Acts 16:3

3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he 1took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

Acts 16:3 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 16:3

Him would Paul have to go forth with him
Perceiving that he was a young man, that not only had the grace of God, but very considerable gifts, and abilities for ministerial service; and having a good testimony of his agreeable life and conversation, the apostle was very desirous he should go along with him, and be his companion in his travels, and be an assistant to him in the work of the ministry; and accordingly he was, and is often spoken of in his epistles, as his fellowlabourer, and one that served with him in the Gospel of Christ, and who was very dear unto him:

and took and circumcised him;
which may seem strange, when there had been so lately a controversy in the church at Antioch about circumcision, from whence the apostle was just come; and when this matter had been debated and determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem, where he was present, and he was now carrying about their decrees: but it is to be observed, that the apostle used circumcision not as a duty of the law, as what that required, and in obedience to it, which he knew was abrogated; much less as necessary to salvation, which the judaizing preachers urged; but as an indifferent thing, and in order to gain a point, and secure some valuable end, as follows

because of the Jews which were in those quarters;
not the believing ones, for he brought along with him the decrees of the apostles and elders to satisfy them, that circumcision was not necessary; but the unbelieving ones, who he knew would not suffer an uncircumcised person to teach in their synagogues, nor would they hear him out of them; wherefore having a mind to take Timothy with him to be assisting to him in the preaching of the Gospel, in point of prudence he thought it proper to circumcise him, that he might be received by them, and be the more acceptable to them; who would otherwise have taken such an offence at him, as not to have heard him: thus the apostle to the Jews became a Jew, that he might gain and save some, ( 1 Corinthians 9:20 ) for they knew all that his father was a Greek; and that therefore he was not circumcised; for a woman might not circumcise, because she was not a fit subject of circumcision herself F20; though in case of necessity circumcision by women was allowed of F21.


F20 T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 27. 1.
F21 Maimon. Hilchot. Mila, c. 2. sect. 1.

Acts 16:3 In-Context

1 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.
2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium.
3 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.
4 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.
5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

Cross References 1

  • 1. [Galatians 2:3]
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.