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

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 13:44-52

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 1, 2017

44 But the next sabbath day, the whole city almost came together, to hear the word of God.

“Whole city.” Most of the population, including Gentiles. “came together.” Where? Not said, possibly several audiences were given, as no one synagogue could contain all together; or, in some open space around the synagogue.

45 And the Jews, seeing the multitudes, were filled with envy and contradicted those things which were said by Paul, blaspheming.

“Were filled with envy.” Felt great indignation on seeing the Gentiles admitted on such easy terms.

“Contradicted.” Denounced as false, the teaching “of Paul,” the chief speaker. “Blaspheming.” Adding some reproaches, which were so many blasphemies against our Lord.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas said boldly: To you it behoved us first to speak the word of God: but because you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold we turn to the Gentiles.

“Boldly.” Spiritedly, with courageous intrepidity, disregarding their anger and jealously.

“To you it behoved,” &c. According to the precept of our Lord (Luke 24 v. 47).

“Judge yourselves,” &c. By rejecting the means of salvation offered to you. Not that they deemed themselves unworthy of salvation; but rather the opposite. Their conduct, however, in rejecting the means of salvation was a practical judgment on the subject, though they thought the reverse.

47 For so the Lord hath commanded us: I have set thee to be the light of the Gentiles: that thou mayest be for salvation unto the utmost part of the earth.

So the Lord commanded,” &c. He does not here refer to the express command of our Lord himself, which the Jews would undervalue; but, to the commands contained in their own highly-prized Scriptures of the Old Testament.

I have set Thee,” &c. These words, as is universally admitted, directly refer to the Messiah. They are found in Isaias (49:6). They implicitly refer to the Apostles, who were to act in His name, and by preaching him to the Gentiles, were to be instrumental in carrying out in his regard, what he was appointed to be “The Light of the Gentiles,” whom he was to draw forth from the darkness of error and ignorance, and become the source of “salvation” to all mankind, even unto the utmost parts of the earth.

48 And the Gentiles hearing it were glad and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to life everlasting believed.

Hearing from the mouths of the Jews themselves that they were to be sharers equally with the Jews in salvation, who would fain confine salvation to themselves. “Glorified the Word of God.” Speaking of it with reverence and thankfulness, as a message from God. They are contrasted with the Jews who rejected God’s word (v. 46).

“As were ordained.” Does not refer to a decree, as some understand it, on the part of God predestinating men to Eternal Life, in consequence of which decree they believed and embraced the faith. There is no question at least immediately and directly of any predestinating decree at all. The Greek word for “ordained” (τεταγμενοι) is probably allusive to military dicipline, wherein men are arranged by their officers under their proper peculiar standard. The words mean, that such as were disposed and divinely directed under the influence of God’s preventing graces, inspiring and strengthening them, to aspire after life everlasting, freely embraced the faith, “believed”—as one of the most essential means of attaining the object they had in view.

49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout the whole country.

The entire district of Antioch of Pisidia embraced the faith, owing to the influence and preaching of Paul and Barnabas. There is question of the Gentile population, to whom Paul and Barnabas addressed themselves, after having been rejected and resisted by the Jews.

50 But the Jews stirred up religious and honourable women and the chief men of the city: and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas: and cast them out of their coasts.

Honourable women.” Women of high rank, connected with high families of influence.

“Chief men,” &c. The civil magistrates, who exercised civil authority.

“Cast them,” &c. Had a decree enacted, banishing them. This does not imply violence. Likely, they had men employed to see them depart from their country.

51 But they, shaking off the dust of their feet against them, came to Iconium.

For the meaning of this symbolical mode of acting, prescribed by our Lord, in certain circumstances, to his Apostles (see Matthew 10:14, Commentary on).

52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost.

Joy infused by the Holy Ghost in communicating His gifts.


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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 13:26-33

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 1, 2017

26 Men, brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you fear God: to you the word of this salvation is sent.

“Stock of Abraham,” native born Jews, his natural descendants through Isaac.

“Fear God.” Proselytes. The Apostle earnestly exhorts his countrymen, whether Jews or Proselytes, to accept the message of Salvation, which is the fulfilment of the promises made to their fathers.

To you,” is emphatic. To them was the Saviour first sent. “This salvation” indicated in v. 23.

27 For they that inhabited Jerusalem and the rulers thereof, not knowing him, nor the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath, judging him, have fulfilled them.

“For they that inhabited Jerusalem,” &c. The object of the Apostle here would seem to be to explain more fully how this salvation was brought about, and the humiliations and sufferings, in the first instance, of the Saviour, and His subsequent glory and exaltation in fulfilment of “voices” or oracles of “the Prophets” who had minutely predicted them beforehand. “For” is regarded here by Commentators not as causal but expletive, as if the Apostle was about to explain how “the word of salvation” was effected, viz., through the crimes and ingratitude of the Jews of Jerusalem.

Others (among them Patrizzi) say “for” conveys a reason not for what is expressed but what is understood, as if he revolved in his mind reproachfully and sorrowfully what a sad subject of reproach, what a grievous crime is involved in this work of Redemption.

For the Jews of Jerusalem not knowing Him to be their Messiah as well “as their rulers,” members of the Sanhedrim or Supreme Council of the Nation, blindly shutting their eyes against all evidence, utterly ignored him.

“Read every Sabbath,” which rendered their rejection of Him more culpable and blameworthy.

“Judging.” Condemning Him; pronouncing Him worthy of death.

28 And finding no cause of death in him, they desired of Pilate that they might kill him.

Handed Him over to Pilate, who, out of fear of the Emperor, before whom he might be charged with allowing a man, however unjustly charged with sedition to pass unpunished, regardless of justice, condemned him to death. The Roman procurator alone had at this time the power to do so.

29 And when they had fulfilled all things that were written of him, taking him down from the tree, they laid him in a sepulchre.

This proved the reality of his death. The words express the fact of His burial by whomsoever killed. They may be said to have buried Him by means of others; for, having compassed His death, they brought about His burial. Besides, some members of the Sanhedrim, who disapproved of the sentence, Nicodemus and Joseph, had him buried.

30 But God raised him up from the dead the third day.

“But,” implying that these expectations regarding his utter extinction in the grave were frustrated.

“God.” Christ who is God, raised Himself up, as He repeatedly promised (c. 2:24). St. Paul did not deem it expedient to proclaim, at this stage, the fundamental truth that Christ is God. It is not denied, however prudently passed over in silence.

31 Who was seen for many days by them who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who to this present are his witnesses to the people.

“Seen” not only by the Apostles, but by several other disciples (1 Cor. 15, &c.).

32 And we declare unto you that the promise which was made to our fathers,
33 This same God hath fulfilled to our children, raising up Jesus, as in the second psalm also is written: Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee.

The witnesses referred to in the preceding verse declared this fundamental truth to the people of Palestine. The same we now declare to you, the Jews of the dispersion; “and we declare that the promise made to our fathers,” Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, regarding the salvation and redemption of mankind is brought about by one of their seed.

“God hath fulfilled.” Completely carried out in the Resurrection of Jesus, which perfected the accomplishment of all the promises that concerned Him. The Resurrection of our Lord with all its circumstances was the most undeniable proof, the undoubted seal of His Divinity, which embraced every other truth and promise and prediction that concerned Him.

“Raising up Jesus” from the dead.

“As in second Psalm.” In some versions it is “in first Psalm. But in this it is supposed that first Psalm is merely an introduction to the whole Psalter. The first and second Psalms were by some regarded as one. However, the Vulgate reading is better sustained by the chief MSS.

Thou art My Son,” &c. These words are regarded by many Expositors as having reference to the Eternal generation of the Son “before all ages.” These explain its connection with our Lord’s Resurrection, thus: In our Lord’s Resurrection, His human nature which was always even in its separated state, during the interval between His death and Resurrection, united to the Person of the Word, received, as it were, a new existence when His sacred body now glorified was united to His soul. In reference to this state of new existence, God the Father declares Him anew to be His Eternal Son, perpetuating His generation from eternity, which was not a mere passing, but a continuous, permanent act ever abiding from eternity unto eternity. This is in accordance with the teaching of St. Paul (Rom. 1:4), where he says Christ was predestinated: (in Greek, declared) to be the Son of God by His Resurrection, &c.

