Acts xiii.Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Manahen … foster-brother to Herod, or nursed with the same milk. (Witham) — It would appear from his having been brought up with Herod, that he was of noble parentage. He is likewise believed to have been one of the seventy-two disciples. The Latins keep his feast on the 24th of May. (Calmet)

Ver. 2. As they were ministering to the Lord.[1] Mr. N. and some others translate, offering up sacrifice. There are indeed good grounds to take this to be the true sense, as the Rhemish translators observed, who notwithstanding only put ministering, lest, (said they) we should seem to turn it in favour of our own cause, since neither the Latin nor Greek word signifies of itself to sacrifice, but any public ministry in the service of God; so the St. Chrysostom says, when they were preaching. (Witham) — Separate me. Though Paul and Barnabas are here chosen by the Holy Ghost for the ministry, yet they were to be ordained, consecrated, and admitted by men; which loudly condemns all those modish and disordered spirits, that challenge and usurp the office of preaching, and other sacred and ecclesiastical functions, without any appointment from the Church. (Bristow) — Consider, says St. Chrysostom, by whom they are ordained: by Lucius, of Cyrene, and Manahen, rather than by the Spirit. The less honourable these persons are, the more signal is the grace of God.”

Ver. 3. Fasting and prayer, imposing their hands upon them. By which is clearly expressed, the manner in which the ministers of God were, and are still ordained bishops, priests, deacons in the Church. (Witham) — Interpreters are much divided in opinion, whether this imposition of hands be a mere deputation to a certain employment, or the sacramental ceremony, by which orders are conferred. Sts. Chrysostom, Leo, &c. are of the latter opinion; nor does it any where appear that St. Paul was bishop before this. Arator, sub-deacon of the Church of Rome, who dedicated in the year 544 his version of the Acts of the Apostles into heroic verse to Pope Virgilius, attributes this imposition of hands to St. Peter:

———-Quem mox sacravit euntem

Imposita Petrus ille manu, cui sermo magistri

Omnia posse dedit.———-

— See his printed poems in 4to. Venice, an. 1502. Arator was sent in quality of ambassador from Athalaric to the emperor Justinian. — Following the practice of the apostles, the Church of God ordains a solemn and general fast on the four public times for ordination, the ember days, as a necessary preparation for so great a work, and this St. Leo calls also an apostolical tradition. See St. Leo, serm. ix. de jejun. and ep. lxxxi. chap. 1. and serm. iii. and iv. de jejun. 7. mensis.— Nor was this fasting a fasting from sin, as some ridiculously affirm, for such fasting was a universal obligation: nor was it left to each one’s discretion, as certain heretics maintained. See St. Augustine, hæres. liii.

Ver. 5. In the synagogues of the Jews, preaching first the gospel to them. (Witham)

Ver. 6. A magician … whose name was Bar-jesu, son of Jesus, or Josue. In Arabic, Elymas is the same as magician. This man did all he could to dissuade the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, from embracing the Christian faith. (Witham) — Salamina was the capital of the island of Cyprus, and at the eastern extremity, as Paphos was at the western. A. D. 45.

Ver. 9. Then Saul, who also is Paul. This is the first time we find the apostle called Paul. Some, therefore, think it was given him when he converted this proconsul, Sergius Paulus. Others, that Saul being a Hebrew word, the Greeks, or rather the Romans, turned it into Paul. (Witham) — This is the first place in which this apostle is called Paul. He took this name out of respect to the illustrious convert he had made in the person of the proconsul, the governor of the island. (Menochius) — Or, more probably, his former name, by a small change, was modelled into Paulus, which was a sound more adapted to a Roman ear. He begins to bear this name only, when he enters on his mission to the Gentiles. (Calmet)

Ver. 10. Son of the devil. Sharp language, when grounded on truth, may be used against those who hinder the conversion of others. St. Chrysostom says, he was struck with this blindness only for a time, to make him enter into himself, and be converted. (Witham)

