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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
Ver. 1. Festus having arrived at his province, goes to Jerusalem to be inaugurated. The Jews took this opportunity of requesting S. Paul might be sent to Jerusalem, that they might accomplish the iniquitous purport of their vow. Such consequence did they attribute to the death of this one man, that they had no greater favour to ask of their new governor at his auspicious entry among them. Tirinus.
Ver. 4. It would appear, from their first request being peremptorily denied them, how little solicitous their governors were to please them. The successors of Felix and Festus were not better disposed than their predecessors. Their extortions and oppressions were pushed so far, that the Jews attempted at last to deliver themselves by rebellion, which proved their utter ruin and extirpation. Indeed it was in vain to resist, for they already began to feel the truth of our Saviour's prediction, in their subjugation to the Gentiles. Josephus bears ample testimony to the fulfilment of the prophecy. De bel. Jud. lib. ii. c 16. &c. A.
Ver. 5. Among you that are able. It may signify, such as are powerful among you, or such as are able by health, and willing. Wi.
Ver. 8. Paul making answer, or his apology, by the Greek. In the Latin, giving an account. In like manner, (v. 16.) have liberty given to defend himself; in the Greek, to make his apology. In the Latin, till he take a place of defending himself.
Ver. 10. S. Paul, seeing Festus only sought a plea to get rid of his cause, by putting it into the hands of the Sanhedrim, appeals to Cæsar. According to the ordinary rules of jurisprudence, appeals are only made after sentence is pronounced; but Roman citizens had a privilege of anticipating the sentence, when the judge did any thing contrary to justice; as Festus evidently did in this case, by wishing to deliver Paul, a Roman citizen, to the tribunal of his declared enemies, the Jews. The apostle knew he was secured by making this appeal: as the Roman law declared provincial governors violators of the public peace, who should either strike, or imprison, or put to death a Roman citizen, that appealed to the emperor. Calmet. — Hence Pliny sent some Christians to Rome for this same reason, as he writes himself in his epistles. Lib. x. ep. 97. Fuerunt alii similis amentiæ, quos, quia cives Romani erant, annotavi in urbem remittendos.
Ver. 13. Agrippa. This was son of the king of the same name, who imprisoned S. Peter, and put S. James to death. Bernice was his sister, and one of the most infamous of women. Her character has merited her a place in one of Juvenal's satires, 5th.
Ver. 19. Their own superstition. Their particular religion, and manner of worshipping their God. Wi.
Ver. 21. Augustus Nero, who was then the Roman emperor.
Ver. 22. Agrippa has the same curiosity of hearing Paul, as Herod formerly had of seeing Jesus. The apostle's name had, no doubt, become famous enough to reach the ears, and arrest the attention of Agrippa. Curiosity is certainly not the best motive a person can bring with him to the investigation of religious truth: still it may occasionally become productive of good. The king was half persuaded to embrace the Christian faith. A better motive, or more serious attention, may induce some to embrace the truth, which accident may first have discovered to them. A.
Ver. 26. To my lord. This was a title the emperors afterwards took, but which Augustus and Tiberius are said by Pliny, in his epistle to Trajan, and by Tertullian, to have refused, as too assuming and too high, ut nimis sublimem atque gloriosum. This was perhaps done, that none might bear the title at a time when the Lord of lords was to appear on the earth. Tirinus. — Whilst we can approve and admire the motives which actuated the emperors in refusing this title, we cannot go the lengths which some modern enthusiasts do, (mostly Americans, quakers, &c.) who pretend it is blasphemy to call a mortal man a lord, as if that name were incommunicable to any but the Creator of the universe. Whence they derive this article of faith it will not be easy for us to guess; certainly not from Scripture, in which the word Dominus or Lord, applied to man, occurs almost as frequently as King. Certainly not from our Saviour's words, who give both himself and others this title, (Mark xiv. 14. et alibi passim) nor from S. Paul's doctrine, who also uses this word indiscriminately through his epistles, Gal. iv. 1. Eph. vi. v. &c. Hence we are justified in retaining this practice, in opposition to their cavils; and in treating that opinion as superstitious and void of foundation, which makes it a necessary part of religion to use no titles. A.