The Divine Lamp

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Archive for the ‘St Paul’s life’ Category

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 20:17-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 3, 2011


17. And sending from Miletus to Ephesus, he called the ancients -of the church.

The ancients. It is disputed whether these were the Bishops of the districts about Ephesus, or only the priests of some of the principal churches. More probably the term ” ancients ” here refers both to the Bishops and the priests of the neighboring cities. That there were Bishops included in the term “ancients” seems clear from verse 28.

18. And when they were come to him, and were together, he said to them: You know from the first day that I came into Asia, in what manner I have been with you, for all the time,
19. Serving the Lord with all humility, and with tears, and temptations which befell me by the conspiracies of the Jews;
20. How I have kept back nothing that was profitable to you, but have
preached it to you, and taught you publicly, and from house to house.
21. Testifying both to Jews and Gentiles penance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

In these verses St. Paul opens his discourse by recalling to the minds of the Bishops and priests gathered together, his ministry at Ephesus. He dwells on his labors and trials in their midst, and on his tender solicitude for all his spiritual children. This he did, not from pride, but out of regard for those whom he was about to leave, in order that they might remain faithful and be true to the doctrine he had preached to them.

22. And now, behold, being bound in the spirit, I go to Jerusalem: not
knowing the things which shall befall me there:
23. Save that the Holy Ghost in every city witnesseth to me, saying: That bands and afflictions wait for me at Jerusalem.
24. But I fear none of these things, neither do I count my life more
precious than myself, so that I may consummate my course and the ministry of the word which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

In this, the second part of his discourse, St. Paul says he is going to Jerusalem, and that he is ready and willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel anything that God may send him to bear. Bound in the spirit (verse 22) may mean under the impulse of the Holy Ghost, or, by his own determination. The Holy Ghost, either by direct revelation, or through the prophets of the Church (Acts 21:11) in every city, testified to St. Paul that great afflictions were in store for him; but the Apostle was undaunted, preferring to fulfil his ministry than to save his own life.

25. And now behold, I know that all you, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.
26. Wherefore I take you to witness this day, that I am clear from the
blood of all men;
27. For I have not spared to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

Taking leave of them for what he considers to be the last time, St. Paul calls his audience to witness that he has done his duty by them, and that if any of them are lost, it will not be his fault; he has spared no labors, no sufferings to make known to them the things necessary for salvation.

A Summary of Acts 20:25-35~In these verses, which conclude his discourse, the Apostle gives his hearers some final admonitions and instructions. He warns them of the dangers ahead and exhorts them to fidelity. He seemed to feel that he should not see them again, but we know that he did very probably again visit the churches of Asia Minor after his imprisonment in Rome (1 Tim 1:33; 2 Tim 1:15, 18; 4:13). From the Holy Ghost he knew that many sufferings awaited him at Jerusalem, but what their final issue should be he did not know.

Since St. Paul seemed convinced that he would never again return to Asia Minor, it is difficult to explain the actual visit which later he most probably did make to the churches there. Patrizzi says that on this occasion the Apostle spoke, “Non divino afflatu, sed prout futurum esse putabat

Father Callan is presupposing that the Roman imprisonment narrated at the end of Acts was not the one that ended in St Paul’s Martyrdom. See the article on St Paul in the Catholic Encyclopedia, scroll down and read what is under the heading CAPTIVITY (ACTS 21:27-28:31).

Posted in Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on Acts of Apostles, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, St Paul's life | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 9:1-22

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 12, 2011


Please Note: The verse numbering of this translation may not match that of others.

I’ve added just a few brief notes of my own (in red) to this commentary. I hope to add some more later today or tomorrow. I’ll mark the post title as UPDATED if this plan comes to fruition.

