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consiglieri

Why Did Paul Circumcise Timothy . . .

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Fresh from winning a hard fought victory with church leadership that Gentiles do not need to be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15), the very next chapter finds Paul circumcising Timotheus "because of the Jews."

Acts 16:1-3 is reproduced below. It appears the writer thinks it important to understand that Timothy's mother is a believing Jew and his father is a Greek, and that Paul circumcised Timothy because the Jews "all knew that his father was a Greek."

What I cannot understand is why Paul would immediately abandon the concept he just fought so hard to win at the Jerusalem conference.

Any thoughts would be helpful as I will be teaching from this material Sunday.

1 Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:

2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.

3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Fresh from winning a hard fought victory with church leadership that Gentiles do not need to be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15), the very next chapter finds Paul circumcising Timotheus "because of the Jews."

Acts 16:1-3 is reproduced below. It appears the writer thinks it important to understand that Timothy's mother is a believing Jew and his father is a Greek, and that Paul circumcised Timothy because the Jews "all knew that his father was a Greek."

What I cannot understand is why Paul would immediately abandon the concept he just fought so hard to win at the Jerusalem conference.

Any thoughts would be helpful as I will be teaching from this material Sunday.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

Probably so as not to place a stumbling block before the Jews whom Paul and Timothy would be teaching. Circumcision was probably such an issue with them that Paul felt it prudent to remove it from the table as a matter of consideration.

In concept it's not unlike the matter of eating meat that had been offered to idols. See 1 Corinthinas 8, the entire chapter. Paul seems to be saying here that though there is nothing intrinsically wrong with eating meat that had been offered to idols, it would be unwise to do so, because such behavior might be occasion for someone else to be an offender. One should thus avoid making the eating of the meat a stumbling block for others.

Similarly, though circumcision no longer had any religious significance, Paul might have had Timothy submit to it so as to avoid giving the Jews occasion to reject the gospel message over that relatively minor point.

Am I making senses here? I hope so. I'd take time to make it clearer, but I'm anxious to close off this post and get home.

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Fresh from winning a hard fought victory with church leadership that Gentiles do not need to be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15), the very next chapter finds Paul circumcising Timotheus "because of the Jews."

Acts 16:1-3 is reproduced below. It appears the writer thinks it important to understand that Timothy's mother is a believing Jew and his father is a Greek, and that Paul circumcised Timothy because the Jews "all knew that his father was a Greek."

What I cannot understand is why Paul would immediately abandon the concept he just fought so hard to win at the Jerusalem conference.

Any thoughts would be helpful as I will be teaching from this material Sunday.

What...How to circumcise? Ouch!!!!!!!! Is that ok to do in sunday school?

He did it (I think) so Timothy could enter the Temple without being killed by the Jews.

Pa Pa :P

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3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

I think Paul had to tackle him first.

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Even today it's not unusual to cirmucise Christian infants. Unlike the Jews, however, the circumcision is done before the eighth day and is done by a doctor, not a rabbil. The key phrase, as you noted, is "because of the Jews." The writer wanted to make sure there was no misunderstanding for whose sake it was done.

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Even today it's not unusual to cirmucise Christian infants.

Not in my part of the world...

Pa Pa :P

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I think too Paul was trying to teach Timothy the correct attitude in being a christian leader. To be all things to all men means loving the lost more than oneself. All of us who have spent anytime in foreign countries know that there are things that can drive us nuts from bazooka sized roaches in the house to public ways of behaving that are far different than we are used to.

But when I preach this section I always mention whatever we or even Timothy had to go through or give up to be better shepherds is absolutely nothing compared to what Christ gave up when He left heaven to come down here to earth.

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Cold Steel,

What I cannot understand is why Paul would immediately abandon the concept he just fought so hard to win at the Jerusalem conference.

Honestly, if you had to circumcise one of your adult buddies, I daresay that having done it, you'd loose your stomach for doing it a second time too!

PacMan

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Any thoughts would be helpful as I will be teaching from this material Sunday.

All the Best!

-Consiglieri

Well, the only thought I may have on this subject is it must be extremely painful process for Timothy.

Reminds me an episode of my "past life", when I was serving in an evil Army, my friend (we were both christians among moslems) chose to be cicumcised in order to escape the tyranny for two weeks.

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Fresh from winning a hard fought victory with church leadership that Gentiles do not need to be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15), the very next chapter finds Paul circumcising Timotheus "because of the Jews."

Acts 16:1-3 is reproduced below. It appears the writer thinks it important to understand that Timothy's mother is a believing Jew and his father is a Greek, and that Paul circumcised Timothy because the Jews "all knew that his father was a Greek."

What I cannot understand is why Paul would immediately abandon the concept he just fought so hard to win at the Jerusalem conference.