The vv. 32 and 33 should be interpreted and joined together, as they convey that God had fulfilled for the children the promises made to their fathers. These promises He completelyfulfilled” by raising up His son from the dead, which followed as a necessary consequence of His being the Eternal, consubstantial, natural Son of God, begotten of Him eternally by a permanent, abiding generation.

Some interpreters say vv. 32, 33 should be included in a parenthesis, thus, v. 34 would be immediately connected with v. 31, following up the arguments directly in proof of Christ’s Resurrection.

In the two vv. 32, 33 is contained the point which the Apostle wishes to establish all along, viz., that the Jews had the promises of salvation fulfilled, which was now tendered to them.

“As in the second Psalm.” In some versions we have, “as in the first Psalm.” This discrepancy arose from the different divisions of the Psalms at different times and in different versions. Moreover, some looking on the first Psalm, as merely an introduction to the whole Psalter, made only one of the first and second Psalms.

Thou art My son,” &c. Some hold that these words directly refer to Christ’s Resurrection, in which He was begotten and born into a new and immortal life which God communicated to Him; and thus became His Father, and he became a son, as earthly parents are termed such when their children are born.

Others maintain that there is question directly of the eternal generation of the Son, born of the Father “before all ages.” In order to show its connexion with the Resurrection, these say that St. Paul adduces the Eternal generation of Christ, His identity with the Father, as His Eternal Son, to prove that having died by His Father’s will, He could not but rise again; impossible, He would remain in death. Just as St. Peter proves (c. 2:24) that it is impossible for Him not to rise in order to fulfil the prophecies, so here, the impossibility of His not rising is derived from His Divine sonship, which would not allow of His mouldering in the grave.

“This day have I begotten Thee.” “This day.” God’s day, determines no particular time. With God there is no past or future. All is present. And the generation of His Son in eternity was not a mere passing act, but continuous, permanent, abiding from eternity unto eternity.

Some say these words convey the idea expressed by St. Paul (Rom. 1:4) that in His Resurrection God declared him to be Son in the new and glorified existence conferred on His humanity, which was always since the Incarnation inseparably united to the Divine Person of the Word.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 13:13-25

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 1, 2017

13 Now when Paul and they that were with him had sailed from Paphos, they came to Perge in Pamphylia. And John departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.

“Paul,” &c., and his colleagues. “Perge,” the capital of Pamphylia, distinguished for the famous temple of Diana. Whatever John’s reasons were for not accompanying them beyond Perge, they did not satisfy Paul, who refused afterwards to have him associated with them. This gave rise to the difference between the Apostle and Barnabas, the latter was kinsman of John Mark. This difference ended in their separation. John, it seems, was afterwards taken into the Apostle’s friendship (2 Tim. 4:11; Col. 4:10.)

14 But they, passing through Perge, came to Antioch in Pisidia: and, entering into the Synagogue on the sabbath day, they sat down.

They made no slay this time, at Perge. Not so, however, on their return (14:25).

“Antioch of Pisidia.” Different from the well-known Antioch of Syria (11:19).

“Entering into the Synagogue.” There must have been a good many Jews there.

“Sat down.” Assuming the position of Doctors, and conveying that they would be glad to address the congregation. Although specially marked out by the Holy Ghost himself for the conversion of the Gentile world, they deemed it right to attend to the Divine mandate of preaching to the Jews, first, “Judæo primum.”

15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying: Ye men, brethren, if you have any word of exhortation to make to the people, speak.

“And after the reading,” &c. A portion of the Pentateuch—“the Law”—was marked off to be read for the assembly, each Sabbath day, in the synagogue. To this was added an appropriate passage from “the Prophets,” bearing in sense on the passage read from the Law, or Pentateuch.

“The rulers of the Synagogue.” The officers, whose duty it was to see that all things were conducted decorously at the meeting. To them it belonged to call on whom they pleased to address the people. “If ye have any word,” &c. Their position and intelligent appearance gave grounds for assuming this.

“Men, brethren.” Showed they have regarded them as fellow-country-men and of the same religion

16 Then Paul rising up and with his hand bespeaking silence, said: Ye men of Israel and you that fear God, give ear.

“And you that fear God.” By those are most probably meant the class termed, Proselytes of the gate, who had not been as yet incorporated with the Jews, by circumcision; but, having renounced the worship of idols, adored Jehovah, and were admitted to the Synagogues. There was another class of Proselytes, viz., Proselytes of justice. This latter class were incorporated with the Jews by circumcision. They were bound to the observance of the entire Mosaic Law. Not so, the Proselytes of the gate, who were bound only by the precepts given to Noah.

17 The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers and exalted the people when they were sojourners in the land of Egypt: And with an high arm brought them out from thence:

This is the first discourse recorded by St. Luke in the Acts, as uttered by St. Paul. Every word of it is thoroughly in harmony with his writings in his Epistles. Between it and the discourse of St. Peter and St. Stephen addressed to the Jews, who had not at the time, embraced the Faith, the greatest analogy is clearly discernible. St. Paul seems to adopt the same course that they followed in order to bring around their conversion. In this disourse, instead of proclaiming at once the Divinity of our Lord and the necessity of believing in Him, which might occasion a cry of opposition against Him, he gives a brief account of the History of the Jews, their special election by God, till he comes down to the time of King David, from whose seed our Saviour had sprung. Then briefly alluding to His Death and Resurrection—all in accordance with the ancient prophecies—he points out what he intended to be the main object of his discourse, viz.: the necessity of believing in Him, in order to obtain Salvation (38, 39). He also warns them against the disastrous consequences of unbelief (vv. 40, 41).

“The God,” &c. This exordium was calculated to secure him an attentive hearing.

“Exalted the people.” By multiplying them, asserting them into liberty from a state of degrading bondage, working great prodigies of power in their behalf, humbling their enemies

“And with a high arm,” &c. All this is fully detailed in the Book of Exodus.

18 And for the space of forty years endured their manners in the desert:

“Endured their manners,” &c. Patiently bearing with their perversity and frequent rebellions against him (Psalm 94:10).

The above is the reading commonly adopted. Others—and they are neither few nor inconsiderable—adopt a different reading. They maintain that instead of ετροποφορησενEndured,” it should be ετροφοφορησεν nourished, fed, as a nurse feeds her young. This latter reading is found in several excellent MSS. and versions. There is only the difference of one letter φ and π in both. If we consult history it is against the former reading, as it testifies that God did not patiently endure their perversity; but, rather frequently reproached, threatened, and punished them severely. Moreover, does it not seem unlikely that St. Paul in recounting the benefits bestowed on their fathers, would mention their perversity, which God had patiently to bear with? More likely, he would refer to their having been miraculously nourished by God, with Manna in their passage, for forty years, through the wilderness.

19 And, destroying seven nations in the land of Chaanan, divided their land among them by lot.

“Destroying” them, as nations (Deut. 7:1), extirpating them as such, several individuals survived.

“Land of Chanaan.” The whole country went by the name of the principal nation. This is the land promised their fathers.

“By lot,” a process frequently resorted to among the Jews, for determining the most important affairs.

20 As it were, after four hundred and fifty years. And after these things, he gave unto them judges, until Samuel the prophet.

“As it were,” &c. We have great chronological difficulties connected with this verse. There are two readings of it, both well supported by MSS. and versions. One, the ordinary Greek reading, according to which “the four hundred and fifty years” are to be connected with what follows, and determine the period or duration of the government of the people by judges.

“After these things,” or after the sortition of the lands, some time subsequent to the entrance into the Land of Promise, He gave them judges who ruled for “four hundred and fifty years until Samuel the Prophet,” Samuel’s own administration included. This is not easily reconciled with 3 Kings, c. 6:1, where it is stated four hundred and eighty years (480) elapsed between the Exodus and the fourth (4th) year of the reign of Solomon, the date of the building of the Temple.

