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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
Ver. 1. Hear ye the account. In the Greek, to the apology, or defence. Wi. — S. Paul, in this exordium, as also in Acts vii. 2. shews himself not ignorant of the art of pleading. He adds the name of Fathers, supposing there may be some of his hearers of senatorial dignity, and others deserving the title for their rank and age. Mat. Pol.
Ver. 3. The scholars sat much below their master; and the nearest the master were such as had made the greatest proficiency. Philo de Essenis.
Ver. 4. This way. That is, the Christian faith, which now I profess. Wi.
Ver. 5. As the high priest doth bear me witness. That is, as the letters which he gave me, bear witness. Wi.
Ver. 9. Heard not the voice. To reconcile this with c. ix. v. 7. where it is said that they heard the voice; it may be answered that they heard a noise, and a voice, but heard it not distinctly, nor so as to understand the words. Wi. — They heard not the voice of him who spoke to the apostle, but they heard the latter speak; (Acts ix. 7.) or perhaps they heard a noise, which they could not understand. They perhaps heard the voice of Paul answering, but not that of Christ complaining.
Ver. 14. Shouldst . . . see the Just One. Our Saviour appeared to S. Paul, as it is said; (c. ix. 7.) and he is divers times, both in the Prophets and in the Testament, called the Just One. Wi. — To see and hear the Just One; Him, who is just by excellence, that you also may prove a witness of his resurrection from the dead.
Ver. 16. Wash, &c. The contrition and charity of S. Paul had, no doubt, merited for him the remission of his sins at the moment of his conversion. Still were these effects to be attributed to the desire of the sacrament of baptism, without which the council of Trent defines that the forgiveness of sins, and the punishment due to them, are not obtained. It likewise added a new degree of lustre to his innocence and purity. Tirinus. — Calling upon his name. In such manner, says S. Chrys. (hom. xlvii.) as we invoke the only true God; and as we invoke the saints, and pray to them, that they would pray for us. Wi.
Ver. 17. To Jerusalem . . . that I was in a trance. This might be when he went to Jerusalem, three years after his conversion, or at some other time. It might be in this ecstacy that he was wrapt to the third heaven, as he tells the Corinthians, 1 Cor. xv. 9. Wi.
Ver. 20. Of Stephen, thy witness. Or thy martyr, as the Greek word signifies. Wi.
Ver. 21. Hence we see that not only principals, but all that consent to the persecution of God's servants for the cause of religion, do highly offend; and this S. Paul mentions here, that the mercy of God may be more remarkably glorified in him hereby. B.
Ver. 22. This word. That is, until he told them that God had sent him to preach to the Gentiles, whom they could not bear to hear preferred before themselves. Not that the Jews forbad preaching to the Gentiles; on the contrary, our Saviour reproached the Pharisees, that they would go over land and sea for the sake of making one proselyte. They were likewise enraged that S. Paul had not laid on the Gentiles the heavy yoke of the law. Calmet. — Hence they exclaim: take away this wicked man from amongst us, for it is a sin to let him live. V.
Ver. 23. Threw off their garments. Or pulling them open to shew themselves ready to stone him. Wi. — This is nicely descriptive of the fury of a populace, who, when unable to vent their rage in some more effectual way, indignantly throw into the air, and against the object of their indignation, such harmless trifles as dust, clothes, &c. Menochius.
Ver. 25. A Roman. That is, a Roman citizen, a freeman of Rome. Wi. — The apostle, on this occasion, not to injure the faith of some weak Christians, who might be scandalized at his public disgrace, prevents the scourging, which on another occasion he patiently submitted to. By the thongs he was probably bound to a pillar; (Tirinus) or being tied hand and foot, was stretched on the ground, with his face downwards. This was frequently done among the Romans. Calmet. — See also Gretser de cruce, l. i. c. 10; who declares that it was the Roman custom to bind to a stake or pillar, such as were condemned to be flogged.
Ver. 28. Civilitatem; that is, Civitatem, Græcè, politeian, the rights of citizenship. These privileges were granted by Antonius to the city of Tarsus. Appianus civilium 5.
Ver. 29. The same law which forbad a Roman citizen to be scourged, forbad him also to be bound. S. Aug. lib. i. de Serm. Dni. c. 29. — It was under Claudius that the abuse of buying the freedom of Rome was introduced. At first the name of a Roman was esteemed much, and bought at a great price. Now (such is the emptiness and vanity of titles) it is refused, and despised; nay, it is fled from, and reckoned disgraceful. Salvian. De Gubern. Dei, lib. v. — If S. Paul, on this occasion, makes use of his privilege, it is not that he was unprepared, or afraid to die for Christ; but because it was lawful to use ordinary means to extricate himself from difficulties, and preserve himself for future services to religion. D. Dion. Carthus.