Any thoughts would be helpful as I will be teaching from this material Sunday.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

It is hard to imagine why he would do such a thing, however Elder McConkie gives the following take on it:
(Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Vol.2, Pg.147) [Acts] 1-3. In circumcising Timothy, Paul apparently was humoring the Jews. As far as the gospel law was concerned, the act was wrong and should not have been performed. Circumcision (as no one knew better than Paul!) was a thing of the past. But seemingly the social pressures were such that if the ordinances had not been performed in this case, it would have alienated the Jewish community and stopped them from investigating the gospel. Hence Paul performed an unnecessary and in fact an improper act to attract the Jews toward that religion which would teach them in due course that the law of circumcision was fulfilled in Christ. See Acts 15:1-35.
I liken it to when we teach the Gospel today we avoid the following language to keep from offending potential investigators:
(Joseph Smith-History 1:19) "I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: â??they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.â?
Social pressures and political correctness keep us today from boldly proclaiming what the Lord Jesus Christ told Joseph Smith, it is still true but we try not to go out of our way to be "offensive" so that we might get people to listen to the message and the Spirit teach them the truth of the matter.

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I think the reason why Bruce R. McConkie's take on the situation has always bothered me is it seems to say that is is okay to do something wrong in order to do something right.

In other words, if Paul really thought that what he was doing was unlawful, is it a manifestation of a lack of integrity that he went ahead and circumcised Timothy anyway?

Is this a case of Paul practicing "situational ethics"?

Or is this perhaps a situation where the Paul that is so vehement against such practices in Galatians had not yet emerged as of this point in Acts 16, and that his views changed and radicalized over time?

All I know is that if Paul were running for President, he would likely be accused of flip-flopping on this issue.

Was this a smart and justified move on Paul's part?

Or was it wrong, and a lapse in integrity?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Fresh from winning a hard fought victory with church leadership that Gentiles do not need to be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15), the very next chapter finds Paul circumcising Timotheus "because of the Jews."

Acts 16:1-3 is reproduced below. It appears the writer thinks it important to understand that Timothy's mother is a believing Jew and his father is a Greek, and that Paul circumcised Timothy because the Jews "all knew that his father was a Greek."

What I cannot understand is why Paul would immediately abandon the concept he just fought so hard to win at the Jerusalem conference.

Any thoughts would be helpful as I will be teaching from this material Sunday.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

You Dont want to know what went thru my mind when reading your head title!

Oohhhhh Nnnnoooooo!!!!

I need damage control.

:P

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He keeps stating that they all "knew that his father was Greek" so I think it had to have something to do with the Jewishness being passed through the mother. Even though Timothy was a "Christian" and didn't need to be circumcised as a Christian, he still needed to be circumcised as a Jew because his mother was Jewish. It was their custom. If his parents had BOTH been Greek (or any other "Gentile") he wouldn't need to be circumcised.

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I think the reason why Bruce R. McConkie's take on the situation has always bothered me is it seems to say that is is okay to do something wrong in order to do something right.

In other words, if Paul really thought that what he was doing was unlawful, is it a manifestation of a lack of integrity that he went ahead and circumcised Timothy anyway?

--Consiglieri

Did Paul teach that the act itself was wrong or unlawful, or just that it should no longer be required as a condition of faith and a matter of obedience? Even today, the Church takes no position on circumcision except to say that it is no longer required of the faithful because the law was done away in Christ, as is taught in the Book of Mormon.

I can conceive of Paul energetically teaching the faithful not to contend with their brothers and sisters in the gospel over the matter of circumcision or make unnecessary requirements of new converts but at the same time advising a fellow worker in the ministry to do something that would make him a more effective teacher by removing a potential impediment to his teaching. I don't see an integrity problem here at all.

It's similar to the requirements that full-time missionaries be clean-shaven and have their hair cut short. These requirements obviously were not present in the early days of the Church. Why today? The only clear reason is so that their appearance does not impede their message from the standpoint of those they will be teaching.

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I appreciate the thoughts of all those who have posted on this issue.

An ancillary question comes to mind--who is doing the checking to make sure that Timothy is circumcised?

I mean, I couldn't tell you if even my closest male friends are circumcised.

How would the Jews about whom Paul was so concerned know any different?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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I appreciate the thoughts of all those who have posted on this issue.

An ancillary question comes to mind--who is doing the checking to make sure that Timothy is circumcised?

I mean, I couldn't tell you if even my closest male friends are circumcised.

How would the Jews about whom Paul was so concerned know any different?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

Maybe they had locker rooms with open showers in those days?

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.) :P

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I appreciate the thoughts of all those who have posted on this issue.

An ancillary question comes to mind--who is doing the checking to make sure that Timothy is circumcised?

I mean, I couldn't tell you if even my closest male friends are circumcised.

How would the Jews about whom Paul was so concerned know any different?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

I think people were pretty nosy about that type of thing in their culture. Anything regarding religious ordinances were probably public knowledge and required witnesses.

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I think people were pretty nosy about that type of thing in their culture. Anything regarding religious ordinances were probably public knowledge and required witnesses.

And that witness would not have been me!

:P

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In other words, if Paul really thought that what he was doing was unlawful, is it a manifestation of a lack of integrity that he went ahead and circumcised Timothy anyway?

There IS NO LAW for OR against, so why would he be doing or know he was doing something unlawful?

Circumsision was the law for a Jew, for anyone else it varied, and for the Church it was a choice. Why is this an issue?

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There IS NO LAW for OR against, so why would he be doing or know he was doing something unlawful?

Circumsision was the law for a Jew, for anyone else it varied, and for the Church it was a choice. Why is this an issue?

Please read the OP.

It also does not seem to be very like the Paul we encounter in Galatians, who actually does come across that circumcision is now unlawful.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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