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Catena Aurea by St. Thomas Aquinas
1. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
2. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
3. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
4. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
5. And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
6. He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
7. Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
8. And they remembered his words,
9. And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
10. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
11. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
12. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
BEDE. Devout women not only on the day of preparation, but also when the sabbath was passed, that is, at sun-set, as soon as the liberty of working returned, bought spices that they might come and anoint the body of Jesus, as Mark testifies. (Mark 16:1.) Still as long as night time restrained them, they came not to the sepulchre. And therefore it is said, On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, &c. One of the Sabbath, (una Sabbathi) or the first of the Sabbath, is the first day from the Sabbath; which Christians are wont to call “the Lord’s day,” because of our Lord’s resurrection. But by the women coming to the sepulchre very early in the morning, is manifested their great zeal and fervent love of seeking and finding the Lord.
AMBROSE. Now this place has caused great perplexity to many, because while St. Luke says, Very early in the morning, Matthew says that it was in the evening of the sabbath that the women came to the sepulchre. But you may suppose that the Evangelists spoke of different occasions, so as to understand both different parties of women, and different appearances. Because however it was written, that in the evening of the sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, (Matt. 28:1.) our Lord rose, we must so take it, as that neither on the morning of the Lord’s day, which is the first after the sabbath, nor on the sabbath, the resurrection should be thought to have taken place. For how are the three days fulfilled? Not then as the day grew towards evening, but in the evening of the night He rose. Lastly, in the Greek it is “late;” (ὀψὶ) but late signifies both the hour at the end of the day, and the slowness of any thing; as we say, “I have been lately told.” Late then is also the dead of the night. And thus also the women had the opportunity of coming to the sepulchre when the guards were asleep. And that you may know it was in the night time, some of the women are ignorant of it. They know who watch night and day, they know not who have gone back. According to John, one Mary Magdalene knows not, for the same person could not first know and then afterwards be ignorant. Therefore if there are several Maries, perhaps also there are several Mary Magdalenes, since the former is the name of a person, the second is derived from a place.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Ev. lib. iii. c. 24.) Or Matthew by the first part of the night, which is the evening, wished to represent the night itself, at the end of which night they came to the sepulchre, and for this reason, because they had been now preparing since the evening, and it was lawful to bring spices because the sabbath was over.
EUSEBIUS. The Instrument of the Word lay dead, but a great stone enclosed the sepulchre, as if death had led Him captive. But three days had not yet elapsed, when life again puts itself forth after a sufficient proof of death, as it follows, And they found the stone rolled away.
THEOPHYLACT. An angel had rolled it away, as Matthew declares.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 90. in Matt.) But the stone was rolled away after the resurrection, on account of the women, that they might believe that the Lord had risen again, seeing indeed the grave without the body. Hence it follows, And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. When then they found not the body of Christ which was risen, they were distracted by various thoughts, and for their love of Christ and the tender care they had shewn Him, were thought worthy of the vision of angels. For it follows, And it came to pass as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.
EUSEBIUS. The messengers of the health-bearing resurrection and their shining garments stand for tokens of pleasantness and rejoicing. For Moses preparing plagues against the Egyptians, perceived an angel in the flame of fire. But not such were those who appeared to the women at the sepulchre, but calm and joyful as became them to be seen in the kingdom and joy of the Lord. And as at the Passion the sun was darkened, holding forth signs of sorrow and woe to the crucifiers of our Lord, so the angels, heralds of life and resurrection, marked by their white garments the character of the health-bearing feast day.
AMBROSE. But how is it that Mark has mentioned one young man sitting in white garments, and Matthew one, but John and Luke relate that there were seen two angels sitting in white garments.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Ev. ut sup.) We may understand that one Angel was seen by the women, as both Mark and Matthew say, so as supposing them to have entered into the sepulchre, that is, into a certain space which was fenced off by a kind of wall in front of the stone sepulchre; and that there they saw an Angel sitting on the right hand, which Mark says, but that afterwards when they looked into the place where our Lord was lying, they saw within two other Angels standing, (as Luke says,) who spoke to encourage their minds, and build up their faith. Hence it follows, And as they were afraid.
BEDE. The holy women, when the Angels stood beside them, are reported not to have fallen to the ground, but to have bowed their faces to the earth; nor do we read that any of the saints, at the time of our Lord’s resurrection, worshipped with prostration to the ground either our Lord Himself, or the Angels who appeared to them. Hence has arisen the ecclesiastical custom, either in memory of our Lord’s resurrection, or in the hope of our own, of praying on every Lord’s day, and through the whole season of Pentecost, not with bended knees, but with our faces bowed to the earth. But not in the sepulchre, which is the place of the dead, was He to be sought, who rose from the dead to life. And therefore it is added, They said to them, that is, the Angels to the women, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen. On the third day then, as He Himself foretold to the women, together with the rest of His disciples, He celebrated the triumph of His resurrection. Hence it follows, Remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again, &c. For on the day of the preparation at the ninth hour giving up the ghost, buried in the evening, early on the morning of the first day of the week He rose again.
ATHANASIUS. (Lib. de Inc. Fil. Dei.) He might indeed at once have raised His body from the dead. But some one would have said that He was never dead, or that death plainly had never existed in Him. And perhaps if the resurrection of our Lord had been delayed beyond the third day, the glory of incorruption had been concealed. In order therefore to shew His body to be dead, He suffered the interval of one day, and on the third day manifested His body to be without corruption.
