Acts 18:18
And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.
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(18) And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while.—Literally, tarried yet many days, the phrase probably covering a period of some months. The fact is noted as following on Gallio’s repression of the enmity of the Jews. The Apostle could stay and work on without molestation. The time of his voyage was probably, as in the second journey from Corinth to Jerusalem, after the Passover, and before Pentecost. (See Note on Acts 2:1.) It was the most favourable time of the year for travelling, and it brought the Apostle into contact with a larger number both of Hellenistic Jews and Hebrews than were found at other times. We can only infer, more or less conjecturally, the motives of his journey. (1) As afterwards, in Acts 20:3-4, he may have wished, in carrying out the terms of the compact with the Church of Jerusalem (Galatians 2:10), to be the bearer of alms collected for the disciples there. By some writers, however, this visit is identified with that of which St. Paul there speaks. (2) The vow which he had taken (see Note below) required a visit to the Temple for its completion. (3) There might be a natural wish to report, as in Acts 15:4, the results of his ministry among the Gentiles, in what, from the stand-point of Jerusalem, would seem the remoter regions of Macedonia and Achaia.

Priscilla and Aquila.—On the priority given to the name of the wife, see Note on Acts 18:2.

Having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.—The grammatical structure of the Greek sentence makes it possible to refer the words to Aquila as well as St. Paul, but there is hardly the shadow of a doubt that the latter is meant. (1) If Aquila had taken the vow he too would have to go to Jerusalem instead of remaining at Ephesus. (2) The language of St. James in Acts 21:23-24, implies a conviction, as resting on past experience, that St. Paul would willingly connect himself with those who had such a vow. It remains to inquire (1) as to the nature and conditions of the vow; (2) as to St. Paul’s motives in taking it.

Acts 18:18. Paul after this — After these tumultuous proceedings, and the opposition that was raised against him at Corinth by the Jews; tarried there yet a good while — Greek, ημερας ικανας, many days, after the year and six months, mentioned Acts 18:11, to confirm the brethren. And then took his leave, and sailed into Syria — That is, in order to return thither; and with him Priscilla and Aquila — His two intimate friends; having shorn his head in Cenchrea — Commentators are much divided in opinion, whether this is spoken of Aquila or Paul. Chrysostom, Grotius, Heinsius, Hammond, and Witsius, with many others, refer it to the former; but Jerome, Augustin, Beda, Calmet, Whitby, Doddridge, Dodd, and Macknight, understand it of Paul. And it seems more probable from the construction, that this clause, and the beginning of the next verse, should refer to the same person, that is, to Paul. “Aquila being left at Ephesus, and not going up to Jerusalem as Paul did, hence I conclude,” says Dr. Whitby, “that the vow was made by Paul.” Macknight’s paraphrase on the clause is, “They took ship at Cenchrea, the eastern port of Corinth, where Paul shaved his head, and thereby put a period to the duration of a vow which he had made, perhaps, on occasion of the great deliverance he had obtained, when the Jews made insurrection against him.” What sort of a vow this was we are not informed. Salmasius has justly observed, it could not be a vow of Nazariteship, for then the hair must have been burned in the temple, under the caldron in which the peace-offerings were boiled, Numbers 6:18. It was the custom, it seems, on the accomplishment of vows, for persons to shave their heads, Acts 21:23-24.

18:18-23 While Paul found he laboured not in vain, he continued labouring. Our times are in God's hand; we purpose, but he disposes; therefore we must make all promises with submission to the will of God; not only if providence permits, but if God does not otherwise direct our motions. A very good refreshment it is to a faithful minister, to have for awhile the society of his brethren. Disciples are compassed about with infirmity; ministers must do what they can to strengthen them, by directing them to Christ, who is their Strength. Let us earnestly seek, in our several places, to promote the cause of Christ, forming plans that appear to us most proper, but relying on the Lord to bring them to pass if he sees good.And sailed thence into Syria - Or set sail for Syria. His design was to go to Jerusalem to the festival which was soon to occur, Acts 18:21.

Having shorn his head - Many interpreters have supposed that this refers to Aquila, and not to Paul. But the connection evidently requires us to understand it of Paul, though the Greek construction does not with certainty determine to which it refers. The Vulgate refers it to Aquila, the Syriac to Paul.

In Cenchrea - Cenchrea was the eastern port of Corinth. A church was formed in that place, Romans 16:1.

