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Bible Commentaries

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary
Acts 19

 

 


Verse 1

Disciples. These were apparently disciples of St. John the Baptist, who believed in Christ from his testimony, and had received no farther instruction, nor any baptism but John's. (Calmet)


Verse 2

. Paul first inquires of them, if they have received the Holy Ghost by confirmation. Their answer is probably not to be interpreted with rigour; since they must have heard something of the holy Spirit, so often mentioned in the Old Testament, by whom the prophets are said to speak, &c. They meant, they did not know there was in the Church, any means of communicating this Spirit to the faithful. (Calmet)


Verse 5

Baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, so called to distinguish it from the baptism of John; and that of Christ was given in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, according to the command of Christ himself. [Matthew xxviii. 19.] (Witham)


Verse 6

Imposed his hands on them, by which imposition of hands, was given the Holy Ghost in the sacrament of confirmation. (Witham)


Verse 12

Aprons. It is likely such as he used in working, cured diseases, and cast out devils. What wonder, then, if God work miracles by the relics of martyrs and saints, to testify the sanctity of his servants, and to encourage others both to give them a reasonable honour, and to imitate their lives? (Witham) --- Thus was fulfilled the promise which Christ had made his disciples, viz. that they should perform greater miracles than he himself had done. St. John Chrysostom repeats more than once, that these clothes raised the dead, and that the apostles' shadow chased away all maladies, and triumphed over death. Perhaps the unprejudiced reader may observe in this verse some reason for paying due regard to the relics, or whatever has belonged to the saints.


Verse 13

The Jewish exorcists. Among the Jews were some, who by calling upon the name of the true God, sometimes cast out evil spirits. But these sons of Sceva seeing St. Paul cast out devils, by calling upon the name of Jesus, thought fit to do the same, though they did not believe in Jesus Christ. And God punished them in this manner, as it is here related, at least two of them. (Witham) --- It is uncertain whether the Jews really possessed the power of exorcising demoniacs. From the 12th chapter of St. Matthew, one would be inclined to the affirmative opinion, as our Saviour seems to mention it as a thing well attested. The Jews pretended they received their exorcisms from Solomon. On the other hand, neither the Old nor New Testament ever approve of this power in them nor is it any where mentioned in Scripture that Solomon was the author of any such things. The old law was particularly severe in condemning every kind of enchantment. It is certain, that they, in the time here spoken of, added much superstition and magic to these rites. (Tirinus and others.) --- Josephus mentions remarkable instances of their power in exorcisms performed in his own presence, and in that of the emperor Vespasian, and his whole army. (Lib. ii. chap. 25. The Jewish War) --- Extraordinary things might possibly be performed by magic and collusion between these impostors and the demons. That this power of expelling devils, resides in the Church, every page of primitive ecclesiastical history, testifies. Scripture is also equally explicit on this subject. The exorcisms, says St. Cyprian, are the spiritual torments and scourges of the demons. (Ep. ad Demetrium.) --- It was for this reason the Jews, on this occasion, used the name of Jesus; a name terrible to the infernal spirits, to add power to their imprecations. Tertullian urges facts of this power in the Christians, with much energy and eloquence, in his Apology. Prudentius has recorded the same, with equal elegance, in his verse --- ----------Torquetur Apollo

Nomine percussus Christi, nec fulmina verbi

Ferre potest. Agitant miserum verbera linguæ.


Verse 18

Confessing and declaring their deeds, as penitents do in the sacrament of penance, and not only in general declaring or confessing themselves sinners. See Matthew iii. 6. (Witham)


Verse 19

Curious arts. By which are here meant books of divination and magic art, to which study the Ephesians were much addicted. The price of the books burnt, amounting to a great sum, even computing the 50,000 denarii, each of them at sevenpence half-penny English money. (Witham) --- The value of the books here destroyed might have amounted to £1000 sterling. The Christian emperors, Constantine the Great, Valentinian, Theodosius, Marcian, and Justinian, have made laws not less strict for destroying, than those the Church for proscribing, the use of wicked books, where danger is likely to ensue. The danger of reading them is set forth by Eusebius, lib. vii. chap. 6; by St. Augustine, lib. iii. de bap. chap. 14; by St. Gregory, lib. v. ep. 64. --- Such baneful productions should be destroyed; for although they may possibly produce no bad effect during the life of the present possessors, no one can pretend to say into what hands they will afterwards fall, nor what evil they may hereafter occasion.


Verse 21

I must also see Rome. It is what St. Paul earnestly desired, and what the Spirit now revealed to him. See Romans i. (Witham)


Verse 23

About the way of the Lord; that is, about Christian faith, and religion. (Witham) --- A great source of these troubles that ensued, was the preaching the gospel.


Verse 24

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Ædes argenteas, Greek: naous argurous.


Verse 27

In danger of being vilified, and Diana of losing her reputation. They ought to have reflected, says St. John Chrysostom, (hom. xlii.) that if such a poor man, as Paul, could destroy the worship, and the majesty of this great goddess, whom, as they say, all the world adored, how much greater and worthy of adoration must the God be, by whose power Paul could do this? (Witham)


Verse 28

Great is Diana of the Ephesians. This they shouted out without intermission for about two hours, though the greatest part knew not why they had met together. A true representation of an unthinking rash mob. (Witham)


Verse 31

Some also of the rulers of Asia. They are called friends to St. Paul, but it is uncertain whether they were Christians, or others, who favoured him, and wished him well. (Witham)


Verse 35

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Jovisque prolis, Greek: kai tou diopetous. Simulachri a cælo dilapsi. See Suidas.

====================


Verse 37

Nor of blasphemy against your goddess. St. John Chrysostom takes notice, that to calm the people, he says more than was true. (Witham)

 


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Bibliography Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Acts 19:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/acts-19.html. 1859.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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