Paul's Nazarite Vow
(Thread begun by RandyP
Paul in kjv@Acts:18:18 and kjv@Acts:21:15-40 performs what appears to be a temporary Nazarite vow for purification yet in Galatians:2 etc.. insists that believers are dead to the Law. Is there contradiction with Paul? Is there a place for the Law after all?
Today's introductory text: kjv@Acts:18:18
Acts 18:18 kjv
(18) And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.
The vow that Paul was under most likely was a form of the Nazarite vow originally established in kjv@Numbers:6:1-21
Numbers 6:1-21 kjv
(1) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
(2) Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD:
(3) He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.
(4) All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.
(5) All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.
(6) All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body.
(7) He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head.
(8) All the days of his separation he is holy unto the LORD.
(9) And if any man die very suddenly by him, and he hath defiled the head of his consecration; then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it.
(10) And on the eighth day he shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons, to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:
(11) And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, and make an atonement for him, for that he sinned by the dead, and shall hallow his head that same day.
(12) And he shall consecrate unto the LORD the days of his separation, and shall bring a lamb of the first year for a trespass offering: but the days that were before shall be lost, because his separation was defiled.
(13) And this is the law of the Nazarite, when the days of his separation are fulfilled: he shall be brought unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:
(14) And he shall offer his offering unto the LORD, one he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering, and one ram without blemish for peace offerings,
(15) And a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings.
(16) And the priest shall bring them before the LORD, and shall offer his sin offering, and his burnt offering:
(17) And he shall offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, with the basket of unleavened bread: the priest shall offer also his meat offering, and his drink offering.
(18) And the Nazarite shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings.
(19) And the priest shall take the sodden shoulder of the ram, and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them upon the hands of the Nazarite, after the hair of his separation is shaven:
(20) And the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD: this is holy for the priest, with the wave breast and heave shoulder: and after that the Nazarite may drink wine.
(21) This is the law of the Nazarite who hath vowed, and of his offering unto the LORD for his separation, beside that that his hand shall get: according to the vow which he vowed, so he must do after the law of his separation.
3 well known men in the bible under a life long commitment to the Nazarite vow:
- Judge - Samson kjv@Judges:13:4-5
- Judge/Prophet - Samuel kjv@1Samuel:1:11
- Prophet - John the Baptist kjv@Luke:1:15
(see: dict:all NAZARITE )
(Note: both men and women could take the oath)
(Note: It later became possible to take a temporary oath lasting at least 1 week and there became the possibility of a "sponsor" who could pay the expenses+sacrifices of others thereby not having to due the complete time other than the 1 week purification)
With that vow in mind let's now examine what Paul submitted himself to in kjv@Acts:21:15-40
Acts 21:15-24 kjv
(15) And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.
(16) There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge.
(17) And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
(18) And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
(19) And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
(20) And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
(21) And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
(22) What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
(23) Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
(24) Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
- nkjv@Acts:21:20 ..."You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed,
- and they are all zealous for the law;
- nkjv@Acts:21:21 but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.
- nkjv@Acts:21:22 What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come.
- nkjv@Acts:21:23 Therefore do what we tell you
Here is where the long time controversy doctrinally begins: kjv@Acts:21:25
Acts 21:25 kjv
(25) As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
From this response it could be (and has been) argued either:
- Justification differs between Jews and Gentiles or
- That Paul simply overstated his claims of justification by faith only or
- Paul mistakenly thought that the previous Jerusalem counsel had committed to something doctrinally that it really hadn't or was backing off of or
- That Paul's beliefs on justification were not yet solidified or
- That Gentile believers must have misinterpreted/mis-translated Paul else
- Paul is about to make a mistake or worse sin.
What then does Paul decide to do? Why would he do this? kjv@Acts:21:26
Acts 21:26 kjv
(26) Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.
What were the results of Paul's action? kjv@Acts:21:27-39
Acts 21:27-39 kjv
(27) And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,
(28) Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.
(29) (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)
(30) And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.
(31) And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.
(32) Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.
(33) Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.
(34) And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle.
(35) And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.
(36) For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.
(37) And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek?
(38) Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?
(39) But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.
(note: The results of him doing as the apostles had ordered turned out no better for Paul than if he had resisted their order)
So we have to ask:
- Why did Paul do this?
- What does it mean for us and Paul's doctrine of justification?
Let's discuss some possible answers:
- (any scriptures group can bring up?)
- Would it be permissible for a Messianic Jewish community to still submit themselves to the Law under any circumstance?
- Would it be permissible for Gentiles to submit themselves under the Law in similar situations?
- What would those permissible situations be?
- What situations might that submission not be the permissible approach?
- Anything else we haven't considered yet?