1. And Saul, as yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,
2. And asked of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues: that if he found any men and women of this way, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin, but a native of Tarsus in Cilicia, and therefore by birth a Roman citizen. As a youth he was taken to Jerusalem and studied at the feet of Gamaliel. He belonged to the strictest sect of the Pharisees and was zealous above all others for the Pharisaic observances. St. Paul was most probably converted in a.d. 35, and was about thirty years old at the time. See on Acts 7:57.

Full of deadly hate towards the Christian, Saul was not satisfied with what happened to St. Stephen, but, continuing to persecute the Church, he wanted to extend the persecution outside of Palestine. He therefore went to the High Priest, Annas, and requested “letters” authorizing him to persecute the Christians in Damascus, if he should find there any men or women of this way, i.e., of the Christian way of living. Damascus was the capital of Syria and situated about 125 miles northeast of Jerusalem. It was taken by the Romans under Pompey, but later (a.d. 37-38) fell to the Arabian king Aretas in the latter’s war with Herod Antipas. The Jews in Damascus at this time were very numerous, and their synagogues were many.

St. Paul wanted to bring any Christians he might find in Damascus to Jerusalem, in order that they might there be punished by the supreme council, or Sanhedrim, for what was considered their apostasy and blasphemy.

3. And as he went on his journey, it came to pass that he drew nigh to Damascus; and suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him.

There are three distinct accounts given of the conversion of St. Paul,—here, in chapter 22, and in chapter 26. The first is for Christian readers, the second was addressed to Jews, and the third to Agrippa and Festus.

A light . . . shined, etc. ; i.e., a heavenly illumination appeared at midday (Acts 26:13).

4. And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Saul, Saul, etc. These words show the tenderness and compassion of Christ both toward the persecutor and the persecuted members of His mystical body, the Church. To persecute the faithful was to persecute our Lord Himself; to persecute the body was to persecute the Head.

5. Who said: Who art thou, Lord? And he: I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.  It is hard for thee to kick against the goad.

I am Jesus. Our Lord stood before St. Paul in His glorified humanity, all radiant with light. It is hard for thee to kick, etc. These words are wanting here in the best MSS., but they are found in Acts 26:14. The goad was a long stick with an iron point at the end, used by drovers to urge on oxen or cattle. To kick against it was to suffer injury. The goad in St. Paul’s case was the grace of God, the interior promptings of which he was resisting.

6. And he trembling and astonished, said: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?
7. And the Lord said to him : Arise, and go into the city, and there it shall be told thee what thou must do. Now the men who went in company with him, stood amazed, hearing indeed a voice, but seeing no man.

Prostrate and trembling before his Master, Paul asks only to know what he should do; and our Lord tells him to go into the city of Damascus, and there God shall declare to him His will by means of Ananias. Paul must first be baptized and received into the Church by the ministers appointed by God.

Lord, what wilt Thou have me do? An imortant theme in Luke/Acts See Luke 3:10, 12, 14; Acts 2:37.

The men . . . stood amazed. Those in company with St. Paul had also fallen to the ground (Acts 26:14), but were now standing in amazement.

The rationalists contend that there is a plain contradiction between the statement of this verse, ” the men . . . stood amazed,” literally, speechless, and Acts 26:14, where Paul declare they all fell to the ground. Answer: There is no reason why both statements could not have been true. As just said above, the men in company with St. Paul could first have fallen to the ground from fright, and then stood up in amazement at what they saw and heard. But Pape and other critics hold that the ειστηκεισαν of the present verse has the sense of an emphatic etvai, which could simply mean that the men became amazed and speechless; thus there would be no difference between the statement here given and that in Acts 26:14.

Hearing indeed a voice, etc. In Acts 22:9 St. Paul seems to say the very contrary of this. Answer: Just as in Acts 22:9 the companions saw a light, but perceived no person, so here they heard a human voice, i.e., a noise, but understood no words.  “Audiebant vocem solam, non vocem cum verbis” (Bengel). Hence there is no contradiction.

