Acts 16:1-5 Video Devotional

“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. 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. 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. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.” (Acts 16:1-5)

During Paul’s second missionary journey, he comes to the towns of Lystra and Derbe, thereby meeting a young man of a Jewish mother (who was a believer) and a Greek father. Meeting the dear, gentle-spirited Timothy, Paul was moved to bring him along and disciple Timothy into a young leader. We hear much about this young man in scripture and although he faces some intense trials and almost quits his post (some could argue he did leave his post) as the pastor in Ephesus. Yet, he led a fruitful, victorious life and (according to sources) died a martyr for Jesus.

One of the cool things to learn about Timothy is his maternal heritage. Both his mother and grandmother are named in the New Testament (2 Timothy 1:5) as his Christian legacy. They led by example and gave him a torch to pick up and run with. When Timothy was struggling, this legacy of women served as a reminder to him to fan the flame of the gift of God.

This serves as a reminder to us that however God calls us to lead and to whomever He calls us to lead, it makes no difference who we are: male/female, Jew/Greek, black/white, old/young, or anything else. God doesn’t look on the outside, He looks on the heart and places us in the situations He wants us. Paul told Timothy directly not to let anyone look down on him, but to lead by example (1 Timothy 4:12).

We are also reminded from the verses above of an interesting insertion in the text of Timothy’s late-in-life circumcision. This is interesting, because Paul notes in other places (specifically Galatians) that circumcising one’s self is not necessary for salvation. So why have Timothy circumcised? Why bend to the pressure of the Jews? By reading any other of Paul’s writings about the topic, it is clear that he does not bend to the pressure of the Judiazers, but focuses on salvation by Christ alone.

He has Timothy get circumcised because of what Paul said in 1 Corinthians – about being all things to all people so that by all means, he may save some. Timothy’s ministry included a lot of Jewish people, and Paul foresaw it being a hindrance to them if he was not cut. His circumcision would make it easier for some Jews to come to Jesus and learn the full truth.

That is a good note to us. As believers today, it is easy to push our rights on others – especially when we realize we do have it better. But pushing our rights (or perceived rights) on others usually tends to turn people away from us and Jesus, not towards. Maybe we could give up some of our freedoms for the benefit of others? Wouldn’t that be leading by example? I want to hear your thoughts! let me know in the comments.



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