Paul, Timothy & stumbling blocks

December 28th, 2011

We were reading Acts 16:1-5 yesterday. This is the section where Paul and Timothy are preparing to go on Paul’s second missionary journey.

An interesting thing in this section is that Paul had Timothy circumcised before they left. In earlier readings we see that Timothy’s mother and grandmother were Jewish converts to Christianity and they had passed their faith on to Timothy.

Timothy however had not grown up as a Jew and not been circumcised because his father was Greek. This means he would have not followed Jewish customs and rituals for his son Timothy, one being circumcision at eight days old.

Paul and Timothy realised this would have been a stumbling block to the people where they were going to travel to as most of the new Christians from Jewish backgrounds. So he was circumcised.

At first I thought why was this an issue? Because the Council of Believers in Jerusalem had decided that it was not necessary for new believers to follow old Jewish traditions like circumcision to be a Christian and right with God (Acts 15:19-29).

Then I realised that often as Christians we take some time to come on board with decisions made by others who are not with us. We might read a letter from our  “Jerusalem” or our head office which makes a ruling, but we might not initially agree with it or we might chose to hold on to our long term belief on an issue.

Paul and Timothy realised this and did not want Timothy’s Greek background and non-circumcision to be a stumbling block for people coming to Jesus. In fact I think it would have been a compelling testimony of how committed Timothy was to the salvation of the people he was visiting.

Sometimes as Christians we need to go the extra mile to show our commitment to Jesus and the message we preach. We don’t need to just do the minimum to get by, sometimes going the extra mile is what is required to bring people to Christ.

God Bless,