Why Paul Circumcised Timothy?

Paul TimothyThis seems like an unusual topic for a post on ThePreachersWord, doesn’t it?

The reason for addressing it stems from an argument made by one of our readers, Stephen, regarding a post last week. It was based on Paul’s rhetorical question in Galatians 4:16, “Am I Your Enemy, because I tell  you the truth?”

I asked 11 different questions regarding matters of Truth. Two of the questions spoke to the sin of homosexuality.

When I support marriage as being only between one man and one woman, (Matt 19:4-6) am I the enemy of lesbians?

When I affirm that same-sex relations is a sin, (1 Cor. 6:9-11) am I an enemy of homosexuals?

In part, here is Stephen’s response.

“Your teachings on difficult issues continue to frustrate me — issues where Christians sometimes find ourselves ‘between the rock and the hard place.’”

“Paul found himself caught in one of Life’s “Rock and the Hard Place” with Timothy’s circumcision. The Council of Jerusalem settled this issue. Paul could have drawn a clear line in the sand over this — refusing to circumcise Timothy and then taking him on mission efforts — after all, Paul would have been ‘RIGHT’.”

“One can argue that Paul made a mistake (that he was encouraging this) as Paul was told about 10 years after the Jerusalem Council that not much had changed.”

“But Paul didn’t make any mistake with Timothy — there was something “bigger” involved. Paul had to “weed out” what was important and what wasn’t in the overall ‘Big Picture.’”

“One can define this between a ‘Micro” versus “Macro” view.”

Stephen is referring to Acts 16 when Paul met Timothy at Lystra and took him on his second missionary journey. “(Paul) took (Timothy) and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.” (Acts 16:3)

The comparison with Paul’s decision to have Timothy circumcised with “marco view” of marriage is like proverbial comparison of apples and oranges. They are totally different.

The error of Judaizing teachers was demanding that Gentiles be circumcised and as a requisite of salvation (Acts 15:1). It is true that the Jerusalem council determined that was not the will of God. And that “no such commandment” was a part of apostolic teaching regarding salvation.

Circumcision was originally given to Abraham as a sign of God’s covenant with him and later the nation of Israel. It preceded the law of Moses (Galatians 4) and was never intended to be a permanent part of God’s will for the human race. Under the law of Christ it became a matter of individual liberty.

So, why did Paul have Timothy circumcised?

Because Paul desired to eliminate anything that hindered the Jews’ reception of the gospel. He had no desire to flaunt his freedom in Christ. When it came to matters of custom, culture or personal preference, Paul’s attitude is explained in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law….I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake…”

This issue is best summed up by Paul’s observation, “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters”

Circumcision was a matter of Christian liberty. However, Paul also urged not to use liberty as a license to engage in fleshly desires. (Galatians 5:1-15) This would include ungodly attitudes or immoral actions.  Understanding the difference keeps us from being “between a rock and a hard place.”

Same-sex marriage is not a matter of Christian liberty. It is taking license where God granted none. It is not a “micro view” of marriage. It is a moral rejection of God’s revelation. Marriage is between a man and a woman. From the beginning it was so, when God made them male and female. (Matt 19:4-6).

All of the “hand wringing” about the violation of civil rights won’t change God’s commandment about marriage. And all the pseudo arguments justifying homosexuality will not sanctify what God has called sinful.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman



Filed under Culture, Homosexuality

7 responses to “Why Paul Circumcised Timothy?

  1. Dear Ken — Respectfully, I disagree with your post today.

    I’ve never disagreed with your interpretation of Scripture that homosexuality is a sin. My frustration with your perspective is the one-dimensional view of this topic.

    The issue of gay marriage has at least three layers: (1) the issue of Sin; (2) How do we reach out to Sinners bringing them the Good News of Salvation?; (3) Empathy — following Christ’s 2nd most important command.

    You “Frame” this topic in only the first layer — the Sin of homosexuality.

    It’s much more than this. You sure don’t reach the unsaved by always being combative with them. But the most important layer is perhaps empathy — which sure doesn’t mean condoning sin.

    In one of my previous examples, I used an illustration of a gay female police officer who was killed in the line of duty protecting us. Her “Family” (which included children of her gay partner) were denied survivor benefits, including health insurance.

    In Matt. 19 which you cite frequently, most of this Scripture is addressing the sin of adultery. Should the children of Adulterers be denied health coverage — as the children of gay people are?

    By only framing this topic only in the context of the sin of homosexuality, you are missing a “bigger picture” — where the story of Paul and Timothy is a wonderful story.

