Grades 3-6 Sunday School Lesson
New Testament Women of Faith
Lydia and Dorcas
Author’s Notes: In our last lesson, we learned the importance of putting our faith into action. If we have truly trusted Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, then it should show in the things we say and do. So this week’s lesson will be a glimpse at two New Testament women who lived out their faith in the things that they did. Lydia and Dorcas were women whose faith was well known by the kind things they did for those around them.
Coloring Page for Young Visitors
There’s an old expression that says, “Actions speak louder than words.” What do you think that means? (allow the students time to think about this expression, and explain what they think it means) Others learn a lot about us not only by the things we say, but also by the things we do. And when our actions don’t match up with the things we’ve said, then people may stop believing what we say.
We learned in our last lesson that when we have truly trusted Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, we should not only tell others about Him and what He’s done for us, but it should also show in the things we do and say. Do you know people who claim to be Christians, who claim to know Jesus and love Him… but once they step away from church and into the world, they’re just about the meanest people you know?
Then, there are those people who are very quiet, who don’t really say much at all. But when you see them at home, or at school, or out in the neighborhood they’re just about the nicest people you know – always speaking kindly, and looking for ways they can help others.
Which of these people would you believe is truly a Christian? We can’t see the hearts of others. Only God can do that. But most of the time, what people do is a much better indicator of what’s in the heart than what they’ve said.
So, back to a question we asked last week, if someone were to follow you around this week, would they see any evidence that Jesus is your Lord? Would the way that you act and the things that you say match your claim that you love Jesus?
In today’s lesson, we’re going to meet two New Testament women who loved the Lord. We know that because of the things they did. They were well known in their towns for being kind and helpful to others; ready to give when an opportunity arose. Their actions loudly said, “Yes, these women love Jesus, and have put their faith in Him! They can honestly say the words of our memory verse, the same from last week: I will show you my faith by my works!”
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“…I will shew thee my faith by my works.” James 2:18b
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for Your Word, The Bible, where we can learn new truths about You, and Your plans for us. Help each one of us here, today, to be attentive to what You would have us learn. Give us open ears and hearts, ready to listen to Your words. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: Lydia and Dorcas (Acts 9 &16)
Can someone tell us what faith looks like? It’s true that faith isn’t normally thought of as something we can see. It’s more like a way of thinking...believing in something or someone. But we learned last week that others should be able to see our faith by the way we act. That’s what our memory verse is all about.
So let’s turn to the book of Acts, where we’re going to meet two women: one by the name of Lydia, the other is Dorcas. And let’s see how they showed others their faith by their works.
1 Then came [Paul and Silas] to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:
2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.
3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him…
11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;
12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
The apostle Paul had set out on another missionary journey to visit the Christians who lived in the cities he had preached in on his first journey. This time, he had several friends with him, including Silas, Timothy, and Luke (the writer of Acts). And the Holy Spirit led them to go to Philippi, to meet someone very special.
13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
What do we learn about Lydia, from these verses?
- She was a businesswoman who sold purple cloth.
- She worshipped God, and gathered with others by the river for prayer
- And her heart was open to the things Paul shared
Lydia was already showing evidence of the faith in her heart. We see that she was already worshipping God, and spending time praying with other believers. We also see that her heart was open to the new things that Paul came to share with them. Lydia’s faith was already showing in her desire to spend more time in worship and learning.
But as her faith grew, Lydia realized there was more she could do; not to earn bonus points with God, or with Paul. But simply because her faith and love for the Lord was growing, Lydia realized there were things she knew God wanted her to do.
15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
So not only did changes take place in Lydia’s own heart and life, they also happened in the lives of others around her, as a result of her growing faith. Lydia’s testimony of faith through her baptism may have inspired other members of her family to also be saved, and get baptized.
And her works of faith began to expand beyond her family. Lydia decided to use the resources that God had blessed her with to minister to others, as well. She offered Paul and his companions a place to stay while they were in Philippi. What a generous offer and great blessing that was! Her door was even open to them after they had been arrested and thrown in prison.
Verse 40 tells us, “And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia...”