The other reading followed by the Vulgate, and supported by some of the chief MSS. and versions connects the “four hundred and fifty (450) years” not with what follows, but with the preceding, and computes them from the call and special election of the Jewish people, which began at the birth of Isaac, the heir of the promises, to the sortition of the lands in Chanaan. In this reading there is no need for reconciling this passage with 3 Kings 6:6, which speaks of a period commencing with the Exodus.

The passage will, then, mean that God gave the children of Israel the land of Chanaan four hundred and fifty (450) years after He had chosen our fathers and their posterity to be His peculiar people.

In this computation, the forty (40) years wandering in the desert, and seven (7) years before the distribution of the land are added to the four hundred (400) from the time of the promise till the Exodus or end of their bondage.

Commentators generally remark in connection with this and such like passages that Chronological details regarding facts, long since past, are very perplexing. They, moreover, remark that the Chronology here mentioned was commonly held at the time; and that St. Paul, without entering into any disputes about Chronological accuracy or attempting to settle every point regarding it, gave expression to the opinion on the subject usually adopted by the Jews at the time.

21 And after that they desired a king: and God gave them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, forty years.

“Forty years.” In Book of Kings, there is no mention of the duration of Saul’s reign.

The Apostle must have learned it from Tradition. This number perfectly accords with the narrative of Josephus (Antiq. vii. 11) who says Saul reigned eighteen (18) years before the death of Samuel, and twenty-two after it.

22 And when he had removed him, he raised them up David to be king: to whom giving testimony, he said: I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to my own heart, who shall do all my wills.

“Removed.” Deprived him of the Royal dignity (1 Kings 31:1–6).

“Giving testimony”—“according to my own heart,” very pleasing to me, such a man as my heart desires and wishes for. “My wills execute my mandates.” This testimony is found substantially in (1 Kings 13:14, 16:1; Psl 38). David may have deflected from the right path betimes; but, his public kingly life was uniformly good; and, after he fell, his repentance was remarkable. His reign, as king, was good, obedient to God’s will, unlike Saul, who proved to be perverse.

David is commended for having promoted the worship of God among the people (3 Kings 14:8, 9; 15:3–5) and contrasted with Jeroboam and Abias.

23 Of this man’s seed, God, according to his promise, hath raised up to Israel a Saviour Jesus:

“Seed,” posterity. Our Lord is everywhere known by the designation, “Son of David.”

“God, according to His promise,” viz., the promises generally made to Abraham and David, that the Messiah would be born of their seed (Gal. 3:15) which he confirms in v. 32.

“Hath raised up to Israel, a Saviour, Jesus.” Instead of “raised up,” the reading best supported by a preponderance of MSS., and generally preferred, has, “brought forth to Israel.” It refers not to our Lord’s Incarnation; but, to his having been publicly declared by God, at the commencement of his ministry, at his Baptism, by John, to be the Saviour of all Israel. Hence, aptly called Jesus. The reference here made to the precursory ministry and testimony of John shows there is question of our Lord’s coming forth to exercise His ministry.

24 John first preaching, before his coming, the baptism of penance to all the people of Israel.

“John preaching,” or, as the Greek has it, “having previously preached,” “before his coming,” or His public appearance to exercise His ministry.

In v. 23, the Apostle introduces the chief point of his discourse, that Jesus was the promised Messiah, who was to redeem the world. The mention of the word Jesus, so odious to the Jews, and calculated to beget a prejudice, is introduced with great judgment, the promises regarding which, already laid before them, the Jews could not gainsay. With great tact he avails himself of the allusion to David to introduce the mention of the Messiah, who was to be of the seed of David.

The meaning of vv. 23, 24, then, is: God, conformably to His promise has declared, pointed out unto Israel Jesus as Saviour, the descendant of King David, after John had prepared the ways for His entry into the functions of His ministry, by preaching the Baptism of Penance unto all the people.

25 And when John was fulfilling his course, he said: I am not he whom you think me to be. But behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

“Fulfilling his course.” When in the act of discharging his duties as precursor, he said “I am not he,” (see Gospels Matthew 3; Luke 3:15; John 1:27).

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 12:24-13:5

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 1, 2017

Acts 12:24 But the word of the Lord increased and multiplied.

“The word of the Lord.” The Church founded on God’s word “increased” in the multitudes that joined it. The death, by Divine judgment, of the chief persecutor, Herod, gave the preachers of the Gospel breathing time, of which they availed themselves. The liberation of Peter had a wonderful effect.

Acts 12:25 And Barnabas and Saul, returned from Jerusalem, having fulfilled their ministry, taking with them John who was surnamed Mark.

“After having deposited the alms in the hands of those to whom they were to distribute them, they returned from Jerusalem to Antioch.

Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church which was at Antioch prophets and doctors, among whom was Barnabas and Simon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene and Manahen who was the foster brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

Prophets” (c. 11:27).

“Doctors.” These wise men endowed with the spiritual gift of teaching the truths of faith in a plain intelligible manner. In the catalogue of spiritual gifts enumerated by St. Paul (1 Cor 12:28), “Doctors” are placed third in order. As the “Prophets” explained the truths of faith under the influence of sudden inspiration for the moment; “So did Doctors” do, in a calm, intelligible manner.

“Lucius of Cyrene.” Whether it is to him St. Paul alludes (Rom. 16:21) is uncertain.

“Niger,” so called, probably, from his complexion.

“Foster-brother.” The word, probably, here means, the associate, playmate. It was usual with Princes to select children of the same age, as associates or playmates for their children. This was regarded as a high honour.

“Herod” (Antipas). The same who beheaded the Baptist; mocked our Lord. He was, at this time, after being deposed by Claudius, exiled at Lyons. “Tetrarch,” called by his former name, though no longer such.

Acts 13:2 And as they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Ghost said to them: Separate me Saul and Barnabas, for the work whereunto I have taken them.

“Ministering.” The Greek—λειτουργούντων—literally means engaged in a public work, which the words, “unto the Lord,” would point to a work in the service of God, or Divine worship, The words refer to the engagement in public Divine worship, and not merely in prayer or instruction. It would thus, by implication, if not directly, indicate the Sacrifice of the New Law, the chief part of the Liturgy, or of Divine worship. It reference were made merely to prayers, a different form would be used, thus, “while they were praying.” Nor could it refer to preaching, which is addressed to the people and not “to the Lord.”

“Fasting,” is also significant. For the ancient Fathers, Augustine, Basil, &c., tell us, fasting always preceded the offering of sacrifice; but, fasting was not necessarily connected with prayer in general (Beelen). Erasmus renders the Greek word, sacrificantibus. Kenrick prefers rendering it, officiating. Whatever may be the probability of this opinion, no Catholic could think of recurring to a text so dubious, in proof of the sacrifice of the New Law, when there are clear texts, plenty and to spare, from which the existence of the holy sacrifice is proved decretorially and satisfactorily.

“The Holy Ghost said to them,” either by internal inspiration, or possibly in an audible tone, to some of them, which they communicated to the others.

“Separate.” Set apart by some solemn act, as in next verse indicated by the imposition of hands. What this latter ceremony means is disputed. Some say as Saul was undoubtedly an Apostle called by our Lord Himself before this (Gal. 1:1–15; Acts 9:20, &c.) the ceremony here could not mean conferring the Episcopal office; that it was only meant to show the communion of pastors and the unity of ministry in the Church. Thus it was ratified by some exernal ceremony; the mission was already divinely confided to them.

Others (and this is more generally held) say that there is questions of Episcopal consecration. They may have been already priests. They had already exercised the functions of priests, and are numbered with those, who discharged sacred functions; or, it may be that Priesthood and Episcopacy were conferred at the same time, which Bellarmine holds to be possible (De Sac. Ord. c. 5) and Petavius (Dissert. Eccles., Lib. i., c. 2) says it was done at that age of the Church. The words of next verse regarding some imposition of hands, fasting, praying, would seem to be confirmatory of this view, although the difficulties and objections against are very great and hard to be answered.

“Saul and Barnabas.” The order is inverted in the Greek. However, the Vulgate reading is well sustained by versions; and especially the Syriac.