The marginal reading of this verse in the Revised Edition of Oxford has rendered the words  ακουοντες μεν της, hearing the sound. But when St. Luke in Acts 22:9 speaks of the articulate voice of Christ which was audible to St. Paul alone, he employs the phrase ηκουσαν φωνην. Thus the same word, φωνή, by a different grammatical construction, may signify an inarticulate sound which all Paul’s company heard, or the distinct and articulate voice which Paul alone heard.

8. And Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. But they leading him by the hands, brought him to Damascus.
9. And he was there three days, without sight, and he did neither eat nor drink.

He saw nothing,—his eyes being still dazzled by the brightness that shone in our Lord’s glorified body. His sight was withheld from him for three days, doubtless to give him time to consider in prayer and without distraction what had happened to him.

10. Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias. And the Lord said to him in a vision: Ananias. And he said: Behold I am here, Lord.

Ananias was certainly a devout Christian, and an influential member of the Church at Damascus, but more we do not know about him. Some have thought he was one of the seventy-two disciples of our Lord.

11. And the Lord said to him: Arise, and go into the street that is called Strait, and seek in the house of Judas, one named Saul of Tarsus. For behold he prayeth.

Strait was a broad street in Damascus running from east to west; it still exists in part. Of Judas here mentioned nothing further is known. Tarsus was the capital of CiHcia in southeastern Asia Minor.

12. (And he saw a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hands upon him, that he might receive his sight.)

Some take this verse to be a parenthesis inserted by St. Luke for sake of clearness; others, with less probability, think it a continuation of the words of our Lord.

13. But Ananias answered: Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints in Jerusalem.
14. And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that invoke thy name.

Ananias was much surprised that our Lord should ask him to go to so great a persecutor of the faithful in Jerusalem, and one who had come to Damascus for the express purpose of continuing his persecutions of the ”saints,” as the Christians were commonly called.

15. And the Lord said to him: Go thy way; for this man is to me a vessel of election, to carry my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.

A vessel of election; i.e., a chosen instrument to carry the Gospel to the whole world. Vas electionis of the Vulgate is a Hebraism meaning chosen instrument. The Jews were not excluded from Paul’s labor and preaching, but his chief work was among the Gentiles. By kings were perhaps meant Agrippa, Felix, Festus, and Nero.

16. For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

He must suffer, etc. See 2 Cor 11:23-29; 12:10; Col 1:24, where we find described some of the Apostle’s sufferings. For a very good, non-technical commentary on 2 Corinthians see SECOND CORINTHIANS, by Thomas Stegman, S.J.  See also St Thomas Aquinas’ LECTURES ON SECOND CORINTHIANS (online). See also Aquinas’ LECTURES ON COLOSSIANS (online).

17. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house. And laying his hands upon him, he said: Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus hath sent me, he that appeared to thee in the way as thou earnest; that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight; and rising up, he was baptized.

The sudden cure of St. Paul’s blindness shows that it was miraculous. He was baptized. Baptism is necessary for membership in the Church of Christ and for eternal salvation. The necessary instruction which should precede it was given, in St. Paul’s case, by our Lord Himself (Gal 1:11, 12).

19. And when he had taken meat, he was strengthened. And he was with the disciples that were at Damascus, for some days.

He was with the disciples, etc.; i.e., with the Christians who were in Damascus. St. Paul at this time remained only a few days at Damascus, and then went into Arabia, where he stayed for a while (Gal 1:17, 18). Returning later to Damascus, he tarried there for some time before undertaking his first journey to Jerusalem. This visit to Jerusalem was three years after his conversion. St. Luke omits all mention of St. Paul’s stay in Arabia, because it was not to his purpose; but he speaks in the present verse of the Saint’s first visit to Damascus, and in verse 22 he is talking of the second one before going to Jerusalem.

