Acts 21:24
Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
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(24) Purify thyself with them . . .—This involved sharing their abstinence for the uncompleted term of the vow, and shaving the head at its conclusion.

Be at charges with them . . .—Literally, spend money on them. This involved payment (1) for the act of shaving the head, for which probably there was a fixed fee to priest or Levite; (2) for the sacrifices which each Nazarite had to offer—sc., two doves or pigeons, a lamb, an ewe lamb, a ram, a basket of uneavened bread, a meat offering and a drink offering (Numbers 6:9-12).

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.Them take - Take with you. Join yourself with them.

And purify thyself with them - Join them in observing the forms of purification prescribed by the Law of Moses in the observance of the vow of the Nazarite. The purifying here refers to the vows of sanctity which the Nazarites were to observe. They were to abstain from wine and strong drink; they were to eat no grapes, moist or dried; they were to come near no dead body, nor to make themselves "unclean" for their father, mother, brother, or sister, when they died Numbers 6:3-7; and they were to present an offering when the days of the vow were completed, Numbers 6:8.

And be at charges with them - Share with them the expense of the offerings required when the vow is completed. Those offerings were a ram of a year old for a burnt-offering, a sheep of the same age for a sin-offering, a ram for a thank-offering, a basket of unleavened cakes, and a libation of wine. See Numbers 6:13-20.

That they may shave their heads - The shaving of the head, or the cutting off the hair which had been suffered to grow during the continuance of the vow Numbers 6:5, was an observance indicating that the vow had been performed. Paul was requested to join with them in the expense of the offerings, that thus, the whole of the ceremonies having been observed, their heads might be shaved as an indication that every part of the vow had been complied with.

And all may know - By the fact of your observance of one of the rites of the Mosaic religion, all may have evidence that it is not your purpose or practice to speak contemptuously of those rites, or to undervalue the authority of Moses.

Are nothing - Are untrue, or without any foundation.

Walkest orderly - That you live in accordance with the real requirements of the Law of Moses. To walk, in the Scriptures, often denotes "to live, to act, to conduct in a certain manner." All, probably, that they wished Paul to show by this was, that he was not an enemy of Moses. They who gave this counsel were Christians, and they could not wish him to do anything which would imply that he was not a Christian.

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. Purify thyself; they advise Paul to perform all those rites required of a Nazarite, the observation of which did legally purify him.

Be at charges with them; these charges were about the threefold sacrifice which were to be offered, two turtles or young pigeons, a lamb, unleavened bread, and cakes of fine flour, as Numbers 6:10-12,15: and the other four, spoken of Acts 21:23, being poor, they require Paul here to bear their charges also, that so he might appear to be the chief amongst them, and the more zealous in their law, to take away the scandal that was taken up by the Jews against him; these ceremonies being as yet not deadly, or evil, though they were dead and indifferent.

Shave their heads; which was done at the end of their separation, and was the accomplishment of all; and they burned the hair which they shaved off under their sacrifices, to show, that all their legal performances were only acceptable unto God through Jesus Christ, who was sacrificed for us, 1 Corinthians 5:7 Hebrews 10:12.

Walkest orderly, and keepest the law; livest according to the law of Moses, contrary unto what they reported of thee.

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.

Them take, and {d} purify thyself with them, and {e} be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.

(d) That is, consecrate thyself: for he does not speak here of the unclean, but of those who are subject to the vow of the Nazarites.

(e) That it may be known that you were not only present at the vow, but also a main participator in it: and therefore it is said afterwards that Paul declared the days of purification: for although the offerings for the Nazarites offerings were appointed, yet they might add somewhat unto them; see Nu 6:21.