“For the work.” The conversion of the Gentile world “taken,” chosen them.

Acts 13:3 Then they fasting and praying and imposing their hands upon them, sent them away.

The Greek means “after having fasted and prayed” &c. This solemn mode of proceeding points to the great work before them, of deputing two men, to begin on an organized scale, the conversion of the heathen.

“Sent them away,” on their mission, guided and influenced by the Holy Ghost.

Acts 13:4 So they, being sent by the Holy Ghost, went to Seleucia: and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

“By the Holy Ghost.” Under whose direction the preparatory ceremony was carried out. It was He who ordered them to be set apart and, as some understand it, ordained or consecrated for the purpose.

“Seleucia” on the Mediterranean, situated at the mouth of the Orontes. It was about sixteen miles from Antioch, situated inland, higher up the Orontes.

“Cyprus.” The well-known island on the Mediterranean not far from Seleucia. It was the birth-place of Barnabas. The Gospel had been preached there already by others (9:19).

Acts 13:5 And when they were come to Salamina, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John also in the ministry.

“Salamina.” The chief city of Cyprus, on its eastern shore, destroyed by an earthquake. It was rebuilt by Constantine. Hence, called Constantia.

“Synagogue of the Jews.” To the Jews they preached the word of God, in the first instance. “John” surnamed Mark (c. 12:12). He did not claim to be their equal, who were specially designated by the Holy Ghost to the high office of preaching the Gospel. He held an inferior position. He acted as their travelling companion; probably, making provision for their temporal necessities, so that they might attend uninterruptedly to the preaching of the Word. He may also have assisted them in their spiritual ministry, acting as catechist, &c.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 11:19-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 1, 2017

19 Now they who had been dispersed by the persecution that arose on occasion of Stephen went about as far as Phenice and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to none, but to the Jews only.

“Now” is resumptive of the narrative interrupted (c. 8:4) by the description of the conversion of Saul (9:32), the visitation of the churches of Palestine by Peter (33–43), the wonderful events connected with Cornelius, &c. Now, St. Luke resumes the history and doings of those disciples who were scattered abroad on the occasion of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, and enters on a new phase of the history of the Acts, chiefly in regard to the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles in several prominent places, and especially in regard to the history of St. Paul, the principal events of his life, his Apostolic labours and heroic sufferings in the cause of the Gospel.

“They that had been dispersed by,” or owing to, the persecution, on the occasion of the death of Stephen, “went about as far as Phenice.” Some of these dispersed disciples, not Apostles, made their way preaching the Gospel as far as Phenice—that tract of country on the shores of the Mediterranean between Judæa and Syria; others, as far as Cyprus, the island over against Phœnicia, others, as far as Antioch, the capital of Syria. All these exiles preached the Gospel to the Jews only.

20 But some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they were entered into Antioch, spoke also to the Greeks, preaching the Lord Jesus.

“But some of them” who were dispersed (c. 8:4), “Cyrene,” the capital city of Lybia, these were converted Jews.

“Greeks.” Gentiles. The opposition between these and “the Jews only,” among whom, doubtless, were found Hellenistic Jews, would seem to require that the word “Greeks” would refer to those who were in no sense “Jews” but Pagans. Very likely these men heard at Antioch of Cornelius’ conversion, and doubtless this example would influence them to preach to the Gentiles, and admit them into the Church.

21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believing, were converted to the Lord.

“The hand of the Lord” was with those teachers, empowering them to perform miracles in corroboration of their teaching which, therefore, was successful in effecting conversions.

The occurrences referred to (19–21) would seem to have taken place during an interval of some years, between the death of Stephen and the mission of Barnabas to Antioch.

22 And the tidings came to the ears of the church that was at Jerusalem, touching these things: and they sent Barnabas as far as Antioch.

The rumour concerning the successful labours of the disciples among these Cyprians and Cyreneans at Antioch reached the faithful of Jerusalem and the Apostles themselves who may have been there. Peter and James were there. Hence, the deputation by them of Barnabas to Antioch to confirm by Apostolic authority the successful work of the Cyprian and Cyrenean disciples. They send Barnabas alone as being a Cyprian and Hellenist; he was best fitted for the work, and would give less offence in his communication with the successful preaching of the word.

23 Who, when he was come and had seen the grace of God, rejoiced. And he exhorted them all with purpose of heart to continue in the Lord.

Had seen the grace of God manifest in the conversion and edifying lives of the Gentiles. “The grace of God” was the chief agent in the work of conversion. Free will is also upheld when He exhorts them “with purpose of heart,” with firm and determined purposes, “to continue,” &c.

24 For he was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith. And a great multitude was added to the Lord

“A good man,” &c. “Good,” benign, kind; loving God and solicitous for the salvation of his brethren; distinguished for the abundant gifts of the Holy Ghost, especially faith and confidence in God. To these qualities was added his success in the work of the Gospel.

25 And Barnabas went to Tarsus to seek Saul: whom, when he had found, he brought to Antioch.

Paul went from Jerusalem to Tharsus, his native city. Likely while there he was engaged in his trade of tent-making. Possibly, the Apostles at Jerusalem may have instructed Barnabas to call on him knowing what an effective labourer he would be in preaching the Gospel.

26 And they conversed there in the church a whole year: and they taught a great multitude, so that at Antioch the disciples were first named Christians.

“Conversed there.” Held sacred meetings for the purposes of worship “for a whole year,” and instructed great multitudes in the faith of Christ.

“First named Christians,” which shows the wonderful progress the Gospel made at Antioch.

“Christians,” the most honourable of all appellations, suggestive of the gratitude we owe our Blessed Saviour, and of our obligation to walk in His footsteps if we wish to share in His glory.

By whom they were so called, whether by Paul or Barnabas, or the Pagans, among whom they lived by way of distinction cannot be ascertained. Likely, it was not meant as a term of reproach. Agrippa uses it in a complimentary sense (Acts 26:20 also 1 Peter 4:16). Galileans or Nazareans was employed scornfully and reproachfully (2:7, 24:5) to designate our Lord’s followers.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 11:1-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 1, 2017


Peter’s arrival at Jerusalem (1–2). His defence of his conduct in admitting Gentiles into the Church, which he grounds on the vision vouchsafed to him at Joppe, which he describes (3–14). The external effusion of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. After which all held their peace and acquiesced (14–19). The spread of religion consequent on the preaching and miracles of the disciples (19–21). The prediction of a great famine by Agabus. The charitable resolve to send relief, which was actually forwarded through Barnabas and Saul, to the distressed Christians of Judea (19–30).

1 And the apostles and brethren, who were in Judea, heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.

The rumour regarding the admission of Cornelius and his household into the church was circulated far and wide throughout Judæa. Likely, the Apostles were at this time scattered throughout the different parts of the country.

2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,

“They that were of the circumcision.” Such among them as were over zealous about the Mosaic rite of circumcision and its necessity “contended,” disputed with him, as to the propriety of his conduct, and reproached him,

3 Saying: Why didst thou go in to men uncircumcised and didst eat with them?

“Saying: why didst thou?” &c. In the Greek it is in the assertive, not interrogative form. They held it to be unlawful to hold converse and take food with uncircumcised Gentiles, erroneously fancying the Law of Moses, as they understood it, on these points to be still in vigour. The gifts of the Holy Ghost abundantly poured out on them, put the propriety of receiving the Gentiles into the Church beyond dispute. This they don’t explicitly upbraid him with; they do so implicitly.

4 But Peter began and declared to them the matter in order, saying:

Peter justifies the admission of the Gentiles into the Church, and explains in detail each occurrence in connexion with it so far as he himself was concerned. “In order,” in the order in which it took place.

Note: since in verses 5-16 St Peter basically retells the account narrated in the previous chapter, Fr. MacEvilly sends us to his comments from that chapter. I’ve provided a link to that commentary after verse 16.

