|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
16:1-5 Well may the church look for much service from youthful ministers who set out in the same spirit as Timothy. But when men will submit in nothing, and oblige in nothing, the first elements of the Christian temper seem to be wanting; and there is great reason to believe that the doctrines and precepts of the gospel will not be successfully taught. The design of the decree being to set aside the ceremonial law, and its carnal ordinances, believers were confirmed in the Christian faith, because it set up a spiritual way of serving God, as suited to the nature both of God and man. Thus the church increased in numbers daily.
Verse 3. - He took for took, A.V.; that for which, A.V.; parts for quarters, A.V.; all knew for knew all, A.V. Circumcised him. The Jewish origin of Timothy on his mother's side was a sufficient reason for circumcising him, according to the maxim, Partus sequitur ventrem. And it could be done without prejudice to the rights of Gentile converts as established in the decrees of which St. Paul was bearer. Because of the Jews; not the Christian Jews, who ought to know better than trust in circumcision, but the unbelieving Jews, who would be scandalized if St. Paul had an uncircumcised man for his fellow-laborer (see 1 Corinthians 10:20).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
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 (t); though in case of necessity circumcision by women was allowed of (u).
(t) T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 27. 1.((u) Maimon. Hilchot. Mila, c. 2. sect. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. Him would Paul have to go forth with him—This is in harmony with all we read in the Acts and Epistles of Paul's affectionate and confiding disposition. He had no relative ties which were of service to him in his work; his companions were few and changing; and though Silas would supply the place of Barnabas, it was no weakness to yearn for the society of one who might become, what Mark once appeared to be, a son in the Gospel [Howson]. And such he indeed proved to be, the most attached and serviceable of his associates (Php 2:19-23; 1Co 4:17; 16:10, 11; 1Th 3:1-6). His double connection, with the Jews by the mother's side and the Gentiles by the father's, would strike the apostle as a peculiar qualification for his own sphere of labor. "So far as appears, Timothy is the first Gentile who after his conversion comes before us as a regular missionary; for what is said of Titus (Ga 2:3) refers to a later period" [Wies]. But before his departure, Paul
took and circumcised him—a rite which every Israelite might perform.
because of the Jews … for they knew all that his father was a Greek—This seems to imply that the father was no proselyte. Against the wishes of a Gentile father no Jewish mother was, as the Jews themselves say, permitted to circumcise her son. We thus see why all the religion of Timothy is traced to the female side of the family (2Ti 1:5). "Had Timothy not been circumcised, a storm would have gathered round the apostle in his farther progress. His fixed line of procedure was to act on the cities through the synagogues; and to preach the Gospel to the Jew first and then to the Gentile. But such a course would have been impossible had not Timothy been circumcised. He must necessarily have been repelled by that people who endeavored once to murder Paul because they imagined he had taken a Greek into the temple (Ac 21:29). The very intercourse of social life would have been almost impossible, for it was still "an abomination" for the circumcised to eat with the uncircumcised" [Howson]. In refusing to compel Titus afterwards to be circumcised (Ga 2:3) at the bidding of Judaizing Christians, as necessary to salvation, he only vindicated "the truth of the Gospel" (Ga 2:5); in circumcising Timothy, "to the Jews he became as a Jew that he might gain the Jews." Probably Timothy's ordination took place now (1Ti 4:14; 2Ti 1:6); and it was a service, apparently, of much solemnity—"before many witnesses" (1Ti 6:12).
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