Paul's Nazirite Vow - Acts 18:18
Paul Kept A Nazirite Vow - Acts 18:18
Acts 18:18-19 So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow.
Let's be clear. There’s no explicit reference in this scripture to a Nazirite vow, but let’s see what the commentaries have to say about this.
Commentators Agree That Paul Kept A Nazirite Vow
Firstly the Wycliffe Bible Commantary. Acts 18:18
Paul now stayed in Corinth ….Before leaving Corinth, he assumed a Nazarite vow (see Num 6:1-21) which was an OT act of thanksgiving or of dedication to God. During the period of the vow, the devotee allowed his hair to grow uncut, and at the end of the period he cut his hair. ………. As he came to Cenchrea, the eastern port of Corinth, on his way to Syria and Palestine, the time of his vow elapsed, and he therefore cut his hair.(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)
Barnes Notes 1997 Acts 18:18
[For he had a vow] …. The most remarkable vow among the Jews was that of the Nazarite, by which a man made a solemn promise to God to abstain from wine, and from all intoxicating liquors, to let the hair grow, not to enter any house polluted by having a dead body in it, or to attend any funeral. This vow generally lasted eight days, sometimes a month, sometimes during a definite period fixed by themselves, and sometimes during their whole lives…. Those who made the vow out of Palestine, and who could not come to the temple when the vow was expired, contented themselves with observing the abstinence required by the Law, and cutting off the hair where they were. This I suppose to have been the case with Paul. His hair he cut off at the expiration of the vow at Cenchrea, though he delayed to perfect the vow by the proper ceremonies until he reached Jerusalem, Acts 21:23-24. (from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
Expositors Bible Commentary says:
Nevertheless, that Paul cut his hair at Cenchrea shows that he had earlier taken a Nazirite vow for a particular period of time that had now ended. Such a vow had to be fulfilled at Jerusalem…
Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on Numbers 6:
"On other cases of this kind in the Talmud, and particularly on the later form of the Nazarite vow-for example, that of the Apostle Paul (Acts 18:18) - see Winer, bibl. R. W. ii. pp. 138-9, and Oehler in Herzog's Cycl.)" (from Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)
Now let’s take a look at what Matthew Henry has to say. Acts 18:18-23
At Cenchrea, which was hard by Corinth, the port where those that went to sea from Corinth took ship, either Paul or Aquila (for the original does not determine which) had his head shaved, to discharge himself from the vow of a Nazarite:
Matthew Henry then goes on to argue that Paul kept a Nazirite vow to be "all things to all men". Was Paul really a hypocrite?
Remarkably then, in the view of all of these commentators, Paul himself kept the “ritualistic old testament law” of the Nazirite vow, but at the same time was preaching that it was all "done away with".
Doesn't that argument beg some rather big questions?
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So does Galatians really mean the Mosaic law (the written Torah) is " done away" especially if, in the predominantly Jewish New Testament church, no fuss was recorded about it, yet in Acts only one small and predictable change about the circumcision of gentile proselytes caused massive turmoil?