Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 10:34-38

Act 10:34  And Peter opening his mouth, said: in very deed I perceive that God is not a respecter of persons.

Opening his mouth, beginning to speak.

In very deed,  undoubtedly. I perceive, from all that is occurring around me, and especially in connection with the call of Cornelius, and the various visions accorded to him and me.

God is not a respecter of persons (see James 2:1). Respect or exception of persons takes place when an unjust preference is shown to one party beyond another, as in the case of a judge who would pronounce sentence on account of the external appearance or circumstance of a person, such as friendship, or rank, or influence, without regard to the merits of the case. The Jews thought God peculiarly favoured them, because they were Jews, and all others excluded from Salvation because they were not. St. Peter now says he perceives how erroneous this is. No one is favoured by God simply because he is a Jew, externally professing Judaism, and carnally descended from Abraham. Nor is any one excluded from the Divine favour because he is not a Jew (see Romans 9-11).

Act 10:35  But in every nation, he that feareth him and worketh justice is acceptable to him.

But in every nation, and people, without distinction of Jew or Gentile, or without reference to external advantages of any sort, he that feareth Him, who, under the influence of Divine grace from reverential fear of God, repairs from evil, and worketh Justice, does good works, aided by God’s grace. This is evidently allusive to Cornelius and his …. is acceptable to him and a sharer in the Divine favour, so as to be disposed to be called to the faith and embrace the true religion.

This is a brief epitome of the teaching of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans, in which he fully explains the doctrine of justification, and God’s gracious and gratuitous deallings with man, without distinction of Jew or Gentile. In all this, the preventing and co-operating grace of God is supposed. Since, without God’s grace, no one can perform any good work conducive to Salvation. This affords no ground for advocating indifference as regards religion. For, if indifferentism were allowable, might not Cornelius remain as he was, and why should St. Peter go to such trouble to preach to him and his the necessity of embracing the Faith of Jesus Christ, as being for all men the only true means of Salvation, and the only means established by God for obtaining the remission of sin?

The indifference put forward here is not indifference of Faith; but indifference of nations and peoples in regard to God s supernatural favours and gratuitous calls to His Church.

The Bishop begins with a summary of verses 36-38~God sent the word, &c (τον λογον ον απεστειλεν, &c). Commentators are perplexed about the construction of this and the following verses, chiefly on account of the Greek Text, wherein, after the word ( λογον), we have “ον”, which. In this constrution word is in the accusative case, and would seem to have no verb on which to depend. Some commentators (among them BloomfieUl) say τον λογον (the word) is governed by  οιδατε, you know (v. 37) and put it in apposition with its equivalent term, ρημα in v. 37, which they say, is repeated thus: the word, (ρημα), I say. The construction in the Greek should run thus: You know that He (viz., God) proclaiming peace through Jesus Christ (He is the Lord of all) sent (or caused to be announced) to the children of Israel, the word of the Gospel which had been announced through all Judea commencing with Galilee, after the Baptism, which John preached. You know,  I say, that the word was sent by God, viz., Jesus cf Nazareth anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power (with the power of the Holy Ghost) who went about doing good, healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him (Steenkiste).

Act 10:36  God sent the word to the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all).

Commencing to catechize Cornelius and those present, St. Peter says God sent the word, that is, the message of pardon and reconciliation, conveyed in His Gospel. The term, God is not in the Greek, but is understood from the context.

Children of Israel, in the first instance.

Preaching peace. Pointing out the way of reconciliation with God, and union among themselves.

(For He is Lord of all.) All men are the work of His hands, Jew and Gentile, and he wishes all without distinction, to be saved.

Act 10:37  You know the word which hath been published through all Judea: for it began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached.

You know the word, the whole Gospel economy, the series of events, connected with the preaching of the Gospel.

Published, &c.  Galilee  was not far from Csesarea, so that Cornelius, a religious man, alive to all religious teachings, doubtless had heard of the fame of the Gospel teaching and miracles, which must have spread throughout Palestine and the neighbouring countries. Cornelius and his friends, though not fully instructed in the doctrine of Christ, must have heard of it.

Act 10:38  Jesus of Nazareth: how God anointed him with the Holy Ghost and with power, who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

Jesus of Nazareth depends on You know. How God, the entire Trinity, to whom is common every act, ad extra, anointed, poured out upon him the fulness of the graces of the Holy Spirit at his incarnation, when he was conceived of the Holy Ghost.

Jesus Christ, the man God, was, according to His human nature anointed by the whole Trinity with the plenitude of the graces of the Holy Ghost, in the Hypostatic union.

St. Cyril, of Alexandria, teaches regarding opera ad extra  “Quæ omnia sunt a Patre per Filium in Spiritu Sancto.”  St. Peter represents our Lord as going about doing good, and also as the conqueror of the devil, who held the Gentiles subject to his power.

Anointed him.  A ceremony employed in the inauguration of Kings, Prophets, &c. It points to our Lord as the Christ, or anointed, the expected Messiah.

The operation, whereby the Son of God assumed to himself human nature, though, in reality, common to the Three Persons of the Blecsed Trinity, was, however, by appropriation, attributed to the Holy Ghost, who on account of his procession from the Father and Son, is goodness and love itself.

Holy Ghost, and with power, that is, the power of the Holy Ghost, whereby he worked miracles of every degree.

For God was with him, which more clearly and emphatically expresses what is conveyed in the words anointed with the Holy Ghost, and with power, viz., that it was in virtue of the Divine power our Lord performed the great prodigies.

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One Response to Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 10:34-38

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Year C | stjoeofoblog

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