FatherMacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 13:16-17, 22-25

Act 13:16  Then Paul rising up and with his hand bespeaking silence, said: Ye men of Israel and you that fear God, give ear.

And you that fear God. By those are most probably meant the class termed, Proselytes of the gate, who had not been as yet incorporated with the Jews, by circumcision; but, having renounced the worship of idols, adored God, and were admitted to the Synagogues. There was another class of Proselytes, viz., Proselytes of justice. This latter class were incorporated with the Jews by circumcision. They were bound to the observance of the entire Mosaic Law. Not so, the Proselytes of the gate, who were bound only by the precepts given to Noah.

Act 13:17  The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers and exalted the people when they were sojourners in the land of Egypt: And with an high arm brought them out from thence:

This is the first discourse recorded by St. Luke in the Acts, as uttered by St. Paul. Every word of it is thoroughly in harmony with his writings in his Epistles. Between it and the discourses of St. Peter and St. Stephen addressed to the Jews, who had not at the time, embraced the Faith, the greatest analogy is clearly discernible. St. Paul seems to adopt the same course that they followed in order to bring around their conversion. In this discourse, instead of proclaiming at once the Divinity of our Lord and the necessity of believing in Him, which might occasion a cry of opposition against Him, he gives a brief account of the History of the Jews, their special election by God, till he comes down to the time of King David, from whose seed our Saviour had sprung. Then briefly alluding to His Death and Resurrection all in accordance with the ancient prophecies he points out what he intended to be the main object of his discourse, viz. : the necessity of believing in Him, in order to obtain Salvation (38, 39). He also warns them against the disastrous consequences of unbelief (vv. 40, 41).

The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers. This exordium was calculated to secure him an attentive hearing.

Exalted the people when they were sojourners in the land of Egypt. By multiplying them, asserting them into liberty from a state of degrading bondage, working great prodigies of power in their behalf, humbling their enemies.

Act 13:22  And when he had removed him, he raised them up David to be king: to whom giving testimony, he said: I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to my own heart, who shall do all my wills.

And when he had removed him.  Deprived him of the Royal dignity (1 Kings 31:1-6).

Giving testimonyaccording to my own heart, very pleasing to me, such a man as my heart desires and wishes for.  My wills execute my mandates. This testimony is found substantially in (1 Kings 13:14, 16:1; Ps 38). David may have deflected from the right path betimes but, his public kingly life was uniformly good; and, after he fell, his repentance was remarkable. His reign, as king, was good, obedient to God s will, unlike Saul, who proved to be perverse.

David is commended for having promoted the worship of God among the people (1 Kings 14:8, 9; 15:3-5) and contrasted with Jeroboam and Abias.

Act 13:23  Of this man’s seed, God, according to his promise, hath raised up to Israel a Saviour Jesus:

Of this man’s seed, posterity. Our Lord is everywhere known by the designation, Son of David.

God, according to His promise, viz., the promises generally made to Abraham and David, that the Messiah would be born of their seed (Gal 3:15) which he confirms in verse 32.

Hath raised up to Israel, a Saviour, Jesus.  Instead of raised up, the reading best supported by a preponderance of MSS., and generally preferred, has,
broughtforth to Israel.  It refers not to our Lord’s Incarnation; but, to his having been publicly declared by God, at the commencement of his ministry, at his Baptism, by John, to be the Saviour of all Israel Hence, aptly called Jesus. The reference here made to the precursory ministry and testimony of John shows there is question of our Lord s coming forth to exercise His ministry.

Act 13:24  John first preaching, before his coming, the baptism of penance to all the people of Israel.

John first preaching, or, as the Greek has it, having previously preachedbefore his coming, or His public appearance to exercise His ministry.

In v. 23, the Apostle introduces the chief point of his discourse, that Jesus was the promised Messiah, who was to redeem the world. The mention of the word Jesus, so odious to the Jews, and calculated to beget a prejudice, is introduced with great judgment, the promises regarding which, already laid before them, the Jews could not gainsay. With great tact he avails himself of the allusion to David to introduce the mention of the Messiah, who was to be of the seed of David.

The meaning of verses 23-24, then, is: God, conformably to His promise has declared, pointed out unto Israel Jesus as Saviour, the descendant of King David, after John had prepared the ways for His entry into the functions of His ministry, by preaching the Baptism of Penance unto all the people.

Act 13:25  And when John was fulfilling his course, he said: I am not he whom you think me to be. But behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

Fulfilling his course. When in the act of discharging his duties as precursor, he said I am not he, (see Gospels Matthew 3 Luke 3:15; John 1:27).

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One Response to FatherMacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 13:16-17, 22-25

  1. Pingback: Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Dec 24) | stjoeofoblog

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