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. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 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. 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. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.
-- Acts 16:1-5, ESV
Paul begins his second missionary journey in this chapter. He has new partners to assist him in the work of the church. These men are a prominent pair in Scripture, Silas and Timothy.
Silas we met in the previous chapter. He is not mentioned by name in these verses, except as part of the pronoun "they" in vs. 4. He is mentioned 20 times in the New Testament, 16 by his nickname, Silas, all in the book of Acts; and, four times by his full name, Silvanus, in three epistles by Paul plus one by Peter. If Silvanus sounds a little effeminate to you, remember the tough guy Silvio (Steven Van Zandt) on "The Sopranos." Silvanus, or Silas, was a tough guy, too, as we will see time and time again throughout this mission trip.
Timothy's name is spelled out in the text, for the first of almost 40 times in the New Testament. As Silas replaced Barnabas on the second journey, Timothy was recruited to replace John Mark as the assistant to the two more advanced preachers. Since this is Timothy's inaugural appearance, it is worth investigating how he came to faith in Christ and volunteered for the mission field.
Timothy came to faith in Christ, humanly speaking, because of his family's influence. His mother, "a Jewish woman who was a believer" (vs. 1), is named elsewhere as Eunice, who came to faith because of her Christian mother, Timothy's grandmother, Lois. Lois and Eunice must have been outstanding Christians, because Paul mentions them by name in his last, most personal and affectionate, letter (2 Timothy).
"His father was a Greek" means he was not Jewish, not necessarily that he was not Christian. He probably was, and a principled one at that, who would not allow himself or his son to be pressured into circumcision by the Judaizers. Paul's insistence on Timothy's circumcision was by no means a compromise with those pseudo-Christians, as Paul was quite uncompromising. This was a necessary accommodation to Paul's strategy of taking the gospel to the Jew first (in Jewish synagogues), then to the Greeks. As always when dealing with a passage involving circumcision, I encourage all the young people in the congregation who don't know what the word means to ask your parents when you get home.
And parents, ask yourselves this question now. Do I have saving faith in Jesus Christ, and is my faith sincere and strong enough to influence my children to come to Christ as well? Timothy was saved, like about 90% of saved people, because one or both of his parents were saved and serious about their faith in Christ. To be sure, bad children can break good parents' hearts, but most people who have committed Christian parents become Christians, too.
Timothy became a missionary because he was inspired by the faith and courage of the Apostle Paul. Timothy joined the band in his hometown of Lystra, the place where Paul had been stoned (with actual stones, not medical marijuana) on his first missionary journey. It takes guts to go back to the place where they tried to kill you for preaching the Gospel, and preach the Bospel. Timothy decided if Paul would give his life for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so would he.
Face it folks: Our faith, or lack thereof, influences other people toward, or away, from the Gospel. We are all partners with God, part of His church, once we profess faith in Christ. We must so profess and practice our faith in Jesus that others will want to partner with us to accomplish the purposes of God, too, especially our circles of family and friends.
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]