Paul stayed in Corinth for some time after that, then said good-bye to the brothers and sisters and went to nearby Cenchrea. There he shaved his head according to Jewish custom, marking the end of a vow.Acts 18:18
Notice also the statement concerning Paul shaving his head to m ark the end of a vow. Was this important or was this just a passing comment of Luke’s that carries no weight? Much has been said about this innocuous comment. See what you can make of all this before we move on to look at Luke’s “Meanwhile back in Ephesus”.
The Nazirite Vow
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. “If any of the people, either men or women, take the special vow of a Nazirite, setting themselves apart to the LORD in a special way, they must give up wine and other alcoholic drinks. They must not use vinegar made from wine or from other alcoholic drinks, they must not drink fresh grape juice, and they must not eat grapes or raisins. As long as they are bound by their Nazirite vow, they are not allowed to eat or drink anything that comes from a grapevine—not even the grape seeds or skins.
They must never cut their hair throughout the time of their vow, for they are holy and set apart to the LORD. Until the time of their vow has been fulfilled, they must let their hair grow long. And they must not go near a dead body during the entire period of their vow to the LORD. Even if the dead person is their own father, mother, brother, or sister, they must not defile themselves, for the hair on their head is the symbol of their separation to God. This requirement applies as long as they are set apart to the LORD.
If someone falls dead beside them, the hair they have dedicated will be defiled. They must wait for seven days and then shave their heads. Then they will be cleansed from their defilement. On the eighth day they must bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle. The priest will offer one of the birds for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way, he will purify them from the guilt they incurred through contact with the dead body. Then they must reaffirm their commitment and let their hair begin to grow again. The days of their vow that were completed before their defilement no longer count. They must rededicate themselves to the LORD as a Nazirite for the full term of their vow, and each must bring a one-year-old male lamb for a guilt offering.
This is the ritual law for Nazirites. At the conclusion of their time of separation as Nazirites, they must each go to the entrance of the Tabernacle and offer their sacrifices to the LORD: a one-year-old male lamb without defect for a burnt offering, a one-year-old female lamb without defect for a sin offering, a ram without defect for a peace offering, a basket of bread made without yeast—cakes of choice flour mixed with olive oil and wafers spread with olive oil—along with their prescribed grain offerings and liquid offerings. The priest will present these offerings before the LORD: first the sin offering and the burnt offering; then the ram for a peace offering, along with the basket of bread made without yeast. The priest must also present the prescribed grain offering and liquid offering to the LORD.
Then the Nazirites will shave their heads at the entrance of the Tabernacle. They will take the hair that had been dedicated and place it on the fire beneath the peace-offering sacrifice. After the Nazirite’s head has been shaved, the priest will take for each of them the boiled shoulder of the ram, and he will take from the basket a cake and a wafer made without yeast. He will put them all into the Nazirite’s hands. Then the priest will lift them up as a special offering before the LORD. These are holy portions for the priest, along with the breast of the special offering and the thigh of the sacred offering that are lifted up before the LORD. After this ceremony the Nazirites may again drink wine.”
“This is the ritual law of the Nazirites, who vow to bring these offerings to the LORD. They may also bring additional offerings if they can afford it. And they must be careful to do whatever they vowed when they set themselves apart as Nazirites.”Numbers 6:1-21
There are a number of questions to ask about the matter of Paul and the Nazirite Vow.
- Firstly was it Paul who kept the vow or Apollos? – in Greek there is a chance that it could apply to either.
- Did Paul fulfill all of the vow or just a part?
- When did he begin this vow if this reference is to the end of it?
- When did he take the vow because there is a time period associated with a Nazirite Vow and in accordance with the Law of Moses the sacrifice should be made at the temple in Jerusalem?
- What was his motivation for taking such a vow?
- Why is Paul taking such a vow and submitting to the Law of Moses when he proclaimed freedom from the Law?
There are other matters to consider but these will start you off.
We will pick it apart in the next Gem.
However, it is not a sin to refrain from making a vow. But once you have voluntarily made a vow, be careful to fulfil your promise to the LORD your God.Deuteronomy 23:22-23
Men are men, vows are words and words are wind.George Martin
To make a vow is a greater sin than to break one.Georg Lichtenberg
Those that vow the most are the least sincere.Richard Sheridan