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Acts 18:18 - Exposition

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 Acts 18:21 . This is a somewhat peculiar use of the word, which occurs also in Luke 9:61 and 2 Corinthians 2:13 . 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 verse 2 and in verse 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 2 Timothy 4:18 to verse 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. 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 ).

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