Circumcising Timothy

Q. Why did Paul have Timothy circumcised? Wasn’t this contrary to his repeated assertion that Gentiles who became members of the Church were not required to undergo a Jewish ritual procedure for all males, according to Mosaic Law, a symbol of the Old Testament covenant that God made with Abraham?

A. Acts 16:3 says that Paul wanted to take Timothy along on his journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

Timothy’s grand mother Lois and his mother Eunice were Jewish women who had become believers, and they had taught him the Old Testament. (2 Tim. 1:5) And they were going among the Jews who would not take instruction from someone they perceived to be a Gentile. Since he was half Jewish, and learned in Old Covenant ways, Paul circumcised him to make him more effective as a minister to the Jewish communities they would visit. This was consistent with his philosophy of becoming all things to all people so as not to hinder the Gospel.

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