Then Paul, having taken the men, on the following day, with them having purified himself, was entering into the temple, announcing the fulfilment of the days of the purification, till the offering was offered for each one of them.
Acts 21:26 Additional TranslationsClarke's Commentary on the Bible
To signify the accomplishment, etc. - Διαγγελλων, Declaring the accomplishment, etc. As this declaration was made to the priest, the sense of the passage is the following, if we suppose Paul to have made an offering for himself, as well as the four men: "The next day, Paul, taking the four men, began to purify, set himself apart, or consecrate himself with them; entering into the temple, he publicly declared to the priests that he would observe the separation of a Nazarite, and continue it for seven days, at the end of which he would bring an offering for himself and the other four men, according to what the law prescribed in that case." But it is likely that Paul made no offering for himself, but was merely at the expense of theirs. However we may consider this subject, it is exceedingly difficult to account for the conduct of James and the elders, and of Paul on this occasion. There seems to have been something in this transaction which we do not fully understand. See the note on Numbers 6:21.
"Besides their typical and religious use, sacrifices were also intended for the support of the state and civil government; inasmuch as the ministers of state were chiefly maintained by them: so that the allotments to the priests out of the sacrifices may be considered as designed, like the civil-list money in other nations, for the immediate support of the crown and the officers of state. On these principles we are able to account for Paul's sacrificing, as we are informed he did, after the commencement of the Christian dispensation; an action which has been severely censured by some as the greatest error of his life: hereby he not only gave, say they, too much countenance to the Jews in their superstitious adherence to the law of Moses, after it was abrogated by Christ, but his offering these typical sacrifices, after the antitype of them was accomplished in the sacrifice of Christ, was a virtual denial of Christ, and of the virtue of his sacrifice, which superseded all others. Paul's long trouble, which began immediately after this affair, some have looked upon as a judgment of God upon him for this great offense. But, if this action were really so criminal as some suppose, one cannot enough wonder that so good and so wise a man as Paul was should be guilty of it; and that the Apostle James and the other Christian elders should all advise him to it, Acts 21:18, Acts 21:23, Acts 21:24. It is likewise strange that we find no censure ever passed on this action by any of the sacred writers; not even by Paul himself, who appears so ready, on other occasions, to acknowledge and humble himself for his errors and failings: on the contrary he reflects with comfort on his having complied with the customs of the Jews in order to remove their prejudices against him and his ministry, and against the Gospel which he preached, and to win them over to embrace it: 'Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; and this I do for the Gospel's sake.' 1 Corinthians 9:20, 1 Corinthians 9:23.
"To elucidate this point; we are to consider that there was a political as well as a typical use of sacrifices; and that, though the typical ceased upon the sacrifice of Christ, yet the political continued till God in his providence broke up the Jewish state and polity about forty years after our Saviour's death. Till that time it was not merely lawful, but matter of duty, for good subjects to pay the dues which were appointed by law for the support of the government and magistracy. Now, of this kind was the sacrifice which Paul offered; and in this view they were paid by Christians dwelling in Judea, as well as by those who still adhered to the Jewish religion. So that, upon the whole, this action, for which Paul has been so much censured, probably amounts to nothing more than paying the tribute due to the magistrate by law, which the apostle enjoins upon all other Christians in all other nations, Romans 13:6." - Jennings' Jewish Antiquities, p. 17.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
1 Corinthians 9:20 And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law...
Acts 24:18 Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.
Numbers 6:13-20 And this is the law of the Nazarite, when the days of his separation are fulfilled...
Acts 21:26 Parallel CommentariesAccomplishment Associated Declaring Entered Finished Fulfillment Notice Offered Offering Paul Purification Purified Purifying Sacrifice Signify Temple UnderstandAccomplishment Associated Declaring Entered Finished Fulfillment Notice Offered Offering Paul Purification Purified Purifying Sacrifice Signify Temple UnderstandTHE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica®.
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