Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 9

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Acts ix.
 
Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 4. Why dost thou persecute me? My disciples, my brothers, and my friends. The head speaks for the members, and by a figure of speech, calls them itself. (St. Augustine, in Ps. xxx.) --- Here Jesus Christ identifies himself with his Church, as on a former occasion, when he said: he that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me. (Luke x. 16.)

Ver. 5. To kick against the goad. Others translate against the pricks; others, against the sting. The metaphor is taken from oxen kicking, when pricked to go forward. (Witham)

Ver. 7. There it shall be told thee, &c. The Almighty having established a Church, and ministry, the depositories of his doctrines, does not, even on this extraordinary occasion, transgress his own laws; but sends him to the ministers of religion, that instruction may be imparted through them, as through its proper channel. This observation is worthy the notice of the self-inspired of the present day, who pretend to receive their light direct from heaven. Nothing can be more opposite to the spirit of the gospel than such delusion. (Haydock) --- Hear the great St. Augustine: "Paul, though with the divine and heavenly voice prostrated and instructed, yet was sent to a man to receive the sacraments, and to be joined to the Church." (De Doct. Chris. lib. i. in prœm.) --- Hearing, &c. This may be reconciled with what is said in the 22nd chapter by supposing they heard only St. Paul speak, or heard only a confused noise, which they could not understand. (Calmet)

Ver. 8. And his eyes being open, either by himself, or by others, he saw nothing. See the circumstances related again, chap. xxii. and xxvi. (Witham)

Ver. 9. Three days. During the time, he neither eat nor drank, to testify his sorrow for his past conduct. He likewise spent the time in prayer, to prepare himself for the reception of grace. (St. Chrysostom, hom. xix.)

Ver. 12. And he saw a man, &c. This verse, which is by way of a parenthesis, contains the words of the historian, St. Luke, telling us what St. Paul saw in a vision, and what the Spirit at the same time revealed to Ananias. (Witham) --- This verse is a parenthesis. It contains not the words of Christ to Ananias, but St. Luke here relates what was shewn to Paul, at the time Ananias entered. This vision was shewn to him, that he might know Ananias was sent by God. (Menochius)

Ver. 15. A vessel of election. A chosen elect vessel, and minister of the gospel. (Witham) --- Skeous ekloges, an organ, or instrument. Thus Polybius uses the word, speaking of Damocles, ode en uperetikon skeuos, he was an excellent and choice character.

Ver. 17. Laying his hands on him. This imposition of hands, made use of on different occasions, was to pray that he might receive his sight, as well as the grace of the Holy Ghost, which God sometimes gave to persons not yet baptized, as to Cornelius. (Acts x. 44.) (Witham) --- This imposition of hands, was not the same as that, by which the faithful were confirmed, or ordained ministers, but a ceremony commonly used by the apostles to restore health to the sick. If Saul, in consequence, receives the Holy Ghost, it was an extraordinary miraculous event, which was not an unfrequent circumstance in the infancy of Christianity. The Almighty, who establishes the laws of grace, can dispense with them himself whenever he pleases. (Calmet)

Ver. 23. When many days were passed. By the account St. Paul gives of himself, (Galatians chap. i.) soon after his conversion he went into Arabia, and about three years after he might come to Damascus. Then it seems to have happened that they were for killing him, for becoming a Christian; and the brethren saved his life, by conveying him down the walls of the town in a basket. After this, he went to Jerusalem, where the disciples knew little of him, and were afraid of him, till St. Barnabas introduced him to the apostles, and gave an account of his conversion. (Witham) --- Many days. That is, three years. For Saul went for a time from Damascus to Arabia. (Galatians i. 17. and 18.) It was on his return from thence, that the Jews conspired against his life, as is here related. (Tirinus)

Ver. 27. Brought him to the apostles Peter and James. See Galatians i. 18. and 19.

Ver. 29. He spoke also to the Gentiles,[1] and disputed with the Grecians, or Hellenists. See chap. vi. ver. 1. By the Gentiles, many understand those who had been Gentiles, and were become proselytes or converts to the Jewish religion, and not those who still remained Gentiles. And by the Greeks, or Hellenists, they understand Jews, who had lived in places where they spoke Greek, or Hellenists, they understand Jews, who had lived in places where they spoke Greek, not Syriac, whom St. Paul endeavoured to convert to the Christian faith. (Witham)

Ver. 31. The Church visibly proceedeth still with much comfort and patience; she is perfected by persecution, and by means of the promised infallible protection, she has ever proved herself invulnerable to all the envenomed shafts of her adversaries.

Ver. 35. Saron, or Assaron, is a mountain and city mentioned by Josue, xii. 18. From it all the plain from Cæsarea of Palestine to Joppe, is called Saron. It is a rich fertile country. (Tirinus)

Ver. 36. Tabitha, in Syriac, means the same as Dorcas in Greek, that is, a wild goat. (Bible de Vence) --- See here the powerful effects of good works, and alms-deeds; they reach even to the next life. (Bristow) --- Hence that of the wise man, alms free from death.

Ver. 37. Washed. This custom of washing the dead was observed among the Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, and most other nations. It is still practised in monasteries, and formerly was observed with much ceremony. St. Chrysostom observes, that our Saviour's body was washed and embalmed. The same custom is mentioned in Homer and Virgil:

Corpusque lavant frigentis, et ungunt. --- And again,

Date, vulnera lymphis abluam. --- Æneid. iv.

