It was not uncommon among the Jews for one who had escaped some danger or misfortune to make a vow to Jehovah, possibly vowing to abstain from alcoholic beverages for a period of time. This might be similar to a Nazirite vow. (Num. 6:1-21) When the set period was completed the Jew would cut off his hair and probably render up sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem.
In Acts 18:18 we read that Paul “had the hair of his head clipped short in Cenchreae [near Corinth], for he had a vow.” Whether he had made this vow before becoming a Christian is not stated, nor do we even know definitely whether this was the beginning or end of his vowed period. We cannot rule out the possibility that this is related to what later took place in Jerusalem.
When Paul was in Jerusalem after his third missionary trip the Christians making up the governing body mentioned that there was a great deal of resentment among the Jews toward Paul. Believing rumors, the Jews thought that Paul was rabidly preaching against the Mosaic law. In this they were incorrect, as we have seen. So as to demonstrate that to all publicly, James and the spiritually older men advised Paul: “We have four men with a vow upon themselves. Take these men along and cleanse yourself ceremonially with them and take care of their expenses, that they may have their heads shaved. And so everybody will know that there is nothing to the rumors they were told about you, but that you are walking orderly, you yourself also keeping the Law.”—Acts 21:23, 24.
Paul and the four Christians who had a vow upon them did this. (Acts 21:26) Their course was not an apostate act or a compromise of Christianity. They demonstrated that the Jewish regulations regarding vows had not become wicked just because Christians need not follow them. It is not as if they had offered incense to a pagan deity—a thing that was definitely contrary to true Christian worship. What they did was not in itself improper, and it seemed that it would counteract Jewish prejudices and allow for many others to hear the good news of salvation that Paul was intensely interested in preaching.
Spiritual warefare! This is the warfare for true Christians: “The weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things.” (2 Cor. 10:4) Among those strongly entrenched things against which Christians wage spiritual war are Babylonish teachings of false religion. Against these Babylonish ideas, Jehovah’s witnesses wield the “sword of the spirit,” the Word of God. Also helping in maintaining the assault on false religion are the publications of the Watch Tower Society. For example, Awake! magazine last April featured a special issue entitled “Are the Churches Nearing Their End?” Each issue of Awake!, in fact, helps Christians in their spiritual warfare. As they maintain the assault on false religion during October, Jehovah’s witnesses will offer a year’s subscription for the Awake! magazine, with three Bible-study-aid booklets, on a contribution of $1.
HOW DO YOU VIEW THE FUTURE?
Do you face the future with anxiety and bewilderment? You need Awake! It is a companion magazine to The Watchtower. It is awake to the vital issues of our times and speaks out unfettered by censorship or selfish interests. Its pages review matters of government, commerce, religion, history, geography, science, social conditions, natural wonders. Awake! is pledged to righteous principles; it reflects hope of God’s new order for man’s lasting benefit. It is currently published in 26 languages, over five and one-half million copies each issue. Send today. One year, only $1. Send now and receive three timely Bible-based booklets free.
“WATCHTOWER” STUDIES FOR THE WEEKS
October 12: Pay Attention to “The Prophetic Word.” Page 585. Songs to Be Used: 69, 59.
October 19: A Prophetic Pattern for Our Day. Page 592. Songs to Be Used: 113, 116.