREE! Included are 10 study questions and 5 reflection questions, along with the specific Bible passages to read her story.

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Resources to Learn More about Inspiring Bible Women

If you’d like to study the story and lives of other inspiring women of the Bible, you’ll want to check out this 30-day Bible reading plan and journal >> Inspiring Women of the Bible Study Journal – Digital & Printable!

Be sure to read more from our Women of the Bible Series!

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Tinashe Jaricha is a child of God, saved by His amazing grace. Her passion is to encourage moms to grow in Biblical knowledge. She shares Christian living tips and resources at Our God Is With Us.

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