That could have put Lydia and her family in danger. But Lydia trusted God to take care of her needs, even as she did all she could to meet the needs of others. That’s how faith should affect our lives! It should cause us to see if there are changes we need to make in our own lives. Then it should inspire us to look around, and see how we can reach out to others, too.
And speaking of reaching out to others, that leads us to our other New Testament woman of faith, Dorcas. We find her story in Acts 9.
Dorcas was another wonderful example of what faith at work should look like. Let’s Go to Acts 9, and read about the things this faithful lady did.
36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
What was Dorcas (or Tabitha, which was her name in Hebrew) known for in the city of Joppa? First of all, Dorcas was known as a disciple. What does that mean? It means she was a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. Dorcas had made a profession of her faith in Jesus, and was doing all she could to follow Jesus’ teachings.
That’s where the second part of the verse comes in. Not only did Dorcas say she loved Jesus, she also lived in a way that others could tell – she showed the people of Joppa her faith by her works. Verse 36 tells us that Dorcas’ life was full of doing good things and giving what she could to others. If we skip ahead, a bit, to verse 39, we can see that one of the things Dorcas did was to make clothing and coats for the widows of Joppa. And this made her a well-loved woman in her city. Dorcas truly put her faith into action!
And that’s why, when something unexpected happened to Dorcas, the people she ministered to reached out to Peter, on her behalf, hoping there was something they could do for her, in return for all of her kindness.
37 And it came to pass in those days, that [Dorcas] was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.
38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.
39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
Dorcas was certainly loved by many in Joppa. They had even carried with them the things she had made, as they came to mourn. So, what happened to Dorcas? She became sick, and died. And how did the other disciples in Joppa react to losing this faithful lady? They were very sad. And when they found out that the apostle Peter was in a nearby town, they sent some messengers to him, asking him to come to Joppa.
This was faith in action for the other disciples of Joppa! They knew that Dorcas was dead. But they believed that God could still do a great miracle through Peter, to help Dorcas. So they did what they could – they sent for Peter. And Peter came.
40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.
Here was one more opportunity for someone to put their faith into action. What did Peter do first? He kneeled down to pray. Peter believed that Jesus could bring Dorcas back to life. But he needed to be sure that it’s what God wanted to do. So once he had asked the Lord, Peter spoke to Dorcas’ dead body. And what happened then? Dorcas opened her eyes, and sat up. The Lord had used Peter to bring her back to life!
Not only was this great news for Dorcas’ friends and family, but there was also more good news spread throughout Joppa. What other great result came from Dorcas coming back to life? Verse 42 says that the news spread all through Joppa. And many people decided to put their faith in the Lord because of what happened in Dorcas’ life.
And everything that happened was because Dorcas had lived a life that showed her faith to the world.
We considered this question last week. Let’s think about it again: What if someone were to follow us around this week, to watch everything we did, and listen to everything we said or even thought. What would they conclude about our faith? Would there be evidence that we love and worship the Lord in the things we say and do? Could we show them our faith by our works?
Lydia and Dorcas both touched the lives of those around them because of their faith and love for the Lord. What were some of the things they did for others?
We may not have homes large enough to offer a place for others to stay. We may not have the skill needed to sew clothing for others. But God has given each of us talents or things we can use to reach out to others.
He doesn’t want us doing it out of obligation, because then we will grow tired of helping. Or sometimes people even become bitter about the things they feel they have to do to please God. God wants our works, the good things we do, to come out of our love for Him and our faith in Him.
What can you do to show your faith in Jesus you love for Him, today?
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the examples of Lydia and Dorcas, and how they showed their faith in Jesus by their acts of love and worship. Help each of us to have humble hearts like theirs, full of faith in You: so full that we can’t help living it out in all that we do and say. For we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Activity: (Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. Dorcas was known in the city of Joppa for being a disciple. (true)
2. Dorcas was also known for being mean and stingy. (false – she was known for her good works)
3. Dorcas became sick, and died. (true)
4. The apostle Peter was too busy to come help Dorcas. (false – he came and brought her back to life)
5. Dorcas made clothing and coats for the widows of Joppa. (true)