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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT



ACTS 11



CHAPTER XI.



Ver. 2. Disputed against him. S. Epiphanius makes Cerinthus, who was the next heresiarch to Simon Magus, the author of this dispute. He likewise says it was he, who excited the Jews against S. Paul, (Acts xxi.) and that the first Council of Jerusalem was convened to condemn him. S. Epiph. hæres. 28. c. ii.



Ver. 3. And didst eat with them. The Jews looked upon it as a thing altogether abominable, for them to eat with uncircumcised Gentiles; but S. Peter satisfied them, or silenced them by a plain and sincere recital of his vision, and of what happened at the house of Cornelius. Wi.



Ver. 18. They held their peace, and glorified God, that the gate of salvation was also opened to the Gentiles. Wi.



Ver. 20. Some of them, at Antioch, spoke also to the Grecians:[1] by which many understand, to the Gentiles, though in most Greek copies we read, to the Hellenists. Wi.



Ver. 24. Multitude was added, as before, (c. x.) a few were added to the visible Church. Ever since Christ's ascension, this Church has been notoriously seen. Of her ministers, their preaching has been open, their sacraments visible, their discipline visible, their persecutions visible, their wonderful increase visible, and their manifestly divine protection visible, and known to all the world. Whilst all that have separated themselves by schism from this venerable body, have fallen into discredit, and most into complete oblivion. The Catholic Church was the first, and it will be the last.



Ver. 25. To seek Saul, who had retired for a while, to his native city, Tarsus. These two remained at Antioch about a year, during which time they reaped a plentiful harvest.



Ver. 26. At Antioch the disciples were first named Christians, when S. Paul and S. Barnabas were preaching there. Before that, they were called the disciples of Jesus, and sometimes Nazarenes, (see Acts xxiv. 5.) or perhaps Galileans. This honourable name of Christians, distinguished them from Gentiles and Jews, and from all heretical sects, who generally had some name from the authors of such sects, as Simonites, Cerinthians, Nicolaits, &c. Of which see S. Epiphanius. The faithful had also after some time the name of Catholics, being taught in the apostles' creed to believe in the Catholic Church. And S. Augustin, in several places, takes notice, that no heretics could ever get themselves called by this name; nor can they to this present. See S. Aug. de util. credendi. c. viii. de vera relig. c. vii. cont. epis. fundam. c. iv. Whosoever is of the true faith of Christ, may justly say, Christian is my name, Catholic my surname: a greater honour, and a greater advantage, than to be of any royal family. Wi. — The faithful disciples, believers, &c. as before they were called, now received the name of Christians. It is not certain whether they took the name themselves, or it was given them out of disrespect, by the pagans. Galileans was a term of reproach likewise given to the Christians. S. Peter, in his first epistle, uses the appellation of Christians; but it does not appear that S. Paul ever did in any of his writings. Calmet, Tirinus, &c. — The name of Christian should be common to all the faithful, and all other new names of sectaries abhorred. "If you hear," says S. Jer. any where such as are said to be of Christ, "not to have their name from Christ, but from some other, as Marcionites, Valentinians, (as now also Lutherans, Calvinists, &c. &c. &c. &c.) know that they belong not to the Church of Christ, but to the synagogue of Antichrist." S. Pacianus, in his letter to Sympronian, says, when heresies had arisen, and endeavoured by diverse names to tear the dove of the Lord and Queen in pieces, the faithful required their surname: hence they who before were called Christians, are now surnamed also Catholics. Christian is my name and Catholic my surname. By this term Catholic, the apostles, in their creed, have distinguished the one true visible Church from all and every other congregation, sect, or party. This mark is so self-evident, that S. Augustin hesitates not to say: "In the lap of the Church the very name Catholic keepeth me." Cont. ep. fund. c. iv. — Again, in his book on the utility of believing, he says: "if after these troubles of mind you still are tossed and vexed, and wish for peace, follow the way of Catholic discipline, which from Christ himself, by the apostles, hath proceeded even unto us, and shall proceed from hence to the latest posterity." 1 Tim. iii. 15.



Ver. 29. Who dwell in Judea. Most of the faithful in Jerusalem, who wished to live perfect lives, had sold their possessions, and placed the price in the hands of the apostles; and many others, who had not voluntarily relinquished their property, had probably lost most of it in the persecutions. Hence arose the particular distress of the brethren in Jerusalem, to relieve which the Gentiles made collections. It was meet, that they who had been made partakers of their spiritual goods, should now in time of need administer to them of their temporal substance. De Dion. Carth. — Imitate the alms of these primitive Christians, and make to yourselves provision against another life. Oh how many are now clothed in silks, and abound in pleasures, but are naked and void of every thing, that will bear examination on the day of judgment! S. Chrys. hom. xxvi. in Act.



Ver. 30. Sending it to the ancients;[2] elders, &c. In this and diverse other places, are not to be understood such as were elder in age, but such as had offices and dignities, and by divine authority, and who with a due subordination were to govern the Church: so that by this word, were signified apostles, bishops, and priests. But of this more hereafter. Wi. — The ancients or priests, seniors, presbuterouV. This is the first place in the New Testament, where priests are mentioned. Some interpreters think, that by this word, ancients, are meant the apostles; but this is not likely. The apostles must at that time have been dispersed over all the world. Others think it was some of the older deacons, who had charge of the alms. We like the opinion of those who think it means priests, subordinate to the apostles, who had the charge of governing the faithful, in their absence. Thus the Christian Church will appear modelled after the form of the synagogue. First, the bishop, who presides, corresponding to the head of the synagogue; the priests, to the ancients, who sat on the right and left of the chief; and the deacons, to the disciples of the Scribes, who studied the law. It must be allowed that many passages occur in Scripture, which it seems necessary to explain of priests of the second rank. S. Paul, (1 Tim. v. 1. 17. 19.) S. James (v. 14.) orders the priests to be called to anoint the sick man, which cannot be explained of bishops, as there was only one in each town. It must nevertheless be observed, that this same word ancient, or priest, is often used in Scripture, and primitive writings, to designate a bishop. Calmet.

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[1] V. 20. Ad Græcos, proV touV ellhnistaV, and in some MSS. ellhnaV.

[2] V. 30. Ad seniores, proV touV presbuterouV. This Greek word presbuteroV, in our Latin Vulg. is sometimes translated presbyter, sometimes senior, sometimes major natu, and is commonly put to signify bishops, or priests, as shall be seen hereafter.



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