--- Tertullian, in his Apology, testifies, that the Christians performed that office to the dead. It was a proof of their respect for the image of God impressed upon his creature, and for the character of Christian, which these persons have borne during their lives. It was likewise a sign of the confidence they had in a future resurrection.

Ver. 39. Chiton was the under garment, Imation the upper.

Ver. 40. And having put them all out, not to disturb him while he prayed. --- Sat up, raised herself a little: and Peter taking her by the hand, lifted her quite up, and calling in the company, presented her to them alive and well. (Witham)

Ver. 41. Raising the dead to life can only be the work of God. This woman was raised to life for the comfort of the faithful, and the conversion of others. She herself might likewise have an opportunity of acquiring greater merit, otherwise the repose of another life is preferable to a return to the miseries of this world. (Denis the Carthusian)

Ver. 43. In the Greek is added: instructing the new converts, and fortifying them in the faith they had just embraced.

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[1] Ver. 29. Loquebatur quoque Gentibus, & disputabat cum Græcis. In almost all Greek copies, there is nothing for Gentibus, and we only read, he spoke and disputed with the Grecians, or Hellenists; pros tous Ellenistas. See chap. vi. ver. 1.

 


Bible Text & Cross-references:

Paul's conversion and zeal. Peter heals Æneas, and raises Tabitha to life.

1 And *Saul, still breathing out threatenings, and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,

2 And asked of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues: that if he found any men and women of this way, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

3 *And as he went on his journey, it came to pass that he drew near to Damascus: and suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him.

4 And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me?

5 And he said: Who art thou, Lord? And he: I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad.

6 And he, trembling and astonished, said: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

7 And the Lord said to him: Arise, and go into the city, and there it shall be told thee what thou must do. Now the men who went in company with him, stood amazed, hearing indeed a voice, but seeing no one.

8 And Saul arose from the ground, and his eyes being open, he saw nothing. But they leading him by the hands, brought him to Damascus.

9 And he was there three days, without sight, and he neither eat nor drank.

10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, by name Ananias: *and the Lord said to him in a vision: Ananias. And he said: Behold I am here, Lord.

11 And the Lord said to him: Arise, and go into the street, that is called Stait, and seek in the house of Judas, one named Saul, of Tarsus: for behold he prayeth.

12 (And he saw a man named Ananias coming in, and laying his hands upon him, that he might receive his sight.)

13 But Ananias answered: Lord, I have heard from many of this man, how great evils he hath done to thy saints in Jerusalem:

14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all, that invoke thy name.

15 And the Lord said to him: Go, for this man is a vessel of election to me, to carry my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and children of Israel.

16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name.

17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house: and laying his hands on him, he said: Saul, brother, the Lord Jesus hath sent me, he who appeared to thee in the way as thou camest, that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight: and rising up, he was baptized.

19 And when he had taken meat, he was strengthened. And he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, for some days.

20 And immediately he preached Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

21 And all were astonished that heard him, and said: Is not this he who in Jerusalem attacked violently those who called upon that name: and came hither for this purpose, that he might lead them bound to the chief priests?

22 But Saul increased much more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt at Damascus, affirming that this is the Christ.

23 And when many days were passed, the Jews consulted together to kill him.

24 But their laying in wait was made known to Saul. *And they guarded the gates also day and night, that they might kill him.

25 But the disciples taking him by night, conveyed him away by the wall, letting him down in a basket.

26 And when he was come into Jerusalem, he tried to join himself to the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.

27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles, and related to them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had acted confidently in the name of Jesus.

28 And he was with them, coming in and going out, in Jerusalem, and acting confidently in the name of the Lord.

29 He spoke also to the Gentiles, and disputed with the Grecians: but they sought to kill him.

30 Which when the brethren had known, they brought him down to Cæsarea, and sent him away to Tarsus.

31 Now the church had peace throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, and was edified, walking in the fear of the Lord, and was filled with the consolation of the Holy Ghost.

32 And it came to pass, that Peter, as he passed through, visiting all, came to the saints, who dwelt at Lydda.

33 And he found there a certain man, named Æneas, lying on his bed for eight years, who was ill of the palsy.

34 And Peter said to him: Æneas, the Lord Jesus Christ healeth thee: arise, and make thy bed. And immediately he arose.

35 And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron, saw him: and they were converted to the Lord.

36 And in Joppe there was a certain disciple, named Tabitha, which, being interpreted, is called Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and alms-deeds, which she did.

37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died. Whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.

38 And Lydda being near to Joppe, the disciples hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, requesting: Delay not to come to us.

39 And Peter rising up, came with them. And when he was arrived, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood about him weeping, and shewing him the coats and garments, which Dorcas had made them.

40 And having put them all out, Peter kneeling down, prayed; and turning to the body, he said: Tabitha, arise: And she opened her eyes: and seeing Peter, sat up.

41 And giving her his hand, he raised her up. And when he had called the saints and the widows, he presented her alive.

42 And it was made known throughout all Joppe; and many believed in the Lord.

43 And it came to pass, that he stayed many days in Joppe, with one Simon, a tanner.

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*

1: about the year A.D. 34.; Galatians i. 13.

3: Acts xxii. 6. and xxii. 10. and xxvi. 12.; 1 Corinthians xv. 8.; 2 Corinthians xii. 2.

10: Acts xxii. 12.

24: 2 Corinthians xi. 32.