...Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken.
Thoughts for Today:I find Paul to be an incredibly interesting and complex personality. Here we find just one more example, "...he had his hair cut off... because of a vow he had taken." Why cut off his hair? Going back to the Old Testament, Numbers 6:2-5 tells us that the Lord told Moses, "If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of separation to the Lord as a Nazirite... During the entire period of his vow of separation no razor may be used on his head." In addition, the Nazirite was to not touch grapes, drink wine, or touch dead bodies. Upon conclusion of this "vow of separation" there would be a ceremony in which, verse 18, "...the Nazerite 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." It seems Paul had cut off his hair as a sign of purification and completion of his vow of separation.
There are many reasons why Paul would follow Jewish law in such a way despite the fact that doing so might appear to be in sharp contrast to many of Paul's teachings involving the aspect of grace. One of these reasons is given to us in 1 Corinthians 9:22, "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." In other words, by observing the Jewish Law Paul might reach and save some of his Jewish brothers. But I think there is a less recognized motivation behind Paul's action, and that is, he valued the benefit of purification following a vow of separation.
Paul understood and taught that man could never earn his own salvation. However, as evidenced in our passage today, I believe Paul fully appreciated the cleansing benefits that focused discipline and personal sacrifice would have on him individually, which (in my opinion) is one of the reasons he took the vow of separation.
Questions to Ponder:At least one popular diet requires, during the first two weeks, abstinence from sweets. Why? Because our bodies have become so accustomed and addicted to sugar that they are out of balance. Only sacrifice in the form of abstinence can begin to correct this imbalance. We understand this idea when dieting (throw the junk food away), but few of us apply this concept spiritually. What do you have as a part of your life that needs to go? What is unhealthy for you? Will you make a vow of separation? Make a list and start today.