A VOW OF GRATITUDE
At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow – Acts 18:18
Acts 18:18 says that Paul had been under a vow. The text really doesn’t go into the details of the vow. The only thing we know about it was that when the vow period had ended, Paul went immediately to a barber. Presumably this was because one of the conditions of his vow was that a razor would not touch his head during the vow period (Numbers 6:5). If we assume the vow period was 40 days, his hair is getting on the long side, but he would not be in dire need.
Whatever the hairstyle of the day happened to be, 6-weeks of growth was enough to annoy Paul, even to the point that he held the delegation up during a connecting boat from Corinth to Antioch in order that he could get a haircut. The style of the day was that men wear their hair short (1 Corinthians 11:14). Had the style of the day for men been to wear their hair long, an additional 6 weeks of hair growth would not have been an issue.
But in Acts 18:18, the topic is the vow, and what were the terms of the vow. Though Paul was definitely not a lifetime Nazarite as Jephthah and Samuel, Numbers 6 never requires it. I think in terms of 40 days, but nothing in scripture suggests it. It just sounds like a special way to say “Thank You” to God.
Paul had just completed an 18-month stay in Corinth (Acts 18:11). Except for Rome, where he was in low security prison, 18 months represents the longest period of time Paul ever spent on such a mission field. Corinth was the place where Paul accomplished his greatest ministry. When he arrived in Corinth, he was in the process of fleeing Athens – fleeing for his life.
Paul found the day to day behavior of the people in Corinth abhorrent. Corinth was an official verb in the Greek language that meant “living in debauchery.” The verb was named after the city, and not the city being named after the verb – though either description would make the point. Paul effected change in Corinth more than he singly effected change in any other location he preached in. He had met more people, gotten to know people more deeply, and had a more profound fellowship with the people of Corinth than he had with any other people.
It’s not hard to discern why Paul felt a wave of gratitude as his tenure to the Corinthians was winding down. “Overwhelming” would probably understate the depth of his gratitude. The mere depth of his gratitude to God for His goodness, for His provision, and for the fruit that his ministry has borne caused Paul to regard a 40-day period on dedication to be a trivial offset to the goodness he received.
I try to stay in character as I present Bible commentary each day. I don’t get chatty; I don’t discuss much regarding how my life has proceeded; I don’t issue prayer requests; I rarely acknowledge special days on the calendar, or the weather, or the political or sports climate – except where they make illustrations.
I will release this on Thanksgiving . My comments are coming to a close
[In 2012, I went through the entire Bible at the pace of four chapters a day. I styled progress off of a chronological syllabus I had found. (This prevented the need to comment on each King of Judah twice, or the feeding of the 5,000 for times). Though I was midway through Acts, the only books of challenge for the remainder of the study were Hebrews and Revelation.]
Except for Hebrews and Revelation, the remainder of the material is easy to comment on. In short, the finish line is in sight. I want to thank everyone who reads my posts for the fine support – and this includes the valuable service my critics provide in pointing out weaknesses in my work. I tend to be energized by your feedbacks, as your feedback has been the stimulus that drives the difference between bringing this to a conclusion, and a project that perpetually gets delayed in its priority. Your input has made the difference, and for that, I am and will continually be grateful.
I know that sometimes my comments come from far out from left field; and I know that in some cases so few people agree with me that I should start to consider that I am wrong. I want to thank the downvote troll who at about the same time each evening reminds me that no post deserves a perfect score. And I am thankful for your tolerance as you allow me even just to plant seeds of thought among the believers. This year has been blessed by God, and I am thankful to God for the opportunity he has provided to be a blessing to others.