The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Wednesday, July 6: Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 10:1-7)

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 3, 2011

Text in red are my additions.

Mat 10:1  And having called his twelve disciples together, he gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of diseases, and all manner of infirmities.

And having called, &c. Observe that Christ, out of all His disciples, chose principally twelve, as S. Luke shows more at length (Luke 6:13.). He chose twelve Apostles that they should be His chief legates, whom He invested with plenary authority and power, and sent them forth into all the world to proclaim His Gospel unto all nations. He chose also seventy-two others; but these He called disciples, not Apostles, although they too are spoken of by ancient writers as Apostles, that is legates or ambassadors of Christ. And such in fact they were, but with less power, as being subject and subordinate to the twelve Apostles. These twelve Christ now sends forth, that they may begin to discharge the office to which they were called, that they may serve their novitiate under Himself as their master, that afterwards being made priests and bishops, they may after His death fully accomplish their office and ministry. Wherefore Christ made the Apostles the Princes of His Church, and superior to all the faithful, both martyrs, confessors, and virgins, not only in office and dignity, but also in grace and sanctity. For upon them he has founded His Church, as we may learn from Eph 2:20, and Rev 21:19.

Moreover the power of the Apostles was the greatest in the Church, far greater than that of Bishops; for the Apostles were chosen and sent forth directly by Christ the Lord, as it were legates a latere of Christ, with absolute power through the whole world, not only to preach the Gospel, and confirm it by miracles, but also by writing. For the Apostles had the power of writing canonical books (as in fact Matthew and John wrote Gospels), canonical epistles and the Apocalypse. They also had power to found churches everywhere, and to institute and ordain priests and bishops, and the whole hierarchical order, together with ceremonies of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and all the Sacraments.

Observe that in this triple power the Apostles were all equal among themselves and with S. Peter. Yet were they subordinate to him as their head and superior. This is why Peter (Matt 10:2) is placed and named first amongst them.

To heal all manner of diseases, &c. Gr. νόσυν, i.e., disease. Both this power, and that of casting out devils was given to the Apostles after the manner of an abiding habit. God did not endue them with a physical faculty of healing diseases; but His omnipotent power was promised to them so as always to assist them, in such a way that as often as they willed to do these things, immediately God cast out the devils, and bestowed healing. This power was given them for the confirmation of their preaching, that by this means they might convince the people.

Mat 10:2  And the names of the twelve Apostles are these: The first, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother,

And the names, &c. The reason why Christ chose exactly twelve Apostles, neither more nor less, was that they should correspond to the twelve Patriarchs, sons of Jacob. For as these were of the Jews, so were the Apostles the parents of all Christians. So SS. Jerome, Austin, and all the Fathers. Rabanus speaks of other mysteries in this number, and following him, S. Thomas (in Catena) says: This number twelve is made by multiplying three into four, and signifies that they should preach belief in the Trinity in the four quarters of the world. They were typified by the twelve sons of Jacob, by the twelve princes of the children of Israel, by the twelve wells of Elim, by the twelve stones of the breast-plate, the twelve loaves of the shew-bread, the twelve spies, the twelve stones taken out of Jordan, the twelve oxen that supported the brazen sea, the twelve stars in the crown of the bridegroom in the Apocalypse, the twelve foundations of the city, the twelve gates.

The first, Simon, who is called Peter, &c. Beza, that he may get rid of the primacy of Peter and the Bishops of Rome who have succeeded him, thinks that first is a spurious reading, and ought to be expunged. But it is the uniform reading of all the codices and versions—Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Hebrew. And it is incredible that the passage should have been corrupted by the later Greeks, who are schismatics, and deny the primacy of Peter. Rather would they have expunged the word first, if they could colourably have done so. In short, wherever the names of all the Apostles are given in Scripture, Peter is placed first, Judas last; whilst with respect to the rest the order varies, as is plain from Mark 3:16, Luke6:14, Acts 1:13.

