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Summary: Paul’s return trip to southern Galatia appears to have been much less eventful than his first visit. But the only incident of any significance on which Luke comments is the addition of Timothy to the missionary team.

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January 16, 2015

By: Tom Lowe

Title: Paul/Timothy in S. Galatia To Deliver Council's Decrees (16:1-5)

Scripture (Acts 16:1-5; KJV)

1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.

2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.

3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.

4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem.

5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.

Introduction

Paul’s return trip to southern Galatia appears to have been much less eventful than his first visit. But the only incident of any significance on which Luke comments is the addition of Timothy to the missionary team. Other than that, he remarks only that the decision of the council was delivered to the churches of this region and that they were growing in maturity and numbers. This section can be viewed as closing off Luke’s account of the council and, indeed, his whole narrative of the opening of the door of faith to the Gentiles that began in Acts 13:1.

Commentary

1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.

2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.

Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. According to plan, Paul proceeded northward from Antioch, this time on foot, through the Cilician Gates to the cities where he and Barnabas had established churches on the first missionary tour. This time they went from east to west and so reached the towns in the reverse order from their first visit—Derbe first, then Lystra, and finally Iconium.

And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy. Paul needed an assistant. Even more than that, he needed a companion. No man is entirely self-sufficient, and the greater the man, the more he needs someone with whom he can share the heights and the depths of his experience.Paul had found such a man in Barnabas, and now that Barnabas was no longer with him, he selected a young man named Timothy. He lived in Lystra and Paul undoubtedly met him when he was there the first time; now he met him again. Young Timothy undoubtedly witnessed Paul’s sufferings in Lystra (Acts 14:19-20; 2 Timothy 3:10-11) and was drawn by the Lord to the apostle. He is described as a “disciple,” which indicates that he was probably already a Christian when they met the second time. His conversion dated back to Paul and Barnabas’s first witness in that city (14:20). He was in every way an outstanding young man, well suited for the enviable place which he was about to take by the side of Paul.Timothy was to become Paul’s favorite companion and coworker (Philippians 2:19-23), perhaps the son Paul never had but always wanted.

The son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. Paul knew Timothy’s mother and grandmother and they had prepared him for the decision to accept Christ as his Savior; they were the first in their family to trust Christ (2 Timothy 1:5).

He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.

After being commission by the elders of the local church (1 Timothy 4:14 and; 2 Timothy 1:6), he joined Paul and Silas. Luke added that Timothy was well spoken of by Christians in Lystra and Iconium. Derbe is not mentioned because it lay some 60 miles southeast of Lystra. Lystra was only 20 miles or so from Iconium, and a close relationship between the Christians of the two cities would have been natural.

3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.

Luke’s note that Timothy’s mother was Jewish and his father Greek (v. 1) is essential to understanding why Paul had Timothy circumcised. Many scholars have argued that Paul would never have asked Timothy to be circumcised, since he objected so strenuously to that right in Galatians (6:12; 5:11). That, however, is to overlook the fact that Galatians was written to Gentiles and Timothy was considered a Jew. There was no question of circumcising Gentiles. The decision at the Jerusalem Conference was that it was not necessary to be circumcised in order to be saved. Gentiles would not be required to become Jews in order to be Christians. The converse was also true: Jews would not be required to abandon their Jewishness in order to become Christians. There is absolutely no evidence that Paul ever asked Jews to abandon circumcision as the mark of membership in God’s covenant people.

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