Acts 16:1–5 (ESV)
Timothy Joins Paul and Silas
16 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. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 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. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached
by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.
Today’s reading can be confusing. Paul has just gotten
back from the Jerusalem Council which decided that circumcision was not required to be a Christian, and now he is getting Timothy circumcised. What gives??? Timothy is young and has a Jewish Christian mother and a nonbelieving Greek father.
There is an explanation to this. Martin Luther explains: “When [Paul] encountered the stubborn Jews who insisted upon circumcision and the law, he took delight in teaching and doing the very opposite; he would not be coerced [Gal. 2:3–5].
But when he came to the weak and simple people he even practiced circumcision [Acts 16:3] and let the law stand, until such time as he might strengthen them and deliver them from the law” (AE 36:253). I know as a Pastor, I may be talking to someone
who is giving a lot of bad theology and I choose to ignore it. I’m looking at the bigger picture and trying to move the conversation to whatever point I’m trying to make. If I stop and correct all the bad theology they are speaking,
I would never get my point across. If they are a member of my congregation, I have plenty of time to work on the bad theology. If I try to correct everything, the chances are that I will lose them. The bigger picture is to keep them in the
faith and work on their theology over time... to build them up instead of tearing them down. In the case of today’s reading, Paul is not requiring circumcision to become a believer, he is having Timothy circumcised to aid him in his ministry because
he has Jewish roots. He is removing this stumbling block to enable circumcision from becoming a side distraction.
I pray: O Lord, there are so many issues that can become distractions from
carrying out your ministry. Help me to work around or cut through the distractions instead of getting side tracked. Help me to effectively minister the Word of God to people in a way that over time, I can work them through other issues as they
grow in knowledge. Give me wisdom. Amen.