12. Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a sabbath day’s journey.
As it is here stated that the disciples returned from Mt. Olivet, it would appear that the Ascension took place from the highest point on Olivet, as tradition has handed down. This would be just a Sabbath day’s journey, or a little under one mile from Jerusalem. But St. Luke (24:50, 51) says he led them out as far as
Bethania,” etc., and Bethania was at the eastern foot of Mt. Olivet, about two miles from Jerusalem. Answer: Most likely our Lord went first to Bethania, by the lower circuitous road, and thence ascended the mountain from the east; thus the statement of this verse is not opposed to that of the Third Gospel.
13. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Jude the brother of James.
Into an upper room,—rather “into the upper room” ( το υπερωον). The definite article shows it was a place well known, whither they were accustomed to resort for prayer or business. Most probably it was the Cenacle where our Lord had instituted the Holy Eucharist.
The list of the Apostles given here by St. Luke is different in order from that in his Gospel. Here he seems to enumerate them according to their greater nearness and familiarity with Jesus. Jude of James means Jude the brother of James, so called to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot. See on Matthew 10:1-4.
14. All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren,
Persevering … in prayer; i.e., they were most attentive to prayer in the Upper Room, and at the accustomed services seven times a day in the Temple. With the women, etc. These were the pious women from GaHlee who had ministered to our Lord during His Passion and after His burial, among whom were Mary Magdalen, Salome, Mary of Cleophas, and others. It was only natural that the Blessed Virgin should have taken a special part in an occasion of such great importance as the present one. His brethren, i.e.. His relatives. Hebrew was a poor language with but few expressions for a variety of ideas. Hence the term “brethren” was used to express cousins, and relatives in general. In this way James the Less, Bishop of Jerusalem, was called “the brother of the Lord,” although he was only the cousin of our Saviour, his mother being the sister of the Blessed Virgin and his father Cleophas or Alpheus. St. Jerome (contra Helvid. 4) says: “Quatuor modis in Scripturis fratres dicuntur: natura, gente, cognatione, affectu.”