Acts 21:26
Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.
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(26) To signify the accomplishment of the days of purification . . .—The process lasted, as the next verse shows, for seven days, which were probably reckoned from the completion of the thirty days, or other term, of the vow itself. St. Paul, having made himself the representative of the Nazarite company, had to give, in their name, the formal notice to the priests, who were to be ready for the sacrifices when the seven days had expired. Seven days was, it will be noted, the ordinary period for the more solemn purifications (Exodus 29:37; Leviticus 12:2; Leviticus 13:6; Numbers 12:14; Numbers 19:14, et al.).

Acts 21:26-28. Then Paul took the men — Agreeably to the advice which he had received from James and the elders. And the next day, purifying himself with them — According to the rites of the law; entered into the temple, to signify — To the priest; the accomplishment — That is, their resolution to accomplish the seven days of purification — Till all the sacrifices should be offered which the Mosaic law required. And when the seven days of purification were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia — Where Paul had preached so long, and who were especially enraged against him; when they saw him in the temple — Utterly disregarding this proof of his respect for the law; stirred up all the people — Greek, συνεχεον παντα τον οχλον; threw into confusion the whole multitude; and laid hands on him — In a violent and outrageous manner; crying out — To all that were present; Men of Israel, help — If ye be indeed men of Israel, that have a concern for your religion and your country, now is your time to show it by helping to seize an enemy to both. This is the man that teacheth all men everywhere — In all parts of Asia and Greece; against the people — By telling the Jews that they ought not to circumcise their children, and by assuring the Gentiles that they may be saved without becoming proselytes to Judaism; and the law and this place — By predicting that both shall be destroyed. Every thing contrary to the law would be justly interpreted as contrary to the temple, which was so evidently supported by a regard to it: but perhaps Paul might have declared that the time of the destruction of the temple was approaching, a declaration which, we know, was charged on Stephen as a great crime, Acts 6:14 : and brought Greeks also into the temple — Any foreigner might worship in that part which was called the court of the Gentiles; but these zealots, upon an uncertain conjecture and rumour, and without any proof, imagined Paul had brought some uncircumcised Greeks into the inner court, appropriated to the people of Israel, which no foreigner might enter, as was notified by the Greek and Latin inscriptions on several of the pillars which stood in the wall that separated it: Μη δει αλλοφυλον παριεναι, No foreigner must enter here. It must be observed, however, that a proselyte who by his circumcision had declared his submission to, and acceptance of the whole Jewish religion, was no longer looked on as a foreigner, but as one naturalized, and so a fellow-citizen, to which there seems to be an allusion Ephesians 2:19.21:19-26 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.Then Paul took the men - Took them to himself; united with them in observing the ceremonies connected with their vow. To transactions like this he refers in 1 Corinthians 9:20; "And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the Law, as under the Law, that I might gain them that are under the Law." Thus, it has always been found necessary, in propagating the gospel among the pagan, not to offend them needlessly, but to conform to their innocent customs in regard to dress, language, modes of traveling, sitting, eating, etc. Paul did nothing more than this. He violated none of the dictates of honesty and truth.

Purifying himself with them - Observing the ceremonies connected with the rite of purification. See the notes on Acts 21:24. This means evidently that he entered on the ceremonies of the separation according to the law of the Nazarite.

To signify - Greek: signifying or making known. That is, he announced to the priests in the temple his purpose of observing this vow with the four men, according to the law respecting the Nazarite. It was proper that such an announcement should be made beforehand, in order that the priests might know that all the ceremonies required had been observed.

The accomplishment ... - The fulfilling, the completion. That is, he announced to them his purpose to observe all the days and all the rites of purification required in the Law, in order that an offering might be properly made. It does not mean that the days had been accomplished, but that it was his intention to observe them, so that it would be proper to offer the usual sacrifice. Paul had not, indeed, engaged with them in the beginning of their vow of separation, but he might come in with hearty intention to share with them. It cannot be objected that he meant to impose on the priests, and to make them believe that he had observed the whole vow with them, for it appears from their own writings (Bereshith Rabba, 90, and Koheleth Rabba, 7) that in those instances where the Nazarites had not sufficient property to enable them to meet the whole expense of the offerings, other persons, who possessed more, might become sharers of it, and thus be made parties to the vow. See Jahn's Archaeology, 395. This circumstance will vindicate Paul from any intention to take an improper advantage, or to impose on the priests or the Jews. All that he announced was his intention to share with the four men in the offering which they were required to make, and thus to show his approval of the thing, and his accordance with the law which made such a vow proper.

