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 16:2-3]
why would paul circumcise timothy, when the very reason he’s traveling is to deliver a letter from the apostles and elders in Jerusalem saying that there is no need for the gentiles to get circumcised? first, since timothy and his parentage was known in the region, he probably would have been asked and not allowed in the synagogue if he wasn’t circumcised, forcing him out of the public square of so much of paul’s ministry.
second, iconium was one of the two towns from which people tracked down paul and stoned him earlier in acts. this was probably in paul’s mind as he thought about doing either the risky thing or the safe thing for timothy. paul loves timothy as a son, and wants to protect him from the people who stoned him. it could be easy to read acts and overlook how close these men and women of God must have grown over months and years of traveling together and enduring persecution together—but make no mistake, paul cares for timothy dearly. that love doesn’t prevent him from taking timothy with him into danger, from being obedient to God, but it does color the life that we see paul lead.
Lord, teach us to love others deeply as you do, and to entrust those people to you. may we not strive alone; bring others alongside us who we can grow with as we serve you!
~ stephen hall