It is vain for Weiss, Wendt, Weizaeher, and others to contend that St. Luke here (verses 19-28) and St. Paul, writing to the Galatians (Gal 1:17, 18), are in contradiction. Neither of these inspired writers intended to give his readers a complete history of the events he touched upon, but only to group together those things which he deemed necessary and suitable to his purpose and scope. These latter being different, each writer, although treating of the same event, omits irrelevant details which the other gives. But while St. Luke has here omitted St. Paul’s journey into Arabia and his sojourn there, he has not failed to give evidence that such an omission has been made. In the present verse the author speaks of St. Paul’s stay in Damascus as covering only “some days,” and of his preaching as surprising or “astonishing” the Jews; but in verses 22, 23 there is question of events that took place only after “many days had passed,” and after which period of time St. Paul had “increased much in strength,” and was not only surprising the Jews by his preaching, but was “confounding” them so much by his arguments that they were ” consulting together to kill him.” That St. Luke’s “many days ”  may mean a long period must be admitted from his frequent use of the adjective in the sense of long duration. Cf. Luke 8:27, 20:9; Acts 8:11; 14:3, 21; 18:18, etc. For similar use of “days ” in the sense of a long period cf. 1 Chron 23:1, 28; 2 Chron 24:15; Job 8:9; 7:1; 1 Kings 2:28; Prov 3:2, 16, etc.

Since, therefore, it is usual with the sacred writers to indicate longer periods of time by such expressions as “after many days,” it is evident that a considerable space intervened between the ”some days” and the surprising preaching of verses 19-21, and the “many days” and confounding preaching of verses 22, 23; to this longer intervening space, then, we are to ascribe St. Paul’s retirement to Arabia and his three years’ sojourn there before returning to Damascus.

20. And immediately he preached Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
21. And all that heard him, were astonished, and said: Is not this he who persecuted in Jerusalem those that called upon this name: and came hither for that intent, that he might carry them bound to the chief priests?

Immediately St. Paul began to declare to the Jews in the synagogues of Damascus that Christ was the Son of God and the promised Messiah. The Jews and Christians alike were astonished and could not understand the change so suddenly produced in one who, till then, had been the great enemy of the Christians, and had come to Damascus for the purpose of persecuting them there. Soon, however, he departed for Arabia, where in solitude he was instructed by Christ Himself in regard to the doctrine of the Gospel.

22. But Saul increased much more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt at Damascus, affirming that this is the Christ.

After his period of solitude and prayer in Arabia, during which he became more familiar with Christian doctrines, St. Paul revisited Damascus, and not only preached Christ to the Jews with great force, but combated them, answered their difficulties, reducing them to silence.

Posted in Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on Acts of Apostles, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, St Paul's life | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

This Weeks Posts: Sunday Jan 23-Saturday Jan 29

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 29, 2011


Some posts are scheduled in advance and will not be available until the time indicated. Further posts (e.g., commentary on next Sunday’s readings, etc) will be added to any upcoming day.
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SUNDAY, JAN 23
THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Readings.

Last Weeks Posts: Jan 16-22.

Resources For Sunday Mass, Jan 23. This is a weekly feature on this blog, next Sunday’s Mass resources will be posted on Wednesday.
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MONDAY JAN 24
MEMORIAL OF ST FRANCIS DE SALES, BISHOP AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

Readings.

Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Heb 9:15, 24-28). 12:03 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 3:22-30). 12:05 AM EST.

Some Online Works By and About St Francis de Sales. 12:10 AM EST.

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TUESDAY JAN 25
FEAST OF THE CONVERSION OF ST PAUL, APOSTLE

Readings.

Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Acts 22:3-16). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 16:15-18)12:10 AM EST.

Free Online Resources for the Feast of St Paul’s Conversion. 12:15 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matt 5:1-12 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30.

Cornelius a Lapide on 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30.

Bernardin de Piconio (Picquigny) on 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 for Sunday Mass Jan 30. This is actually a commentary on verses 18-31 but it is not terribly long.