5 I was in the city of Joppe praying: and I saw in an ecstasy of mind a vision, a certain vessel descending, as it were a great sheet let down from heaven by four corners. And it came even unto me.
6 Into which looking, I considered and saw fourfooted creatures of the earth and beasts and creeping things and fowls of the air.
7 And I heard also a voice saying to me: Arise, Peter. Kill and eat.
8 And I said: Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath ever entered into my mouth.
9 And the voice answered again from heaven: What God hath made clean, do not thou call common.
10 And this was done three times. And all were taken up again into heaven.
11 And behold, immediately there were three men come to the house wherein I was, sent to me from Caesarea.
12 And the Spirit said to me that I should go with them, nothing doubting. And these six brethren went with me also: and we entered into the man’s house.
13 And he told us how he had seen an angel in his house, standing and saying to him: Send to Joppe and call hither Simon, who is surnamed Peter,
14 Who shall speak to thee words whereby thou shalt be saved, and all thy house.
15 And when I had begun to speak, the Holy Ghost fell upon them, as upon us also in the beginning.
16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how that he said: John indeed baptized with water but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 10.

17 If then God gave them the same grace as to us also who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ: who was I, that could withstand God?

If, then, God bestowed the same spirit on the uncircumcized believing Gentiles, as on us, requiring no other condition save to believe, thus establishing a perfect equality, “Who was I, to withstand God,” by refusing to baptize them, to obstruct His gracious designs and holy will clearly manifested in their regard, and refuse to admit into His Church by Baptism those on whom He Himself conferred the exalted Baptism of the Spirit?

18 Having heard these things, they held their peace and glorified God, saying: God then hath also to the Gentiles given repentance, unto life.

“They held their peace.” They had no more to say, on seeing the clear manifestations of God’s will, but humbly acquiesced in, and conformed, to His holy will.

“Unto life” so as to attain salvation.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts Chapter 10