For he had a vow - A "vow" is a solemn promise made to God respecting anything. The use of vows is observable throughout the Scripture. Jacob, going into Mesopotamia, vowed one-tenth of his estate, and promised to offer it at Bethel to the honor of God, Genesis 28:22. Moses made many regulations in regard to vows. A man might devote himself or his children to the Lord. He might devote any part of his time or property to his service. The vow they were required sacredly to observe Deuteronomy 23:21-22, except in certain specified cases they were permitted to redeem what had been thus devoted. The most remarkable vow among the Jews was that of the Nazarite, by which a man made a solemn promise to God to abstain from wine, and from all intoxicating liquors, to let the hair grow, not to enter any house polluted by having a dead body in it, or to attend any funeral. This vow generally lasted eight days, sometimes a month, sometimes during a definite period fixed by themselves, and sometimes during their whole lives. When the vow expired, the priest made an offering of a he-lamb for a burnt-offering, a she-lamb for an expiatory sacrifice, and a ram for a peace-offering. The priest then, or some other person, shaved the head of the Nazarite at the door of the tabernacle, and burnt the hair on the fire of the altar. Those who made the vow out of Palestine, and who could not come to the temple when the vow was expired, contented themselves with observing the abstinence required by the Law, and cutting off the hair where they were. This I suppose to have been the case with Paul. His hair he cut off at the expiration of the vow at Cenchrea, though he delayed to perfect the vow by the proper ceremonies until he reached Jerusalem, Acts 21:23-24. Why Paul made this vow, or on what occasion, the sacred historian has not informed us, and conjecture, perhaps, is useless. We may observe, however:

(1) That if was common for the Jews to make such vows to God, as an expression of gratitude or of devotedness to his service, when they had been raised up from sickness, or delivered from danger or calamity. See Josephus, i. 2, 15. Vows of this nature were also made by the Gentiles on occasions of deliverance from any signal calamity (Juvenal, Sat., 12, 81). It is possible that Paul may have made such a vow in consequence of signal deliverance from some of the numerous perils to which he was exposed. But,

(2) There is reason to think that it was mainly with a design to convince the Jews that he did not despise their law, and was not its enemy. See Acts 21:22-24. In accordance with the custom of the nation, and in compliance with a law which was not wrong in itself, he might have made this vow, not for a time-serving purpose, but in order to conciliate them, and to mitigate their anger against the gospel. See 1 Corinthians 9:19-21. But where nothing is recorded, conjecture is useless. Those who wish to see the subject discussed may consult Grotius and Kuinoel in loco; Spencer, De Legibus Hebrae., p. 862; and Calmet's Dictionary, "Nazarite."

18. Paul … tarried … yet a good while—During his long residence at Corinth, Paul planted other churches in Achaia (2Co 1:1).

then took … leave of the brethren, and sailed … into—rather, "for"

Syria—to Antioch, the starting-point of all the missions to the Gentiles, which he feels to be for the present concluded.

with him Priscilla and Aquila—In this order the names also occur in Ac 18:26 (according to the true reading); compare Ro 16:3; 2Ti 4:19, which seem to imply that the wife was the more prominent and helpful to the Church. Silas and Timotheus doubtless accompanied the apostle, as also Erastus, Gaius, and Aristarchus (Ac 19:22, 29). Of Silas, as Paul's associate, we read no more. His name occurs last in connection with Peter and the churches of Asia Minor [Webster and Wilkinson].

having shorn his head in Cenchrea—the eastern harbor of Corinth, about ten miles distant, where a church had been formed (Ro 16:1).

for he—Paul.

had a vow—That it was the Nazarite vow (Nu 6:1-27) is not likely. It was probably one made in one of his seasons of difficulty or danger, in prosecution of which he cuts off his hair and hastens to Jerusalem to offer the requisite sacrifice within the prescribed thirty days [Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 2.15.1]. This explains the haste with which he leaves Ephesus (Ac 18:21), and the subsequent observance, on the recommendation of the brethren, of a similar vow (Ac 21:24). This one at Corinth was voluntary, and shows that even in heathen countries he systematically studied the prejudices of his Jewish brethren.

A good while; a year and a half in all, as some think, which is mentioned Acts 18:11, by a prolepsis; or, besides that year and a half there spoken of.

Took his leave of the brethren; ordering every thing as if he were to have taken his last farewell of them, as it fell out accordingly: howsoever, holy men live in a constant expectation of their dissolution.

