Father MacEvily’s Commentary on Acts 1:12-14

Act 1:12  Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a sabbath day’s journey.

They returned to Jerusalem, in obedience to our Lord’s final instructions, commanding them to remain there for some time (Lk 24:49).

Olivet, so called from the olive trees that grew there in great abundance. It would seem it was from this Mount our Lord ascended, at the eastern slope of which lay Bethany, whither, as we learn from St. Luke, our Lord brought His disciples before He ascended. (See St. Luke 24:50, Commentary on.) Likely, it was from this eastern slope He ascended.

Oriental travellers inform us, that our Lord indelibly impressed His foot prints on the spot, which no abrasure could obliterate. St. Helena built a magnificent church there. But no vaulting or covering could stand over the spot; so that it was constantly exposed to view. It was near this place Lazarus and his sisters lived. Near it was the scene of our Lord s bloody sweat and agony. Hence, it was meet that it should be the scene of His final glorious triumph.

A Sabbath Day’s journey– the distance the Jews were allowed to travel on the Sabbath day; something about an English mile. The Law about the Sabbath-day’s journey was not a Mosaic ordinance. It was introduced by the Rabbins. For this they fixed the distance that should intervene between the Ark and the people (Joshua 3:4) or, the distance allowed by law between the centre and farthest boundaries of a Levitical city (Numbers 34:4).

Act 1:13  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.

And when they were come in, they went up, &c. The vulgate punctuation, is, and when they were come in to the upper room, they went up, &c. The Greek punctuation followed by our English version is preferred by several able Commentators, Lapide among the rest. This upper room was, likely, in some private  house. Here, probably, our Lord celebrated the Last Suuper. Here, took place two apparitions after the Resurrection (John 20:19, 26). Here, the Holy Ghost descended on the Apostles. It was not in the Temple, as some would infer from St. Luke (24:53 : See Commentary on).

Where abode Peter, &c. Here they spent one portion of their time, communing with God in prayer and with each other in pious conversation. They also devoted another portion of their time to the service of the Temple, attending there regularly and at stated hours (Luke 24:53).

It is deserving of remark, that in the several Catalogues of the Apostles given by the sacred writers (Matthew 10; Luke 6.) Peter always is placed at their head, indicating the Primacy conferred on him by our Lord over the entire Church.

Act 1:14  All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Persevering with one mind in prayer. Unanimity and concord was a great help towards obtaining their requests, as discord or divisions would be a great obstacle (St. Cyprian, Epis. 8).

With the women, most likely refers to these pious and holy women headed by Magdalen, who followed our Lord and ministered to Him out of their temporal substance (Luke 8:2). This shows, the room was not in the Temple, where men and women were kept apart.

With Mary the mother of Jesus.  She is here particularized and specially distinguished, as she had been by the Angel, from all other women. Prayers in which she joins must have infallible efficacy. This is the last notice taken of her in the Sacred Scriptures.

And His brethren, the near relatives of our Lord (Matthew 12:46; 13:55; John 7:5). St. Augustine tells us the relations of the Blessed Virgin were called, the brethren of our Lord. It was the custom of the Scriptures to call near blood relations and kinsmen, brethren (Tract xxxiii. 3, in Joannem). Hence the absurdity of the opinion that holds them to be the offspring of Joseph by a former marriage. If they were such, our Lord would have commended His Blessed Mother to them at His death, rather than to St. John.

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One Response to Father MacEvily’s Commentary on Acts 1:12-14

  1. Pingback: Commentaries and Resources for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year A | stjoeofoblog

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