Ver. 14. Antioch. Many cities in Asia Minor bore this name. It is related that Seleucus Nicanor built many, and called them by this name, in honour of his father Antiochus. (Tirinus) — Pamphylia and Pisidia were two provinces in Asia Minor. — The sabbath-day. Some not only understand, but even translate, the first day of the week: but here is rather meant the Jewish sabbath, as St. Paul went into their synagogues. And in this his first sermon to them, which St. Luke has set down, he speaks nothing that could offend or exasperate the Jews, but honourably of them, to gain them to the Christian faith; he commends in particular David, whose Son they knew the Messias was to be: and of whom he tells them, that God had given them their Saviour, Jesus. He mentions this high eulogium, which God gave of David, Psalm lxxxviii. 21. that he was a man according to God’s heart, who in all things should fulfil his will, that is, as to the true worship of God; though he fell into some sins, of which he repented, and did penance. (Witham)

Ver. 19. These seven nations are the Chanaanites, the Hethites, the Hevites, the Pherezites, the Gergesites, the Jebusites, and the Amorrhites. (Josue iii. 10. and alibi.)

Ver. 20. Chronology only gives about 350 years from the entrance into the land of promise to the end of Samuel’s judicial government, who was the last of the judges. (Bible de Vence)

Ver. 24, &c. He then brings the testimony, which John the Baptist gave of Jesus, as it is likely many of them had heard of John, and of the great esteem that all the people had of his virtue and sanctity. He tells them that salvation was offered and sent them by Jesus, against whom the chief of the Jews at Jerusalem obtained of Pilate a sentence, that he should be crucified; but that God raised him up from the dead the third day. And we, says he, publish to you this promise, the Messias, promised to our forefathers.

Ver. 33. He then shews them that Jesus was their Messias, and the Son of God, begotten of his Father from eternity, who rose from the dead, and he applies these words, (Psalm ii. 7.) to prove Christ’s resurrection, thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee. It is true, these words regard chiefly the eternal generation of Christ, as they are applied by St. Paul, (Hebrews v. 5.) but the resurrection was a necessary consequence of his divinity, since death could have no power over him. St. Paul here also proves Christ’s resurrection by the following predictions. (Witham) — Second psalm. The oldest copy reads, first psalm. The difference is merely in words; for the division of the psalter at present is very different from what it formerly was: sometimes a single psalm of ours being divided into many, and many of our divisions making only one, according to the Hebrews. The latter are not even now agreed among themselves on the same division of the psalms. (Calmet) — Some suppose, that what we call the first psalm was originally looked upon as a preface to the psalter; others, that our first and second psalms united in one. (Mat. Polus.)

Ver. 34. I will give you the holy things of David sure. These are the words of the prophet Isaias, lv. ver. 3. According to the Septuagint the sense is, I will faithfully fulfil the promises I made to David. (Challoner)

Ver. 35. In another place also he saith, (Psalm xv. 10.) thou wilt not suffer thy holy one to see corruption. That is, Christ’s body to be corrupted in the grave. See the words of St. Peter, Acts chap. ii. 27. (Witham)

Ver. 36. After he had served in his generation. That is, in his life-time, saw corruption, or was corrupted in the grave. (Witham)

Ver. 37-38. Justified. That your sins being forgiven by the merits of Christ, you may be truly just in the sight of God. (Witham)

Ver. 39. The law of Moses was then imperfect. I shew you its completion, by preaching to you Christ, whom it foretold. You would violate the law of Moses by opposing the new law, to which he leads you. (Tirinus)

Ver. 40. See then that you reject not this divine Saviour, lest what has been denounced by the prophets fall upon your incredulous heads: I will abandon the holy place which I entrusted to you; I will cease to look upon you as my people; I will transfer my kingdom to the Gentiles. (Bible de Vence)

Ver. 41. Ye despisers[2] of the favours offered you, behold, wonder, &c. This citation is out of Habacuc, (chap. i. ver. 5.) according to the Septuagint. The prophet, by these words, foretold to the Jews in his time the evils that would come upon them in their captivity in Chaldea, but St. Paul here applies them at least to the miseries that the incredulous Jews would incur, if they obstinately refused to believe in Christ. (Witham)

Ver. 44. The whole city. Not only Jews, but a great many Gentiles, which exasperated the envious Jews. (Witham)