Priscilla and Aquila: that the wife’s name is here put before the husband’s, have caused various conjectures; and it is observed, that in St. Paul’s Epistles, whereas there are three times only mention of them both together, viz. Romans 16:3 1 Corinthians 16:19 2 Timothy 4:19, the wife’s name is twice placed first, to show, that in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female, Galatians 3:28.

Cenchrea; which was a town at the entering into the haven belonging to Corinth, Romans 16:1.

For he had a vow; to wit, St. Paul had; and therefore had shaven his head, according unto the law, Numbers 6:18. To the Jews he became as a Jew.

And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while,.... A year and a half, as in Acts 18:11 for this insurrection might follow immediately upon the vision the apostle had; and who by that was encouraged to continue in this city, notwithstanding the treatment he met with; he not doubting of the promise of God, and of his power and faithfulness to fulfil it, though this was a trial of his faith and constancy:

and then took his leave of the brethren; whom he had been instrumental in the conversion of, and had established and confirmed in the faith; and having now done his work in this place, at least for the time present, he takes his leave of them and departs:

and sailed thence into Syria; or towards Syria, for he took Ephesus by the way, which was in Asia, and stopped there a little while:

and with him Priscilla and Aquila; whom he had met with at Corinth, and with whom he had lodged and wrought at his trade, Acts 18:2

Having shorn his head in Cenchrea; which some understand not of Paul, but of Aquila, who is the last person spoken of; and the Ethiopic version reads in the plural number, referring this to both Priscilla and Aquila, "and they had shaved their heads, for they had a vow"; and so it was read in a manuscript of Baronius, and Bede observes, that it was read in like manner in some copies in his time; but the more authentic reading is in the singular number, and is more generally understood of the Apostle Paul; who being about to go into Judea, to the Jew became a Jew, that he might gain some: Cenchrea, where this was done, was a sea port belonging to the Corinthians, on the east of the Isthmus, as Lechea was on the west; according to Pliny (x), there were two gulfs, or bays, to the Isthmus, the one he calls the Corinthian bay, and others the Crissean and Alcyonian bay, and Golfo de Petras; the other the Saronic bay, now called Golfo de Engia; Lechea was in the Corinthian bay, and Cenchrea in the Saronic bay; and both belonged to Corinth, and were the bounds of the Straights; the space between them was the Isthmus, which consisted of about five miles; and so Pausanias says (y), the Isthmus of the Corinthians is washed on both sides by the sea; on one side at Cenchrea, and on the other at Lechea, and this makes the island a continent; and likewise Philo (z) giving an account of a voyage of Flaccus says, that passing over the Ionian gulf, he came to the sea (or shore) of Corinth ------- and going over the Isthmus from Lechea, to the opposite sea, he came down to Cenchrea, a seaport of the Corinthians; of which Apuleius (a) gives this account:

"this town is a most noble colony of the Corinthians, it is washed by the Aegean and Saronic sea, where there is a port, a most safe receptacle for ships, and very populous.''

Hither the apostle came from Corinth to take shipping, and from hence he sailed to Syria, as before observed: it has its name either from millet, for "Cenchros" signifies "millet"; and "Cenchrias" is "bread made of millet"; or from the bird "Cenchris", which is a kind of hawk; See Gill on Romans 16:1.

For he had a vow; this, some think, could not be the vow of the Nazarites, for then he should have stayed till he came to Jerusalem, and have shaved his head at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and cast the hair into the fire, under the pot in which the peace offerings were boiled (b); though he that vowed in the country, was not obliged to this: others think it was such an one as the Jews in travelling used, that they would not shave till they came to such a place; and so the apostle had made a vow that he would shave at Cenchrea; and accordingly did; but this is not likely, that the apostle should make a vow upon so light an occasion: others that it refers to his going to Jerusalem, to keep the feast there, Acts 18:21 and so these think the words are a reason, not of his shaving of his head, but of his sailing to Syria; the first is most probable, that it was a Nazarite's vow; see Acts 21:24.

(x) Nat. Hist. l. 4. c. 4. (y) Corinthiaca sive, l. 2. p. 86. (z) In Flaccum, p. 987. (a) Metamorphos. l. 10. in fine. (b) Misn. Nazir, c. 6. sect. 8. Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 10. fol. 201. 3.

{6} And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; {k} having shorn his head in {l} Cenchrea: for he had a vow.

(6) Paul is made all to all, to win all to Christ.

(k) That is, Paul.

(l) Cenchrea was a haven of the Corinthians.

Acts 18:18. Ἀποτάσσεσθαί τινι] to say farewell to one. See on Mark 6:46.

