Boaz Baptist Chronicles

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Boaz Baptist Chronicles

Why Did the Apostle Paul Circumcise Timothy in Acts Sixteen?

Posted on September 3, 2012 at 7:55 PM

While Paul was traveling throughout Asia Minor he met a young man named Timotheus (Timothy) who was well “reported of by the brethren.”  (Acts 16:2)  We are to assume by this that Timothy is already a believer.  Moreover, he is a believer that Paul wants to use in his ministry.  But, there was a problem.  Even though his mother was a “Jewess,” his father was a Greek, which meant that Timothy was uncircumcised.   Remember, Paul, who was preaching the Gospel to the Circumcision—his “kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3) in their homes, public squares and synagogues, knew these Jews most likely would not have received Timothy into their lives, especially since it was well known that he was a “Greek.”  (Acts 16:3)  Don’t forget that the promises of Jehovah God were given to the children of Abraham.


There was only one answer to Paul’s conundrum. Circumcision! 


It was not unusual for a man (rather than an eight day old baby, Genesis 17:12 and Leviticus 12:3) to receive this “token.”  Remember, it signified the covenant between the nation of Israel and Jehovah God. 


"And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.  This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.  And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.  And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.  He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.  And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant."  (Genesis 17:9-14)


Notice the adult males who where born in the wilderness that were not circumcised needed to be, before they could (finally) enter the Promised Land…


"At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.  And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.  And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.  Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.  For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of theLORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.  And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.  And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.  And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day." (Joshua 5:2-9)


Even though Paul believed that circumcision did not avail anything (Galatians 5:1-6 and 6:15), he, nonetheless, circumcised Timothy for conscience sake.


"For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.  And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;  To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.  To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.  And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you."  (I Corinthians 9:19-23)


Pastor Bob

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