Father Callan on 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30.

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WEDNESDAY JAN 26
MEMORIAL OF SAINTS TIMOTHY AND TITUS, BISHOPS

Readings. Note that the first reading has two choices.

Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (2 Tim 1:1-8). 12:10 AM EST.

Bishop MacEvily on the Alternate First Reading (Titus 1:1-5). 12:10 AM EST.

Father Callan on the Alternate First Reading (Titus 1:1-5). 12:10 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 4:1-20). 12:10 AM EST.

Resources For Sunday Mass, Jan 30. Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms.

Pope John Paul II on Psalm 146 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30.

Bernardin de Piconio on Romans 13:8-10 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30 (Extraordinary Form).

Father Callan on Romans 13:8-10 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30 (Extraordinary Form).

Bishop MacEvily on Romans 13:8-10 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30 (Extraordinary Form).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matt 8:23-27 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30 (Extraordinary Form).

Cornelius a Lapide on Matt 8:23-27 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30 (Extraordinary Form).

The Mystical Ship: Aquinas’ Homily Notes on Matt 8:23 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30 (Extraordinary Form).

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THURSDAY JAN 27
THIRD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Readings.

Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Heb 10:19-25). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 4:21-25). 12:10 AM EST.
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FRIDAY JAN 28
MEMORIAL OF ST THOMAS AQUINAS, PRIEST AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

Readings.

Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Heb 10:32-39). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Lecture on Heb 10:32-39.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 4:26-34). 12:10 AM EST.

The English Translations of Aquinas’ Major Works Online. Most of the titles are in Latin but the actual texts are in English.

An English Translation of Aquinas’ Commentary on the Psalms. Scroll down.

Thomas Aquinas. Online book. This is a famous study of his thought by Father Martin D’Arcy.

Medieval Philosophy Illustrated From the System of Thomas Aquinas. Online book. A very good introduction to his thought.

The Bread of Life: St Thomas Aquinas on the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar. Online book.

The Life and Labors of St Thomas of Aquino. Online book by Archbishop Roger Vaughn.
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SATURDAY JAN 29
THIRD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Readings.

Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Heb 11:1-2, 8-19). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 4:35-41). 12:10 AM EST.

Posted in Audio/Video Lectures, Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Latin Mass Notes, liturgy, Notes on 2 Tim, Notes on Acts of Apostles, Notes on Hebrews, Notes on Mark, Notes on the Lectionary, Notes on Titus, Quotes, Scripture, St Francis de Sales, St Paul's life, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Free Online Resources for the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 25, 2011


This post contains free online resources relating to the life, letters and theology of St Paul. The resources include both written and audio material. At the very end of the post I’ve included some links to books available for purchase.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Catechesis on St Paul:

In The Footsteps Of St Paul. Audio series of 13 one-half hour shows by Father Mitch Pacwa.

St Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. Audio series of 13 one-half hour shows by Father Mitch Pacwa.

Taylor Marshall Podcasts:

Conversion of Heart: The Conversion of St Paul. Podcast by David Higbee delivered at the Chesterton Society Conference in Rochester, NY.

The Life of St Paul: (podcasts by David Higbee)

First Corinthians Podcast Study: (David Higbee)

Second Corinthians Podcast Study: (David Higbee)

Romans Podcast Study: (David Higbee)

Paul’s Letters. A Podcast by Jeff Crandall, St Martha’s Church, Texas.

Contested Letters of Paul’s. Podcast by Jeff Crandall. I think all the letters of St Paul were written by St Paul. However, I also think one should be acquainted with why some reject his authorship of certain letters.

Paul’s Trials and Tribulations. Podcast by Jeff Crandall.

Acts of Apostles and Captivity Letters. 11 Podcasts by Jeff Crandall.

Romans. Several podcast on Romans and some other NT letters by Jeff Crandall.

SUGGESTED READING:

Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture: (This is an excellent new series of commentaries on the NT).

