Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Acts 21:24

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Be at charges with them - Or, rather, be at charges for them: help them to bear the expense of that vow. Eight lambs, four rams, besides oil, flour, etc., were the expenses on this occasion. See the notes on Numbers 6:1-21 (note).

Thou - walkest orderly and keepest the law - Perhaps this advice meant no more than, Show them, by such means as are now in thy power, that thou art not an enemy to Moses; that thou dost still consider the law to be holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good. Paul did so, and bore the expenses of those who, from a scruple of conscience, had made a vow, and perhaps were not well able to bear the expense attending it. Had they done this in order to acquire justification through the law, Paul could not have assisted them in any measure with a clear conscience; but, as he did assist them, it is a proof that they had not taken this vow on them for this purpose. Indeed, vows rather referred to a sense of obligation, and the gratitude due to God for mercies already received, than to the procuring of future favors of any kind. Besides, God had not yet fully shown that the law was abolished, as has already been remarked: he tolerated it till the time that the iniquity of the Jews was filled up; and then, by the destruction of Jerusalem, he swept every rite and ceremony of the Jewish law away, with the besom of destruction.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Them take - Take with you. Join yourself with them.

And purify thyself with them - Join them in observing the forms of purification prescribed by the Law of Moses in the observance of the vow of the Nazarite. The purifying here refers to the vows of sanctity which the Nazarites were to observe. They were to abstain from wine and strong drink; they were to eat no grapes, moist or dried; they were to come near no dead body, nor to make themselves “unclean” for their father, mother, brother, or sister, when they died Numbers 6:3-7; and they were to present an offering when the days of the vow were completed, Numbers 6:8.

And be at charges with them - Share with them the expense of the offerings required when the vow is completed. Those offerings were a ram of a year old for a burnt-offering, a sheep of the same age for a sin-offering, a ram for a thank-offering, a basket of unleavened cakes, and a libation of wine. See Numbers 6:13-20.

That they may shave their heads - The shaving of the head, or the cutting off the hair which had been suffered to grow during the continuance of the vow Numbers 6:5, was an observance indicating that the vow had been performed. Paul was requested to join with them in the expense of the offerings, that thus, the whole of the ceremonies having been observed, their heads might be shaved as an indication that every part of the vow had been complied with.

And all may know - By the fact of your observance of one of the rites of the Mosaic religion, all may have evidence that it is not your purpose or practice to speak contemptuously of those rites, or to undervalue the authority of Moses.

Are nothing - Are untrue, or without any foundation.

Walkest orderly - That you live in accordance with the real requirements of the Law of Moses. To walk, in the Scriptures, often denotes “to live, to act, to conduct in a certain manner.” All, probably, that they wished Paul to show by this was, that he was not an enemy of Moses. They who gave this counsel were Christians, and they could not wish him to do anything which would imply that he was not a Christian.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Paul ascribed all his success to God, and to God they gave the praise. God had honoured him more than any of the apostles, yet they did not envy him; but on the contrary, glorified the Lord. They could not do more to encourage Paul to go on cheerfully in his work. James and the elders of the church at Jerusalem, asked Paul to gratify the believing Jews, by some compliance with the ceremonial law. They thought it was prudent in him to conform thus far. It was great weakness to be so fond of the shadows, when the substance was come. The religion Paul preached, tended not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. He preached Christ, the end of the law for righteousness, and repentance and faith, in which we are to make great use of the law. The weakness and evil of the human heart strongly appear, when we consider how many, even of the disciples of Christ, had not due regard to the most eminent minister that even lived. Not the excellence of his character, nor the success with which God blessed his labours, could gain their esteem and affection, seeing that he did not render the same respect as themselves to mere ceremonial observances. How watchful should we be against prejudices! The apostles were not free from blame in all they did; and it would be hard to defend Paul from the charge of giving way too much in this matter. It is vain to attempt to court the favour of zealots, or bigots to a party. This compliance of Paul did not answer, for the very thing by which he hoped to pacify the Jews, provoked them, and brought him into trouble. But the all-wise God overruled both their advice and Paul's compliance with it, to serve a better purpose than was intended. It was in vain to think of pleasing men who would be pleased with nothing but the rooting out of Christianity. Integrity and uprightness will be more likely to preserve us than insincere compliances. And it should warn us not to press men to doing what is contrary to their own judgment to oblige us.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 399-408

This chapter is based on Acts 21:17-40; 22; 23:1-35.

When we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.” AA 399.1

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 396-408

“And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.” AA 396.1

From Miletus the travelers sailed in “a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara,” on the southwest shore of Asia Minor, where, “finding a ship sailing over unto Phoenicia,” they “went aboard, and set forth.” At Tyre, where the ship was unloaded, they found a few disciples, with whom they were permitted to tarry seven days. Through the Holy Spirit these disciples were warned of the perils awaiting Paul at Jerusalem, and they urged him “that he should not go up to Jerusalem.” But the apostle allowed not the fear of affliction and imprisonment to turn him from his purpose. AA 396.2

At the close of the week spent in Tyre, all the brethren, with their wives and children, went with Paul to the ship, and before he stepped on board, they knelt upon the shore and prayed, he for them, and they for him. AA 396.3

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