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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT



ACTS 20



CHAPTER XX.



Ver. 6. We. From the change of the narration to the first person again, it would appear S. Luke had rejoined the apostle. This writer modestly omits the reason of his accompanying S. Paul, who tells us it was at his own request, (2 Cor. viii. 19.) that no suspicion might be entertained that he applied improperly the money, which he was commissioned to carry to the distressed brethren in Jerusalem. Tirinus.



Ver. 7. On the first day of the week.[1] The interpreters generally take notice with S. Chrys. that the Christians, even at this time, must have changed the sabbath into the first day of the week, as all Christians now keep it. Which change (even as to the manner of keeping one of God's ten commandments) was made by the Church. — To break bread, meaning the blessed sacrament, as it is commonly expounded. Wi. — S. Paul did here break bread on a Sunday, as it is broken in the sacrament of the body of Christ, and delivered a discourse to the people, both before and after the celebration of the divine mysteries. S. Aug. ep. lxxxvi. ad Casulanum. Ven. Bede in xx. Act.



Ver. 10. His soul is in him. He was taken up dead. v. 9. These words then of S. Paul, may either signify that now he is again alive, or will be in a very short time, as when Christ said, (Matt. ix. 24.) The girl is not dead, but asleep. Wi.



Ver. 12. Alive. This accident, which gave occasion to a great miracle, was ordained by the particular providence of God, in order to confirm the preaching of S. Paul, and to fix more deeply in the hearts of his disciples the words of their dear Master, who was just going to leave them. Admire likewise the apostle's solicitude for his neighbour's salvation, in prolonging his instructions through the whole night, which preceded his departure. D. Carthus.



Ver. 17. He called the ancients of the Church. We might translate the bishops, as the very same persons in the 28th verse are called bishops. Wi.



Ver. 19. With all humility; that is, of heart, or mind, as the Greek word signifies. He knew, says S. Chrys. how necessary this virtue of humility was for the ministers of the gospel. — With tears of charity and compassion, under temptations, trials, and persecutions. Wi.



Ver. 20. I have kept back, &c. I have discovered to you every thing which can be useful to your salvation. Neither fear, nor any human considerations, have prevailed over me to disguise or suppress the truths, which might be serviceable to you. This is the model of a good pastor. Full of doctrine, and of zeal, he communicates what God puts into his heart, and charity inspires him to speak, with abundance, with discretion, without jealousy, without fear. A good shepherd, S. Bernard used to say, has always bread in his scrip, and his dog in his keeping. The dog is his zeal, which must be chained, governed and moderated. His scrip, full of bread, is his mind, filled with all knowledge, which he is always in the state of dispensing as food to his flock.



Ver. 22. Bound in the spirit, led by inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Wi. — Chained, and forced, as it were, by the Holy Spirit, who offers me a sweet violence; or I am so strongly persuaded of the chains, which await me at Jerusalem, that I already feel myself bound in idea. Calmet. — I now go to Jerusalem for the fourth time, attracted by the Holy Ghost, who is the author and governor of all my actions, that where I have shewn myself the greatest enemy of the Church, there I may suffer tribulations in defence of the same Church, and for Christ, her divine spouse. Tirinus.



Ver. 23. In every city. There were in every city Christian prophets, who foretold to Paul the tribulations which awaited him. It appears, then, that the apostle did not know these things by immediate revelation made to himself, but by that made to the prophets. Of this we have a proof in the next chapter.



Ver. 24. Neither do I count my life (lit. my soul ) more precious than myself, having consecrated all my endeavours, my thoughts, my life, my whole self, body and soul, to God's service. Wi.



Ver. 25. I know, &c. It appears sufficiently evident, from many parts of S. Paul's epistles, that he not only designed, but likewise, according to the opinion of most able critics, actually did revisit the churches of Asia. Of this occasion, then, he only expresses his belief, his conviction, that he should see them no more, judging it impossible for him to escape all the dangers that were prepared for him. Calmet. — All you. Although S. Paul might return again to the same place, he might truly say of so great an assembly, that all of them should not see him again. Wi.



Ver. 28. Take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock. The ministers of the gospel must in the first place take care of the salvation of their own souls: and in the next place of the salvation of their flock, of the souls committed to their care, and to the Church; especially such ministers of God as are bishops,[2] placed, by divine institution, to govern the Church, or the churches under them. The word bishops, by its derivation, signifies overseers, or superintendants; but the signification is to be taken and expressed by the custom and ecclesiastical use of words. Wi.



Ver. 32. To the word of his grace, to the protection of God's grace, given to those that preach the gospel, and administer the sacraments instituted by Christ. — Who is able to build up, to finish that building, of which the foundation is laid by my preaching. Wi.



Ver. 34. These hands have furnished, by labouring to maintain myself, &c. Wi.



Ver. 35. It is more blessed to give than to receive. We find not these words of Christ in the gospels. S. Paul might have them from the apostles. Wi. — Among the many excellent good things our dear Lord said, and which are not mentioned in the gospel, this is one: "it is a more blessed thing to give, than to receive;" which did men justly weigh, they would be more ready to give alms, were it only for their own account. Thrice happy then are they who assist their indigent neighbour to the utmost of their power, and for the pure love of God! A.



Ver. 37. They kissed him. These marks of tenderness are dictated by nature, and have always been used between friends, who were separating from each other, or who meet after a long absence. The Scripture furnishes us with numberless examples of it. Calmet. — He likewise prayed, as he usually did, when he bade his last farewell. See his last adieus with the Tyrians, (c. xxi. 5. 6.) where they all kneeled down to pray on the shore. This is also reasonable, and becoming a Christian. It is a sign of communion and mutual charity, and implores a prosperous voyage for those who were departing, whilst those who remained, cherish in their mind the remembrance of the virtues of their absent friend. Menochius. — The mind of man cannot conceive a finer subject for the painter than this melting separation. After the discourse, we see S. Paul falling on his knees, and praying with them all for the last time; an general burst of tears takes place, when they are told that they are to see their father's face no more; they fall upon his neck and kiss him; and with hearts full of grief and gratitude, they accompany him on his way to the very ship which is to transport their father, friend, and benefactor, to other souls, who wanted the charitable assistance of the man of God.

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[1] V. 7. Una Sabbati; that is prima sabbati, en th mia twn sabbatwn. S. Chrys. says hom. mg. kuriakh hn, erat dies Dominica.

[2] V. 28. Episcopos, episkopouV, from episkopein, or episkeptesJai, diligenter inspicere, &c.



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