Ignatius Study Bible (New Testament). A good place for those with little time or little knowledge of St Paul’s writings to begin.

A Pocket Guide to St Paul. An overview of his life, thought and letters by Dr. Scott Hahn.

St Paul and the Power of the Cross. An excellent introduction to one of St Paul’s dominant themes by Fr. Mitch Pacwa.

The Catholic Perspective on Paul: Paul and the Origins of Catholic Christianity. By Taylor Marshall, popular blogger, author and speaker.

Posted in Apologetics, Audio/Video Lectures, BENEDICT XVI CATECHESIS, Bible, Books, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, Eucharist, St Paul's life | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 22:3-16 for the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 25, 2011


This post contains a summary of Acts 22:1-22 followed by commentary on today’s reading. Text in red represent my additions to the commentary.

St. Paul’s Discourse to the Jews in Defense of Himself
A Summary of Acts of Apostles 22:1-21

St. Paul’s discourse may be divided into three parts, each of which is a response to the different accusations made against him by the Jews. It was said that he was an enemy of Israel; and therefore in the first part of his discourse (verses 1-5) he shows that although born in Tarsus, he was a Jew, educated in Jerusalem, and that he became one of the most zealous of the Pharisees and a most terrible persecutor of the Christians. He was accused of
being an enemy of the Law, and of having preached against it; and so in the second part (verses 6-16) he says that, if from a zealous Pharisee he became a Christian convert, it was because God Himself appeared to him on the way to Damascus and led him into the Church by the hand of Ananias, a man holy according to the Law. He was called an enemy of the Temple; and consequently in the third part (verses 17-21) he declares that it was in the very Temple of Jerusalem that he received from God the mission to convert the pagans (Sales).

3. And he saith : I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the truth of the law of the fathers, zealous for the law, as also all you are this day

Gamaliel. See on v. 34. At the feet of means, to be a disciple or student of. The teacher among the Jews occupied an elevated seat, and the pupils sat below on benches.

Instead of zealous for the law, the Greek has “zealous toward God.”

4. Who persecuted this way unto death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.

This way; i.e., those who professed the Christian religion. The Greek term ὁδός (hodos = path, road, highway, etc.) and its numerous Hebrew and Greek equivalents usually “have the primary meaning of “road,” “customary path,” “course of travel” (Gen 3:24 Ex 23:20 Num20:17, etc).  By a very easy and natural figure “way” is applied to the course of human conduct, the manner of life which one lives (Ex 18:20 Ex 32:8 Num 22:32 1 Sam 8:3; 1 Kings 13:33, etc.; Ac 14:16 1Cor 4:17 James 5:20).  “The way of an eagle …. of a serpent …. of a ship …. and of a man” (Prov 30:19) agree in that they leave no trace behind them (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 5:10,11). In some cases the language may be such as to leave it indeterminate whether the way or course of conduct is good or bad (Dt 28:29 1 Sam 18:14; 2 Chron 27:7; 2 Chron 13:15 Prov 3:6 Prov 6:6 James 1:8), though in most cases the Bible writers attach to every act an ethical evaluation. Sometimes this way of conduct is of purely human choice, without reference to either God or good (Judges 2:19; 22:15; 34:21 Ps 119:9 Prov 12:15; 16,2). Such a course is evil (2 Chron 7:14 Ps 1:6 119:101, 104, 128; Prov 1:19, etc.) and will obtain such punishment as its lack of merit warrants (1 kings 8:32,39; 2 Chron 6:23; 30:12; 34:11 Jer 17:10 Ezek 7:3, 9; Hosea 12:2). At the opposite extreme from this is the good way (Ps 1:6 Prov 8:20; 12:28; 15:10 Isa 26:7), which is that course of conduct enjoined by God and exemplified in His perfect conduct (Gen 6:12; 18:19; Deut 8:6; 26:17; 1 Kings 2:3; 23:11 Ps 51:13, etc.). These two ways briefly but graphically described by the Lord (Matt 7:13, 14; compare Luke 13:24) became the subject of extended catechetical instruction in the early church. See the Epistle of Barnabas, xviii, and the Didache 1.1. Frequently the way in this metaphorical sense is characterized by that quality which is its outstanding feature, e.g. mention is made of the way of life (Prov 15:24; Jer 21:8; Act 2:28); of truth (Ps 119:30; 2 Pet 2:2); of peace (Isa 59:8; Luke 1:79; Rom 3:17); of justice (Prov 17:23; Dan 4:37); of righteousness (Matt 21:32; 2 Pet 2:21); of salvation (Acts 16:17); of lying (Ps 119:29), and of death (Jer 21:8). Frequently God’s purpose or His customary action is described as His way (Ps 103:7; Isa 26:8; Matt 22:16; Acts 13:10). Since all of God’s plans and purposes tend toward man’s salvation, His provisions to this end are frequently spoken of as His Way, and inasmuch as all of the divine plans center in Christ He is preeminently the Way (John 14:6). Out of this fact grew the title, “The Way,” one of the earliest names applied to Christianity (Acts 9:2; 18:25, 26; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:22).” {International Standard Bible Dictionary}

