Summary: This continues my expository series through the book of Acts.
I. Traveling :18-21
From Corinth to Ephesus and Beyond
:18 – After Gallio’s favorable decision, Paul stayed on in Corinth awhile longer, teaching and preaching freely and without fear. God had affirmed his ministry and the fact that he’d be protected by the hand of God. Then, taking with him his friends Aquila and Priscilla, he left and sailed for Syria.
What to make of this haircut mentioned in verse 18? Haircuts aren’t usually newsworthy, and yet this one makes it into the Bible, and thus it’s worthy of at least a short mention. Paul had taken a vow of some sort, a promise between himself and God, and the haircut signaled the end of the duration of the vow. Usually, such vows were taken in thankfulness to God for blessings past, or in anticipation of blessings yet future, and the Nazirite vow, which is almost certainly the one spoken of here, involved abstinence from alcohol and from cutting one’s hair.
We don’t usually take vows that often, although we do so when we get married, when we appear as a witness in court, and after a fashion, when we make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t make them anymore, but I have held to one New Year’s resolution for almost 40 years. Before I tell you what it was, let me give you a tip on keeping New Year’s resolutions: make them easy! When I was a kid, I made a New Year’s resolution not to drink tomato juice. I’ve never since had tomato juice. But it was an easy resolution to keep, because I don’t like tomato juice! Actually, since I haven’t had it in almost 40 years, I might like it now…hmmm…not that that little tidbit has anything to do with today’s message, but I thought I’d toss it in. Luke doesn’t dwell much on this vow, though, so neither will we.
:19 – Aquila & Priscilla, new friends Paul had made in Corinth, moved their business from Corinth to Ephesus as they joined Paul on his trip, or perhaps they left their business in the care of another and just opened a new branch.
II. Transitioning :22-23
From 2nd to 3rd Missionary Journey
:22-23 – Paul transitions from his second missionary journey right into his third, the dividing line between the two being that he went back to his sending church, in Antioch, and spent some time there, undoubtedly giving a report of all that had been taking place (and what a report that was)!
• God had given him a vision to go to Macedonia (after God said “no” to us twice!), through a man who appeared to him in a dream
• Went to Philippi, where we got snot kicked out of us and thrown in jail
• But God broke us out of jail with an earthquake, and the jailer came to faith in Christ
• We went to Thessalonica, but had to sneak out of there at night
• We went to Berea, and they studied the Scriptures to figure out whether or not Jesus really was the Messiah, as we were teaching
• But the guys who gave us trouble in Thessalonica followed us there
• I went to Athens, and got to speak to the leading philosophers of the city
• Then I went to Corinth, and was kinda depressed, but Jesus appeared to me
Kinda ho-hum stuff, huh? Right…now, for the person who would suggest that living life as a follower of Christ is dull, or for the person who would suggest that real men don’t do that “religion thing”, that only girly-men follow Jesus, I offer the apostle Paul as Exhibit A to disprove those wrong assertions. Here was a courageous man’s man, who boldly served God though it cost him pain and humiliation, and ultimately his life. But I’m pretty sure that if we had the opportunity to interview Paul and ask him about his life, he’d tell us that despite the hardships and obstacles he faced, the pain and the problems, it’s a life he’d not trade for any other.