Until that an offering ... - The sacrifices required of all those who had observed this vow. See the notes on Acts 21:24. Compare Numbers 6:13. It is a complete vindication of Paul in this case that he did no more here than he had done in a voluntary manner Acts 18:18, and as appears then in a secret manner, showing that he was still in the practice of observing this rite of the Mosaic institution. Nor can it be proved that Paul ever, in any way, or at any time, spoke against the vow of the Nazarite, or that a vow of a similar kind in spirit would be improper for a Christian in any circumstances.

26. to signify—that is, announce to the priest.

the accomplishment of the days of purification, &c.—(See on [2085]Nu 6:14-21).

Paul agrees to their advice, and follows it; and having set such a time for his vow as might end with the other four men’s, he, with the four mentioned, signify to the priest (who was concerned to know it, because of the sacrifices that were to be offered for them), that the time of their separation was fulfilled, which is here called

the days of purification, for the reason intimated, in Acts 21:24.

Until that an offering should be offered for every one of them: intending to abide in the temple until all those rites were performed which were required of them. Then Paul took the men,.... The four men that had the vow on them; he joined himself to them, and put himself in the same condition, and under a like vow: this he did, not as what he thought himself bound to do in obedience to the law, and much less as necessary to salvation; but to satisfy weak minds, and remove their prejudices, that he might gain them, and be useful to them; and in such a case he would very easily and readily condescend; but when such like things were insisted upon as points of duty, and especially when urged as necessary to salvation, no one more stiffly opposed them:

and the next day purifying himself with them; that is, not separating himself along with them, from what they were obliged by the vow of the Nazarite, as from drinking of wine and shaving, and from everything that was unclean by the law; for this was now done, but cleansing himself afterwards with them: he

entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of the purification: the sense is, that when the days of separation were fulfilled, which the four men had vowed, as everyone might vow what time he pleased, he went to the priests in the temple, to signify it to them, that the time of their purification was expiring:

until that an offering should be offered for everyone of them; as the law directs in Numbers 6:13 when he proposed to pay the charges of it, or at least part of it.

Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, {f} to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

(f) The priests were to be informed of the accomplishment of the days of the purification, because there were sacrifices to be offered the same day that their vow was ended.

Acts 21:26-27. James had made his proposal to Paul—by a public observance of a custom, highly esteemed among the Jews, and consecrated by Moses, practically to refute the accusation in question—in the conviction that the accusation was unfounded, and that thus Paul with a good conscience (without contradiction of his principles) could accept the proposal.[125] And Paul with a good conscience accepted it; in which case it must be presumed that the four men also did not regard the Nazarite vow as a work of justification;[126] otherwise Paul must at once on principle have rejected the proposal, in order not to give countenance to the fundamental error (opposed to his teaching) of justification by the law, and not to offer resistance to Christ Himself as the end of the law (Romans 10:4). In fact, he must have been altogether convinced that the observance of the law was not under dispute, by those who regarded him as an opponent of it, in the sense of justification by the law; otherwise he would as little have consented to the proposal made to him as he formerly did to the circumcision of Titus; and even the furnishing of explanations to guard his action (which Schneckenburger, p. 65, supposes that we must assume) would not have sufficed, but would rather have stamped his accommodation as a mere empty show. Moreover, he was precisely by bis internal complete freedom from the law in a position, without moral self-offence, not only to demean himself as, but really to be, a φυλάσσων τὸν νόμον, where this φυλάσσειν was enjoined by love, which is the fulfilment of the law in the Christian sense (Romans 13:8; Romans 13:10), as here, seeing that his object was—as μὴ ὢν αὐτὸς ὑπὸ νόμον, but as ἔννομος Χριστοῦ—to become to the Jews ὡς Ἰουδαῖος, in order to win them (1 Corinthians 9:19 ff.). Thus this work of the law—although to him it belonged in itself to the στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου (Galatians 4:3; Colossians 2:8)—became a form, determined by the circumstances, of exercising the love that fulfils the law, which, however different in its forms, is imperishable and the completion of the law (Matthew 5:17). The step, to which he yielded, stands on the same footing with the circumcision of Timothy, which he himself performed (Acts 16:3), and is subject essentially to the same judgment. The action of the apostle, therefore, is neither, with Trip (following van Hengel in the Godgeleerd. Bijdrägen, 1859, p. 981 ff.), to be classed as a weak and rash obsequiousness (this were indeed to Paul, near the very end of his labours, the moral impossibility of a great hypocrisy); nor, with Thiersch, are we to suppose that he in a domain not his own had to follow the direction of the bishop (but see Galatians 2:6); nor, with Baumgarten, II. p. 149, are we to judge that he, by here externally manifesting his continued recognition of the divine law, “presents in prospect the ultimate disappearance of his exceptional standpoint, his thirteenth apostleship” (Romans 11:25 ff.), which there is nothing in the text to point to, and against which militates the fact that to the apostle his gospel was the absolute truth, and therefore he could never have in view a re-establishment of legal customs which were to him merely σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων (Colossians 2:17). Not by such imported ideas of interpreters, but by a right estimate of the free standpoint of the apostle (1 Corinthians 3:21 ff.), and of his love bearing all things, are we prevented from regarding his conduct in this passage, with Baur, Zeller, and Hausrath, as un-Pauline and the narrative as unhistorical. See, on the other hand, Neander, p. 485 ff.; Lekebusch, p. 275 ff.; Schneckenburger in the Stud. u. Krit. 1855, p. 566 ff.

σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁγνισθείς] consecrated with them, i.e. having entered into participation of their Nazarite state, which, namely, had already lasted in the case of these men for some considerable time, as Acts 21:23 shows. They did not therefore only now commence their Nazarite vow (Neander), but Paul agreed to a personal participation in their vow already existing, in order, as a joint-bearer, to bring it to a close by taking upon himself the whole expense of the offerings. According to Nasir i. 3 (comp. Joseph. Bell. ii. 15. 1), a Nazarite vow not taken for life lasted at least thirty days; but the subsequent accession of another during the currency of that time must at least have been allowed in such a case as this, where the person joining bore the expenses.

εἰσῄει εἰς τ. ἱερ.] namely, toward the close of the Nazarite period of these men, with which expired the Nazarite term current in pursuance of the σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁγμισθείς for himself.

διαγγέλλων] notifying, namely, to the priests (comp. Thuc. vii. 73. 4; Herodian, ii. 2. 5; Xen. Anab. i. 6. 2), who had to conduct the legally-appointed sacrifices (Numbers 6:13 ff.), and then to pronounce release from the vow.[127] The connection yields this interpretation, not: omnibus edicens (Grotius), or (Bornemann) with the help of friends spreading the news, which in itself would likewise accord with linguistic usage (Luke 9:60; Romans 9:17).

τὴν ἐκπλήρωσιν τῶν ἡμερ. τ. ἁγν.] i.e. he gave notice that the vowed number of the Nazarite days had quite expired, after which only the concluding offering was required. This idea is expressed by ἕως οὗ προσηνέχθη κ.τ.λ., which immediately attaches itself to ΤῊΝ ἘΚΠΛΉΡΩΣΙΝ Κ.Τ.Λ.: the fulfilment of the Nazarite days, until the offering for each individual was presented by them, so that ἕως οὗ προσηνέχθη κ.τ.λ. contains an objective more precise definition of the ἘΚΠΛΉΡΩΣΙς added from the standpoint of the author; which fulfilment was not earlier than until there was brought, etc. Hence, Luke has expressed himself not by the optative or subjunctive (comp. Acts 23:12), which Lachmann, Praef. p. ix., has conjectured, but by the indicative aorist (“the fulfilment up to the point that the presentation of the offering took place”). Wieseler arbitrarily (comp. already Erasmus, Paraph.) makes ἕως οὗ dependent on ΕἸΣῄΕΙ ΤῸ ἹΕΡΌΝ, supplying “and remained there.”

Observe, further, that in αὐτῶν Paul himself is now included, which follows from σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁγυισθείς, as well as that ἙΝῸς ἙΚΆΣΤΟΥ is added, because it is not one offering for all, but a separate offering for each, which is to be thought of.