Acts 21:24. These take to thee (bring them into thy fellowship) and become with them a Nazarite (ἀγνίσθητι, be consecrated, LXX. Numbers 6:3; Numbers 6:8, corresponding to the Hebrew הַוִּיר), and make the expenditure for them (ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς, on their account, see Bernhardy, p. 250), namely, in the costs of the sacrifices to be procured (Numbers 6:14 ff.). “More apud Judaeos receptum erat, et pro insigni pietatis officio habebatur, ut in pauperum Nasiraeorum gratiam ditiores sumtus erogarent ad sacrificia, quae, dum illi tonderentur, offerre necesse erat,” Kypke. See Joseph. Antt. xix. 6. 1, Bell. ii. 15. 1; Mischn. Nasir ii. 5. 6; Wetstein in loc.; also Oehler, l.c. p. 210. The attempt of Wieseler, p. 105 ff., and on Gal. p. 589, to explain away the taking up of the Nazarite vow on the part of the apostle, is entirely contrary to the words, since ἁγνίζεσθαι, in its emphatic connection with σὺν αὐτοῖς, can only be understood according to the context of entering into participation of the Nazarite vow, and not generally of Israelitish purification by virtue of presenting sacrifices and visiting the temple, as in John 11:55.

ἵνα ξυρήσ.] contains the design of δαπάν. ἐπʼ αὐτ., in order that they (after the fulfilment of the legal requirement had taken place) might have themselves shorn (and thus be released from their vow). The shearing and the burning of the hair of the head in the fire of the peace-offering, was the termination of the Nazaritic vow. See Numbers 6:18.

καὶ γνώσονται κ.τ.λ.] and all shall know: not included in the dependence on ἵνα, as in Luke 22:30.

ὧν] as in Acts 21:19.

οὐδὲν ἔστι] that nothing has a place, is existent, so that all is without objective reality. Comp. on Acts 25:11.

καὶ αὐτός] also for thy own person, whereby those antinomistic accusations are practically refuted. On στοιχεῖν, in the sense of conduct of life, see on Galatians 4:25.

Acts 21:24. παραλαβὼν, cf. Acts 21:26, Acts 15:39 (Acts 16:33): take in a friendly way, associate thyself with them as a companion.—ἁγνίσθητι σὺν αὐτοῖς: the advice is characteristic of the Apostle who had lived as St. James had lived, Eusebius, H.E., ii., 23, and it certainly seems to demand that St. Paul should place himself on a level with the four men and take upon himself the Nazirite vow, cf. Numbers 6:3. The σὺν αὐτοῖς can hardly be explained otherwise. But how far the obligation of the vow extended in such a case is not clear (Edersheim, Temple and its Services, p. 326), and the time specified does not seem to allow for the commencement and completion of a vow on the part of the Apostle, although we cannot satisfactorily explain such expressions as the one before us, cf. ἡγνισμένον, Acts 24:18, on the supposition that St. Paul only associated himself with the company of the four votaries and incurred the expenses of their sacrifices. Dr. Hort suggests that the Apostle may have been himself about to offer sacrifices in the Temple in connection with some previous vow, or that in connection with the Gentile offerings which he had brought to Jerusalem and safely delivered (as it would seem) he may have proposed to offer a solemn peace-offering in the Temple, cf. καὶ προσφοράς, Acts 24:17, and Romans 15:16, Judaistic Christianity, pp. 109, 110; on the verb ἁγνίζω see also Hort’s First Epistle of St. Peter, p. 87.—δαπάνησον ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς: “be at charges for them,” R.V., spend money upon them. It was considered a meritorious act thus to defray the expenses of their sacrifices for poor Nazirites; Josephus, Ant., xix., 6, 1, how King Agrippa on his arrival at Jerusalem acted thus with a view to conciliate popular favour, Edersheim, u. s., p. 326, Renan, Saint Paul, p. 519, Kypke, Observ., ii., 113; cf. Mishna, Nazir, ii., 6. J. Weiss supposed that the money would have been furnished out of the contributions brought by Paul, and that such employed for the poor members of the Jerusalem Church would have been quite in accordance with the objects for which the contributions were made; but on the other hand, Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 310.—ἵνα ξυρήσ., see critical note; at the conclusion of their vow, Numbers 6:18, when the sacrifice was offered by the Nazirites, Numbers 6:14.—On the future indicative with ἵνα in N.T. in pure final clauses see Burton, p. 86, if we adopt R.V. If we read γνώσονται, see critical note, the future is not dependent on ἵνα, “and all shall know,” R.V., viz., by this act of thine. On this independent future see Viteau, Le Grec du N.T., p. 81 (1893).—καὶ αὐτὸς, i.e., as well as other Jewish Christians.—στοιχεῖς: a neutral word, as the walk might be right or wrong, but here to be taken with φυλάσσων, “so walkest as to keep the law,” Grimm-Thayer, sub v., no need for “orderly”.

