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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT



ACTS 21



CHAPTER XXI.



Ver. 1. Coos and Rhodes are islands in the Archipelago.



Ver. 3. Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean, to the east of Patara and Rhodes.



Ver. 4. Not go up to Jerusalem. S. Paul says in the foregoing chapter that he was pressed by the Holy Ghost to go to Jerusalem; and do these prophets now advise him to stay away, and disobey the inspiration? No: their dissuasion was not the effect of inspiration, but the expression of their tenderness and affection for him, which made them fear what they saw he was going to endure. D. Carthus. — Hence S. Paul disregarded their entreaties, as well as the imminent dangers that every where stared him in the face. See his heroic answer to the melting entreaties of the faithful of Cæsarea, and their final acquiescence: "the will of the Lord be done." Infr. v. 14.



Ver. 8. Philip, the evangelist, so called from his preaching the gospel, though he was one of the seven, that is, of the seven deacons. Wi.



Ver. 9. Prophecy. It is supposed that these daughters of S. Philip had made a vow of virginity, or at least remained in that state out of a motive of religion. S. Jerom thinks in reward of this they were gifted with a prophetic spirit. Lib. i. c. 24. cont. Jov. — Others think that by prophesying is meant interpreting the Scriptures, or singing the praises of God. Estius.



Ver. 18. To James, the bishop of Jerusalem, where all the seniors, that is, the bishops and priests, had assembled. Wi.



Ver. 20. How many thousands. In the Greek, how many ten thousands. Wi.



Ver. 21. To forsake Moses. In the Greek, to depart or apostatize from Moses and the law. This is more than was true. For S. Paul circumcised Timothy, (c. xvi.) and did not absolutely hinder converts who had been Jews, from practising the Jewish ceremonies. Wi. — There is a manifest falsity in this accusation against S. Paul. He had never commanded or advised the Jews, to whom he had preached, to renounce the law, abandon the ceremonies of Moses, or reject the ancient customs of the nation. He had never hindered any one from following in this respect the bias of his inclinations. He had indeed defended the liberty of the converts from these ceremonies; he had taught that Christ had taken away the necessity of this yoke; but he left them at liberty still to carry it if they pleased. Calmet. — For these things were not then to be sought after as necessary, nor yet to be condemned as sacrilegious. The law of Moses at that time was dead, but not deadly. S. Aug. ep. lxxxii. — These considerations will sufficiently explain the apostle's motive for submitting on this occasion to one of their ceremonies. He became all to all, that he might gain all to Christ. A.



Ver. 23. Who have a vow upon them. On which account they will have sacrifices offered for them in the temple. Wi.



Ver. 24. Bestow on them. It was thought a merit among the Jews to bear the expenses of any vow which another had made. They thus became partakers of it; in the same manner as at present those, who have not the courage to forsake the world by solemn vows, seek to have some share in the merits of those who do forsake it, by contributing part of their substance to their support. Calmet.



Ver. 30. The doors were shut, lest the temple should be profaned by Gentiles entering into it. Wi. — The temple was an asylum, but not for those men who were justly pursued. Hence the Jews looking upon Paul as a blasphemer, they did not think they violated this asylum by forcibly removing Paul from the temple; but lest he might return, they fastened the entrance-gates.



Ver. 33. Two chains, for his hands and feet; or perhaps one chain was put on each hand, which was likewise tied to a soldier on each side of him, who led him. This was the Roman custom of binding prisoners. See Seneca, ep. v. et lib. de tranquil. animi. x. See supra xii. 6, 7.



Ver. 34. Into the castle.[1] Neither the Latin nor the Greek word signifies a castle, but rather a camp, or a place walled, or with a trench about it. It is true, we may here understand the tower, called Antonia; but within its court might be tents for soldiers, where there was so great a number: for we see that Lysias could send away 470 with S. Paul, besides those that might stay behind. Wi.



Ver. 37. Canst thou speak Greek? We cannot doubt but S. Paul had in Greek spoke already to the tribune: upon which he said, dost thou speak Greek? and then asked him, if he were not that seditious Egyptian, who had headed so many murderers? Wi.



Ver. 38. This Egyptian coming to Jerusalem, and professing himself to be a prophet, had persuaded the people to accompany him to Mount Olivet, pretending he would throw down the walls of the city only by a word. Felix, the Roman governor, attacked the deluded multitude, and killed 400. The leader escaped, and was heard of no more. This was in the 13th year of Claudius, about three years before S. Paul's apprehension. Menochius. — These rebels are called murderers, Sikarioi, Sicarii, from Sica, a small dagger, which they concealed under their cloak. Some of them were the retainers of Judas Galilæus; other Hessæans, who fought with the greatest animosity against the Romans, and suffered the most cruel death, sooner than to acknowledge Cæsar for lord and master. Some again suppose that the word sikarioi is only a corruption of the words, oi karioi, Scriptuarii, a name given to the Esseni. Consult. Jos. Antiq. xx. 7.



Ver. 39. I am indeed a Jew, by birth and education. Wi.



Ver. 40. He spoke in the dialect of the country, which was partly Hebrew and partly Syriac, but the Syriac greatly prevailed; and from the steps, epi touV anastaqmouV, which led to the fortress of Antonia. Here a Roman cohort was lodged; it was situated to the north-west, and joined the temple. The flight of steps was occupied by the lowest orders of the people. Thus Cicero ad Atticum: Gradus templorum ab infimâ plebe completi erant; and again, pro Cluentio: gradus concitatis hominibus narrat.

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[1] V. 34. In castra, which in the plural number, is not a castle: neither doth parembolh, which is in the Greek, signify a castle.



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