Acts 21:27. αἱ ἑπτὰ ἡμέραι] is commonly taken as: the seven days, which he up to the concluding sacrifice had to spend under the Nazarite vow which he had jointly undertaken, so that these days would be the time which had still to run for the four men of the duration of their vow. But against this may be urged, first, that the ἐκπλήρωσις τῶν ἡμ. τ. ἁγν., Acts 21:26, must in that case be the future fulfilment, which is not said in the text; and, secondly and decisively, that the αἱ ἑπτὰ ἡμ., with the article, would presuppose a mention already made of seven days (comp. Jdt 8:15; comp. Acts 7:30). Textually we can only explain it as: the well-known seven days required for this purpose,[128] so that it is to be assumed that, as regards the presentation of the offerings (according to Numbers 6:13 ff., very varied in their kind), the interval of a week was usual. Incorrect, because entirely dissociated from the context, is the view of Wieseler, p. 110, and on Gal. p. 587 (comp. Beza), that the seven days of the Pentecostal week, of which the last was Pentecost itself, are meant. So also Baumgarten, and Schaff, p. 243 ff. See, on the other hand, Baur in the theol. Jahrb. 1849, p. 482 ff., who, however, brings out the seven days by the entirely arbitrary and groundless apportionment, that for each of the five persons a day was appointed for the presentation of his offering, prior to which five days we have to reckon one day on which James gave the counsel to Paul, and a second on which Paul went into the temple. On such a supposition, besides, we cannot see why Luke, in reference to what was just said, ὑπὲρ ἑνὸς ἑκάστου αὐτῶν, should not have written: ΑἹ ΠΈΝΤΕ ἩΜΈΡΑΙ.

] “Paulus, dum fidelibus (the Jewish-Christians) placandis intentus est, in hostium (the unconverted Asiatic Jews) furorem incurrit,” Calvin. How often had those, who were now at Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost, persecuted Paul already in Asia!

ἘΝ Τῷ ἹΕΡῷ] To see the destroyer of their ancestral religion in the temple, goaded their wrath to an outbreak.

συνέχεον] Acts 19:32.

[125] For if James had, in spite of Galatians 2:9, regarded Paul as a direct adversary of Mosaism, he would, on account of what he well knew to be Paul’s decision of character, have certainly not proposed a measure which the latter could not but have immediately rejected. It remains possible, however, that, though not in the case of James himself, yet among a portion of the presbyters there was still not complete certainty, and perhaps even different views prevailed with regard to what was to be thought of that accusation. In this case, the proposal was a test bringing the matter to decisive certainty, which was very correctly calculated in view of the moral stedfastness of the apostle’s character.

[126] They were still weak brethren from Judaism, who still clave partially to ceremonial observances. Calvin designates them as novices, with a yet tender and not fully formed faith.

[127] The compound (internuntiare) is purposely chosen, because Paul with his notice acted as internuntius of the four men. So commonly διαγγέλλειν is used in Greek writers, where it signifies to notify, to make known. Comp. also 2Ma 1:33.