Ver. 48. As many as were pre-ordained to eternal life,[3] by the free election, and special mercies, and providence of God. (Witham) — Some understand this as if it meant, predisposed by their docility, to receive the word of life. But the Fathers unanimously understand it literally of predestination, which is defined by St. Thomas Aquinas, serm. i. qu. 23. a. 1. “The disposition of God, by which he prepares, what he will himself perform, according to his infallible foreknowledge.” In other words, it is the manner in which God conducts a reasonable creature to its proper destiny, which is eternal life. In this mystery of the Catholic faith, which cannot be clearly explained to human understanding, because it is a mystery, there are nevertheless several points, which we know for certain. 1st. Though it is certain, that this decree of the Almighty is infallible, and must have its effect, yet it is far removed from the blasphemy of Calvinists, who pretend that it destroys free-will, and therefore removes all motives of exertion to good works. 2nd. For it is a point of Catholic faith, that this foreknowledge of the Almighty no ways interferes with man’s liberty, but leaves him still a perfectly free agent, and therefore responsible for his actions. 3rd. It is likewise decreed by the Council of Trent, that no one can certainly know that he is of the number of the predestined, without a special revelation to that effect. These are the most essential points, which it concerns us to know of this doctrine. As to the consequences which may be drawn from these positions, it were better for us to submit our understandings to the obedience of faith, than entangle ourselves in a maze of abstruse errors, far removed from our comprehension. Would that this sober line of conduct were pursued by many moderns, who at present talk and write so much on this subject, and to such little purpose. How excellently well does the great genius of the Latin Church, St. Augustine, say: Melius est dubitare de occultis, quam litigare de occultis! How much wiser and better is it to confess our ignorance on mysteries, than idly to dispute on mysteries! (lib. viii. de Gen. ad litt. chap. 5.)

Ver. 51. Shaking off the dust, &c. See the Annotations, Matthew x. 14.


[1] Ver. 2. Ministrantibus illus, leitourgounton de auton.  Erasmus translates, Sacrificantibus, but St. Chrysostom, toutesti keruttonton, prædicantibus.

[2] Ver. 41. Habacuc i. 5. In the Latin text, and according to the Hebrew, aspicite in Gentibus: but in the Septuagint and Greek here, idete kataphronetai.

[3] Ver. 48. Præordinati, tetagmenoi, on which St. Chrysostom says, toutesti aphorismenoi, prædefiniti.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Saul and Barnabas are sent forth by the Holy Ghost. They preach in Cyprus and in Antioch of Pisidia.

1 Now *there were in the church, which was at Antioch, prophets and teachers, among whom was Barnabas, and Simon, who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manahen, who was the foster-brother of Herod, the tetrarch, and Saul.

2 And as they were ministering to the Lord, and fasting, the Holy Ghost said to them: Separate me Saul and Barnabas, for the work to which I have taken them.

3 Then they fasting and praying, and imposing their hands upon them, sent them away.

4 So they being sent by the Holy Ghost, went to Seleucia: and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

5 And when they were come to Salamina, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John also in the ministry.

6 And when they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a certain man, a magician, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesu,

7 Who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man. He, sending for Barnabas and Saul, desired to hear the word of God.

8 But Elymas, the magician, (for so his name is interpreted) withstood them, seeking to turn away the proconsul from the faith.

9 Then Saul, otherwise Paul, filled with the Holy Ghost, looking upon him,

10 Said: O thou full of all guile, and of all deceit, son of the devil, enemy of all justice, thou dost not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord.

11 And now behold the hand of the Lord upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a time. And immediately there fell on him a mist and darkness, and going about, he sought some one to lead him by the hand.

12 Then the proconsul, when he had seen what was done, believed, marvelling at the doctrine of the Lord.

13 And when Paul, and they who were with him, had sailed from Paphos, they came to Perge, in Pamphylia. *But John departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.

14 But they passing through Perge, came to Antioch, in Pisidia: and entering into the synagogue on the sabbath-day, they sat down.

15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying: Ye men, brethren, if you have any word of exhortation to make to the people, speak.

16 Then Paul rising up, and with his hand bespeaking silence, said: Ye men of Israel, and you that fear God, give ear.

17 The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people, when they were sojourners* in the land of Egypt, **and with a mighty arm brought them out from thence,

18 *And for the space of forty years endured their manners in the desert.