24. them take, and purify thyself with them] i.e. make thyself one of their company, and observe all the ordinances, with regard to purification and keeping from what is unclean, which they observe.

and be at charges with (better, for) them] Josephus (Antiq. xix. 6. 1) tells how Agrippa took upon him the expenses of many Nazarites. Cp. also Bell. Jud. ii. 15. 1, from which passage it appears that the whole time of the Nazarite’s vow there mentioned was thirty days.

that they may shave their heads] Which was done at the conclusion of the vow, and when the victims were offered, the hair was burnt in the fire which was under the sacrifice of the peace-offering. The charges which had to be borne by St Paul would be the cost of the victims and other things connected with the sacrifice.

and all may know] The oldest texts read, “and all shall know.”

that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing] Rev. Ver. “that there is no truth in the things whereof they have been informed concerning thee.” The “are nothing” of the A. V. is an attempt to keep closer to the Greek, and means “have no foundation in fact.” Cp. Acts 25:11.

but that … and keepest (Rev. Ver. keeping) the law] The participial clause expresses the nature of the orderly walk. It was in the special manner which the Jews so regarded.

Acts 21:24. Παραλαβὼν, having taken to thee) as though thou wert the principal one of them.—δαπάνησον ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς, be at the necessary expenses for them) It was accounted a great act of goodness, and a proof of great zeal, to defray the expense of the sacrifices for needy Nazarites.—ἵνα, that) By this is implied in respect to what Paul ought to do in like manner as those men (be at charges with them, as one of them). Those men, when they had obtained the expenses, and not till then, were able to have their heads shaven for such an end [that they might fulfil their vow, and also that all might know the charge against Paul had no foundation].—γνώσονται, shall know) from a ceremony so conspicuous to all.—πάντες, all) Acts 21:22, “the multitude.”—οὐδέν ἐστιν) that there is nothing in those things and, i.e. they are false. [There are manifest antitheses between the words of Acts 21:21 and those of Acts 21:25.—V. g.]—καὶ αὐτὸς, thyself also) not merely not deterring others from keeping the law. The Gentiles were not compelled, the Jews were not forbidden, to circumcise. Construe these words with φυλάσσων, keeping.

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. Acts 21:24Be at charges with them (δαπάνησον ἐπ' αὐτοῖς)

Lit., spend upon them. Pay the necessary charges on their account. Hence Rev., rightly, "for them." The person who thus paid the expenses of poor devotees who could not afford the necessary charges shared the vow so far that he was required to stay with the Nazarites until the time of the vow had expired. "For a week, then, St. Paul, if he accepted the advice of James and the presbyters, would have to live with four paupers in the chamber of the temple which was set apart for this purpose; and then to pay for sixteen sacrificial animals and the accompanying meat-offerings" (Farrar, "Life and Work of Paul"). He must also stand among the Nazarites during the offering of the sacrifices, and look on while their heads were shaved, and while they took their hair to burn it under the caldron of the peace-offerings, "and while the priest took four sodden shoulders of rams, and four unleavened cakes out of the four baskets, and four unleavened wafers anointed with oils and put them on the hands of the Nazarites, and waved them for a wave-offering before the Lord" (Farrar).

Walkest orderly (στοιχεῖς)

See on elements, 2 Peter 3:10.

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