[128] Comp. Erasmus, Paraphrase: “Totum hoc septem diebus erat peragendum; quibus jam paene expletis,” etc.; also Ewald, p. 571.Acts 21:26. τότε ὁ Παῦλος: St. Paul’s conduct was another illustration of the rule laid down for himself when writing to Corinth, cf. 1 Corinthians 9:20. This is in itself an answer to the captious criticism which doubts the truth of his action on this occasion, so amongst recent writers Hilgenfeld (1896). The vow of Acts 18:18 is sufficient to show us that there is no reason to suppose that the Apostle was merely acting a part in following the advice of St. James. McGiffert discusses the question at length, p. 340 ff., and concludes that the Apostle may well have done just what he is reported to have done; and further, that as a simpler explanation of Paul’s arrest would have answered every purpose, the explanation given may fairly be assumed to be the true one. Renan, Saint Paul, p. 517, also accepts the narrative as an illustration of St. Paul’s own principle referred to above in 1 Corinthians 9:20, so too Wendt, J. Weiss, Pfleiderer. It seems strange that Wesley should have gone so far in the opposite direction as to believe that the Apostle actually suffered for his compliance with the wishes of James, Acts 21:33, cf. Speaker’s Commentary, in loco.τῇ ἐχομ. ἡμέρᾳ, taken either with παραλ. or with σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁγν., so R.V.; only in Luke, cf. Luke 13:33, Acts 20:15, without ἡμέρᾳ (so in Polybius); cf. Acts 13:44, W. H. margin. In LXX 1 Chronicles 10:8; 2Ma 12:39 (1Ma 4:28).—εἰσῄει: according to our interpretation of the passage, the word means that Paul entered into the Temple, and stayed there for seven days with the four poor men until the period of their vow was fulfilled, Renan, Saint Paul, p. 520; but the expression need not mean more than that he entered into the Temple to give notice, or rather, giving notice, for the convenience of the priests of the day when the vow would be ended, and the necessary offerings brought—διαγγέλλων: “declaring,” R.V., i.e., to the priests, not omnibus edicens (Grotius, so Grimm), “to signify” as in A.V., makes the participle future; verb only used by St. Luke in N.T. (Romans 11:17, quotation from LXX), 2Ma 1:33 (cf. its use in the sense of publication, Ps. 2:7, 58:13, cf. 2Ma 1:33; 2Ma 3:34, Sir 43:2).—τὴν ἐκπ. τῶν ἡ τοῦ ἁγ., i.e., the seven days, Acts 21:27, which remained until the period of the vow was fulfilled, when the sacrifice was offered. Others however take ἕως οὗ with εἰσῄει, “he entered in … (and remained) until the offering,” etc.—ὑπὲρ ἑνὸς ἑκάστου αὐτῶν: there is no need to suppose with Nösgen that these words mean that the period of the full accomplishment of the vow was different in each of the four cases—at all events the whole period of “purification” did not extend over more than seven days.26. Then Paul took the men] This consent of Paul to the advice of James and the elders has been taken by some for a contradiction of the words and character of the Apostle as represented in his own writings. But he has testified of himself (1 Corinthians 9:19-23) that for the Gospel’s sake he was made all things to all men, unto the Jews becoming as a Jew that he might gain the Jews, and for the same end, to them that are without law, as himself without law. And these brethren of the Church of Jerusalem to whom St Paul joined himself were Christians, and therefore were not clinging to legal observances as of merit towards salvation, but as ordinances which were of divine origin, and which education had made them careful to observe. The same spirit had actuated the Apostle to manifest by an outward act his thankfulness for some deliverance when, on a former occasion, he took this vow on himself without the suggestion of others (Acts 18:18). In the Christian services of the earliest days there was very little outlet for the expression by action of any religious emotion, and we cannot wonder that a people whose worship for a long time had been mainly in external observance should cling still to such outward acts, though they had grown to estimate them as of no saving virtue in themselves. With reference to the supposed contradiction in the two pictures of St Paul as given by St Luke and by himself, we need only compare his language about Judaizers in the Epistle to the Galatians with what he says of the preaching of the Gospel at Rome by similar adversaries, when he was writing to the Philippians, to see that the Apostle in what he said and did had ever an eye to the circumstances. To the Galatians he speaks in the strongest terms against the Judaizers because their influence was to draw away the Christians in Galatia from the simple Gospel as offered by him in Christ’s name to the Gentiles, and to make them substitute for it the observance of the law of Moses as a necessary door to Christianity. He has no words strong enough to express his horror of such teachers in such a place. But the same Paul at Rome, the condition of whose people may be learnt by a perusal of the first chapter of his letter to that Church, says (Php 1:15-18), “Some preach Christ even of envy and strife, supposing to add affliction to my bonds. Notwithstanding every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” Assuredly there is as much of so-called contradiction between Paul as described in different places by himself, as between his own description and what St Luke has left us of his history. Contradiction it is not, but only such concession as might be expected from one strong in the faith as St Paul was when he was dealing, as he was called upon to deal, with two classes of men who could never be brought to the same standpoint To observe the ceremonial law was not needful for the Gentiles, therefore the Apostle decried its observance and opposed those who would have enforced it. The ceremonial law was abolished for the Jew also in Christ, but it had a divine warrant for those who had been trained in it from their youth up, therefore all that the Apostle here desired was that their true value only should be set on externals. He felt that time would develop Christian worship to fill the place which the Temple Service for a long time must hold among the Christians of Jerusalem.

and the next day … temple] The regulation was that the Nazarite should avoid all persons and things that would cause ceremonial defilement, and that this might be more thoroughly accomplished the closing days of the vow appear, at this time, to have been passed within the Temple precincts. This, of course, must have been a later arrangement than any which is spoken of in the institution of the vow (Numbers 6).

to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification] Rev. Ver. “declaring the fulfilment, &c.” The meaning is that St Paul gave notice to the proper of the officials of the Temple that the completion of the vow would be at a certain time. It would be needful for him to do this, as otherwise they would have expected him to keep the full number of days which others observed. After his explanation that he was only a sharer for a time in the vow of his companions, it would be understood that his days of purification should terminate when theirs did.