Moreover, Peter is called the first of the Apostles: not in age, for Andrew was older than he, as Epiphanius testifies (Hæres 51); not in vocation, for Andrew was called before him (S. John 1:41); not in love, for Christ loved S. John above all the rest, and therefore he leaned upon His breast at His last Supper. It remains, therefore, that Peter was the first of the Apostles in excellence and authority, being, indeed, their head and ruler. Thus it is that the names of the rest are not given in any uniform order, nor one called second, another third, because all were equal, and all equally subject to Peter. From this word first, in Latin primus, comes the expression Primacy of Peter, which all the ancient Greeks and Latins acknowledged. Hear S. Chrysostom, “Peter was the first and, as it were, the head of all the Apostles.” S. Jerome (lib. 1 contra Jovin. c. 17), “Among the twelve Apostles, one is chosen, that a head being appointed, occasion of schism may be taken away.” Ambrosiaster (in 2 Cor. c. 12), Andrew followed the Saviour before Peter, and yet not Andrew, but Peter, received the Primacy. Peter, therefore, as the Primate of the Apostles, had power to admonish and correct them if they erred in faith or morals, to put an end to contentions, to assign them their provinces, to substitute others in their place if they fell, as he substituted Matthias in the room of the traitor, Judas. For this subordination of the Apostles, of bishops, and all the faithful under one head was necessary for the unity, stability, and good government of the Church, as S. Cyprian teaches—Hæres 2. Peter alone among the Apostles had ordinary jurisdiction, to which in due order the Roman Pontiffs succeed. For Peter set up his Pontifical chair at Rome, where he died a martyr. But the Apostles had delegated jurisdiction from Christ, to which there were no successors.

You will say, the bishops are said to be the successors of the Apostles. I reply, this is only said by way of analogy, because bishops share with the Apostles in episcopal order and jurisdiction, because bishops are superior to other priests in the same way that the twelve Apostles were superior to the seventy-two disciples. But bishops do not possess that three-fold Apostolic power of which I spoke in the beginning of this chapter. The power of bishops only extends to their own dioceses, but that of the Apostles to all nations throughout the whole world.

Andrew his brother. Mark places James and John before Andrew, making him the fourth. Luke does the same in Acts 1:13, but in his Gospel he places him before them as Matthew does. These variations in the order of the names is to show that the Apostles are all equal in dignity and office. Whence Cajetan says upon this passage, “Peter alone has the distinction of being called first, in order to intimate that it closely pertains to Christian knowledge to recognise the Primacy of Peter, and that it is of no consequence to know the order of the Apostles among themselves.”

S. John in the Apocalypse, in describing the twelve Apostles as the twelve foundations of the heavenly Jerusalem, assigns to each his place with their own peculiar precious stones—The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, a sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. (Rev 21:19).

The first, jasper, denotes Peter, on account of the firmness of his faith; the second, a sapphire, Andrew, because of his heavenly life and love; the third, a chalcedony, or carbuncle, James, burning with zeal; the fourth, an emerald, John, blooming and a virgin; the fifth, a sardonyx, Philip, on account of the whiteness of his mind; the sixth, the ruddy sardius, Bartholomew, flayed alive; the seventh, a chrysolyte, the colour of the sea, Matthew, a penitent; the eighth, a polished beryl, Thomas, polished and established by Christ in the faith of his Resurrection; the ninth, a topaz, James the less, radiant with sanctity; the tenth, a chrysoprasus, Judas Thaddæus, who, by his acute wisdom, was hostile to heretics, as it were an onion, for πρὰσον means an onion; the eleventh, a jacinth, Simon the Canaanite, on account of the sweetness of his manners; the twelfth, the lowly Matthias, and the least.

Paul and Barnabas are not reckoned among these twelve Apostles, because they were called by Christ to the Apostolate, not whilst He was upon earth, but when He was reigning in heaven. They had equal power, and an equal measure of the Spirit, with the twelve Apostles.

Andrew is a Greek word, and means manly, strong, heroic. Many of the Jews, after they became subject to Alexander’s successors, learnt Greek and took Greek names. Andrew was, what his name signifies—brave and heroic in his preaching and passion, from the strength of his love to Christ, panting for his cross. He was, says Gaudentius, the first of all the disciples of John the Baptist, and being by him sent to Christ, first began to know Him.

Mat 10:3  James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the publican, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus,

James, the son of Zebedee: he was surnamed the Greater. He was the patron and Apostle of Spain, and was the first of the Apostles who suffered martyrdom, being beheaded by Herod Agrippa.

John, his brother. This is the beloved disciple of Christ, of whom I have spoken at length in the prefaces to his Gospel, Epistles, and Apocalypse.

Philip is Greek; φίλος ίππων, a lover of horses, meaning a knight, warlike. For Philip was as a war-horse of Christ against the wilfull unbelievers. Concerning this, see the Apoc. (Rev 6:2), “and behold a white horse, and he that sat upon him had a bow, and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering and to conquer.”

