Acts 16: 1-5

Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

Understanding And Applying the Text

Paul went to Debre and Lystra. This is where we meet Timothy. Timothy became Paul’s close disciple. Two letters in the New Testament Paul addressed to Timothy. Paul thought of Timothy as his own son.

Timothy’s mother was Jewish. His father was Greek. He was the product of a mixed marriage. Timothy’s mother was a Christian. Luke tells us very little about Timothy’s father. It appears Timothy’s father was well known in the region. Everyone knew Timothy’s father was a Gentile.

Timothy’s father raised him as Greek. So, he was not circumcised. Paul carried a ruling from Jerusalem. That ruling stated Gentiles were not required to be circumcised. But it did not forbid Gentiles from circumcision. So Timothy’s circumcision was not a sacrament. It was for expediency. Paul was a missionary to the Gentile. But he was not exclusive to the Gentiles. Paul evangelized both Jews and Gentiles. So he thought it wise to circumcise Timothy.

God commanded circumcision until Christ. The command to circumcision ended with Christ’s coming. But it was not prohibited. It was a sign of the old covenant. Christ fulfilled that covenant and we are now under the new covenant. The sign of the new covenant is baptism.

The most important thing was the preaching of the Gospel. Timothy’s uncircumcision would have been a detraction. The Jews would have raised a ruckus. So to avoid distracting from the Gospel, Paul circumcised Timothy. The Jews would not listen to anyone who was not circumcised. The Gentile did not care one way or the other. God did not require it. But it made evangelism easier.

It is likely Timothy’s father prohibited Timothy’s circumcision as a child. But Eunice, Timothy’s mother, taught him to fear God and to worship Him. Eunice was a believer. Paul mentions the godliness of both Timothy’s mother and grandmother in 2 Timothy.

Timothy had a good reputation among believers. Paul was not rash. He was not in a hurry to take on another traveling companion. Paul only asks Timothy to join him only after a good testimony about him from the brethren.

As they traveled Paul delivered to them the decision by the Apostles in Jerusalem. This would have appeared as expediency if Paul had not circumcised Timothy. Since all were circumcised this ruling had no effect on the Jews.

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