Acts Devotionals

An Asset

I am persuaded that real Christians are an asset to a country. It does not matter who rules the country, intentional Christianity contributes towards a healthy society as they demonstrate their love for Jesus, their brothers and sisters, as well as all people. They are committed to uphold the Ten Commandments and be faithful to the Gospel within the confines of Scripture. This does not mean they will not sin. They will, but they shall repent and seek to live again for the glory of God. Their morals and ethics will demonstrate living under Jesus’ rule which in turn will reflect their rule in society by godly living.

1 Pet 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Who knows how many might come into the kingdom through evangelistic living? Could the synagogue ruler in Corinth have come to faith in Jesus because of such living?

1) Further unexpected support for Paul. The Jews from the synagogue of Corinth were decidedly unhappy about Gallio’s refusal to hear their case … but others were also agitated.

Ac 18:17 Then they all turned on Sosthenes the synagogue ruler and beat him in front of the court.

Gentiles were generally unhappy about the Jewish presence and their demonstrations when they could not get their way. Because of the ruling by Gallio, the citizens turned on the synagogue ruler. He most likely led the case against Paul. They beat him! The Greek implies the beating was either by staff, whip, fist or hand and could have included kicking. These Gentiles took the proconsul’s ruling against the Jews as a willful crime by the Jews and dealt with the Jewish representative severely, seemingly in Gallio’s presence for we read … But Gallio showed no concern whatever. He turned a blind eye to this anti-Jew ventilation! Whether this Sosthenes is the same as:

1Co 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes

We don’t know but if it is, he might have been converted to Jesus after being beaten up or maybe Paul counseled him because his colleagues would have fled, less they be beaten too.

2) Gallio’s ruling was great gain for Christianity. The Jews had enjoyed protection from the Roman Empire. Now, through this ruling, as long as Christianity did not break any Roman Laws, they too would enjoy the protection of Rome. This protection continued for the foreseeable future … until a fire that destroyed Rome (64 AD) with Nero reversing the Christian’s immunity, banishing them from Rome and effecting Christians within the Empire. (The fire, historians say, was Nero’s doing.) Please read:

Ac 18:18 Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken. 19 They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined. 21 But as he left, he promised, “I will come back if it is God’s will.” Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch.

1) A haircut and a vow. We are uncertain how long Paul remained in Corinth after the Gallio released him to further his evangelistic ministry. Our texts says … “some time” … this would likely include the 18 month period he was in Corinth.

Ac 18:18 Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken.

Wanting to visit the believers in Syria and Judea, he left taking Priscilla and Aquila with him. There is much debate about most of this verse.

(i) The way Luke places Pricilla before her husband could mean the haircut and vow applied to him. This is unlikely because Priscilla seems to come from a more important (upper) class and was likely the “manager” of their tent making business … plus she was likely more dominant when it came to the faith. This is why her name is mentioned first.

(ii) The other argument is that because of the word construction, the verb relating to the haircut could apply to either Paul or Aquila. Most reliable commentators believe it applies to Paul.

(iii) General such a vow would be taking in the temple in Jerusalem only. It was known as Nazirite Vow, found in Numbers 6. 

Nu 6:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man or woman wants to make a special vow , a vow of separation to the LORD as a Nazirite, 3 he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or from other fermented drink. He must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins. 4 As long as he is a Nazirite, he must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins. 5 “‘During the entire period of his vow of separation no razor may be used on his head. He must be holy until the period of his separation to the LORD is over; he must let the hair of his head grow long. 6 Throughout the period of his separation to the LORD he must not go near a dead body.”

(Try to read the full passage from verse 1 to 21).

Nu 6:18 “‘Then at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the Nazirite must shave off the hair that he dedicated. He is to take the hair and put it in the fire that is under the sacrifice of the fellowship offering.”

Paul was not in Jerusalem so this vow could not have been a Nazirite Vow. This vow seems to be a personal or private vow. Paul must have grown his hair for a specific reason which could well have been after the promise God gave him:

Ac 18:10 “For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”

So, before leaving Corinth, he cut his hair as an act of thanksgiving to God for honoring His promise of protection. We do not know what Paul’s vow actually was about but what we do know is that he honored this vow. A vow in Paul’s context would be a promise to God. Whether we make a vow to God or a promise to a person, we are making the promise to God. Remember we are Christian. When we speak we need to speak truth, even if it hurts. When we promise someone something, we need to carry out our commitment, otherwise we are letting the Lord down. Think about how provocative James is:

Jas 5:12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.

Rather than make a promise we know we can’t fulfil, rather say no or do not make the commitment in the first place. But should you make a commitment, you need to see it through because you want to bring glory to God. Put in another way, as Christians we have made promises to God to live for His glory, love the Body of Christ and reach the lost for Jesus. We need to uphold these promises.

Our Father, help us to be truth to You and help us to be faithful to our commitments so that we hold the name of Jesus high. Amen.

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