Bartholomew has been explained to mean the son of him who suspendeth the waters, from bar, a son, thala, he suspended, marim, waters. Whence Ruperti and Osorius think that Christ turned into wine upon the occasion of Bartholomew’s wedding at Cana of Galilee, as though he had been the bridegroom. Others reject this. For Bartholomew is the same as son of Tolmai. Tolmai was a common name among the Hebrews, as is plain from Joshua 15:14, and 2 Sam 3:3. Less aptly, some interpret Bartholemew as son of Ptolemy, as though he had been sprung from the Ptolemies, kings of Egypt.

Thomas in Gr. Didymus, a twin. Concerning him, see John 20:24.

Matthew, the publican. Note S. Matthew’s humility, who when the other Evangelists were silent about his being a publican, publicly announced himself a sinner.

James, the son of Alphæus: Alpheus means in Hebrew, learned, or a doctor (i.e., one who teaches doctrine, not a physician). This Alphæus, the father of James, was a different person from Alphæus, the father of Matthew (Mark 2:14). For this Alphæus, the father of James, was the husband of Mary of Cleopas, who is called the sister of Mary, the mother of the Lord (John 19:25). Whence Helecas, Bishop of Saragossa, and others, think Alphæus is the same as Cleopas. Alphæus begat James and Jude of Mary. This was James the Less, of whom I speak at length in the Preface to his Epistle.

Thaddæus: this is the same as Jude, the author of a canonical Epistle. Of him also I have spoken in the Preface to his Epistle.

Mat 10:4  Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Simon the Canaanite. This Simon is not so called because he was sprung from the Canaanites, as some wrongly imagine, for all the Apostles were Jews, but because he was born at Cana of Galilee. Hence Nicephorus (lib. 8, c. 30) and Baronius think that he was the bridegroom at the marriage feast when Christ turned the water into wine. Because Cana in Heb. means zeal, S. Jerome says he was called the Canaanite, i.e. Zealotes, the Zealot, with a double allusion to the city of Cana and his zeal.

And Judas Iscariot: as though Ish keriot: i.e., a man of Carioth (Kerioth), a city of the tribe of Judah. (See Joshua 15:25.) So Angelus Caninius on Hebrew names (cap. 13.) Others, with greater probability, are of opinion that he was so called because he came from the village of Iscarioth, in the tribe of Ephraim, not far from Samaria. So S. Jerome in this place, and on Isa 28:1, Maldonatus and Adrichomius. Iscariot means in Hebrew the same as mercenary, for sachar is merchandise. And this well agrees with Judas, who made merchandise of Christ. Christ chose Judas, although He knew that he would prove a traitor, because He was willing to bear his treachery, and to add it to the weight of His Passion, for He wished His Passion to be in all respects complete. He willed to suffer every kind of torment and from all sorts of men, to teach us to do good, not only to the good and thankful, but also to the evil and the unthankful. Hear S. Ambrose (lib. 5 in Luc.): “Judas is chosen, not through imprudence, but through providence, since Christ willed to be betrayed by him, in order that thou, if thou art forsaken by thy friend, or even if betrayed by thy friend, mayest bear patiently the error of thy judgment, the loss of thy kindness.” (See S. Jerome on Isa 28:1.) “Woe to the crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, and the fading flower, the glory his of exaltation” (Vulg.), which the Sept. translates, “Woe to the crown of wrong, the mercenaries of Ephraim, a flower falling from glory upon the top of the fat mountain.” S. Jerome understands this mystically of Judas, the traitor; “who was,” he says, “of the tribe of Ephraim, of one of its villages, Iscarioth. He indeed sold the Lord for a price. He indeed, as a flower, fell from the glory of his Apostleship upon that most fat mountain of which we suppose it is spoken, ‘Jacob hath eaten and drunk, and is filled; and the oved hath grown fat and kicked.’ or, according to the Heb. upon ‘the valley of the fat ones,’ i.e., Gethsemane, by which also is signified the name of the place in which Judas betrayed the Lord.” After a little, he adds, “The traitor was drunken, not with wine, but with avarice, and the incurable madness of asps, even the food of the devil; who, after the morsel, entered into him and wholly devoured him, because ‘his prayer was turned into sin,’ and not, even in repentance, had he the fruit of salvation.” (I once suggested that Iscariot was derived from the Greek word ισχυρου [ischuros], meaning strong man. This is the word Our Lord uses to describe Satan in Mark 3:27 which is in close proximity to the call of Judas Iscariot in Mark 3:19. This is, of course, speculation on my part. Others think it is a compound word derived from the Hebrew ish, man, and the Greek sikarios, daggerman, cutthroat, assassin. Others think it means enstranglement and is a reference to his manner of death. See Matt 27:5. The Protestant Bishop Lightfoot, in his Exercitations on the Gospel of Matthew makes this suggestion, but it is based on gemetria, i.e., the practice of assigning numbers to letters, and his reasoning is somewhat tortured).

