Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 2:14, 22-33

14. But Peter standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spoke to them: Ye men of Judea, and all you that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known to you, and with your ears receive my words.

Peter standing up, etc. Here, as in the Gospels, Peter is represented as the chief of the Apostles and head of the Church. What a change has come over him who before was so timid and weak! Now filled with the spirit of God, and with the gift of tongues on his lips, he fearlessly proclaims to all the miracle of
Christ’s Resurrection.

22. Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you, by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him, in the midst of you, as you also know:
23. This same being delivered up, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you by the hands of wicked men have crucified and slain.
24. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the sorrows of hell, as it was impossible that he should be holden by it.

The discourse of Peter was artfully arranged, so as to carry its point and win the assent of his hearers. He did not at first assert the divinity and Messiahship of Jesus, lest this should antagonize the Jews, but began by appealing to the ancient prophecy which foretold the present wonderful happenings, and was a sign of the inauguration of the Messianic reign. Now he proceeds to call attention to ” Jesus of Nazareth ” as a man sent by God and approved of by God through many miracles wrought publicly in the presence of those who were now listening. And the death of this same Jesus, he goes on to say (verse 23), was foreseen and decreed by God from all eternity as a means for man’s salvation (John 3:16; 14:31; 18:11). But God’s foreknowledge and decree of the Passion and death of Jesus did not in any way excuse or palliate the wickedness of the Jews, who, as St. Peter here affirms, were really responsible for these crimes, and used the Romans as mere agents of their malevolence.

In the following verse (24) St. Peter observes that God did not suffer Jesus to remain in the tomb, but raised Him up, as the Psalmist (Ps 16:8-11) had long before announced.

Having loosed the sorrows of hell. The word for “sorrows” in the Hebrew of the Psalm is cords, bonds; and the Greek MSS. have death instead of “hell.” Hell or “death” means here the grave, the abode of the dead (Heb., sheol).

25. For David saith concerning him : I foresaw the Lord before my face: because he is at my right hand, that I may not be moved.
26. For this my heart hath been glad, and my tongue hath rejoiced: moreover my flesh also shall rest in hope.
27. Because thou wilt not leave my soul In hell, nor suffer thy Holy One to see corruption.
28. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life: thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

David in the Psalm 16:8-11 introduces the Messiah as speaking to God, who is always before him, as Protector, who will give ” hope ” of resurrection to His ” flesh ” in the grave, and who will ” not leave His soul in sheol,” nor permit His body ” to see the corruption of the grave,” but will restore Him again to ” the ways of life ” through the Resurrection, and fill Him in heaven ” with the joy of His presence.”

29. Ye men, brethren, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David; that he died, and was buried ; and his sepulchre is with us to this present day.
30. Whereas therefore he was a prophet, and knew that God hath sworn to him with an oath, that of the fruit of his loins one should sit upon his throne.
31. Foreseeing this, he spoke of the resurrection of Christ. For neither was he left in hell, neither did his flesh see corruption.
32. This Jesus hath God raised again, whereof all we are witnesses.

St. Peter calls attention to the fact that the words of the Psalmist could not apply to David himself, since he was dead, and his grave in the Holy City was known, but that, having received from God a promise that he should have a successor, the Messiah, in whom these predictions should be verified, and being himself a prophet, he foresaw in prophecy the Resurrection of Christ, the Messiah, of which St. Peter and all were witnesses.

33. Being exalted therefore by the right hand of God, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath poured forth this which you see and hear.

Peter now gives the real explanation of the miracle of the gift of tongues: This Jesus, this Christ of whom he had been speaking and of whom David prophesied, has been raised by God to the throne of the Divinity, and has just now sent the Holy Spirit on the disciples, as He had promised before being assumed into heaven (John 15:26; 16:7).

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One Response to Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 2:14, 22-33

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year A | stjoeofoblog

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