July 23, 2021
Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. -Acts 16:1-5
After a bitter disagreement with Barnabas, Paul commenced his 2nd missionary journey with Silas. One central objective of the journey was to circulate a letter detailing the ruling of the Jerusalem Council regarding whether circumcision of Gentiles was necessary for them to be saved. The letter concluded that circumcision was unnecessary for the Gentiles who expressed a belief in Jesus Christ.
In this text we’re told Paul selected Timothy to accompany him on the 2nd missionary journey which was initially focused on converting Jews to Christianity. Timothy was an apt assistant to complement Paul’s outreach to Jews because his mother Eunice was a Jewess who had married a Greek man in violation of the Mosaic Law. But according to the law of Moses any persons whose mother was Jewish was in fact himself a Jew, even if he had not been circumcised... Paul, in preparation for his mission to the Jews circumcised Timothy. Why was it permissible for Gentiles to remain uncircumcised yet Timothy had to be circumcised? The answer to this question is found in the primary objective of the church-growth. Timothy was well known among Jewish population in Galatia as the offspring of a Jewish mother who, in violation of the law, had married a Greek man. Because Timothy’s father was Greek he did not insist Timothy be circumcised on the 8th day after his birth, but Timothy was nevertheless a Jew under the Jewish law because any person born of a Jewish mother is a Jew. The Jews in Galatia considered a mixed marriage illegal. Although the Christian brothers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy the Jews took offense because Timothy was not circumcised. The Jews regarded him to be outside the covenant God had made with his descendants. If both of Timothy’s parents had been Gentiles, he would have encountered no difficulties. But as a son of a Jewess Timothy was obliged to submit to circumcision. Without complying with the rule of circumcision he could not have become an effective missionary to the Jews. So to avoid any opposition from the Jews, Paul circumcised Timothy. Paul understood how important it was to identify with the people you seek to evangelize. Do you?
Yours In Community Transformation.
Rev. Gillard S. Glover
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