Thursday, June 28, 2007

Paul 3.8

The next Lord's Day, the word of prophecy came to Lois again: "God has set apart Timothy to go with Paul and Silas to do the work of the ministry." The entire assembly said the "Amen."

And so moved by the Spirit, Silas, myself, and the elders of the assembly, including Lois, laid our hands on Timothy and prayed that he might be filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered for ministry. He of course was already baptized and had received the Holy Spirit. But now we prayed that he might have a special anointing to be a servant of the gospel as Silas and I were.

God did not dissappoint us. Timothy rose from prayer emboldened and ready to fulfill the commission of our Lord as he told the disciples in Galilee to go into all the world preaching the good news.

"I want to be circumcised," Timothy told the assembly. This was a difficult request for me. The issue of circumcision had been one of the contentions of the letter I had sent to the very churches of this region of Galatia. I had told them that they would fall from God's grace if they submitted to circumcision.

"You do not need to be circumcised to be saved, Timothy. God has granted us all justification by our faith in what God has done through Jesus Christ."

"I know, my father in the Lord," Timothy replied. "But my mother is a Jew, and so I am a Jew by birth. All these years I have lived contrary to God's Law. Grant me that I be a believer justified as what I am, a Jew, rather than a believer justified as a Gentile."

I prayed and wrestled deeply with this decision for several days. And every day Timothy prodded me to allow him circumcision. Finally, I accepted that Timothy was a liability to the mission if he remained uncircumcised. It was not a problem for Titus, for he was not a Jew by nature. He was like the many uncircumcised God-fearers who had attached themselves to synagogues all over the world.

But Timothy was a Jew by nature, and so would be considered an apostate every where we go and fuel for those I was an advocate of sin. I admired Timothy's willingness to undergo this painful operation. We had it done the next day. Then seven days later, when he was mostly recovered, we embarked for Iconium and Antioch of Pisidia.

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