BEDE. One day and two nights also He lay in the sepulchre, because He joined the light of His single death to the darkness of our double death.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Now the women, when they had received the sayings of the Angels, hastened to tell them to the disciples; as it follows, And they remembered his words, and returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest. For woman who was once the minister of death, is now the first to receive and tell the awful mystery of the resurrection. The female race has obtained therefore both deliverance from reproach, and the withdrawal of the curse.
AMBROSE. It is not allowed to women to teach in the church, but they shall ask their husbands at home. (1 Tim. 2:12, 1 Cor. 14:35.) To those then who are at home is the woman sent. But who these women were he explains, adding, It was Mary Magdalene,
BEDE. (who Was also the sister of Lazarus,) and Joanna, (the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward,) and Mary the mother of James, (that is, the mother of James the less, and Joseph.) And it is added generally of the others, and other women that were with them, which told these things to the Apostles.
BEDE. (ex Amb.) For that the woman might not endure the everlasting reproach of guilt from men, she who had transfused sin into the man, now also transfuses grace.
THEOPHYLACT. Now the miracle of the resurrection is naturally incredible to mankind. Hence it follows, And their words seemed to them as idle tales.
BEDE. (ex Greg.) Which was not so much their weakness, as so to speak our strength. For the resurrection itself was demonstrated to those who doubted by many proofs, which while we read and acknowledge we are through their doubts confirmed in the truth.
THEOPHYLACT. Peter, as soon as he heard this, delays not, but runs to the sepulchre; for fire when applied to matter knows no delay; as it follows, Then arose Peter, and ran to the sepulchre.
EUSEBIUS. For he alone believed the women saying that they had seen Angels; and as he was of more ardent feelings than the rest, he anxiously put himself foremost, looking every where for the Lord; as it follows, And stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves.
THEOPHYLACT. But now when he was at the tomb, he first of all obtained that he should marvel at those things which had before been derided by himself or the others; as it is said, And departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass; that is, wondering in himself at the way in which it had happened, how the linen clothes had been left behind, since the body was anointed with myrrh; or what opportunity the thief had obtained, that putting away the clothes wrapped up by themselves, he should take away the body with the soldiers standing round.
AUGUSTINE. Luke is supposed to have mentioned this concerning Peter, recapitulating. For Peter ran to the sepulchre at the same time that John also went, as soon as it had been told to them alone by the women, (especially Mary Magdalene,) that the body was taken away. But the vision of Angels took place afterwards. Luke therefore mentioned Peter only, because to him Mary first told it. It may also strike one, that Luke says that Peter, not entering but stooping down, saw the linen clothes by themselves, and departed wondering, whereas John says, that he himself saw the linen clothes in the same position, and that he entered after Peter. We must understand then that Peter first saw them stooping down, which Luke mentions, John omits, but that he afterwards entered before John came in.
BEDE. According to the mystical meaning, by the women coming early in the morning to the sepulchre, we have an example given us, that having cast away the darkness of our vices, we should come to the Body of the Lord. For that sepulchre also bore the figure of the Altar of the Lord, wherein the mysteries of Christ’s Body, not in silk or purple cloth, but in pure white linen, like that in which Joseph wrapped it, ought to be consecrated, that as He offered up to death for us the true substance of His earthly nature, so we also in commemoration of Him should place on the Altar the flax, pure from the plant of the earth, and white, and in many ways refined by a kind of crushing to death. But the spices which the women bring, signify the odour of virtue, and the sweetness of prayers by which we ought to approach the Altar. The rolling back of the stone alludes to the unclosing of the Sacraments which were concealed by the veil of the letter of the law which was written on stone, the covering of which being taken away, the dead body of the Lord is not found, but the living body is preached; for although we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more. (2 Cor. 5:16.) But as when the Body of our Lord lay in the sepulchre, Angels are said to have stood by, so also at the time of consecration are they to be believed to stand by the mysteries of Christ. Let us then after the example of the devout women, whenever we approach the heavenly mysteries, because of the presence of the Angels, or from reverence to the Sacred Offering, with all humility, bow our faces to the earth, recollecting that we are but dust and ashes.
13. And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
14. And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
16. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
17. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
18. And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
19. And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
20. And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
21. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
22. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
23. And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.
24. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
GLOSS. (non occ.) After the manifestation of Christ’s resurrection made by the Angels to the women, the same resurrection is further manifested by an appearance of Christ Himself to His disciples; as it is said, And behold two of them.
THEOPHYLACT. Some say that Luke was one of these two, and for this reason concealed his name.
AMBROSE. Or to two of the disciples by themselves our Lord shewed Himself in the evening, namely, Ammaon and Cleophas.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Ev. lib. iii. c. 25.) The fortress mentioned here we may not unreasonably take to have been also called according to Mark, a village, He next describes the fortress, saying, which was from Jerusalem about the space of sixty stades, called Emmaus.
BEDE. It is the same as Nicopolis, a remarkable town in Palestine, which after the taking of Judæa under the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antonius, changed together with its condition its name also. But the stadium which, as the Greeks say, was invented by Hercules to measure the distances of roads, is the eighth part of a mile; therefore sixty stades are equal to seven miles and fifty paces. And this was the length of journey which they were walking, who were certain about our Lord’s death and burial, but doubtful concerning His resurrection. For the resurrection which took place after the seventh day of the week, no one doubts is implied in the number eight. The disciples therefore as they walk and converse about the Lord had completed the sixth mile of their journey, for they were grieving that He who had lived without blame, had come at length even to death, which He underwent on the sixth day. They had completed also the seventh mile, for they doubted not that He rested in the grave. But of the eighth mile they had only accomplished half; for the glory of His already triumphant resurrection, they did not believe perfectly.
