Acts 18:18, The Haircut That Cost Paul His Life

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

//Ever wonder about this vow made by Paul? I wish Paul himself had written about this vow, but he didn’t, so we’re left to speculate. So speculate I shall.

“’Priests must not shave their heads or shave off the edges of their beards or cut their bodies,” says Leviticus 21:5. But non-priests were free to cut their hair, and in fact, it became a way of mourning or sealing a vow to God in times of distress. Like wearing sackcloth and ashes. To underscore the vow, Israelites cut the hair off their head and burnt it at the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Paul appears to have made a vow in Corinth and sealed it with a haircut at Cenchrea. He was about to embark on a lengthy journey which would eventually land him in Jerusalem. His purpose was to deliver a collection of money needed by the Jews there, but his friends begged him not to go, knowing the danger. But Paul had made a vow and wouldn’t listen. He seemed determined to go personally to the Temple in Jerusalem, perhaps carrying his hair to be burned.

You know the rest: He was captured, taken to Rome, and probably was never again a free man. There, in Rome, he was beheaded.


  1. Michael

    The ‘haircut’ in Acts 18 and the one in 21 is a period of over 3 years. Most scholars be live this was a second vow urged by James.
    There is nothing in Torah about burning the first shaved hair.
    Burning the hair on the altar is from a second shaving at the time of completion of the vow.

  2. Aron k. Mwami

    I didn’t clearly understand the vow which Paul had made with God..

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