Why did Paul circumcise Timothy if an uncircumcised should not be circumcised?
1 Corinthians 7:18
ESV - 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision.
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The contradicting ideas between Acts 16:3 and 1 Corinthians 7:18? Let's see: the contradicting ideas between Acts 16:3 and 1 Corinthians 7:18? Acts16:1-4 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: which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. 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. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 1 Corinthians 7:18 Is any man called being circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Paul wanted to take Timothy with him on his missionary journey. He circumcised him because his mother was a Jew which means he should have been circumcised on the 8th day after his birth. Why did Paul circumcise him before taking him with him? Because as you know it was Paul habit to enter into Jewish places of worship first on entering into a new city and Timothy would be able to enter into those places of Jewish worship being a circumcised Jew. Note what Paul says about circumcision: "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God [is everything]. Notice also what happened when Paul went up to Jerusalem with a Gentile believer.... Galatians 2:1-5: Then, after fourteen years again I went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, having taken with me also Titus; and I went up by revelation, and did submit to them the good news that I preach among the nations, and privately to those esteemed, lest in vain I might run or did run; but not even Titus, who is with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised — 4 and that because of the false brethren brought in unawares, who did come in privily to spy out our liberty that we have in Christ Jesus, that us they might bring under bondage, to whom not even for an hour we gave place by subjection, that the truth of the good news might remain to you. So Paul did not circumcise Titus who was a Gentile. He explains why he did not do so in spite of the pressure from false brethren who insisted that Gentiles had to be circumcised in order to be saved. Paul says he didn't give place to such subjection required by these false brethren. Timothy was circumcised in order that he could enter into a Jewish place of worship as a Jew and be a witness to the message of the lord Jesus to those Jews present. He did did not submit to circumcision in order to be saved but to be a witness for the good news of the kingdom.
The explanation is that Paul was willing to "become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." - explained fully in I Corinthians 9:19-23 For example, as explained in Acts 21:27-36, Paul was aware of what chaos could be caused by bringing an uncircumcised Trophimus or Timothy into an assembly of Jews. So because His commission, directly from Jesus Christ (explained in Romans 1:1-16) was "to the Jew first and also to the Greek", every place he went he preached the Gospel first to the Jews, for however long they would let him get away with winning a few of them to Jesus, before they would (with the exception of those in Beroea) kick him out. In the I Corinthians 7:18 passage you cited, the next verse explains that "neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God." So since it was common knowledge that Paul was travelling and preaching with Timothy, why would Paul even dream of raising an impassable barrier over a non-issue which would keep him from obeying the Lord's commission to preach the Gospel first to the Jews? When knife-happy circumcisers came down from Jerusalem to try to bring freed-from-the-law Galatians back under the law, they earned Paul's scathing indictment (the whole book of Galatians!) Yet Paul expressed his willingness in Romans 9:3 to be "accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race." He proved this by taking the bad advice of the Jewish Christian elders in Jerusalem in Acts 21:17-26 with the sad results in vss 27-36 and following, overcome by the good results (for example, a great bunch of powerful New Testament letters God arranged for Paul to write during his imprisonments). The big lesson here: Before you submit to any man's teaching which even smells like bringing you back under the law (instead of the Lawgiver living out His commandments of love from inside you) just spend a little time in His Word letting Him advise you on what to do!
Acts 16:3 The circumcision of Timothy seems strange in light of the decrees of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-5, 24), the decrees Paul is now proclaiming. It is clear however; that Paul's purpose for this circumcision was not for salvation, but for service; in that he wanted Timothy to go with him. Paul knew that Timothy's ministry to the Jews would be hampered if he remained uncircumsised. Paul's practice was to do all things that would help to win all men to Messiah; as such, he was willing to give up all of his personal rights (1 Cor. 9:19-23). 1 Corinth. 7:19. Paul is saying if one is called to Messiah and he is circumcised let him not become uncircumcised and if uncircumcised let him not become circumcised, because circumcision is nothing it is the keeping of God's laws and precepts that is important. In Romans 2 Paul explains that circumcision of the Jew is outward in the flesh but circumcision to Messiah is inward in the heart, in the spirit.
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