THEOPHYLACT. But the disciples above mentioned talked to one another of the things which had happened, not as believing them, but as bewildered at events so extraordinary.
BEDE. And as they spoke of Him, the Lord comes near and joins them, that He may both influence their minds with faith in His resurrection, and fulfil that which He had promised, Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Mat. 18:20); as it follows, And it came to pans while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
THEOPHYLACT. For having now obtained a spiritual body, distance of place is no obstacle to His being present to whom He wished, nor did He any further govern His body by natural laws, but spiritually and supernaturally. Hence as Mark says, He appeared to them in a different form, in which they were not permitted to know Him; for it follows, And their eyes were holden that they should not know him; in order truly that they may reveal their entirely doubtful conceptions, and uncovering their wound may receive a cure; and that they might know that although the same body which suffered, rose again, yet it was no longer such as to be visible to all, but only to those by whom He willed it to be seen; and that they should not wonder why henceforth He walks not among the people, seeing that His conversation was not fit for mankind, but rather divine; which is also the character of the resurrection to come, in which we shall walk as the Angels and the sons of God.
GREGORY. (23. in Ev.) Rightly also He refrained from manifesting to them a form which they might recognise, doing that outwardly in the eyes of the body, which was done by themselves inwardly in the eyes of the mind. For they in themselves inwardly both loved and doubted. Therefore to them as they talked of Him He exhibited His presence, but as they doubted of Him He concealed the appearance which they knew. He indeed conversed with them, for it follows, And he said to them, What manner of communications, &c.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Anonm. in Cat. Gr.) They were in truth discoursing among themselves, no longer expecting to see Christ alive, but sorrowing as concerning their Saviour slain. Hence it follows, And one of them whose name was Cleophas, answering him said, Art thou only a stranger?
THEOPHYLACT. As if he said, “Art thou a mere stranger, and one dwelling beyond the confines of Jerusalem, and therefore unacquainted with what has happened in the midst of it, that thou knowest not these things?
BEDE. Or he says this, because they thought Him a stranger, whose countenance they did not recognise. But in reality He was a stranger to them, from the infirmity of whose natures, now that He had obtained the glory of the resurrection, He was far removed, and to whose faith, as yet ignorant of His resurrection, He remained foreign. But again the Lord asks; for it follows, And he said unto them, What things? And their answer is given, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet. They confess Him to be a Prophet, but say nothing of the Son of God; either not yet perfectly believing, or fearful of falling into the hands of the persecuting Jews; either knowing not who He was, or concealing the truth which they believed. They add in praise of Him, mighty in deed and word.
THEOPHYLACT. First comes deed, then word; for no word of teaching is approved unless first he who teaches shews himself to be a doer thereof. For acting goes before sight; for unless by thy works thou hast cleansed the glass of the understanding, the desired brightness does not appear. But still further it is added, Before God and all the people. For first of all we must please God, and then have regard as far as we can to honesty before men, that placing the honour of God first, we may live without offence to mankind.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. (ut sup.) They next assign the cause of their sadness, the betrayal and passion of Christ; and add in the voice of despair, But we hoped it had been he who should have redeemed Israel. We hoped, (he says,) not we hope; as if the death of the Lord were like to the deaths of other men.
THEOPHYLACT. For they expected that Christ would redeem Israel from the evils that were rising up among them and the Roman slavery. They trusted also that He was an earthly king, whom they thought would be able to escape the sentence of death passed upon Him.
BEDE. Reason had they then for sorrow, because in some sort they blamed themselves for having hoped redemption in Him whom now they saw dead, and believed not that He would rise again, and most of all they bewailed Him put to death without a cause, whom they knew to be innocent.
THEOPHYLACT. And yet those men seem not to have been altogether without faith, by what follows, And besides all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Whereby they seem to have a recollection of what the Lord had told them that He would rise again on the third day.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. The disciples also mention the report of the resurrection which was brought by the women; adding, Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, &c. They say this indeed as if they did not believe it; wherefore they speak of themselves as frightened or astonished. For they did consider as established what was told them, or that there had been an angelic revelation, but derived from it reason for astonishment and alarm. The testimony of Peter also they did not regard as certain, since he did not say that he had seen our Lord, but conjectured His resurrection from the fact that His body was not lying in the sepulchre. Hence it follows, And certain of them that were with us went, &c.
AUGUSTINE. (ut sup.) But since Luke has said that Peter ran to the sepulchre, and has himself related the words of Cleophas, that some of them went to the sepulchre, he is understood to confirm the testimony of John, that two went to the sepulchre. He first mentioned Peter only, because to him first Mary had related the news.
25. Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27. And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
28. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
29. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
30. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
31. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?
33. And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
34. Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
35. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
THEOPHYLACT. Because the above-mentioned disciples were troubled with too much doubt, the Lord reproves them, saying, O fools, (for they almost used the same words as those who stood by the cross, He saved others, himself he cannot save.) And He proceeds, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. For it is possible to believe some of these things and not all; as if a man should believe what the Prophets say of the cross of Christ, as in the Psalms, They pierced my hands and my feet; (Ps. 22:16.) but should not believe what they say of the resurrection, as, Thou shall not suffer thy Holy One to see corruption. (Ps. 16:10.) But it becomes us in all things to give faith to the Prophets, as well in the glorious things which they predicted of Christ, as the inglorious, since through the suffering of evil things is the entrance into glory. Hence it follows, Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into his glory? that is, as respects His humanity.
ISIDORE OF PELEUSIUM. (lib. iii. Ep. 98.) But although it behoved Christ to suffer, yet they who crucified Him are guilty of inflicting the punishment. For they were not concerned to accomplish what God purposed. Therefore their execution of it was impious, but God’s purpose most wise, who converted their iniquity into a blessing upon mankind, using as it were the viper’s flesh for the working of a health-giving antidote.