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 1, 2017

Acts 10:1. “Cæsarea,” of Palestine. Cæsarea Philippi was a great way off from Joppe.
“Cornelius.” The name is Roman. Generally supposed to be a Gentile (10:28, 11:1). Allusion is clearly made to him and those who were with him as Gentiles.
“A centurion,” commander of one hundred men.
“Italian band,” as contradistinguished from the divisions in which men from remote quarters and provinces of the empire were enrolled. The men of this band, “Italians,” probably, claimed superiority over others.
Acts 10:2. “A religious man.” A pious worshipper, “fearing God,” according to the lights of the Natural Law, and, consequently, observant of the Divine Commandments through a reverential fear of God. It may be, that his residence among the Jews gave Cornelius a more definite idea of the true God, whom he served according to his lights, following the dictates of the Natural Law.
“Giving much alms to the people,” in which he is contrasted with the Roman officials, who made it a point to fleece and rob the subject people.
“And always praying to God.” Likely, while his mind was constantly raised up to God, he fervently prayed for light to be directed in the paths of salvation, by embracing the form of religion most pleasing to God.
Acts 10:3. “Manifestly,” conveys that it was for certain a real vision, while he was at prayer (v. 30) about the “ninth hour of the day,” or three o’clock.
“An angel,” assuming a visible body, deputed from God, stood before him. His prayers and almsdeeds (v. 4) rendered him pleasing to God, who sent His angel. The occasion was a very important one; the calling of the Gentile world in the person of this devout Centurion.
Acts 10:4. “Seized with fear.” The usual effect supernatural visions and appearances have on men, as we find everywhere recorded in the SS. Scriptures.
“Lord,” here a term of courtesy, equivalent to “Sir,” as it was not likely Cornelius regarded Him as God.
“For a memorial.” These good works have been wafted up before God to serve as a reminder of what you did, and cause Him to remember you in mercy and with complacency.
Acts 10:5. “And now.” Now, then. “One Simon,” &c. It was congruous that the head of the Church should be the first to introduce the Gentiles within its saving fold.
Acts 10:6. “Lodges as a guest with one Simon,” &c. “He will tell thee.” These words are not found in some Greek MSS. They seem, however, to be necessary in order that Cornelius should know why he was to send for Peter to Joppe. St. Peter himself says Cornelius spoke to him in these or similar words (11:14).
Acts 10:7. This God-fearing soldier was, no doubt, influenced by the example of Cornelius on whom he was in constant attendance.
Acts 10:8. He told the servants and the soldier all that occurred and why he sent them to Joppe (v. 22).
Acts 10:9. “Higher parts of the house.” The flat roof, the place usually resorted to for prayer.
“Sixth hour.” 12 o’clock. The more religious among the Jews had recourse to the exercise of prayer, not only when people in general did so, viz., morning and evening, but also at mid-day (Psalm 54:17; Daniel 6:10–19).
Acts 10:10. “Preparing.” Cooking the repast. Probably, it was dinner hour.
“Ecstasy of mind.” This sudden condition of mind would show its supernatural character, as sent from above. “Ecstasy” means that state in which the soul of a man is, as if alienated supernaturally from the body, to the contemplation of intelligible objects presented to the mind.
Acts 10:11, 12. A linen vessel or great sheet tied above at the four extremities thus preventing the contents from falling off, so as to present the form of a vessel, containing all kinds of animals tame and wild, clean and unclean, without distinction, “was let down from heaven.” No doubt, among the others might be counted these animals—swine, &c.—whose flesh the Jews were not allowed to eat. Whether he saw all this in reality or merely in mental contemplation is not determined.
Acts 10:13. “A voice.” Some (among whom Beelen) say, mentally, he seemed to hear it. Others (Patrizzi, &c.) a real voice.
“Arise,” proceed, … “and eat,” without any distinction of food, clean or unclean.
Acts 10:14. “Common and unclean.” Considering the Jewish distinctions of food. They called “unclean,” food commonly used by the Gentiles. But it was only unclean food as such, but not, strictly speaking, common food; that was prohibited. Hence, here “common” and “unclean” food should be joined, viz., common food, that is also unclean.
Acts 10:15. “God has cleansed,” or declared pure, do not regard as common or impure.
Acts 10:16. “Thrice,” to impress the whole occurrence more deeply on Peter’s mind. “And was taken up to heaven.” A symbolical history of God’s dealing with His Church. She was established and came down from Heaven and returned thither.
Acts 10:17. No comment.
Acts 10:18. “Called,” to enquire about Peter.
Acts 10:19. “The Spirit” of the Lord by whose influence he was guided and directed, “said to him” by an interior inspiration.
Acts 10:20. “Doubting nothing.” These men were Gentiles, between whom and the Jews there was still a wall of separation debarring almost all intercourse. Hence, the Spirit assures Peter.
“I have sent them.” Though directly sent by Cornelius, it is under my guidance and inspiration he did so.
Acts 10:21. “Going down to the men.” In the Greek it is added “who were sent to him by Cornelius.” But these words are wanting in many MSS. and versions, and are generally rejected as spurious. Bloomfield asserts “They have been with reason cancelled by every editor of note.”
Acts 10:22. No comments.
Acts 10:23. “Some of the brethren.” Six converts to Christianity (11:12) as witnesses of the course of events. This would have the effect of them. And the mollifying Jewish prejudices then so rife.
Acts 10:24. “The morrow after;” the day they set out on their journey; the fourth day after the vision of Cornelius (v. 30).
Acts 10:25. “Adored.” Cornelius, as a pious, God-fearing man, could not intend this as an act of supreme worship, which he knew could be paid to God alone. But, knowing Peter to be a friend of God vested with supernatural powers, he paid him great reverence, exhibited in his prostration.
Acts 10:26. Peter’s humility, however, shrunk from such honours. Besides, he knew it was not conformable to Roman custom to pay such save to Divinity, and the Romans present might regard it as an act of supreme worship paid to a God. When St. John prostrated himself before the angel, though from a man so enlightened, it could not mean divine worship, but only an act of civil homage, the angel, out of humility, declined it (Apoc. 19:10).
Acts 10:26. No comments.
Acts 10:28. “How abominable.” In Greek, illicit. There was no express enactment in the Pentateuch prohibiting intercourse with the Gentiles. But it was implied and practically acted on by the Jews, who following the Mosaic institutions and customs, kept aloof from the Gentiles, St. Peter mildly and considerately uses the words “of another nation.” It is observed by Salmeron that St. Peter wisely employs this preface, to avoid scandalizing the Jews present, who saw him, a Jew, consort with pagans, and in order that the Gentiles seeing that God was propitious to them would be animated with the desire of embracing the faith. He thus satisfied Jews and Gentiles.
Acts 10:29. “I ask, therefore,” &c. He knew it already, but it was right that the statement should be made before all present by Cornelius himself, whose words carried great weight with all. “For what cause?” intent, or purpose.
Acts 10:30-32. No comments.
Acts 10:33. “Done well in coming,” expressing grateful thanks. “To hear,” ready to carry out whatever thou art instructed by God to communicate to us.
Acts 10:34. “Opening his mouth,” beginning to speak. “In very deed,” undoubtedly. “I perceive,” from all that is occurring around me, and especially in connection with the call of Cornelius, and the various visions accorded to him and me.
“God is not a respecter of persons” (see James 2:1). “Respect or exception of persons” takes place when an unjust preference is shown to one party beyond another, as in the case of a judge who would pronounce sentence on account of the external appearance or circumstance of a person, such as friendship, or rank, or influence, without regard to the merits of the case. The Jews thought God peculiarly favoured them, because they were Jews, and all others excluded from Salvation because they were not. St. Peter now says he perceives how erroneous this is. No one is favoured by God simply because he is a Jew, externally pro-professing Judaism, and carnally descended from Abraham. Nor is anyone excluded from the Divine favour because he is not a Jew (see Romans 9, &c).
Acts 10:35. “But in every nation,” and people, without distinction of Jew or Gentile, or without reference to external advantages of any sort, “he that feareth Him,” who, under the influence of Divine grace from reverential fear of God, repairs from evil, “and worketh Justice,” does good works, aided by God’s grace. This is evidently allusive to Cornelius and his.… “is acceptable to him” and a sharer in the Divine favour, so as to be disposed to be called to the faith and embrace the true religion.
This is a brief epitome of the teaching of St. Paul in his Epistle to Romans, in which he fully explains the doctrine of justification, and God’s gracious and gratuitous deallings with man, without distinction of Jew or Gentile. In all this, the preventing and co-operating grace of God is supposed. Since, without God’s grace, no one can perform any good work conducive to Salvation. This affords no ground for advocating indifference as regards religion. For, if indifferentism were allowable, might not Cornelius remain as he was, and why should St. Peter go to such trouble to preach to him and his the necessity of embracing the Faith of Jesus Christ, as being for all men the only true means of Salvation, and the only means established by God for obtaining the remission of sin?
The indifference put forward here is not indifference of Faith; but indifference of nations and peoples in regard to God’s supernatural favours and gratuitous calls to His Church.
Acts 10:36–38. This is a summary of certain technical issues concerning the Greek text. Comments on the individual verses are given further below. “God sent the word,” &c. Commentators are perplexed about the construction of this and the following verses, chiefly on account of the Greek Text, wherein, after “the word” λογον, we have (“ον”) “which,” λογον ον απεστειλε, &c. In this construction “word” is in the accusative case, and would seem to have no verb on which to depend. Some commentators (among them Bloomfield) say τον λογον is governed by οίδατε. “You know” (v. 37) and put it in apposition with its equivalent term, ρἡμα in v. 37, which they say, is repeated thus: “the word, ρἡμα, I say.” The construction in the Greek should run thus: “You know that He (viz., God) proclaiming peace through Jesus Christ (He is the Lord of all) sent (or caused to be announced) to the children of Israel, the word of the Gospel which had been announced through all Judea commencing with Galilee, after the Baptism, which John preached. You know. I say, that the word was sent by God, viz., Jesus of Nazareth anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power (with the power of the Holy Ghost) who went about doing good, healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Steenkiste.)
Acts 10:36. Commening to catechize Cornelius and those present, St. Peter says “God sent the word,” that is, the message of pardon and reconciliation, conveyed in His Gospel. The term, “God” is not in the Greek, but is understood from the context.
“Children of Israel,” in the first instance.
“Preaching peace.” Pointing out the way of reconciliation with God, and union among themselves.
(“For He is Lord of all.”) All men are the work of His hands, Jew and Gentile, and he wishes all without distinction, to be saved.
Acts 10:37. “You know the word,” the whole Gospel economy, the series of events, connected with the preaching of the Gospel.
“Published,” &c. “Galilee” was not far from Cæsarea, so that Cornelius, a religious man, alive to all religious teachings, doubtless had heard of the fame of the Gospel teaching and miracles, which must have spread throughout Palestine and the neighbouring countries. Cornelius and his friends, though not fully instructed in the doctrine of Christ, must have heard of it.
Acts 10:38. “Jesus of Nazareth” depends on “You know.”
“How God,” the entire Trinity, to whom is common every act, ad extra, “anointed,” poured out upon him the fulness of the graces of the Holy Spirit at his incarnation, when he was conceived of the Holy Ghost.
Jesus Christ, the man God, was, according to His human nature anointed by the whole Trinity with the plenitude of the graces of the Holy Ghost, in the Hypostatic union.
St. Cyril, of Alexandria, teaches regarding opera ad extra “Quœ omnia sunt a Patre per Filium in Spiritu Sancto.” St. Peter represents our Lord as “going about doing good,” and also as the conqueror of the devil, who held the Gentiles subject to his power.
“Anointed him.” A ceremony employed in the inauguration of Kings, Prophets, &c. It points to our Lord as the “Christ,” or anointed, the expected Messiah.
The operation, whereby the Son of God assumed to himself human nature, though, in reality, common to the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, was, however, by appropriation, attributed to the Holy Ghost, who on account of his procession from the Father and Son, is goodness and love itself.
“Holy Ghost, and with power,” that is, the power of the Holy Ghost, whereby he worked miracles of every degree.
“For God was with him,” which more clearly and emphatically expresses what is conveyed in the words “anointed with the Holy Ghost, and with power,” viz., that it was in virtue of the Divine power our Lord performed the great prodigies.
Acts 10:39. No comments.
Acts 10:40. “Made manifest,” leaving no grounds for doubting it.
Acts 10:41. “Not to all the people,” which, besides being almost impracticable, was unnecessary to establish the truth of His Resurrection.
“Pre-ordained,” “elected beforehand, such as Peter himself and the other Apostles, “who did eat and drink,” &c., thus showing the reality of his Resurrection. Though our Lord is said (Luke 24:43) to have eaten with the Apostles. Nowhere is it said he drank. However, it is implied in the repast (John 21:13).
Acts 10:42. “To be judge of the living,” &c. The Greeks hold a peculiar opinion on this point. They maintain that such of the just as shall be alive at the approach of the day of judgment shall not die, but shall be changed without death. The common doctrine which is in accordance with the SS. Scriptures and the faith of the church at all times is that, all shall die. Hence the word “living” denotes those who shall be alive, immediately before the coming of the Judge, and shall be destroyed by the fire of conflagration which immediately precedes the judge (2 Peter 3:10). “Dead,” such as have been already in their graves. He refers to the Judicial power of the Judge, to inspire them with salutary fear.
Acts 10:43. “All the Prophets,” very many, such as Jeremiah, (31:14)—or all the Prophets, more or less, testify of Christ, directly or indirectly. Peter’s discourse, likely, intended to be of longer duration (11:15), was interrupted by the descent of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 10:44. “Holy Ghost fell on,” &c. Probably, not in a sensible form as on the Apostles on Pentecost Sunday; but, in visible effects, such as speaking and praising God in strange tongues (v. 46), and other marks of his presence.
It is remarked by commentators, that this is a wonderful and singular instance of the giving of the Holy Ghost. He anticipated the ministry of Peter, in order to show that the vocation of the Gentiles was altogether God’s own work; and the converts from Judaism would see that they owed their call and the gifts of the Holy Ghost not to circumcision or to the Law, but to faith in Jesus Christ. Whereas Cornelius received the gifts of the Holy Ghost without Baptism or circumcision, it was a peremptory proof that the Gentiles, in order to receive Baptism and be incorporated with the Church need not be incorporated with the Jewish Church by circumcision or subjection to the Law of Moses.
Acts 10:45-46. No comments.
Acts 10:47. “Answered,” often in SS. Scriptures signifies, to begin to speak without reference to any question, or it may imply answering some latent question in the mind of the speaker.
“Forbid water.” Though they had received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and all His gifts, still in accordance with the ordinance of our Lord (John 3) they should receive the Baptism of water, in order to be externally incorporated with the Church, and made one with the body of the faithful.
“Forbid water,” clearly shows the necessity of Baptism, when those who were replenished with the gifts of the Holy Ghost should necessarily be subjected to it. “Forbid water,” shows it was carried, and that Baptism was administered by infusion.
“As well as we” Jews, when He descended on us at Pentecost.
Acts 10:48. “He commanded,” &c. Probably, using the ministry of the six who accompanied him. It may be that Peter himself did so. The words may mean, he gave orders to them to prepare at once for Baptism which possibly he himself may have conferred. The words do not necessarily convey that he did not.
It may be asked, what need had Peter of a vision to know that the Gentiles were to be admitted into the Church, after our Lord’s express mandate “docete omnes gentes?” In reply, it is said, the Apostles did not understand our Lord’s injunctions in detail or practice.
“In the name” by the authority, and with the Baptism, in the usual form, “of Jesus Christ.”

