|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
21:19-26 Paul ascribed all his success to God, and to God they gave the praise. God had honoured him more than any of the apostles, yet they did not envy him; but on the contrary, glorified the Lord. They could not do more to encourage Paul to go on cheerfully in his work. James and the elders of the church at Jerusalem, asked Paul to gratify the believing Jews, by some compliance with the ceremonial law. They thought it was prudent in him to conform thus far. It was great weakness to be so fond of the shadows, when the substance was come. The religion Paul preached, tended not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. He preached Christ, the end of the law for righteousness, and repentance and faith, in which we are to make great use of the law. The weakness and evil of the human heart strongly appear, when we consider how many, even of the disciples of Christ, had not due regard to the most eminent minister that even lived. Not the excellence of his character, nor the success with which God blessed his labours, could gain their esteem and affection, seeing that he did not render the same respect as themselves to mere ceremonial observances. How watchful should we be against prejudices! The apostles were not free from blame in all they did; and it would be hard to defend Paul from the charge of giving way too much in this matter. It is vain to attempt to court the favour of zealots, or bigots to a party. This compliance of Paul did not answer, for the very thing by which he hoped to pacify the Jews, provoked them, and brought him into trouble. But the all-wise God overruled both their advice and Paul's compliance with it, to serve a better purpose than was intended. It was in vain to think of pleasing men who would be pleased with nothing but the rooting out of Christianity. Integrity and uprightness will be more likely to preserve us than insincere compliances. And it should warn us not to press men to doing what is contrary to their own judgment to oblige us.
Verse 24. - These for them, A.V.; for them for with them, A.V.; shall know for may know, A.V.; there is no truth in the things, etc., for those things... are nothing, A.V.; hare been for were, A.V.; keeping for and keepest, A.V. As regards the transaction recommended by James, Kypke (quoted by Meyer) says, "It was a received thing among the Jews, and was reckoned an act of eminent piety, for a rich man to undertake to bear, on behalf of poor Nazarites, the expense of those sacrifices which they had to offer when they shaved their heads at the expiration of their vow." Josephus seems to allude to the custom, and to speak of King Agrippa as acting in accordance with it, when he says of him that he ordered great numbers of Nazarites to be shaved ('Ant. Jud.,' 19. 6:1). The sacrifices were costly, consisting of" three beasts, one for a burnt offering, another for a sin offering, and a third for a peace offering" (Lightfoot, vol. 9. p. 307). Alexander Jannaeus is said to have contributed nine hundred victims for three hundred Nazarites ('Dict. of Bible,' under "Nazarite;" comp. 1 Macc. 3:49). Purify thyself; ἁγνίσθητι, the word used in the LXX. of Numbers 6:2, 3, 8 (with its compound ἁφαγνίσασθαι, and co-derivatives ἁγνεία and ἅγιος) for the corresponding Hebrew הַזִּיד, to take the Nazarite vow. St. Paul, therefore, became a Nazarite of days for seven days, intending at the end of the time to offer the prescribed sacrifices for himself and his four companions (see, however, note on ver. 26, at the end). Be at charges for them (δαπάνησον ἐπ αὐτοῖς). Make the necessary expenditure on their account, that they may shave their heads, which they could not do till the prescribed sacrifices were offered.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Them take, and purify, thyself with them,.... That is, join thyself to them, make one of their number, and attend to the rules prescribed to a Nazarite, who is to be holy to the Lord; and in case of any ceremonial uncleanness, is to be cleansed, or purified in the manner directed, Numbers 6:5.
And be at charges with them; join with them in the expense, for the offerings to be made at the end of the vows, or when the days of separation are fulfilled, Numbers 6:13.
That they may shave their heads; according to the law in Numbers 6:18. This was done in , the chamber of the Nazarites (r); for there the Nazarites boiled their peace offerings, and shaved their hair, and put it under the pot, in the fire that was under it: Maimonides says (s),
"if he shaved in the city it was excusable; but whether he shaved in the city or in the sanctuary, under the pot his hair must be cast; and he did not shave until the door of the court was opened, as it is said, "at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation", Numbers 6:18 not that he shaved over against the door, for that would be a contempt of the sanctuary.''
Moreover, it may be observed, that a person who had not made a vow, or fulfilled a Nazariteship himself, which was the apostle's case, yet he might join in bearing the expenses of others, at the time of their shaving and cleansing: for so run the Jewish canons (t);
"he that says, upon me be the shaving of a Nazarite, he is bound to bring the offerings of shaving for purification, and he may offer them by the hand of what Nazarite he pleases; he that says, upon me be half the offerings of a Nazarite, or if he says, upon me be half the shaving of a Nazarite, he brings half the offerings by what Nazarite he will, and that Nazarite perfects his offerings out of that which is his.''
That all may know that those things whereof they were informed concerning thee are nothing; that there is no truth in them; that they are mere lies and calumnies; as they will easily judge by this single instance, in complying with the law concerning a Nazarite's vow:
but that thou thyself walkest orderly, and keepest the law; and therefore can never be thought to teach others to walk disorderly, or to neglect the law, the rites and customs of it.
(r) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 16. 1.((s) Hilchot Nezirut, c. 8. sect. 3.((t) Hilchot Nezirut, c. 8. sect. 18.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
24. be at charges with them—that is, defray the expense of the sacrifices legally required of them, along with his own, which was deemed a mark of Jewish generosity.
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