CHRYSOSTOM. And therefore our Lord goes on to shew that all these things did not happen in a common way, but from the predestined purpose of God. Hence it follows, And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, he expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. As if He said, Since ye are slow I will render you quick, by explaining to you the mysteries of the Scriptures. For the sacrifice of Abraham, when releasing Isaac he sacrificed the ram, prefigured Christ’s sacrifice. But in the other writings of the Prophets also there are scattered about mysteries of Christ’s cross and the resurrection.
BEDE. But if Moses and the Prophets spoke of Christ, and prophesied that through His Passion He would enter into glory, how does that man boast that he is a Christian, who neither searches how these Scriptures relate to Christ, nor desires to attain by suffering to that glory which he hopes to have with Christ.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. But since the Evangelist said before, Their eyes were holden that they should not know him, until the words of the Lord should move their minds to faith, He fitly affords in addition to their hearing a favourable object to their sight. As it follows, And they drew nigh to the fortress whither they were going, and he feigned as if he was going further.
AUGUSTINE. (de Qu. Ev. lib. ii. c. 51.) Now this relates not to falsehood. For not every thing we feign is a falsehood, but only when we feign that which means nothing. But when our feigning has reference to a certain meaning it is not a falsehood, but a kind of figure of the truth. Otherwise all the things figuratively spoken by wise and holy men, or even by our Lord Himself, must be accounted falsehoods. For to the experienced understanding truth consists not in certain words, but as words so also deeds are feigned without falsehood to signify a particular thing.
GREGORY. (Hom. 22 in Ev.) Because then He was still a stranger to faith in their hearts, He feigned as if he would go further. By the word “fingere” we mean to put together or form, and hence formers or preparers of mud we call “figuli.” He who was the Truth itself did nothing then by deceit, but exhibited Himself in the body such as He came before them in their minds. But because they could not be strangers to charity, with whom charity was walking, they invite Him as if a stranger to partake of their hospitality. Hence it follows, And they compelled him. From which example it is gathered that strangers are not only to be invited to hospitality, but even to be taken by force.
GLOSS. They not only compel Him by their actions, but induce Him by their words; for it follows, saying, Abide with us, for it is towards evening, and the day is far gone, (that is, towards its close.)
GREGORY. (ut sup.) Now behold Christ since He is received through His members, so He seeks His receivers through Himself; for it follows, And he went in with them. They lay out a table, they bring food. And God whom they had not known in the expounding of Scriptures, they knew in the breaking of bread; for it follows, And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him.
CHRYSOSTOM. This was said not of their bodily eyes, but of their mental sight.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Ev. lib. iii. c. 25.) For they walked not with their eyes shut, but there was something within them which did not permit them to know that which they saw, which a mist, darkness, or some kind of moisture, frequently occasions. Not that the Lord was not able to transform His flesh that it should be really a different form from that which they were accustomed to behold; since in truth also before His passion, He was transfigured in the mount, so that His face was bright as the sun. But it was not so now. For we do not unfitly take this obstacle in the sight to have been caused by Satan, that Jesus might not be known. But still it was so permitted by Christ up to the sacrament of the bread, that by partaking of the unity of His body, the obstacle of the enemy might be understood to be removed, so that Christ might be known.
THEOPHYLACT. But He also implies another thing, that the eyes of those who receive the sacred bread are opened that they should know Christ. For the Lord’s flesh has in it a great and ineffable power.
AUGUSTINE. (ut sup.) Or because the Lord feigned as if He would go farther, when He was accompanying the disciples, expounding to them the sacred Scriptures, who knew not whether it was He, what does He mean to imply but that through the duty of hospitality men may arrive at a knowledge of Him; that when He has departed from mankind far above the heavens, He is still with those who perform this duty to His servants. He therefore holds to Christ, that He should not go far from him, whoever being taught in the word communicates in all good things to him who teaches. (Gal. 6:6.) For they were taught in the word when He expounded to them the Scriptures. And because they followed hospitality, Him whom they knew not in the expounding of the Scriptures, they know in the breaking of bread. For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. (Rom. 2:13.)
GREGORY. (ut sup.) Whoever then wishes to understand what he has heard, let him hasten to fulfil in work what he can now understand. Behold the Lord was not known when He was speaking, and He vouchsafed to be known when He is eating. It follows, And he vanished out of their sight.
THEOPHYLACT. For He had not such a body as that He was able to abide longer with them, that thereby likewise He might increase their affections. And they said one to another, Did not our hearts burn, within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
ORIGEN. By which is implied, that the words uttered by the Saviour inflamed the hearts of the hearers to the love of God.
GREGORY. (Hom. 10. in Ev.) By the word which is heard the spirit is kindled, the chill of dulness departs, the mind becomes awakened with heavenly desire. It rejoices to hear heavenly precepts, and every command in which it is instructed, is as it were adding a faggot to the fire.
THEOPHYLACT. Their hearts then were turned either by the fire of our Lord’s words, to which they listened as the truth, or because as He expounded the Scriptures, their hearts wore greatly struck within them, that He who was speaking was the Lord. Therefore were they so rejoiced, that without delay they returned to Jerusalem. And hence what follows, And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem. They rose up indeed the same hour, but they arrived after many hours, as they had to travel sixty stades.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Ev. l. iii. c. 25.) It had been already reported that Jesus had risen by the women, and by Simon Peter, to whom He had appeared. For these two disciples found them talking of these things when they came to Jerusalem; as it follows, And they found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
BEDE. It seems that our Lord appeared to Peter first of all those whom the four Evangelists and the Apostle mention.