κειράμενος τ. κεφ.] is not to be referred to Paul, as Augustine, Beda, Erasmus, Luther, Beza, Calvin, Calovius, Spencer, Reland, Wolf, Bengel, Rosenmüller, Morus, Olshausen, Zeller, de Wette, Baumgarten, Lange, Hackett, Lechler, Ewald, Sepp, Bleek, and others connect it, but to Aquila, with Vulgate, Theophylact,[81] Castalio, Hammond, Grotius, Alberti, Valckenaer, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Wieseler, Schneckenburger, also Oertel, Paul. in d. Apgesch. p. 191. A decisive consideration in favour of this is the order of the names Πρίσκιλλα καὶ Ἀκύλας, which (comp. with Acts 18:2; Acts 18:26) appears as designedly chosen. Luke, if he had meant the κειράμ. of Paul, would, by placing the wife first, have led the reader himself into error, whereas, with the precedence naturally given to the husband, no one would have thought of referring κειράμ. to any other than Paul as the principal subject of the sentence. If, accordingly, κειράμ. is to be referred to Aquila, Luke has with design and foresight placed the names so; but if it is to be referred to Paul, he has written with a strange, uncalled for, and misleading deviation from Acts 18:2; Acts 18:26 (comp. 1 Corinthians 16:19).[82] On the other hand, appeal is no doubt made to Romans 16:3 (comp. 2 Timothy 4:19), where also the wife stands first (see especially, Neander, p. 349, and Zeller, p. 304); but Paul here followed a point of view determining his arrangement (see on Romans 16:3), which was not followed by Luke in his history, as is evident from Acts 18:2; Acts 18:26. Accordingly, we do not need to have recourse to the argument, that it could not but at all events be very strange to see the liberal Paul thus, entirely without any higher necessity or determining occasion given from without (the case in Acts 21:23 ff. is different), voluntarily engaging himself in a Jewish votive ceremony. How many occasions for vows had he in his varied fortunes, but we never find a trace that he thus became a Jew to the Jews! If there had been at that time a special reason for accommodation to such an exceptionally legal ceremony, Luke would hardly have omitted to give some more precise indication of it (comp. Acts 16:3), and would not have mentioned the matter merely thus in passing, as if it were nothing at all strange and exceptional in Paul’s case. Of Aquila, a subordinate, he might throw in thus, without stating the precise circumstances, the cursory notice how it happened that the married couple joined Paul on his departure at the seaport; regarding Paul as the bearer of such a vow, he could not but have entered into particulars. Nothing is gained by importing suggestions of some particular design; e.g. Erasmus here discovers an obsequium charitatis toward the Jews, to whom Paul had appeared as a despiser of their legal customs (and so in substance Lange, apost. Zeitalt. II. p. 249 f.); Bengel supposes[83] that the purpose of the apostle was: “ut necessitatem sibi imponeret celeriter peragendi iter hoc Hierosolymitanum;” Neander presupposes some occasion for the public expression of gratitude to God in the spirit of Christian wisdom; and Baumgarten thinks that “we should hence infer that Paul, during his working at Corinth, lived in the state of weakness and self-denial appointed by the law and placed under a special constitution;”[84] whereas Zeller uses the reference to Paul in order to prove a design of the writer to impute to him Jewish piety.


ΕἾΧΕ ΓᾺΡ ΕὐΧΉΝ] states the reason of ΚΕΙΡΆΜ. Τ. ΚΕΦ. ἘΝ Κ.: for he had a vow on him, which he discharged by having his head shorn at Cenchreae.