  2. Well, Stephen, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised! 🙂 But I am a little bit. I feel like I have honesty, loving and thoroughly answered your questions from time to time.

    Yes, my perspective is what the Gospel teaches. And it does not overlook or gloss over the sin problem of the human race. And I agree that God’s Good News will bring sinners back to fellowship with God. And while I must speak “the truth in love,” and I believe that I do, that doesn’t negate the fact the ultimately sinful attitudes and actions must be defined and taught. Followed with a call to repentance.

    Stephen, I’m not sure why you keep bringing up “the second great commandment,” as if I’m ignoring it? Nearly a year ago, I answered your question on it with an entire post. https://thepreachersword.com/2014/05/28/how-does-the-second-great-commandment-apply-to-treatment-of-homosexuals/

    More than once in my writings I have called for the right attitude toward those with whom we disagree or who are living in sin. A good example of that spirit is this post from last fall.

    In another post regarding Michael Sams, I sounded a warning against ungodly attitudes toward homosexuals in quoting from Rubel Shelly

    If you go to categories and click “love”, you will see that I’ve posted several times on the topic of love, including these two posts.


    It is not unloving to point out error, condemn sin, or show the erroneous beliefs of false teachers. In fact, it is unloving to ignore sin and act as if the sinner is ok. And I don’t believe I have been guilty of using unkind or pejorative language in my stand for Truth.

    Now, you may say it’s combative in calling out sin. I don’t. And Paul didn’t. Is Romans 1:20-28 combative? Is I Corinthians 6:9-11 combative? Was John being combative when we called people “a brood of vipers” (Matt 3:7)? Was Jesus being combative in identifying the Pharisees as having hard hearts (Matt 13:15) and being children of the Devil (Jn 8:44)? Was Peter being combative on Pentecost when he called those in the audience “wicked” (Ac 2:23)? “Am I your enemy because I tell you the Truth?” (Gal. 4:16)

    Stephen you seem more concerned about the civil rights of those denied insurance benefits, than the souls of those who are corrupted by sin! If they obeyed God’s marriage law in the first place, it wouldn’t even be an issue!

    Yes, adultery is a sin, too! But there is one difference. It doesn’t change the definition of marriage between a man and a woman! Matthew 19 clearly teaches that God’s original design for marriage is between a male and female. Anything else is a corruption of that design.

    Our PC world today acts as if same-sex marriage has been the norm forever! For approximately 5000 years, or so, of recorded history, heterosexual marriage was the norm. In fact, no state law sanctioned homosexual marriage until 2004!

    BTW, I didn’t miss the “bigger picture” of Paul and Timothy! It is clearly articled in the post. Circumcision is optional. Paul had the liberty to exercise the right or not. Same-sex marriage is not a matter of religious liberty but an abuse of moral license.

    While I want to see fair treatment for all people regardless of their political, social, or moral beliefs or practices, my frame of reference is the gospel. I am a gospel preacher. Not a political activist. Social crusader. Or a community organizer.

    Stephen, I do appreciate you both reading and responding to my posts. Your disagreements have been kind. And you have been complimentary of our work. I appreciate that. I trust you will receive this response in the Agape spirit in which I share it. And that you will further consider these important matters that will impact our soul’s salvation.

  3. Larry Hafley

    Ken,Titus was not “compelled ” to be circumcised during the pressure of Acts 15:l (Gal. 2:3).When James and Maria Needham went to Iran in the 1970’s, sister Needham was careful to wear a covering every where she went.  They feared that efforts to teach the Iranians would be repulsed to their teaching if she did not.However, had an American church demanded that sister Maria wear a covering as a matter of salvation, as per Acts15:1, she would not have done so, as per Galatians 2:5.  Larry        From: ThePreachersWord To: larryrayhafley@yahoo.com Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2015 8:15 AM Subject: [New post] Why Paul Circumcised Timothy? #yiv3227814951 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv3227814951 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv3227814951 a.yiv3227814951primaryactionlink:link, #yiv3227814951 a.yiv3227814951primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv3227814951 a.yiv3227814951primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv3227814951 a.yiv3227814951primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv3227814951 WordPress.com | ThePreachersWord posted: “This seems like an unusual topic for a post on ThePreachersWord, doesn’t it?The reason for addressing it stems from an argument made by one of our readers, Stephen, regarding a post last week. It was based on Paul’s rhetorical question in Galatians 4:” | |

  4. Larry Harris

    Love you Ken for your stand for the Gospel and your love for all men with an attitude of bringing souls to a clearer vision of His Word.

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