But He Didn’t Have to be Circumcised!

by Edwin Crozier

Didn’t we just have a whole debate in Jerusalem that discovered Christians didn’t have to be circumcised? In fact, in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he will brag that no one made Titus get circumcised during that meeting (Galatians 2:1-3). Yet, Paul circumcised Timothy. What’s up with that?

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 16:1 (Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media)

Paul didn’t circumcise Timothy because of God’s law. He didn’t circumcise Timothy to qualify for the gospel. He circumcised Timothy because of the Jews in the areas they would be preaching. He circumcised Timothy because they would know that Timothy had a Jewish mother and a Greek father. He circumcised Timothy because it was enough of a negative in the mind of the Jews that a Jewess would marry a Gentile, but then for her son to be raised as a Greek instead of a Jew would be an almost insurmountable barrier to the Jews. Why would they listen to a man who had been unfaithful to what should have been his upbringing and religion?

Timothy wasn’t circumcised out of obligation to God or as part of the gospel. Rather, he was circumcised so he wouldn’t hinder others from listening to the gospel. Sure, his circumcision shouldn’t matter to those folks. It was really none of their business. He had every right to remain uncircumcised. Many of them likely wouldn’t even know or find out about Timothy’s parentage or uncircumcision. However, Paul and Timothy weren’t going to take the chance. They would remove the obstacle so it wouldn’t be a problem no matter what.

Paul and Timothy were most concerned about souls. May we all be so concerned.

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