CHRYSOSTOM. For He did not shew Himself to all at the same time, in order that He might sow the seeds of faith. For he who had first seen and was sure, told it to the rest. Afterwards the word going forth prepared the mind of the hearer for the sight, and therefore He appeared first to him who was of all the most worthy and faithful. For He had need of the most faithful soul to first receive this sight, that it might be least disturbed by the unexpected appearance. And therefore He is first seen by Peter, that he who first confessed Christ should first deserve to see His resurrection, and also because he had denied Him He wished to see him first, to console him, lest he should despair. But after Peter, He appeared to the rest, at one time fewer in number, at another more, which the two disciples attest; for it follows, And they told what things were done by the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
AUGUSTINE. (ut sup.) But with respect to what Mark says, that they told the rest, and they did not believe them, whereas Luke says, that they had already begun to say, The Lord is risen indeed, what must we understand, except that there were some even then who refused to believe this?
36. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
37. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed they had seen a spirit.
38. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39. Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
40. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and feet.
CHRYSOSTOM. The report of Christ’s resurrection being published every where by the Apostles, and while the anxiety of the disciples was easily awakened to see Christ, He that was so much desired comes, and is revealed to them that were seeking and expecting Him. Nor in a doubtful manner, but with the clearest evidence, He presents Himself, as it is said, And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Ev. l. iii. c. 25.) This manifestation of our Lord after His resurrection, John also relates. But when John says that the Apostle Thomas was not with the rest, while according to Luke, the two disciples on their return to Jerusalem found the eleven gathered together, we must understand undoubtedly that Thomas departed from them, before our Lord appeared to them as they spoke these things. For Luke gives occasion in his narrative, that it may be understood that Thomas first went out from them when the rest were saying these things, and that our Lord entered afterwards. Unless some one should say that the eleven were not those who were then called Apostles, but that these were eleven disciples out of the large number of disciples. But since Luke has added, And those that were with them, he has surely made it sufficiently evident that those called the eleven were the same as those who were called Apostles, with whom the rest were.
But let us see what mystery it was for the sake of which, according to Matthew and Mark, our Lord when He rose again gave the following command, I will go before you into Galilee, there shall ye see me. Which although it was accomplished, yet it was not till after many other things had happened, whereas it was so commanded, that it might be expected that it would have taken place alone, or at least before other things.
AMBROSE. Therefore I think it most natural that our Lord indeed instructed His disciples, that they should see Him in Galilee, but that He first presents Himself as they remained still in the assembly through fear.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. Nor was it a violation of His promise, but rather a mercifully hastened fulfilment on account of the cowardice of the disciples.
AMBROSE. But afterwards when their hearts were strengthened, the eleven set out for Galilee. Or there is no difficulty in supposing that they should be reported to have been fewer in the assembly, and a larger number on the mountain.
EUSEBIUS. For the two Evangelists, that is, Luke and John, write that He appeared to the eleven alone in Jerusalem, but those two disciples told not only the eleven, but all the disciples and brethren, that both the angel and the Saviour had commanded them to hasten to Galilee; of whom also Paul made mention, saying, Afterwards he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at once. (1 Cor. 15:6.) But the truer explanation is, that at first indeed while they remained in secret at Jerusalem, He appeared once or twice for their comfort, but that in Galilee not in the assembly, or once or twice, but with great power, He made a manifestation of Himself, shewing Himself living to them after His Passion with many signs, as Luke testifies in the Acts. (Acts 1:3.)
AUGUSTINE. (ut sup.) But that which was said by the Angel, that is the Lord, must be taken prophetically, for by the word Galilee according to its meaning of transmigration, it is to be understood that they were about to pass over from the people of Israel to the Gentiles, to whom the Apostles preaching would not entrust the Gospel, unless the Lord Himself should prepare His way in the hearts of men. And this is what is meant by, He shall go before you into Galilee, there shall ye see him. But according to the interpretation of Galilee, by which it means “manifestation,” we must understand that He will be revealed no more in the form of a servant, but in that form in which He is equal to the Father, which He has promised to His elect. That manifestation will be as it were the true Galilee, when we shall see Him as He is. This will also be that far more blessed transmigration from the world to eternity, from whence though coming to us He did not depart, and to which going before us He has not deserted us.
THEOPHYLACT. The Lord then standing in the midst of the disciples, first with His accustomed salutation of “peace,” allays their restlessness, shewing that He is the same Master who delighted in the word wherewith He also fortified them, when He sent them to preach. Hence it follows, And he said to them, Peace be unto you; I am he, fear not.
GREGORY NAZIANZEN. (Orat. 22.) Let us then reverence the gift of peace, which Christ when He departed hence left to us. Peace both in name and reality is sweet, which also we have heard to be of God, as it is said, The peace of God; (Phil. 4:7.) and that God is of it, as He is our peace. (Eph. 2:14.) Peace is a blessing commended by all, but observed by few. What then is the cause? Perhaps the desire of dominion or riches, or the envy or hatred of our neighbour, or some one of those vices into which we see men fall who know not God. For peace is peculiarly of God, who binds all things together in one, to whom nothing so much belongs as the unity of nature, and a peaceful condition. It is borrowed indeed by angels and divine powers, which are peacefully disposed towards God and one another. It is diffused through the whole creation, whose glory is tranquillity. But in us it abides in our souls indeed by the following and imparting of the virtues, in our bodies by the harmony of our members and organs, of which the one is called beauty, the other health.
