Vows, Promises, and Keeping Your Word–Acts 18:18-23

God Running is a place for anyone who wants to love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.

In our last post from the book of Acts I wrote about Paul’s relationship with fellow tentmakers Priscilla and Aquila and what that has to do with the way you choose friends. In my opinion, that post might be one of the most important posts I’ve ever written. If you’re interested you can learn more here: The Best Possible Friends–Acts 18:18.

Today we’ll see how Paul follows through with a vow.

Acts 18:18-23

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. And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus.

When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

Acts 18:18-23

So here we see Paul doing the usual Paul things: He went to Ephesus where he reasoned with the Jews in the synagogue. They asked him to stay so they could hear more but Paul, most likely under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declines and tells them, “I will return to you if God wills.”

He leaves Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus and sets sail to Caesarea where he greets the church. Then he went down to Antioch. Then he went about the region of Galatia and Phrygia meeting up with disciples to strengthen them in Christ.

All these things are so Paul. He just wants to strengthen as many believers as he can in Jesus.

But notice what happens, around the beginning of all this activity. He follows through on a vow. (We don’t know what the vow was but part of it was cutting his hair.)

Vows, Promises, and Keeping Your Word

You know Jesus said, “. . . let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” (Matthew 5:37 NJKV)

Jesus was like that. He kept his word. Always.

God is like that. God always keeps His word.

Jesus said he would be delivered into the hands of men and killed, and that he would rise again. (Mark 9:30-32) And even though he was facing the weight of the sins of the whole world, Jesus followed through. He could have bailed out of it. (Matthew 26:53-54) But he didn’t.

Jesus said he would do certain things, certain very difficult hard things, and he did them.

One of the things that attracts me most to Jesus is his integrity.

Jesus can be counted on.

Jesus keeps his word.

God can do amazing things in your life when you keep your word.

And not keeping your word damages relationships and tears down trust.

In our text we see Paul at a very busy time in his life. He’s reasoning in the synagogue and traveling so he can strengthen the disciples.

But he doesn’t let that stop him from keeping his word.

Paul kept his vow.

Jesus kept his word.

Jesus said he would die for us.

And I’m so glad he did.

“Lord, have mercy on me and on the dear person reading this right now. Help us to be more like Jesus. Help us to have the integrity of Jesus. Help us each one of us to make our ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and our ‘No’, ‘No’. Help us to keep our word, always.

“We ask this of You in Jesus’ name.


I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.

1 Chronicles 29:17 NIV

Image of 1 Chronicles 29:17 via Sharon Tate Soberon — Creative Commons

Available on AmazonLove Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus) Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others. Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:

  • Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
  • How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
  • The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
  • How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
  • How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
  • How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
  • How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
  • How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
  • How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.

With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too. A life of loving like Jesus. (Kindlehardcover, and paperback now available on Amazon.)

One Comment on “Vows, Promises, and Keeping Your Word–Acts 18:18-23

  1. Pingback: A Beautiful Reaction to Someone Who Didn’t Do It Right (and the spectacular results that followed)–Acts 18:24-28 | God Running

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