until that an offering should be offered for every one of them] Rev. Ver. “Until the offering was, &c.” The offering is better, for it means that special one which was enjoined by the law. The words are a part not of St Paul’s notice to the priests, but of St Luke’s history. The Apostle did these things and continued as a Nazarite till the whole ceremonial for all of them was ended.Acts 21:26. Τότε, then) Great yieldingness (complaisance).—διαγγέλλων) signifying, professing or declaring.—τὴν ἐκπλήρωσιν, the fulfilment) about to be: Acts 21:27, the seven days; Numbers 6:9; Numbers 6:13.Verse 26. - Went for entered, A.V.; declaring the fulfillment for to signify the accomplishment, A.V.; the offering was for that an offering should be, A.V. Paul took the men. St. Paul's acquiescence in James's advice is an instance of what he says of himself (1 Corinthians 9:20), and is in accordance with his conduct in circumcising Timothy (Acts 16:3). But that he did not attach any intrinsic importance even to circumcision, and much less to the minor Jewish ceremonies, is clear from such passages as Romans 2:28, 29; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15; Philippians 3:3, etc. Purifying himself with them, etc. (ἁγνισθεὶς); see note on ver. 24. James's advice had been Τούτους παραλαβὼν ἁγνίσθητι σὺν αὐτοῖς: in obedience to that advice St. Paul now Παραλαβὼν τοὺςἄνδρας σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁγνισθεὶς εἰσήει εἰς τὸ ἱερόν. What was the particular form by which a person who wished to associate himself with others under a Nazaritic vow (note on ver. 24) did so is not known; nor how long before the expiration of the vow such association must be made. But from the mention of "seven days" in ver. 27 (which is the number named in Numbers 6:9, in case of an accidental uncleanness), it seems highly probable that "seven days" was the term during which a person must have conformed to the Nazaritic vow to entitle him to "be at charges," as well, perhaps, as the time during which Nazarites, at the end of their vow, had to undergo special purification. Declaring the fulfillment, etc. The vow of the four men had been for at least thirty days (the minimum period of such vow); but whatever length of time it had been for, such time would have expired by the end of the seven days, and probably long before. We know not how long they might have been waiting for some one to "be at charges" for them, and provide the sacrifices, without which they could not shave their heads and accomplish their vow. But it is obvious that some notice must be given to the priests in the temple of the day when one or more Nazarites would present themselves at "the door of the tabernacle of the congregation," to offer the prescribed offerings. And this accordingly Paul and the four did. Διαγγέλλων means "notifying," or "declaring," to the priests (Exodus 9:16 [LXX., answering to the Hebrew סַפֵּר]; Romans 9:27; Joshua 6:9, LXX. [Joshua 6:10, A.V., "bid"]). Until the offering was offered, etc. This is interpreted in two ways. Meyer makes "until" depend upon "the fulfillment of the days," so as to define that fulfillment as not taking place till the offering was offered. Wieseler makes "until" depend upon "he entered into the temple," with the idea supplied, "and remained there," or "came there daily;" supposing that it was the custom for Nazarites to finish up their time of separation by passing the last seven days, or at least being present daily, in "the court of the women, where was the apartment appropriated to the Nazarites" (Lewin, it. p. 142). If, however, with Howson, Lewin and others, we understand the word ἀγνίζεσθαι, in vers. 24 and 20, not generally of taking the Nazarite vow, but of certain special purifications at the close of a Nazaritic vow, which lasted seven days immediately before the offerings were made and the head shaven, then a very easy and natural rendering of the words follows: "Notifying their intention of now completing the seven days of their purification, until the offering for each of them was offered." Alford, in loc., justifies by examples the aorist indicative προσηνέχθη, instead of the subjunctive, which is more usual. Lewin thinks that St. Paul had taken a Nazaritic vow after his escape from death at Ephesus, or at Corinth; but there is no evidence of this, and it is hardly consistent with James's advice. Renan thinks it doubtful whether or no Paul took the Nazaritic vow at all, but inclines to this as the best interpretation ('St. Paul,' p. 518, note). Purifying himself (ἁγνισθεὶς).

See on 1 Peter 1:22; and James 4:8.

Declaring (διαγγέλλων)

To the priests who directed the sacrifices and pronounced release from the vow.

Fulfilment - until, etc

There is some dispute and confusion here as to the precise meaning. The general sense is that, having entered the temple toward the close of the period required for the fulfilment of these men's vow, he gave notice that the vowed number of Nazarite days had expired, after which only the concluding offering was required

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