BEDE. The disciples had known Christ to be really man, having been so long a time with Him; but after that He was dead, they do not believe that the real flesh could rise again from the grave on the third day. They think then that they see the spirit which He gave up at His passion. Therefore it follows, But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. This mistake of the Apostles was the heresy of the Manichæans.
AMBROSE. But persuaded by the example of their virtues, we can not believe that Peter and John could have doubted. Why then does Luke relate them to have been affrighted. First of all because the declaration of the greater part includes the opinion of the few. Secondly, because although Peter believed in the resurrection, yet he might be amazed when the doors being closed Jesus suddenly presents Himself with His body.
THEOPHYLACT. Because by the word of peace the agitation in the minds of the Apostles was not allayed, He shews by another token that He is the Son of God, in that He knew the secrets of their hearts; for it follows, And he said to them, Why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
BEDE. What thoughts indeed but such as were false and dangerous. For Christ had lost the fruit of His passion, had He not been the Truth of the resurrection; just as if a good husbandman should say, What I have planted there, I shall find, that is, the faith which descends into the heart, because it is from above. But those thoughts did not descend from above, but ascended from below into the heart like worthless plants.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Here then was a most evident sign that He whom they now see was none other but the same whom they had seen dead on the cross, and lain in the sepulchre, who knew every thing that was in man.
AMBROSE. Let us then consider how it happens that the Apostles according to John believed and rejoiced, according to Luke are reproved as unbelieving. John indeed seems to me, as being an Apostle, to have treated of greater and higher things; Luke of those which relate and are close akin to human. The one follows an historic course, the other is content with an abridgment, because it could not be doubted of him, who gives his testimony concerning those things at which he was himself present. And therefore we deem both true. For although at first Luke says that they did not believe, yet he explains that they afterwards did believe.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Now our Lord testifying that death was overcome, and human nature had now in Christ put on incorruption, first shews them His hands and His feet, and the print of the nails; as it follows, Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
THEOPHYLACT. But He adds also another proof, namely, the handling of His hands and feet, when He says, Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have. As if to say, Ye think me a spirit, that is to say, a ghost, as many of the dead are wont to be seen about their graves. But know ye that a spirit hath neither flesh nor bones, but I have flesh and bones.
AMBROSE. Our Lord said this in order to afford us an image of our resurrection. For that which is handled is the body. But in our bodies we shall rise again. But the former is more subtle, the latter more carnal, as being still mixed up with the qualities of earthly corruption. Not then by His incorporeal nature, but by the quality of His bodily resurrection, Christ passed through the shut doors.
GREGORY. (Mor. 14. c. 55.) For in that glory of the resurrection our body will not be incapable of handling, and more subtle than the winds and the air, (as Eutychius said,) but while it is subtle indeed through the effect of spiritual power, it will be also capable of handling through the power of nature. It follows, And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet, on which indeed were clearly marked the prints of the nails. But according to John, He also shewed them His side which had been pierced with the spear, that by manifesting the scar of His wounds He might heal the wound of their doubtfulness. But from this place the Gentiles are fond of raising up a calumny, as if He was not able to cure the wound inflicted on Him. To whom we must answer, that it is not probable that He who is proved to have done the greater should be unable to do the less. But for the sake of His sure purpose, He who destroyed death would not blot out the signs of death. First indeed, that He might thereby build up His disciples in the faith of His resurrection. Secondly, that supplicating the Father for us, He might always shew forth what kind of death He endured for many. Thirdly, that He might point out to those redeemed by His death, by setting before them the signs of that death, how mercifully they have been succoured. Lastly, that He might declare in the judgment how justly the wicked are condemned.
41. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
42. And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
43. And he took it, and did eat before them.
44. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. The Lord had shewn His disciples His hands and His feet, that He might certify to them that the same body which had suffered rose again. But to confirm them still more, He asked for something to eat.
GREGORY OF NYSSA. (Orat. 1. de Res.) By the command of the law indeed the Passover was eaten with bitter herbs, because the bitterness of bondage still remained, but after the resurrection the food is sweetened with a honeycomb; as it follows, And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and a honeycomb.
BEDE. To convey therefore the truth of His resurrection, He condescends not only to be touched by His disciples, but to eat with them, that they might not suspect that His appearance was not actual, but only imaginary. Hence it follows, And when he had eaten before them, he took the remnant, and gave to them. He ate indeed by His power, not from necessity. The thirsty earth absorbs water in one way, the burning sun in another way, the one from want, the other from power.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. But some one will say, If we allow that our Lord ate after His resurrection, let us also grant that all men will after the resurrection take the nourishment of food. But these things which for a certain purpose are done by our Saviour, are not the rule and measure of nature, since in other things He has purposed differently. For He will raise our bodies, not defective but perfect and incorrupt, who yet left on His own body the prints which the nails had made, and the wound in His side, in order to shew that the nature of His body remained the same after the resurrection, and that He was not changed into another substance.
BEDE. He ate therefore after the resurrection, not as needing food, nor as signifying that the resurrection which we are expecting will need food; but that He might thereby build up the nature of a rising body. But mystically, the broiled fish of which Christ ate signifies the sufferings of Christ. For He having condescended to lie in the waters of the human race, was willing to be taken by the hook of our death, and was as it were burnt up by anguish at the time of His Passion. But the honeycomb was present to us at the resurrection. By the honeycomb He wished to represent to us the two natures of His person. For the honeycomb is of wax, but the honey in the wax is the Divine nature in the human.
