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. S. Aug. 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. Lu. 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. Wi.
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. A.
--- Hear the great S. Augustin: "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. l. i. in prœm.
--- Hearing, &c. This may be reconciled with what is said in the 22d chap. by supposing they heard only S. 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, c. xxii. and xxvi. Wi.
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. S. Chrys. 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, S. Luke, telling us what S. Paul saw in a vision, and what the Spirit at the same time revealed to Ananias. Wi.
--- This verse is a parenthensis. It contains not the words of Christ to Ananias, but S. 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. Wi.
--- SkeouV ekloghV, an organ, or instrument. Thus Polybius uses the word, speaking of Damocles, ode hn uphretikon skeuoV, 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. Wi.
--- 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 S. Paul gives of himself, (Gal. c. 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 S. Barnabas introduced him to the apostles, and gave an account of his conversion. Wi.
--- Many days. That is, three years. For Saul went for a time from Damascus to Arabia. Gal. 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 Gal. i. 18. and 19.
Ver. 29. He spoke also to the Gentiles,† and disputed with the Grecians, or Hellenists. See c. vi. v. 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 S. Paul endeavoured to convert to the Christian faith. Wi.
[†] V. 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; proV touV EllhnistaV. See c. vi. v. 1.
CaesareaIn the Scripture, when Antioch and Cæsarea are simply mentioned, Antioch, in Syria, and Cæsarea, in Palestine, are uniformly designated.
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. V.
--- See here the powerful effects of good works, and alms-deeds; they reach even to the next life. B.
--- 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. S. 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. Citwn 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. Wi.
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. D. Dion. Carthus.
Ver. 43. In the Greek is added: instructing the new converts, and fortifying them in the faith they had just embraced.