The vow itself is not to be considered as a Nazarite vow (Numbers 6), called by Philo εὐχὴ μεγάλη, according to which a man bound himself, for the glory of Jehovah, to permit his hair to grow for a certain time and to abstain from all intoxicating drink (“Tres species sunt prohibitae Nasiraeis, immundities, tonsura et quicquid de vite egreditur” (Mischna Nasir, vi. 1), and then after the lapse of the consecrated time to have his hair shorn off before the temple, and to present a sacrifice, into the flames of which the hair was cast. See Num. l.c.; Ewald, Alterth. p. 113 ff. Comp. on Acts 21:23 ff. For the redemption of such a vow had to take place, as formerly at the tabernacle, so afterwards at the temple and consequently in Jerusalem, Numbers 6, Reland, Antiquitt. p. 277; and entirely without proof Grotius holds: “haec praecepta … eos non obligabant, qui extra Judaeam agebant.” If it is assumed (Wolf, Stolz, Rosenmüller) that the Nazarite vow had in this case been interrupted by a Levitical uncleanness, such as by contact with a dead person (according to Lange, by intercourse with Gentiles), and was begun anew by the shearing off of the hair already consecrated but now polluted (Numbers 6:9), this is a mere empty supposition, as the simple εἶχε γὰρ εὐχήν indicates nothing at all extraordinary. And even the renewal of an interrupted Nazarite vow was bound to the temple. See Numbers 6:10. Therefore a proper Nazarite vow is here entirely out of the question; it is to be understood as a private vow (votum civile) which Aquila had resting upon him, and which he discharged at Cenchreae by the shaving of his head. On the occasion of some circumstances unknown to us,—perhaps under some distress, in view of eventual deliverance,—he had vowed to let his hair grow for a certain time; this time had now elapsed, and therefore he had his head shorn at Cenchreae. Comp. Salmasius, de coma, p. 710; Wolf, Cur. in loc.; Spencer, de leg. Jud. rit. p. 862 ff. The permitting the hair to grow is, in the Nazarite state, according to Numbers 6:7, nothing else than the sign of complete consecration to God (whence also Jdg 16:17 is to be explained), comp. Ewald, Alterth. p. 115, not that of a blessed, flourishing life, which meaning Bähr, Symbol. II. p. 432 f., imports (comp. in opposition to this, Keil, Archäol. § lxvii. 11); nor yet, from the later view of common life, 1 Corinthians 11:14, a representation of man’s renunciation of his dignity and of his subjection to God (Baumgarten), which is entirely foreign to the matter. In a corresponding manner is the usage in the case of the vow to be understood. For the vow was certainly analogous to the Nazarite state (see Ewald, Alterth. p. 28 f.), in so far as one idea lay at the root of both; but it was again specifically different from it, as not requiring the official intervention of the priests, and as not bound to the temple and to prescribed forms. Neander correctly describes the εὐχή in this passage (comp. Bengel) as a modification of the Nazarite vow; but for this very reason it seems erroneous that he takes the shearing of the head as the commencement of the redemption of the vow, and not as its termination.[85] See Numbers 6:5; Numbers 6:18; Joseph. Bell. Jud. ii. 15. 1 : τοὺς γὰρ ἢ νόσῳ καταπονουμένους, ἤ τισιν ἄλλαις ἀνάγκαις, ἔθος εὔχεσθαι πρὸ τριάκοντα ἡμερῶν, ἧς ἀποδώσειν μέλλοιεν θυσίας, οἴνου τε ἈΦΈΞΑΣΘΑΊ ΚΑῚ ΞΥΡΉΣΑΣΘΑΙ ΤᾺς ΚΌΜΑς, where the meaning from ἜΘΟς onwards is thus to be taken: “They are accustomed, thirty days before the intended presentation of the offering, to vow that they will abstain from wine and (at the end of that period) have the head shorn.”

A special set purpose, moreover, on the part of Luke, in bringing in this remark concerning Aquila, cannot be proved, whether of a conciliatory nature (Schneckenburger, p. 66), with the assumed object of indirectly defending Paul against the charge of antagonism to the law, or by way of explaining the historical nexus of cause and effect (Wieseler, p. 203, conjecturally), according to which his object would be to give information concerning the delay of the departure of the apostle, and concerning his leaving Ephesus more quickly.

[81] Chrysostom and Oecumenius do not clearly express to whom they refer κειράμ. But in the Vulgate (“Aquila, qui sibi totonderat in Cenchris caput”) the reference is undoubted.

[82] It is true that A B E א have also in ver. 26 Πρισκ. κ. Ἀκύλας (so Lachm.), but that transposition has evidently arisen from our passage.

[83] With Bengel agrees in substance Ewald, p. 502, who supposes that Paul, in order, perhaps, not to be fettered by Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus, made the solemn vow of his desire to be at Jerusalem even before Easter, and in sign thereof shaved his head, which had no connection with the Nazarite vow, and is rather to be compared to fasting.

[84] [This is a literal rendering. The meaning seems to me obscure.—ED.]

[85] Comp. Calovius: “Causa redditur, cur Paulus navigarit in SYRIAM, quia sc. votum fecerat, quod expleri debebat in templo Hierosolymitano.”