19 And destroying seven nations in the land of Chanaan, *he divided their land to them, by lot,

20 As it were, after four hundred and fifty years:* and after these things, he gave them judges, until Samuel, the prophet.

21 And afterwards *they desired a king: and God gave them Saul, the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, forty years.

22 *And when he had removed him, he raised them up David to be king: to whom giving testimony, he said: I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to my own heart, who shall do all my will.

23 Of this man’s seed God, *according to his promise, hath raised up to Israel a Saviour, Jesus,

24 *John first preaching before his coming the baptism of penance to all the people of Israel.

25 And when John was fulfilling his course, he said: *I am not he, whom you think me to be: but behold he cometh after me, the shoes of whose feet I am not worthy to loose.

26 Men, brethren, sons of the race of Abraham, and whosoever among you fear God, to you the word of this salvation is sent.

27 For they who inhabited Jerusalem, and the rulers thereof, not knowing him, nor the voices of the prophets, which are read every sabbath, judging him, have fulfilled them,

28 And finding no cause of death in him, *they petitioned of Pilate, that they might put him to death.

29 And when they had fulfilled all things that were written of him, taking him down from the tree, they laid him in a sepulchre.

30 *But God raised him up from the dead the third day: who was seen for many days by those,

31 Who went up together with him from Galilee to Jerusalem: who, to this present time, are witnesses of him to the people.

32 And we declare to you that the promise which was made to our fathers,

33 This same hath God fulfilled to our children, raising up Jesus again, as in the second Psalm also is written: *Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

34 And to shew that he raised him up from the dead to return now no more to corruption, he said thus: *That I will give you the holy things of David sure.

35 And, therefore, in another place also he saith: *Thou shalt not suffer thy Holy One to see corruption.

36 For David, after he had served in his generation, according to the will of God, *slept: and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption.

37 But he whom God hath raised from the dead, saw no corruption.

38 Be it known, therefore, to you, men, brethren, that through him forgiveness of sins is preached to you: and from all the things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses,

39 In him every one, who believeth, is justified.

40 Beware, therefore, lest that come upon you which is said in the prophets:

41 *Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which you will not believe, if any man shall tell it you.

42 And as they went out, they desired them that on the next sabbath they would speak these words to them.

43 And when the synagogue was broken up, many of the Jews, and of the strangers who served God, followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

44 But the next sabbath-day, the whole city almost came together, to hear the word of God.

45 And the Jews seeing the multitudes, were filled with envy, and contradicted those things which were said by Paul, blaspheming.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas said boldly: To you it behoved us first to speak the word of God: but seeing you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life: behold we turn to the Gentiles.

47 For so the Lord hath commanded us: *I have set thee to be the light of the Gentiles: that thou mayest be for salvation unto the utmost part of the earth.

48 And the Gentiles hearing this, were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were pre-ordained to eternal life, believed.

49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout the whole country.

50 But the Jews stirred up religious and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised a persecution against Paul and Barnabas: and cast them out of their borders.

51 *But they shaking off the dust of their feet against them, came to Iconium.**

52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost.



1: about the year A.D. 42.

13: about the year A.D. 42.

17: Exodus i. 1. — ** Exodus xiii. 21. and 22.

18: Exodus xvi. 3.

19: Josue xiv. 2.

20: Judges iii. 9.

21: 1 Kings viii. 5. and ix. 16. and x. 1.

22: 1 Kings xiii. 14. and xvi. 3.

23: Psalm lxxxviii. 21.

24: Isaias xi. 1.

25: Matthew iii. 1.; Mark i. 4.; Luke iii. 3.

28: Matthew iii. 11.; Mark i. 7.; John i. 27.

30: Matthew xxvii. 20. and 23.; Mark xv. 13.; Luke xxviii. 21. and 23.; John xix. 15.

33: Matthew xxviii.; Mark xvi.; Luke xxiv.; John xx.

34: Psalm ii. 7.

35: Isaias lv. 3.

36: Psalm xv. 10.

41: 3 Kings ii. 10.; Habacuc i. 5.

47: Isaias xlix. 6.

51: Matthew x. 14.; Mark vi. 11.; Luke ix. 5. — ** about the year A.D. 42.