5. As the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the ancients : from whom also receiving letters to the brethren, I went to Damascus, that I might bring them bound from thence to Jerusalem to be punished.

The high priest. See on Acts 9:1-2.  Here is what Fr. Callan writes in that place: Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin, but a native of Tarsus in Cilicia, and therefore by birth a Roman citizen. As a youth he was taken to Jerusalem and studied at the feet of Gamaliel. He belonged to the strictest sect of the Pharisees and was zealous above all others for the Pharisaic observances. St. Paul was most probably converted in A.D. 35, and was about thirty years old at the time. See on Acts 7:57.

Full of deadly hate towards the Christian, Saul was not satisfied with what happened to St. Stephen, but, continuing to persecute the Church, he wanted to extend the persecution outside of Palestine. He therefore went to the High Priest, Annas, and requested “letters” authorizing him to persecute the Christians in Damascus, if he should find there any men or women of this way, i.e., of the Christian way of living. Damascus was the capital of Syria and situated about 125 miles northeast of Jerusalem. It was taken by the Romans under Pompey, but later (A.D. 37-38) fell to the Arabian king Aretas in the latter’s war with Herod Antipas. The Jews in Damascus at this time were very numerous, and their synagogues were many.

St. Paul wanted to bring any Christians he might find in Damascus to Jerusalem, in order that they might there be punished by the supreme council, or Sanhedrim, for what was considered their apostasy and blasphemy.

At this point Fr. Callan refers the readers back to his commentary on the first account of St Paul’s conversion narrated in Acts 9:3-17.

6. And it came to pass, as I was going, and drawing nigh to Damascus at midday, that suddenly from heaven there shone round about me a great light:

There are three distinct accounts given of the conversion of St. Paul,—in chapter 9, in chapter 22, and in chapter 26. The first is for Christian readers, the second was addressed to Jews, and the third to Agrippa and Festus.

There shone round about me a great light. a heavenly illumination appeared at midday (see Acts 26:13).

7. And falling on the ground, I heard a voice saying to me: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
8. And I answered: Who art thou, Lord? And he said to me: I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.

Saul, Saul, etc. These words show the tenderness and compassion of Christ both toward the persecutor and the persecuted members of His mystical body, the Church. To persecute the faithful was to persecute our Lord Himself; to persecute the body was to persecute the Head.

9. And they that were with me, saw indeed the light, but they heard not the voice of him that spoke with me.

According to the account in Acts 26:14 St Paul was addressed with the Hebrew language. Some manuscripts import that detail into this passage, but it is lacking in the better mss. Likewise, the proverb the Lord is said to have spoken in Acts 26:14 (“It is hard for you to kick against the goad”) has been imported into some mss at this point.

