For the Sake of the Gospel
Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 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 16:1-3)
It’s interesting that Paul has Timothy circumcised. Why does he do that? The text tells us that it was “because of the Jews who were in those places.” While Paul clearly understood that circumcision or any other external work or ritual does not save a person or even add to their salvation in any sense, he also understood that he would never be able to even communicate the gospel to Jews if they were not even willing to listen to him because of Timothy. Timothy, being half Jewish, needed to be circumcised in the minds of devout Jews. If they discovered he was half Jewish and had not been circumcised, they would completely shut down Paul and Timothy. Paul's actions make sense in light of what he says in 1 Cor. 9:20-23, “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (emphasis added). Paul was willing to do whatever was necessary within biblical boundaries to reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Shouldn’t we?
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