The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
In Acts 23:12-22, the Jewish leaders have been robbed of their desire to use legal means for Paul’s execution. It’s really as simple as that. What else could they do? When they had no more legal means, they would have to turn to illegal means.
The men made a vow before God that they would not eat or drink until they had managed to kill Paul. News of this got back to a nephew of Paul, who gave information to the commander in charge of Paul. The commander arranges for increased security so as to protect Paul
Once again, we see the Roman government as the ally of law and order. They take care of their citizens, even if the citizens hold opinions which are unpopular or even, at times, illegal. Paul receives the protection which is given to citizens. This is a good thing.
Another important issue in this passage is this. The Jewish leaders made a vow that they would not eat or drink until Paul met his end. Because of their vow, we can assume that, in fact, they died. When people make a vow before God it is a serious thing. The leaders were saying, in effect, “Either we kill Paul or God kills us.” Making such a serious promise before God is absolutely binding. They don’t undertake a promise like this lightly.
How do we consider our promises? Are we going to go through with them, regardless of the cost? Sometimes those promises that we make could lead to a great deal of trouble. They might possibly lead us down a path of life change which we would find very hard to depart from. Are we serious about what we say? Jesus says that we don’t need to make vows before God, but that we tell the truth and keep our promises. Fair enough. Let’s make promises, but only if we intend to keep them.
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