10. And I said: What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said to me: Arise, and go to Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things that thou must do.

Prostrate and trembling before his Master, Paul asks only to know what he should do; and our Lord tells him to go into the city of Damascus, and there God shall declare to him His will by means of Ananias. Paul must first be baptized and received into the Church by the ministers appointed by God.

11. And whereas I did not see for the brightness of that light, being led by the hand by my companions, I came to Damascus.

His eyes being still dazzled by the brightness that shone in our Lord’s glorified body. His sight was withheld from him for three days, doubtless to give him time to consider in prayer and without distraction what had happened to him.

In Luke there is a connection between “light” and “glory.”  See Luke 2:9, 14, 32; Luke 9:31-32. In writing about the ministry of the New Covenant to which he was called St Paul penned this: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.”

12. And one Ananias, a (devout) man according to the law, having testimony of all the Jews who dwelt there,

Father Callan’s translation lacks the word devout (or pious) but inasmuch as it is found in nearly all modern translations I suspect the omission was an oversite on his part. The fact that Ananias was known to be “a devout man according to the law” would hold great weight with St Paul’s audience whom he has just noted are zealous for the law (see verses 3 above). The description of Ananias here reminds the reader of other individuals who appear in the narrative of Luke/Acts, e.g., Elizabeth and Zechariah (Luke 2:6); the centurion (Luke 7:5); Joseph a Arimathea (Luke 23:50); Tabitha (Acts 9:36); Cornelius (Acts 10:2).

13. Coming to me, and standing by me, said to me : Brother Saul, look up. And I the same hour looked upon him.

The sudden cure of St. Paul’s blindness shows that it was miraculous.

14. But he said: The God of our fathers hath preordained thee that thou shouldst know his will, and see the Just One, and shouldst hear the voice from his mouth.

Hath preordained thee; i.e., hath chosen thee.

The Just One; i.e., Jesus Christ. See on Acts 3:14; 7:52. The term is also used by a centurion to describe Jesus at the crucifixion in Luke 23:47. In all three uses in Acts the title is associated with the death of Jesus (Acts 3:14, 7:52, 22:14). The context of each usage is important because the title is found on the lips of Christians who are being opposed or persecuted. Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you and shall reproach you and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.  Be glad in that day and rejoice: for behold, your reward is great in heaven, For according to these things did their fathers to the prophets (Luke 6:22-23).

The title “the Just One” also calls to mind the Suffering Servant Song of Isaiah 53:11. In the context of the first use of the title (Acts 3:14) Jesus is referred to as servant 3 times (Acts 3:13; 4:27, 30).

15. For thou shalt be his witness to all men, of those things which thou hast seen and heard.

St. Paul had seen Christ, had heard his voice, and had been instructed by Him in regard to the truths of the Gospel (Gal 1:11 ff.).

16. And now why tarriest thou? Rise up, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, invoking his name.

The converted call upon the name of the Lord (Acts 2:21) and such were the very people Saul (Paul) persecuted, for he had authority from the chief priests to bind all that invoke thy name (Acts 9:14, 21). With his conversion the persecutor became the persecuted one.

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Video: Lecture 1 On St Paul, His Life And Conversion

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 2, 2010


This is the first in a series of 5 videos on St Paul. Unfortunately, I was unable to publish all five of them in a single post. Here are the links to the other 4 posts: Lecture 2, On Romans
Lecture 3, 1 & 2 Thess. and Galatians

Lecture 4, 1 & 2 Corinthians

Lecture  Colossian, Philippians, Ephesians
.

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Video: Lecture 2 On St Paul

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 2, 2010


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Video: Lecture 3 On St Paul

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 2, 2010


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Video: Lecture 4 On St Paul

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 2, 2010


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Video: Lecture 5 On St Paul

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 2, 2010


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