THEOPHYLACT. The things eaten seem also to contain another mystery. For in that He ate part of a broiled fish, He signifies that having burnt by the fire of His own divinity our nature swimming in the sea of this life, and dried up the moisture which it had contracted from the waves, He made it divine food; and that which was before abominable He prepared to be a sweet offering to God, which the honeycomb signifies. Or by the broiled fish He signifies the active life, drying up the moisture with the coals of labour, but by the honeycomb, the contemplative life on account of the sweetness of the oracles of God.
BEDE. But after that He was seen, touched, and had eaten, lest He should seem to have mocked the human senses in any one respect, He had recourse to the Scriptures. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, when I was yet with you, that is, when I was yet in the mortal flesh, in which ye also are. He indeed was then raised again in the same flesh, but was not in the same mortality with them. And He adds, That all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Ev. lib. i. c. 11.) Let those then who dream that Christ could have done such things by magical arts, and by the same art have consecrated His name to the nations to be converted to Him, consider whether He could by magical arts fill the Prophets with the Divine Spirit before He was born. For neither supposing that He caused Himself to be worshipped when dead, was He a magician before He was born, to whom one nation was assigned to prophesy His coming.
45. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures,
46. And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48. And ye are witnesses of these things.
49. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
BEDE. After having presented Himself to be seen with the eye, and handled with hands, and having brought to their minds the Scriptures of the law, He next opened their understanding that they should understand what was read.
THEOPHYLACT. Otherwise, how would their agitated and perplexed minds have learnt the mystery of Christ. But He taught them by His words; for it follows, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, that is, by the wood of the Cross.
BEDE. But Christ would have lost the fruit of His Passion had He not been the Truth of the resurrection, therefore it is said, And to rise from the dead. He then after having commended to them the truth of the body, commends the unity of the Church, adding, And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations.
EUSEBIUS. For it was said, Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance. (Ps. 2:8.) But it was necessary that those who were converted from the Gentiles should be purged from a certain stain and defilement through His virtue, being as it were corrupted by the evil of the worship of devils, and as lately converted from an abominable and unchaste life. And therefore He says that it behoves that first repentance should be preached, but next, remission of sins, to all nations. For to those who first shewed repentance for their sins, by His saving grace He granted pardon of their transgression, for whom also He endured death.
THEOPHYLACT. But herein that He says, Repentance and remission of sins, He also makes mention of baptism, in which by the putting off of our past sins there follows pardon of iniquity. But how must we understand baptism to be performed in the name of Christ alone, whereas in another place He commands it to be in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. First indeed we say that it is not meant that baptism is administered in Christ’s name alone, but that a person is baptized with the baptism of Christ, that is, spiritually, not Judaically, nor with the baptism, wherewith John baptized unto repentance only, but unto the participation of the blessed Spirit; as Christ also when baptized in Jordan manifested the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. Moreover you must understand baptism in Christ’s name to be in His death. For as He after death rose again on the third day, so we also are three times dipped in the water, and fitly brought out again, receiving thereby an earnest of the immortality of the Spirit. This name of Christ also contains in itself both the Father as the Anointer, and the Spirit as the Anointing, and the Son as the Anointed, that is, in His human nature. But it was fitting that the race of man should no longer be divided into Jews and Gentiles, and therefore that He might unite all in one, He commanded that their preaching should begin at Jerusalem, but be finished with the Gentiles. Hence it follows, Beginning at Jerusalem. (Rom. 3:2, Rom. 9:4.)
BEDE. Not only because to them were entrusted the oracles of God, and theirs is the adoption and the glory, but also that the Gentiles entangled in various errors might by this sign of Divine mercy be chiefly invited to come to hope, seeing that to them even who crucified the Son of God pardon is granted.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. i. in Act.) Further, lest any should say that abandoning their acquaintances they went to shew themselves, (or as it were to vaunt themselves with a kind of pomp,) to strangers, therefore first among the very murderers themselves are the signs of the resurrection displayed, in that very city wherein the frantic outrage burst forth. For where the crucifiers themselves are seen to believe, there the resurrection is most of all demonstrated.
EUSEBIUS. But if those things which Christ foretold are already receiving their accomplishment, and His word is perceived by a seeing faith to be living and effectual throughout the whole world; it is time for men not to be unbelieving towards Him who uttered that word. For it is necessary that He should live a divine life, whose living works are shewn to be agreeable to His words; and these indeed have been fulfilled by the ministry of the Apostles. Hence He adds, But ye are witnesses of these things, &c. that is, of My death and resurrection.
THEOPHYLACT. Afterwards, lest they should be troubled at the thought, How shall we private individuals give our testimony to the Jews and Gentiles who have killed Thee? He subjoins, And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you, &c. which indeed He had promised by the mouth of the prophet Joel, I will pour my Spirit upon all flesh. (Joel 2:18.)
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. i. in Act.) But as a general does not permit his soldiers who are about to meet a large number, to go out until they are armed, so also the Lord does not permit His disciples to go forth to the conflict before the descent of the Spirit. And hence He adds, But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
THEOPHYLACT. That is, not with human but heavenly power. He said not, until ye receive, but be endued with, shewing the entire protection of the spiritual armour.
BEDE. But concerning the power, that is, the Holy Spirit, the Angel also says to Mary, And the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. (Luke 1:35.) And the Lord Himself says elsewhere, For I know that virtue is gone out of me. (Luke 8:45.)
CHRYSOSTOM. (ut sup.) But why did not the Spirit come while Christ was present, or immediately on His departure? Because it was fitting that they should become desirous of grace, and then at length receive it. For we are then most awakened towards God, when difficulties press upon us. It was necessary in the mean time that our nature should appear in Heaven, and the covenants be completed, and that then the Spirit should come, and pure joys be experienced. Mark also what a necessity He imposed upon them of being at Jerusalem, in that He promised that the Spirit should there be given them. For lest they should again flee away after His resurrection, by this expectation, as it were a chain, He kept them all there together. But He says, until ye be endued from on high. He did not express the time when, in order that they may be constantly watchful. But why then marvel that He does not reveal to us our last day, when He would not even make known this day which was close at hand.
