“Here’s what we want you to do. We have four men here who have completed their vow.
Go with them to the Temple and join them in the purification ceremony, paying for them to have their heads ritually shaved. Then everyone will know that the rumours are all false and that you yourself observe the Jewish laws.
“As for the Gentile believers, they should do what we already told them in a letter: They should abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality.”Acts 21:23-25
This is another curious part of the story. The fact that Paul was instructed, even commanded to join the four men in the purification ceremony. I made a vow in Bible Gem 1752.
I feel I have answered your questions sufficiently now and intend to move on. I vow not to mention the vow again.
So I can’t mention that three letter word again to stay true to my pledge. You will need to read Gem 1752 in full in order to see what I was talking about at that time. I think James and the leaders of the church in Jerusalem were trying in advance to appease the Jewish opposition before they got wind that Paul was in the city, given the rumours circulating about Paul. James and the leaders must have felt if the Jews who opposed Paul saw him in the temple with the men fulfilling their v**s they would be content. A rather foolish thing to think. Paul was not fulfilling the same requirements that men were and so there had to have been a degree of incongruity about the action. Luke makes no mention of this visit to the temple being in anyway related to a Nazarite V**. Paul was only going at best to go through a purification rite. That was in accord with the statement made by James and the leaders. I don’t see how they would feel the rumours would be quashed. It appears what he was doing had nothing to do with a Nazarite V**. Beside which the greater emphasis appears to be on the food prohibition requirements. There is enough evidence in the Bible text to suggest Paul was not so worried about that. He was free in the Spirit.
James will understand why I am not mentioning the V word. “But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.” (James 5:12). I think in retrospect I should not have vowed this vow in the first place. (Eccl 5:4-5). A careful reading of 1 Corinthians 8 and 9 will give you a sense of where Paul would have stood on the food sacrificed to idols issue. But I suspect he would have considered James and his leaders as the weaker brothers. I suspect what was going on here was a move to be politically correct rather than morally or religiously correct. In my opinion being politically correct hardly ever works out well.
I am going to stick with my vow and not go into detail related to the ceremony. What is clear is that Paul’s involvement was only in order to appease the opposition. But it was an ill-conceived plan at best. And as we shall see in what follows served only to throw the spotlight on Paul. Despite the fact he was observed to be taking part in Jewish purification ritual in public. That meant nothing to the opposition. They still criticised him. Which when you think about is what those opposed to you always do. They will find a loop hole or a reason to criticise what you have done anyway. Paul’s involvement would in no way have been in accord with the traditional Nazarite purification rites because there were too many aspects that would remain unfulfilled. I would say such a plan was doomed from its conception. But the suggestion from the James and the gang was for Paul to pay the costs for the four men to have their heads shaved. In that Paul was a pious Jew. Why?
The cost of having your head shaved and the hair burnt ritually along with providing the necessary sacrificial offering (two lambs, a ram, a loaf and cake offering, the meal and drink offering) was expensive. Most often poorer people could not afford such expense in which case pious rich Jews would pay the expenses in order for their poorer countrymen to fulfil their vow. It seems to me that this is the focus of what James and his leaders and elders are suggesting. Namely that Paul play the part of the pious rich Jew. He already doesn’t qualify to fulfil the v** – no hair and the time limit had certainly run out. Paul’s involvement and the fact he was supporting others in the process should have suggested to the Jewish opposition that Paul was compliant to the purification rituals. And that he was certainly not teaching the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn their backs on the laws of Moses, and not circumcise their children and not follow other Jewish customs.
Whether this plan of James and the leaders was successful or not we will see. I will hold the next long segment for the next Gem. See if you can work out how long it will be.
Ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer knowledge of God than ten hours over your books.Benjamin Warfield
Pray and study. Study and pray. What God has joined together, let no intellectual (thinker) or charismatic (pray-er) separate!Ann
We do not make the smallest discovery without God’s providential guidance.Anon
Our very being as individual persons is who we are at the depths.Anon
You are not rich until you have something money can’t buy.Corrine Browning