Untitled Sermon (2)
21:23–24 Nazarite Vows
“There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved.”
This institution was a symbol of a life devoted to God and separated from all sin—a holy life (Numbers 6:2–21). The vow of a Nazarite involved these three things.
1. Abstinence from wine and strong drink.
2. Refraining from cutting their hair during the whole period of the continuance of the vow.
3. Avoidance of contact with the dead.
When the period of the continuance of the vow came to an end, the Nazarite had to present himself at the door of the sanctuary with three things.
1. A male lamb of the first year for a burnt-offering.
2. A ewe lamb of the first year for a sin-offering.
3. A ram for a peace-offering.
After these sacrifices were offered by the priest, the Nazarite cut off his hair at the door and threw it into the fire under the peace-offering.
For some reason, probably in the midst of his work at Corinth, Paul himself took on the Nazarite vow. This could only be terminated by his going up to Jerusalem to offer up his hair, which until then was to be left uncut. But it seems to have been allowable for persons at a distance to cut their hair, which was to be brought up to Jerusalem, where the ceremony was completed. This Paul did at Cenchrea just before setting out on his voyage into Syria (Acts 18:18).
In our text-verse, Paul took on the Nazarite vow again at the Feast of Pentecost. One commentator writes: “The ceremonies involved took a longer time than Paul had at his disposal, but the law permitted a man to share the vow if he could find companions who had gone through the prescribed ceremonies, and who permitted him to join their company. This permission was commonly granted if the newcomer paid all the fees required from the whole company (fees to the Levites for cutting the hair and fees for sacrifices), and finished the vow along with the others. Four Jewish Christians were performing the vow, and would admit Paul to their company, provided he paid their expenses.
Paul consented, paid the charges, and when the last seven days of the vow began he went with them to live in the temple, giving the usual notice to the priests that he had joined in regular fashion, was a sharer with the four men, and that his vow would end with theirs. Nazarites retired to the temple during the last period of seven days, because they could be secure there against any accidental defilement.”
As to the duration of a Nazarite’s vow, every one was left at liberty to fix his own time. There is mention made in the Scriptures of only three who were Nazarites for life, Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist (Judges 13:4, 5; 1 Samuel 1:11, Luke 1:15). In its ordinary form, however, the Nazarite’s vow lasted only thirty and, at most, one hundred, days.
24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. 27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: 28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
16:1 Phoebe Possibly a wealthy Gentile Christian who delivered Paul’s letter to the Romans.
New Testament Women Table
a servant Paul uses the Greek word diakonos here, suggesting that Phoebe may have held the office of deaconess in the church at Cenchrea.
Diakonos Word Study
16:2 saints See note on Rom 1:7.
helper The Greek word used here, prostatis, probably means that Phoebe was a patron who supported Paul financially.
16:3 Prisca and Aquila A wife and husband who assisted Paul in his missionary work (see Acts 18:2–3). They helped establish the church in Ephesus (Acts 18:18; 1 Cor 16:19). At the time they met Paul, they had left Rome because the emperor, Claudius, had expelled all the Jews (Acts 18:2). It is unknown when they returned to Rome or what type of ministry they had there.
4 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, smake full proof of thy ministry. 6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.