Saturday, June 2, 2012

Acts 18:18-23

Summary retelling of Acts 18:18-23

After 18 months in Corinth, Paul took his disciples, Priscilla and Aquila and headed for Syria (Antioch).  On the way, he came upon Cenchreae he had his hair cut because of a vow.  When they sailed on to Ephesus, Paul left everyone and went into the synagogue.  The Jews there received him and wanted him to stay, but he declined.  He sailed back home to Syria and spent some time in Caesarea and then in Antioch.  Having made a report to the folks in Antioch, Paul goes again through Galatia.   

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
Paul cut his hair because of a vow.  We don’t really know much about what is going on with Paul with respect to this vow, although most people think it has something to do with the Nazarite vow in Numbers 6.  Many people believe that after Paul had his trial with Jesus in Corinth he wanted to rededicate himself to the Lord.  Perhaps Paul took the vow as a sign of gratitude for the fact that the Lord allowed him to complete yet another journey.  We can only guess that this is what Paul is doing in Cenchreae.  But either of these options seems logical.  Paul just came through a great time of frustration and spiritual growth.  He was now headed back home.  What better time to rededicate oneself to the Lord?

Have you ever dedicated yourself to the Lord – really dedicated yourself?  If so, what/who held you accountable?  When you completed your vow, how did you feel?

{The Nazarite vow was the Jewish means for adult dedication.  A person would cut off all of their hair and then they would not shave again until the time of the vow ends (or until the vowed deed was accomplished.  At that point the person would bring the prescribed sacrifices to the temple and he would shave his hair again.  All of the hair would be offered upon the altar as a sign of the person’s faithfulness to the vow.}

Second Thought:
When the group gets to Ephesus, Paul leaves his companions and goes into the synagogue to preach.  There could be a few reasons for this.  It could be that Paul doesn’t want to subject his disciples to the Jewish persecution any longer.  It could be that Paul sees Ephesus as a quick stop for him and he wants to get to the synagogue before having to leave again.  For whatever reason, Paul goes alone.  It seems as though Paul has great success.  He is invited to speak again, but he must decline.  However, he promises to be back.

Isn’t it neat to see how God takes the opportunity to set up Paul’s future?  Now Paul has a reason to take another missionary journey – he needs to come back to Ephesus to talk to the Jews further!

Third Thought:
When Paul returns back to his homeland, he lands in Caesarea.  He spends a little time in Caesarea – and maybe he goes to Jerusalem (this is what may be meant by “going up and greeting the church.”).  But his focus was on Antioch.  He wanted to get home.  He wanted to get to the people who had commissioned him so that he could encourage them with everything that God had done in Greece.

Why should we remember to be excited about returning to those people who support us?  Why should we look forward to coming home?  Who or what should be the focus of our homecomings?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 18:24-28
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