Acts 18:18. ἔτι προσμείνας: this may be an addition to the year and a half, or may be included in it; on ἔτι see critical note.—ἱκανάς, Lucan, see on Acts 8:11, etc. the expression shows how little the attack upon the Apostle had injured his prospects of evangelising the city and neighbourhood.—ἀποταξ., Vulgate, valefacio, used by Luke and Paul only, except Mark 6:46, Luke 9:61; Luke 14:33, Acts, in loco, and Acts 18:21, 2 Corinthians 3:13; in this sense only in middle voice in N.T., in classical Greek not used in this sense, but ἀσπάζεσθαί τινα (Grimm, sub v.); cf. also its use in Jos., Ant., xi., 6, 8 (so too in Philo), like Latin, renuntio, to forsake (cf. Luke 14:33), and in Eccl[323] writers, Ignatius, Ad Philadelph., xi., 1; Euseb., H.E., ii., 17, 5 (2 Clem., vi. 4, 5).—ἐξέπλει: “he set about the voyage,” in Acts 20:6, aorist, not imperfect as here; “recte impf[324], nam de perfecta navigatione, Acts 18:22, demum agitur,” Blass.—κειρ.… εὐχήν: in the interpretation of this passage it is undoubtedly best to refer the vow to Paul; grammatically it would refer to Aquila, but it is difficult to see what point there would then be in the statement. If it is urged that Aquila’s name placed after Priscilla’s indicates that he is the subject of the following verb, we have clearly seen that this is not the only occasion on which Priscilla’s name preceded her husband’s, see above, and Acts 18:26, and Romans 16:3. The argument that the notice is intended by St. Luke to show that Paul counselled observance of the law, and did not tempt him to break it, as he was afterwards accused of doing, Acts 21:21, is still more irrelevant, for so far nothing has been definitely said as to Aquila’s conversion. And if the vow involved any obligation to appear at Jerusalem, it is quite evident that Paul and not Aquila went up to the Holy City. A list of the names on either side is given by Alford, Felten, Wendt. Amongst recent writers we may add Wendt, Zückler, Blass, Jüngst, Matthias as favouring the view that Aquila is the subject, whilst Weiss, Felton, Ramsay, Hort, Rendall, Page, Knabenbauer, Luckock take the opposite view. What then was the nature and occasion of the vow? Those who connect this vow with the journey to Jerusalem, as if the latter was obligatory in the fulfilment of the former, are justified in regarding the vow as a modified form of the Nazirite vow, Numbers 6:1-21. The man under the Nazirite vow was to drink no wine or strong drink, and to let no razor pass over his head or face. At the end of the time during which the vow lasted, his hair was shaven at the door of the Tabernacle (the Temple), and burnt in the fire of the altar as an offering. But it is to be observed that in this passage the word is κειράμενος, whilst of thus completing the Nazirite vow, Acts 21:24, the word ξυρήσωνται is used (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:6), and there is evidence (Wordsworth, in loco) that a man who had taken a Nazirite vow in a foreign land was allowed to poll or cut his hair shorter (κείρω), provided that the hair so polled was taken to the Temple and burnt there as an offering together with the hair shorn off at the completion of the vow. That the Jews took upon themselves a modified form of the Nazirite vow is proved from Josephus, B. J., ii., 15, 1, when they were afflicted by disease or any other distress. Possibly therefore the vow followed upon St. Paul’s deliverance from an attack of sickness, and the warm praise bestowed upon Phœbe, the deaconess of the Church at Cenchreae (Romans 16:1), for her personal aid to himself may be taken as some confirmation of this. But if we thus place St. Paul’s vow here under the category of the vows mentioned by Josephus, the journey to Jerusalem must be immediately connected with it, as the description given by the Jewish historian plainly shows that the vows in question were modified forms of the regular Nazirite vow. It is a very reasonable conjecture that the vow may be connected with St. Paul’s danger at Corinth, and with his safe deliverance from it. As one consecrated to the service of the Lord, he would allow his hair to grow until the promise of his safety had been fulfilled and his embarkation from Corinth was assured. The vow was thus analogous to the Nazirite vow, inasmuch as the same idea of consecration lay at the root of each; but it was rather a private vow (Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 91, and Weiss, in loco), and in this case the journey of the Apostle to Jerusalem would not be conditioned by the vow, but by his desire to be present at some great festival, beyond doubt that of the Passover. On the custom amongst other nations to cut off the hair, and to let it grow in votive offering to the gods, see Holtzmann, Apostelgeschichte, p. 395, and Page, in loco. Hilgenfeld ascribes the narrative of the incident to his “author to Theophilus,” whether the vow refers to Paul or Aquila, and considers that the story is intended to connect St. Paul as much as possible with Judaism. One of the most curious instances of perverse interpretation is that of Krenkel, who thinks that the κειρ. may be referred to Paul, who shaved his head to counteract the epileptic fits with which he was afflicted, 2 Corinthians 13:7, see Zöckler’s note.—Κεγχρεαῖς, see notices of the place in Renan, Saint Paul, p. 218, and Hastings’ B.D., modern Kalaniki (in Thuc. Κεγχρειαί): the eastern harbour of Corinth, about nine miles distant, connecting the trade with Asia; Lechæum, the other port (“bimaris Corinthi,” Horace, Odes, i., 7, 2), connecting it with Italy and the West. Τούτῳ μὲν οὖν χρῶνται πρὸς τοὺς ἐκ τῆς Ἀσίας, πρὸς δὲ τοὺς ἐκ τῆς Ἰταλίας τῷ Λεχαίῳ, Strabo, viii., 6, p. 380.

