The Apostle Paul: So as Not to Give an Offense.

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.” (Acts 16:3)

Paul welcomed Timothy to his evangelistic missionary team. Unlike John/Mark, the Apostle Paul was impressed with this young man and eagerly wanted Timothy to join him and Silas on this second missionary journey.

However, there was a problem which needed to be resolved. Timothy was a product of a mixed marriage between a Jewish mother and a Gentile father. Timothy had never been circumcised when he was 8 days old (Genesis 17:10-14). Therefore, as an uncircumcised son of a Jew, he would have been an offense to other Jews. Ironically, if both of his parents had been Gentiles, his uncircumcised condition would not have been a problem.

Even though Paul is carrying a decree from the Jerusalem Council explaining that circumcision was not a necessary condition for conversion, he was willing to circumcise Timothy in order that Timothy might minister to the Jews without giving offense. Remember, Luke records that the Jews in the region all knew that Timothy’s father was a Greek.

Dr. Simon Kistemaker writes, “Paul himself wanted to be all things to all people, so that he might win both Jew and Gentile for Christ (I Corinthians 9:19-23). He expected that Timothy, a fellow missionary, would do the same. Timothy does, and becomes an invaluable aid to the apostle.”

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Although Paul adamantly resists the imposition of circumcision on Gentiles such as Titus (Galatians 2:1-3), Timothy’s status as the offspring of a mixed marriage would be questionable in the eyes of the Jewish community. Rather than risking a hindrance to Timothy’s ministry among those who might regard him as an uncircumcised Jew, Paul removes that obstacle (I Corinthians 9:19-23; 10:32-33).”

What obstacles may you remove from your own life in order to not hinder your ministry and communication of the Gospel? Think about it.

Soli deo Gloria!  

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