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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT
Ver. 1. Melita, now called Malta, famous for being the residence of, and giving the title to, the military order of Knights, who strenuously resisted the Turks, when they threatened to overrun Christendom. The inhabitants are called Barbarians, not as a term of reproach, for the manner he speaks of their humanity testifies the contrary; but in the classical sense of the word, it was applied by Greeks and Romans to all who did not speak either of those languages. Their hospitality was rewarded by the light of faith, which they still maintain, although infidels have sometimes for a century had dominion over this island. Tirinus, &c.
Ver. 4. Murderer. In this instance we see how unfounded are the judgments of men. As if the misfortune itself were not sufficient to endure, the man upon whom any temporal calamity falls, must be also judged to be an object of divine vengeance. How cruel and preposterous, yet how common are such proceedings! Whence can it happen that man is so forward to think evil, so slow to suspect good in his neighbour? A. — Not to live. The inhabitants of the island, called Barbarians, had a notion of a Deity, and also that murder was against the law of God and nature. Wi.
Ver. 6. That he would suddenly fall down and die. It is not then by the natural situation and temper of the air, that this island has no venomous creatures. Wi.
Ver. 16. To dwell by himself, with a soldier that guarded him. S. Paul was chained, as it appears by the 20th verse: and it was the custom to fasten one end of the chain by a lock to the prisoner's wrist, and the other end of the chain to the wrist of the soldier who was to guard him. In most Greek copies we read: the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guards: as it is in the Prot. translation, and very probable; but these words are not found in divers Greek MSS. nor were read by the ancient interpreter of the Latin Vulgate. Wi. — S. Chrysostom attributes this liberty S. Paul enjoyed at Rome of going whither he liked, to their admiration of him. Hom. liv. in Acts. — Others to the moderation of Afranius Burrus, who was prefect of the Prætorium in the year 61, and who used his authority, as long as he possessed any over Nero's mind, to repress that emperor's bad inclinations, and direct his councils with wisdom. Calmet.
Ver. 17. Chief of the Jews. We have seen before, that the emperor Claudius banished all Jews from Rome. It would appear from this verse, that many of the principal Jews returned at his death, which happened five years before S. Paul's arrival. Calmet.
Ver. 20. Because that for the hope of Israel. That is, of the Messias, so long expected and hoped for by the Israelites. Wi. — According to the Roman custom, S. Paul must have been fastened by the right hand to one end of a chain, the other end of which chain held to the left hand of the soldier who guarded him. V.
Ver. 22. It is every where gainsayed. Here we observe one of the characters of the true religion. It is contradicted and spoken against. As singular as this may appear, it is however true. Jesus, the author of that religion, had foretold it should be so. If the world hateth me, it will hate you also. The situation of the Catholic religion in this country, at present, is something similar to what is related here of Christianity: and those who have the candour to inquire seriously into its merits, have generally the reward of being convinced and of believing in it. Christianity, like some plants, grows the better for being trodden upon. A.
Ver. 30. Two whole years in his own hired lodging. That is, in the lodgings which S. Paul was permitted to hire for himself, and to live there, with a soldier chained to him for his guard. Happy soldier, if he knew how to make use of such a favourable opportunity! We may take notice by all this narration of S. Luke, (as when he says here, v. 16, when we arrived at Rome, &c.) that he was all the way in the ship with S. Paul. Wi.
Ver. 31. Here terminates the history of S. Paul, as contained in the Acts of the Apostles. The other actions of this great apostle, for want of being recorded, are involved in much obscurity. That he obtained his liberty again, and made many voyages to carry the light of the gospel into many countries, is certain: but nothing is known as to the manner or time. He finished his labours by martyrdom, being beheaded at Rome in the 66th of the Christian æra, and the 13th of Nero. What a degree of virtue might we not attain, were we animated by the spirit and courage of a S. Paul. Let us at least try to imitate his example; and, if in dangers and difficulties we cannot clothe our souls in adamant, as he did, we may certainly avoid yielding ingloriously to every light impression. Let us at an humble distance tread in his footsteps and live so that we may navigate in safety the boisterous ocean of life, and by the grace of Jesus Christ arrive at the port, where danger is no more to be apprehended. S. Chrys. hom. lv. in Act. ad finem.
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