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 22:30, 23:6-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 1, 2016

Text in red are my additions.

Act 22:30 But on the next day, meaning to know more diligently for what cause he was accused by the Jews, he loosed him and commanded the priests to come together and all the council: and, bringing forth Paul, he set him before them.

“And all the Council”—the Sanhedrim. “Commanded the Priests,” &c. This convening of a Council by a Roman Military Tribunal shows what little liberty, even in religious matters, the Jews enjoyed under the Roman dominion.

“Bringing forth Paul” from the Castle to the place where the meeting was held, usually, in the house of the High Priest.

“Set him before them,” to plead his cause, and let all see the true state of the case and the nature of the accusations brought against him.

Act 23:6 And Paul, knowing that the one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, cried out in the council: Men, brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees: concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

Knowing from his former acquaintance with the members and their character.

“Pharisees” and “Sadducees,” (see Matthew 3:7, Commentary on).

He wishes to enlist in his favour a great number of the members, by a kind of side issue, in introducing the much controverted question, especially among the Pharisees and Sadducees, regarding the Resurrection of the dead.

“A Pharisee,” formerly when professing Judaism.

Act 23:7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. And the multitude was divided.

“The multitude,” composing the Sanhedrim.

Dissension. See Luke 2:34-35; Acts 14:4, 21:34.

Act 23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

Sadducees. It is said that their teaching had its rise in the thought that “God’s servants should not do service with the hope of reward.” As the life to come would be a reward we are told that their doctrine developed into the denial of the Resurrection. As we meet with them in the New Testament, they are mainly members of the priestly order, and appear to have accepted only the written Law, as distinct from tradition, yet in spite of the mention of angels in the Pentateuch they appear to have explained the language in such wise as to identify these angelic appearances with some manifestation of the divine glory, and thus to have come to deny the existence of any spiritual beings distinct from God Himself. In political matters they were on the side of Rome, and in consequence are found uniting at times with the Herodians.

Act 23:9 And there arose a great cry. And some of the Pharisees rising up, strove, saying: We find no evil in this man. What if a spirit hath spoken to him, or an angel?

“If a spirit or an angel.” The chief distinctive doctrine of the Pharisees was, the Resurrection of the dead. The opposite was the case with the Sadducees, which Paul well knew. He turns to account on this occasion, his knowledge of their discordant feelings and opinions.

Act 23:10 And when there arose a great dissension, the tribune, fearing lest Paul should be pulled in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and to take him by force from among them and to bring him into the castle.

It was on account of his knowing, that Paul was a Roman citizen, that the Tribune felt much interest in his safety.

Act 23:11 And the night following, the Lord standing by him, said: Be constant: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

“Night following.” How this consoling and encouraging apparition took place is not mentioned. It conveyed an assurance that Paul’s mode of acting before the Sanhedrim was pleasing to our Lord. There is no allusion to a dream or ecstasy. Hence, many hold it occurred while Paul was awake. He ardently desired to visit Rome (19:21). He now receives an assurance that his wishes will be gratified. “Constant,” in Greek “take courage,” “be without fear.”

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 20:28-38

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 1, 2016

Text in red are my additions.

Act 20:28 Take heed to yourselves and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the Church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.

“Take heed to yourselves.” The first and chief thing for pastors if they wish to have their labours successful and abiding, is to attend first to the work of their own sanctification. This St. Paul inculcates (Tim. 4:16), attende Tibi and doctrinæ. See Commentary on.

“And the whole flock.” Our Lord himself is fond of using a pastoral image or metaphor, when speaking of his people, whom he often represents under the image of a flock, cared by shepherds, of whom he is himself the chief and head.

“Wherein.” That portion of the universal church over which “the Holy Ghost has placed you bishops.” The word “bishop” means overscer, superintendent, with power communicated by the spirit of fortitude and strength, to oversee all, priests and people. No doubt, several bishops were present, as also some priests. The designation “bishops” marks their office of superintending and ruling priests and people, and of conducting them in the way of salvation.

“To rule.” The Greek word—ποιμαινειν—a pastoral term—means to rule, guide, govern and direct. This is specially addressed to such of the audience as were bishops or priests of the first order, of whom some, no doubt, came together from the outlying districts, bordering on Ephesus.

“The Church of God.” There is a diversity of reading here, some MSS. have the Church of the Lord, others, the “Church of the Lord and God.” The Vulgate reading is best sustained by the testimony of the Fathers. The Vulgate reading is more in accordance with the language of St. Paul, who, frequently in his writings, speaks of the “Church of God;” never, “of our Lord.” These words furnish an unanswerable proof of our Lord’s Divinity. He who purchased the Church is called “God.” It was our Lord Jesus Christ that, with the blood of His humanity hypostatically united to His Divinity, purchased the Church. It is said here, it was “God” that purchased the Church. Hence, our Lord is “God.” It was through His humanity he purchased it, by the effusion of His blood. It was His Divine Person that imparted an infinite value to all the works performed through His human nature.

Act 20:29 I know that after my departure ravening wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

They should attend to their flock now more diligently, on account of the dangers they were exposed to from without, from the Judaizers after his departure.

“Ravening wolves.” In Greek heavy, destructive wolves, false teachers, hypocrites.

Act 20:30 And of your own selves shall arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Also from within. Heretics who sprung forth from the bosom of the Church, in which Gnosticism soon appeared. In his Epistles to Timothy, whom the Apostle appointed bishop of Ephesus, he refers to several false teachers (1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 1:15; 2:17).

Act 20:31 Therefore watch, keeping in memory that for three years I ceased not with tears to admonish every one of you, night and day.

Surrounded with such dangers, they should “watch,” be ever on the alert to meet these heretics. They should also gratefully remember the zeal and burning charity he himself displayed in admonishing all, both by night and by day. The fruit of such zeal among the people should not be allowed to be lost through their fault.

“For three years” or thereabouts. He was only two years teaching in the school of Tyrannus (19:8–10), and about three months more in the synagogue, “three years” more or less.

Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, who is able to build up and to give an inheritance among all the sanctified.

“Now” about to leave them for ever, he commends them to God.

“The word of His grace,” viz., the word of the Gospel to which, provided it be faithfully believed and its precepts carried out in practice, is attached the grace of salvation, and all the particular graces that conduct thereto.

“Build up.” Make them advance in Christian life and the work of sanctification.

“And to give you an inheritance,” make you His heirs and partakers with all God’s saints in the inheritance in store for them.

Act 20:33 I have not coveted any man’s silver, gold or apparel, as
Act 20:34 You yourselves know. For such things as were needful for me and them that are with me, these hands have furnished.