Note, first, Christ combines together all his Apostles, and assigns to each his companion, making six pairs. With Peter He joins Andrew, and so on; that each may derive help and confirmation from his companion in his preaching. And for this cause He sent them out two and two (Luke 10:1.)

Again, among His Apostles, Christ chose three pairs of brethren, viz., Peter and Andrew, James and John, James the Less and Jude; some add Simon the Canaanite who, they say, was a brother of James and Jude. He did this to teach how dear to Him is brotherly love, according to that saying in Sirach 25:1: “In these things hath my spirit delight, which are approved before God and man, the concord of brethren, the love of neighbours, and a husband and 10 wife agreeing together.” Also Prov 18:19, “a brother who is helped by a brother is as a strong city.”

Observe, secondly, several of the Apostles were relations of Christ, as James and John, James the Less and Jude. For Christ chose His Apostles, not to be sleek and wealthy princes, but to endure labours, poverty, crosses, torments, and martyrdom. Whence He gave them abundance of good things—not temporal but spiritual—even as the order of charity requires, according to which it is right to wish and care for greater grace for parents and relations than for others.

I may add, it behoved the WORD, when He took our flesh, to unite those who were most near to Him in the flesh more closely to His Divinity also, by grace. And this He did, so that His mother was the holiest of all, then S. Joseph, after him Joachim and Anna, as His grandparents: also John the Baptist and his mother, James and John, James the Less, and Jude, as His relations and kinsfolk. For these, because by fleshly relationship they were nearer Christ’s humanity, so also were they brought into chosen connection with His Divinity through grace. Therefore this was not in Christ the fault of accepting persons, as it is in Prelates, who, contrary to what is right, burden rather than truly honour their nephews and kinsmen with dignities, prebends and riches.

Lastly, there were three chief Apostles, viz., Peter, James and John, whom Christ took as the witnesses of His transfiguration, His Passion in the Garden, and other secrets, whence these are, as it were, the pillars of the Church, and the Triumvirs of the Apostles.

Mat 10:5  These twelve Jesus sent: commanding them, saying: Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles, and into the city of the Samaritans enter ye not.
Mat 10:6  But go ye rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles. Syriac has, of the profane. Way of the Gentiles, is a Hebraism for, to the Gentiles. Similar is Jer 2:18. “And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt?” That is, “Why art thou going into Egypt?”

This is the first precept of Christ, by which sending His Apostles forth to preach, He bids them go not to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but to the Jews. The reason was, because they were the children of the Kingdom, and sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to whom the Messiah, that is Christ, had been promised by God. Had not Christ acted thus, the Jews might have taken exception against him and the Apostles, and said, “Thou art not the true Messiah, for thou preachest the Gospel to the Gentiles and Samaritans. Our Messiah was promised by the Prophets to the Jews, not to the Gentiles.” This precept, however, was only temporary. It only lasted during the life of Christ on earth. After His Resurrection Christ sent His Apostles to evangelize the nations throughout the whole world. Then was taken away the distinction between Jews and Gentiles, and of both there was made one Fold and one Shepherd. So S. Jer., Chrys., and others. S. Paul puts the command of Christ in this verse in another form, when he says, “For I say that Christ Jesus was the Minister of the circumcision for the truth of God to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.”

Mat 10:7  And going, preach, saying: The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

And going, preach, saying, &c. This is the second and the chief command of Christ to His Apostles, viz., that they should traverse Judea, and preach the Kingdom of Heaven, and invite, yea compel men to come into it. It was as though Christ said, In a short time I will, by My death, open Heaven to men, which has been shut for so many thousands of years by Adam’s sin, and I will open the way of entrance into it. Invite all therefore to enter upon this way that they may gain the Kingdom. This was the sum and substance of Christ’s preaching.

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3 Responses to “Wednesday, July 6: Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 10:1-7)”

  1. […] Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 10:1-7). […]

  2. […] last.  Concerning the word “Iscariot” I made the following note in Lapide’s commentary which I posted earlier: “I once suggested that Iscariot was derived from the Greek word ισχυρου [ischuros], […]

  3. […] Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 10:1-7). […]

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