In Acts 16, why did Timothy allow Paul to circumcise him? Especially after in chapter 15 he realized and taught that the yoke of the law was unbearable, and a form of testing God? -- Bob Shanks

In Acts 15, we find that some Christians from the party of the Pharisees were teaching that circumcision and law-keeping were necessary for salvation. When Paul circumcised Timothy, he did not do it so that he would be saved. Had this been his view, he would have circumcised Titus too, right (Galatians 2:3)? In consistency with Paul's principles of outreach (1 Corinthians 9:19-22), he enhanced Timothy's effectiveness among the Jews by calling him to better live up to his heritage, since he was technically a Jew himself. (He had a Jewish mother.) Titus, on the other hand, was from a Gentile background.

Another way to look at it is that although Paul was crystal clear that keeping Torah did not save (Acts 15), he saw no need to renounce or denounce his religious heritage (Acts 16), and in fact would not hesitate to draw upon it if this allowed him to reap a larger harvest of souls (1 Corinthians 9).

This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 2005. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the express consent of Douglas Jacoby.