[323]ccl. ecclesiastical.

[324]mpf. imperfect tense.

18–23. Paul leaves Corinth to go into Syria, halting a short time at Cenchrea and somewhat longer at Ephesus. He lands at Cesarea, goes up to Jerusalem and from thence to Antioch, and after a time departs on his third missionary journey

18. And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while] Lit. many days. This appears to be after the appearance before Gallio. We are told (Acts 18:11) that he settled quietly for a year and six months. Then came an opportunity of attacking him on Gallio’s arrival. Of this the Jews tried to avail themselves, and when their attempt was at an end, the Apostle had another time of peace among his converts. So that the whole stay in Corinth extended over more than a year and a half.

sailed thence into (better, for) Syria] We have no motive given why the Apostle at this time sailed back. Some have suggested that he was carrying a contribution to the brethren in Jerusalem. It is clear that when the return was resolved on, he wished to reach Jerusalem as soon as possible, for he declined to tarry in Ephesus even though his preaching was more readily received there than by the Jews in many other places. It may have been the wish to fulfil his vow, which could only be brought to its conclusion by a visit to the temple in Jerusalem.

having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow] We can observe all through the narrative of the Acts that St Paul, although the Apostle of the Gentiles, did not cease to regard the festivals and ceremonies of the Jews in things which did not militate against the Christian liberty. For some reason, either during sickness or in the midst of his conflict at Corinth, he had taken a vow upon himself of the nature of the Nazarite vows (Numbers 6:1-21). This could only be brought to its fitting close by a journey to Jerusalem to offer up the hair, which it was a part of the vow, to leave uncut. At Jerusalem when the ceremony was completed the head was shaven (see Acts 21:24), but it seems to have been allowed to persons at a distance to cut the hair short and to bring that with them to the temple and offer it up when the rest was shaven. This appears to be what St Paul did at this time, at Cenchreæ, before starting on the voyage to Syria. The Greek word for “having shorn” stands in the original next to Aquila, and some have contended from this that it was he who had the vow, and cut his hair. They have pointed out also that the order of the names “Priscilla and Aquila” seems to have been adopted purposely to make this connexion of words possible. But the name of the wife stands before that of her husband in Romans 16:3; see also 2 Timothy 4:19; and may have been so placed because by her zeal she made herself a very conspicuous member of the Church wherever she lived. But it seems very unlikely that all this detail of a vow and its observance would be so prominently mentioned in connexion with Aquila, who played but a small part in St Luke’s history; while it is a most significant feature in the conduct of St Paul that he so oft conformed to Jewish observances.

Acts 18:18. Ἱκανὰς, several days) until their minds became composed, and that he should not seem to have fled away.—ἀποταξάμενος, having taken his leave of) by word of mouth, at a public meeting.—Συρίαν, Syria) Acts 18:22 at the end (Antioch was in Syria).—σὺν αὐτῷ, with him) A happy (blessed) retinue, as far as to Ephesus.—Πρίσκιλλα, Priscilla) The wife, as being the more approved, is put before the husband.—κειράμενος, having shorn [shaven]) As was customary in the case of a vow: ch. Acts 21:24; Numbers 6:18.—ἐν Κεγχρεαῖς, in Cenchrea) After having left Corinth, he adopted a Jewish custom as to the head (shaving off the hair), when setting out to Jews. Paul devoted this journey to the Jews rather (than to the Gentiles): Acts 18:19.—εὐχὴν) This vow, whatever was its object, was not properly that of a Nazarite, but one akin to it. And Paul seems to have taken it up for this reason, in order that he might impose on himself the necessity of speedily accomplishing this journey to Jerusalem. See following verses.

