on Acts 18 :18
And Paul - tarried there yet a good while - The persecuting Jews plainly saw, from the manner in which the proconsul had conducted this business, that they could have no hope of raising a state persecution against the apostles; and the laws provided so amply for the personal safety of every Roman citizen that then were afraid to proceed any farther in their violence. It would not be unknown that Paul was possessed of the right of Roman citizenship; and therefore his person was sacred as long as he did nothing contrary to the laws.
It is probable that at this time Paul stayed, on the whole, as Corinth, about two years.
Having shorn his head in Cenchrea - But who was it that shore his head? Paul or Aquila? Some think the latter, who had bound himself by the Nazarite vow, probably before he became a Christian; and, being under that vow, his conscience would not permit him to disregard it. There is nothing in the text that absolutely obliges us to understand this action as belonging to St. Paul. It seems to have been the act of Aquila alone; and therefore both Paul and Priscilla are mentioned before Aquila; and it is natural to refer the vow to the latter. Yet there are certainly some weighty reasons why the vow should be referred to St. Paul, and not to Aquila; and interpreters are greatly divided on the subject. Chrysostom, Isidore of Seville, Grotius, Hammond, Zegerus, Erasmus, Baronius, Pearce, Wesley, and others, refer the vow to Aquila. - Jerome, Augustin, Bede, Calmet, Dodd, Rosenmuller, and others, refer it to St. Paul. Each party has its strong reasons - the matter is doubtful - the bare letter of the text determines nothing: yet I cannot help leaning to the latter opinion. Perhaps it was from feeling the difficulty of deciding which was under the vow that the Ethiopic and two Latin versions, instead of κειραμενος, having shaved, in the singular, appear to have read κειραμενοι, they shaved; and thus put both Paul and Aquila under the vow.
Cenchrea. This was a port on the east side of the isthmus of Corinth, opposite to the Lecheum, which was the other port on the west. And it is likely that it was at Cenchrea that St. Paul took shipping for Syria, as it would be more convenient her him, and a shorter passage to embark at Cenchrea, in order to go by the Aegean Sea to Syria, than to embark at the Lecheum, and sail down into the Mediterranean. This isthmus is generally described now as dividing the Gulf of Lepanto, on the west, from the Gulf of Engia, or Eginaon, on the east.
on Acts 18 :18
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."
on Acts 18 :18
18:18 Paul continued many days - After the year and six months, to confirm the brethren. Aquila having shaved his head - As was the custom in a vow, Acts 21:24; Num 6:18. At Cenchrea - A seaport town, at a small distance from Corinth.