He concludes this magnificent, valedictory address by inculcating disinterestedness, of which he gave so noble an example. They all knew his disinterestedness, free from not alone the stain, but the very suspicion of sordid avarice, or any desire to become possessed of any of their worldly goods. All he sought for was, not their worldly substance; but, their immortal souls. By labouring hard and with the work of his hands, he supported himself and those who were with him.

Act 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring you ought to support the weak and to remember the word of the Lord Jesus, how he said: It is a more blessed thing to give, rather than to receive.

“Showed” by word and example, “all things,” in regard to all things appertaining to the apostolic and pastoral mode of life. “How you ought,” by labouring, after my example, “to support the weak,” by administering to the corporal wants of the needy too weak to labour for themselves; or, it more likely means the infirm in faith. By thus labouring to procure a livelihood, we would accommodate ourselves to the weakness of our infirm brethren, who might be scandalized by seeing us receive temporal remuneration and support for having laboured spiritually in the cause of the Gospel. By thus labouring for our own sustenance, we would support and stretch to them a helping hand, so that they would not be scandalized at our seeming selfishness, and be saved from the temptation of abandoning the faith.

“And to remember … it is a more blessed thing,” &c. This saying of our Lord is found no where in the Gospels, which, however, do not claim to record all his sayings (John 16:15). St. Paul supposes it to be well known to those whom he addresses. He learned it from some of our Lord’s disciples. It has reference to temporal matters. By renouncing their just claim to temporal support, the Apostles would have fulfilled in themselves and realized this adage. In preaching the Gospel gratuitously, they give of their own to others.

Act 20:36 And when he had said these things, kneeling down, he prayed with them all.

Kneeling down. It should be remembered that St Paul is on his way to Jerusalem and knows that chains and afflictions await him (Acts 20:22-23). Jesus also knew what awaited him and he also knelt down in prayer (Luke 22:41).

Act 20:37 And there was much weeping among them all. And falling on the neck of Paul, they kissed him,

Kissed him. The word κατεφιλουν = kataphiloun is in the imperfect tense, denoting repeated action. It expresses intense sorrow and is found elsewhere only in describing the father’s response to his prodigal son’s return (Luke 15:22).

Act 20:38 Being grieved most of all for the word which he had said, that they should see his face no more. And they brought him on his way to the ship.

Being grieved. The same Greek word (οδυνωμενοι = odynomenoi) is used to describe the effect of the child Jesus’ absence upon Mary and Joseph in Luke 2:48. It is used to express intense emotional or physical anguish. It is also used to describe the torment undergone by the rich man in the Parable of Dives and Lazarus (Luke 16:24-25).


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

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 1, 2016

Act 20:17 And sending from Miletus to Ephesus, he called the ancients of the church.

Miletus was not far from Ephesus, about a day’s journey, forty miles or so.

“Ancients of the Church.” It is a subject of discussion among commentators whether this term refers to the clergy of the First order only, whom the Apostle calls, v. 28. Episcopi or bishops. Some Commentators say the Apostle summoned the several bishops from the surrounding districts of the Province of Ephesus, each having its own bishop; or, whether it refers to priests of the Second order only, as is maintained by some, who, however, admit the superiority of bishops over priests, defined as a point of faith (C. of Trent, ss. xxiii., c. 4, can. 7), some hold that it includes priests as well of the first as of the second order. The opinion which understands the term as common to bishops and priests, seems to be the one more generally adopted by Commentators and Ecclesiastical writers as more probable.

The term, Presbyter, according to Etymology, means, one advanced in age. Episcopus or Bishop, an overseer, or superintendent. But, according Ecclesiastical and Scriptual usage, Presbyter designates, a sacred minister or priest; Episcopus or Bishop, one who holds the first place in a church, oversees things and exercises jurisdiction over others. The term, Episcopus, while strictly denoting bishops, priests of the first order, to whom it is confined, and the high office they exercise, may also, to a certain extent, designate priests of the second order, who participate in the sacred office which the bishops exercise in its plenitude, in virtue of which they delegate a portion of their power, as also care and duty of superintendence to the clergy of the second order (see Ep. ad Philip 1; Titus 1:5; 1 Tim. 3:8, Commentary on).

Act 20:18 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.

This valedictory address contains much in praise of the Apostle. It proceeded, however, not from vain glory, but from a sincere desire to point out to the pastors the line of conduct they should pursue, and the great zeal they should display, after his example.

He speaks only of what they knew already regarding his life, labours, and sufferings.

Act 20:19 Serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and temptations which befell me by the conspiracies of the Jews:

“Serving the Lord” by the faithful discharge of the duties of his high Apostolic office.

“With all humility,” not puffed up; humbly referring all his success to God.

“With tears” caused by the perverse conduct of his persecutors. “And temptations,” trials, arising from the snares and murderous designs of the Jews, and their plots against his life (v. 3).

Act 20:20 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,

“Nothing profitable.” Whether palatable or otherwise, provided he saw it would ultimately prove of service to them.

Act 20:21 Testifying both to Jews and Gentiles penance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Testifying,” inculcating and urging, by all means, on all, “Jews and Gentiles,” the necessity of doing penance for their sins against God, and of “faith in our Lord,” &c., by whose blood they were redeemed.

Act 20:22 And now, behold, being bound in the spirit, I go to Jerusalem: not knowing the things which shall befall me there:

“Bound in the spirit.” Some understand “spirit” of the Holy Ghost, impelling, constraining him by his influences, to go forward, heedless of personal risks. In the next verse, however, he speaks of the “Holy Ghost.” Hence, others understand it of his own will, which, under a sense strong of duty, not, however, without the superintending guidance of God’s spirit, urges him forward.

“Not knowing,” having no clear or distinct knowledge in detail, as to their issue, or what particular kinds of persecutions await me, or if the issue of them be death.

Act 20:23 Save that the Holy Ghost in every city witnesseth to me, saying: That bands and afflictions wait for me at Jerusalem.

“Save that.” Excepting that “in every city” through which I passed, “the Holy Ghost,” either by direct revelation or through the Prophets, whom he inspired in each of these places—of this we have an example (21:4–11) “witnesseth,” testifies, “that at Jerusalem, bands,” &c. “Jerusalem,” is wanting in almost all Greek copies.

Act 20:24 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.

“More precious,” &c. I don’t value life more than my eternal salvation; so that no risks or perils can turn me aside from “consummating my course” as a faithful Apostle, and from discharging the duties of the ministry confided to me by no other than “the Lord Jesus” himself (Acts 9:15–17).

“To testify the Gospel,” &c. To bear witness to the joyous message of the grace which God, as a merciful Father, is prepared to confer on mankind. This is the direct design of the ministry confided on me—

The reading in the Greek is somewhat different, but substantially the same, “neither do I count my life dear unto myself, that I may consummate my course,” &c. I look upon it, as a fixed idea, that my life is to be accounted by me for nothing, and all dangers regarded as nought, in attaining the object of my ministry, &c.

Act 20:25 And now behold, I know that all you, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.

“I know,” I have the firmest conviction, &c. This he adds to fix their attention on the admonitions he was about giving them, for the last time.

“All of you,” &c. None of you shall see me again. “Among whom,” &c. Very likely, there came together the priests and bishops from the districts round Ephesus. Possibly, on hearing of Paul’s transit, they may have come of their own accord.

Act 20:26 Wherefore I take you to witness this day that I am clear from the blood of all men.

He appeals to themselves as witnesses of his fidelity, so that if any of them die the second death in mortal sin, “their-blood,” be they Jew or Gentile, their eternal loss will be chargeable to themselves and not to him. Hence, it is inferred, that the pastor, who neglects his duty is guilty of the “blood,” the eternal loss of his people.

Act 20:27 For I have not spread to declare unto you all, the counsel of God.

“For”—a reason why he is not answerable—“not spared,” shrunk from any motives or influences, whether of fear or selfishness, from fully “declaring” and making known to them “all the counsel of God,” the entire will of God in regard to the salvation of men. He fearlessly threw open to them, the full economy of God, in the work of redemption, the Faith to be believed and professed, the morals and deeds of virtue to be practised to gain eternal life; and the vices and crimes to be shuned, to escape eternal torments.

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