2. Prequel: The Church at Philippi

March 9, 2019

The Second Missionary Journey

1st Corinthians 9: 19 “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you”

The following events take place during the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey. The Gospel must go into Europe. Paul and Barnabas also wanted to revisit the newly found churches in Galatia (Acts 15:36). However, at this point, a disagreement arose between the two regarding whether or not to take John, whose surname was Mark. We don’t really know why Paul disputed the matter. We do know that John Mark was Barnabas’s nephew, and there is no indication that there were any doctrinal issues. Maybe Paul thought the young man to be unreliable, so at this point, Paul and Barnabas separated. Paul chose Silas to travel with him.

There are always two sides to every coin, just as there is always a story within a story. When Paul and Silas (Silvanus) reached Derbe and Lystra, they ran into one of Paul’s disciples by the name of Timothy. This young man’s parents were what we would call today a bi-racial couple. The proper term would be bi-cultural because there is only one race; i.e. the human race. His father was Greek while his mother was a Jewess Christian. Apparently, the citizens of this region had issues with uncircumcised Believers. We know that Paul and Silas were both cultured Roman citizens but by culture Jews. Their citizenship would be an advantage amongst the Gentiles.

Some might think it a contradiction on Paul’s part to have Timothy circumcised (16:3) when the Gentile Titus was not (Gal. 3:2-5). Timothy was now in a position to minister to the Jews as well as the Gentiles. This also was not an issue of doctrine; it was for the furtherance of The Gospel. On the other hand, had he allow Titus to go under the knife, it would have been a hindrance for the Galatian church because the Judaizers tried to keep them bound by the Law of Moses for salvation. As stated in 1st Cor. 9: 19-23, he was free to be all things to all men, but not be brought under the law of any man-made tradition. Circumcision was not a man-made tradition; let us be clear about that. However, it was unnecessary under the New Covenant:

Romans 2: 28 ”For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is  that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God”.

Galatians 6: 11 ”See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! 12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation”.   

Timothy’s circumcision had nothing to do with his salvation; however, he was willing to do it for the sake of the Gospel per situation. Nevertheless, had Titus submitted to circumcision the Galatians would have been bewitched by the Judaizers. We need to be very careful when it comes to certain practices in many churches today. The Word of God always trumps tradition. We are all free in Christ Jesus to participate in some traditions, as long as your participation is for the furtherance of the Gospel and not some show for the flesh. On the other hand, maybe you should not participate because you may cause some that are weak to stumble. To be continued…

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