Verse 18. - Having tarried after this yet many days for after this tarried there yet a good while, and then, A.V.; for for into, A.V.; Cenchreae for Cenchrea, A.V. Took his leave; ἀποταξάμενος, here and again in ver. 21. This is a somewhat peculiar use of the word, which occurs also in Luke 9:61 and 2 Corinthians 2:13 (see too Mark 6:46). It is used in the same sense in Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 11. 8:6). In a metaphorical sense it means" to renounce," "to bid adieu to" (Luke 14:23). Of the six times it occurs in the New Testament, four are in St. Luke's writings and one in St. Paul's. With him Priscilla and Aquila, having shorn his head in Cenchreae, etc. There is great diversity of opinion as to whether it was St. Paul or Aquila who had the vow. Meyer thinks that the mention of Priscilla before Aquila, contrary to the order in ver. 2 and in ver. 26 (where, however, the R.T. reads "Priscilla and Aquila), is a clear indication that Luke meant the words κειράμενος κ.τ.λ., to refer to Aquila, not to St. Paul, and Howson takes the same view. But this is a very weak argument, refuted at once by Romans 16:3 and 2 Timothy 4:19, as well as by the whole run of the passage, in which Paul is throughout the person spoken of; or, as Alford puts it, in the consecutive narrative from ver. 18 to ver. 25, there are nine aorist participles, of which eight apply to Paul, as the subject of the section, making it scarcely doubtful that the ninth applies to him likewise. Moreover, there is no conceivable reason why the vow should be mentioned if it was taken by Aquila, and, what is still more conclusive, the person who went to Jerusalem, i.e. Paul, must be the one who had the vow, not the person who stayed behind, i.e. Aquila. In fact, nobody would ever have thought of making Aquila the subject if it were not for the thought that there is an incongruity with Paul's character in his making a vow of that kind. But we must take what we find in Scripture, and not force it to speak our own thoughts. As regards the nature of the vow, it is not quite clear what it was. It was not the simple Nazaritic vow described in Numbers 6:18-21; nor is the word here used by St. Luke (κειράμενος) the one which is there and elsewhere employed by the LXX., and by St. Luke himself in Acts 21:24, of that final shaving of the hair of the Nazarite for the purpose of offering it at the door of the tabernacle (ξυράω). It seems rather to have been of the nature of that vow which Josephus speaks of as customary for persons in any affliction, viz. to make a vow that, for thirty days previous to that on which they intend to offer sacrifice, they will abstain from wine and will shave off (ξυρήσασθαι) their hair, adding that Bernice was now at Jerusalem in order to perform such a vow ('Bell. Jud.,' it. 15:1). But it further appears, from certain passages in the Mishna, that, if any one had a Nazarite vow upon him outside the limits of the Holy Land, he could not fulfill such vow till he was come to the Holy Laud, to Jerusalem; but it was allowable in such case to cut his hair short (κείρεσθαι τὴν κεφαλήν), and as some say to take it with him to Jerusalem, and there offer it at the same time that he offered his sacrifice and shaved his head (ξυρήσασθαι). It would seem, therefore, that either in a severe illness or under some great danger (ἀνάγκη) St. Paul had made such a vow; that he had been unwilling to cut his hair short at Corinth, where he was thrown so much into the society of Greeks, and therefore did so at Cenchreae just before he embarked for Syria; and that he made all haste to reach Jerusalem in time for the Passover, that he might there accomplish his vow (see Bishop Wordsworth's note on Acts 18:18; and Farrar's ' Life of St. Paul,' 2. p. 2). His motives for the vow may have been partly those described on another occasion (Acts 21:24), and partly his own Jewish feelings of piety showing themselves in the accustomed way. Cenchreae. The eastern port of Corinth; a considerable place. There was a Church there, doubtless founded by St. Paul during his stay at Corinth (Romans 16:1). Acts 18:18Took his leave (ἀποταξάμενος)

See on Luke 9:61; and Mark 6:46.

Priscilla and Aquila

They are named in the same order, Romans 16:3; 2 Timothy 4:19.

Having shorn his head

Referring to Paul, and not to Aquila.

He had a vow

A private vow, such as was often assumed by the Jews in consequence of some mercy received or of some deliverance from danger. Not the Nazarite vow, though similar in its obligations; for, in the case of that vow, the cutting of the hair, which marked the close of the period of obligation, could take place only in Jerusalem.

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