Acts 18:18

Priscilla, Aquila and Apollos

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

Read Acts 18:18 Using Other Translations

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.
After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow.
Paul stayed in Corinth for some time after that, then said good-bye to the brothers and sisters and went to nearby Cenchrea. There he shaved his head according to Jewish custom, marking the end of a vow. Then he set sail for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him.

What does Acts 18:18 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Acts 18:18

And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while
A year and a half, as in ( Acts 18:11 ) for this insurrection might follow immediately upon the vision the apostle had; and who by that was encouraged to continue in this city, notwithstanding the treatment he met with; he not doubting of the promise of God, and of his power and faithfulness to fulfil it, though this was a trial of his faith and constancy:

and then took his leave of the brethren;
whom he had been instrumental in the conversion of, and had established and confirmed in the faith; and having now done his work in this place, at least for the time present, he takes his leave of them and departs:

and sailed thence into Syria;
or towards Syria, for he took Ephesus by the way, which was in Asia, and stopped there a little while:

and with him Priscilla and Aquila;
whom he had met with at Corinth, and with whom he had lodged and wrought at his trade, ( Acts 18:2 Acts 18:3 )

Having shorn his head in Cenchrea;
which some understand not of Paul, but of Aquila, who is the last person spoken of; and the Ethiopic version reads in the plural number, referring this to both Priscilla and Aquila, "and they had shaved their heads, for they had a vow"; and so it was read in a manuscript of Baronius, and Bede observes, that it was read in like manner in some copies in his time; but the more authentic reading is in the singular number, and is more generally understood of the Apostle Paul; who being about to go into Judea, to the Jew became a Jew, that he might gain some: Cenchrea, where this was done, was a sea port belonging to the Corinthians, on the east of the Isthmus, as Lechea was on the west; according to Pliny F24, there were two gulfs, or bays, to the Isthmus, the one he calls the Corinthian bay, and others the Crissean and Alcyonian bay, and Golfo de Petras; the other the Saronic bay, now called Golfo de Engia; Lechea was in the Corinthian bay, and Cenchrea in the Saronic bay; and both belonged to Corinth, and were the bounds of the Straights; the space between them was the Isthmus, which consisted of about five miles; and so Pausanias says {y}, the Isthmus of the Corinthians is washed on both sides by the sea; on one side at Cenchrea, and on the other at Lechea, and this makes the island a continent; and likewise Philo F26 giving an account of a voyage of Flaccus says, that passing over the Ionian gulf, he came to the sea (or shore) of Corinth ------- and going over the Isthmus from Lechea, to the opposite sea, he came down to Cenchrea, a seaport of the Corinthians; of which Apuleius F1 gives this account:

``this town is a most noble colony of the Corinthians, it is washed by the Aegean and Saronic sea, where there is a port, a most safe receptacle for ships, and very populous.''

Hither the apostle came from Corinth to take shipping, and from hence he sailed to Syria, as before observed: it has its name either from millet, for "Cenchros" signifies "millet"; and "Cenchrias" is "bread made of millet"; or from the bird "Cenchris", which is a kind of hawk; (See Gill on Romans 16:1).

For he had a vow;
this, some think, could not be the vow of the Nazarites, for then he should have stayed till he came to Jerusalem, and have shaved his head at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and cast the hair into the fire, under the pot in which the peace offerings were boiled F2; though he that vowed in the country, was not obliged to this: others think it was such an one as the Jews in travelling used, that they would not shave till they came to such a place; and so the apostle had made a vow that he would shave at Cenchrea; and accordingly did; but this is not likely, that the apostle should make a vow upon so light an occasion: others that it refers to his going to Jerusalem, to keep the feast there, ( Acts 18:21 ) and so these think the words are a reason, not of his shaving of his head, but of his sailing to Syria; the first is most probable, that it was a Nazarite's vow; see ( Acts 21:24 ) .


FOOTNOTES:

F24 Nat. Hist. l. 4. c. 4.
F25 Corinthiaca sive, l. 2. p. 86.
F26 In Flaccum, p. 987.
F1 Metamorphos. l. 10. in fine.
F2 Misn. Nazir, c. 6. sect. 8. Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 10. fol. 201. 3.
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