GREGORY. (de Past. 3. c. 25.) They then are to be warned, whom age or imperfection hinders from the office of preaching, and yet rashness impels, lest while they hastily arrogate to themselves so responsible an office, they should cut themselves off from the way of future amendment. For the Truth Itself which could suddenly strengthen those whom it wished, in order to give an example to those that follow, that imperfect men should not presume to preach, after having fully instructed the disciples concerning the virtue of preaching, commanded them to abide in the city, until they were endued with power from on high. For we abide in a city, when we keep ourselves close within the gates of our minds, lest by speaking we wander beyond them; that when we are perfectly endued with divine power, we may then as it were go out beyond ourselves to instruct others.
AMBROSE. But let us consider how according to John they received the Holy Spirit, while here they are ordered to stay in the city until they should be endued with power from on high. Either He breathed the Holy Spirit into the eleven, as being more perfect, and promised to give it to the rest afterwards; or to the same persons He breathed in the one place, He promised in the other. Nor does there seem to be any contradiction, since there are diversities of graces. Therefore one operation He breathed into them there, another He promised here. For there the grace of remitting sins was given, which seems to be more confined, and therefore is breathed into them by Christ, that you may believe the Holy Spirit to be of Christ, to be from God. For God alone forgiveth sins. But Luke describes the pouring forth of the grace of speaking with tongues.
CHRYSOSTOM. Or He said, Receive ye the Holy Spirit, that He might make them fit to receive it, or indicated as present that which was to come.
AUGUSTINE. (de Trin. 15. c. 26.) Or the Lord after His resurrection gave the Holy Spirit twice, once on earth, because of the love of our neighbour, and again from heaven, because of the love of God.
50. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
52. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
53. And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
BEDE. Having omitted all those things which may have taken place during forty-three days between our Lord and His disciples, St. Luke silently joins to the first day of the resurrection, the last day when He ascended into heaven, saying, And he led them out as far as to Bethany. First, indeed, because of the name of the place, which signifies “the house of obedience.” For He who descended because of the disobedience of the wicked, ascended because of the obedience of the converted. Next, because of the situation of the same village, which is said to be placed on the side of the mount of Olives; because He has placed the foundations, as it were, of the house of the obedient Church, of faith, hope, and love, in the side of that highest mountain, namely, Christ. But He blessed them to whom He had delivered the precepts of His teaching; hence it follows, And he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
THEOPHYLACT. Perhaps pouring into them a power of preservation, until the coming of the Spirit; and perhaps instructing them, that as often as we go away, we should commend to God by our blessing those who are placed under us.
ORIGEN. But that He blessed them with uplifted hands, signifies that it becomes him who blesses any one to be furnished with various works and labours in behalf of others. For in this way are the hands raised up on high.
CHRYSOSTOM. But observe, that the Lord submits to our sight the promised rewards. He had promised the resurrection of the body; He rose from the dead, and conferred with His disciples for forty days. It is also promised that we shall be caught up in the clouds through the air; this also He made manifest by His works. For it follows, And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted, &c.
THEOPHYLACT. And Elias indeed was seen, as it were, to be taken up into heaven, but the Saviour, the forerunner of all, Himself ascended into heaven to appear in the Divine sight in His sacred body; and already is our nature honoured in Christ by a certain Angelic power.
CHRYSOSTOM. But you will say, How does this concern me? Because thou also shalt be taken up in like manner into the clouds. For thy body is of like nature to His body, therefore shall thy body be so light, that it can pass through the air. For as is the head, so also is the body; as the beginning, so also the end. See then how thou art honoured by this beginning. Man was the lowest part of the rational creation, but the feet have been made the head, being lifted up aloft into the royal throne in their head.
BEDE. When the Lord ascended into heaven, the disciples adoring Him where His feet lately stood, immediately return to Jerusalem, where they were commanded to wait for the promise of the Father; for it follows, And they worshipped him, and returned, &c. Great indeed was their joy, for they rejoice that their God and Lord after the triumph of His resurrection had also passed into the heavens.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. And they were watching, praying, and fasting, because indeed they were not living in their own homes, but were abiding in the temple, expecting the grace from on high; among other things also learning from the very place piety and honesty. Hence it is said, And were continually in the temple.
THEOPHYLACT. The Spirit had not yet come, and yet their conversation is spiritual. Before they were shut up; now they stand in the midst of the chief priests; distracted by no worldly object, but despising all things, they praise God continually; as it follows, Praising and blessing God.
BEDE. And observe that among the four beasts in heaven, (Ezek. 1:10. Rev. 4:7) Luke is said to be represented by the calf, for by the sacrifice of a calf, they were ordered to be initiated who were chosen to the priesthood; (Exod. 29:1.) and Luke has undertaken to explain more fully than the rest the priesthood of Christ; and his Gospel, which he commenced with the ministry of the temple in the priesthood of Zacharias, he has finished with the devotion in the temple. And he has placed the Apostles there, about to be the ministers of a new priesthood, not in the blood of sacrifices, but in the praises of God and in blessing, that in the place of prayer and amidst the praises of their devotion, they might wait with prepared hearts for the promise of the Spirit.
THEOPHYLACT. Whom imitating, may we ever dwell in a holy life, praising and blessing God; to Whom be glory and blessing and power, for ever and ever. Amen.
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