Acts

Acts 16:1-5 Freedom Of Conscience.

When Paul arrived at Derbe and Lystra, he would meet Timothy, whose mother was Jewish but his father was a Greek (v. 1). So immediately after the church resolving the dispute between some Jewish and Gentile converts over circumcision, Paul comes upon a young man who was part of a family made of both. However, since his father was a Greek, Timothy had not been circumcised. Some might think that Paul would insist on him not being circumcised, but for Paul the issue was left as a matter of personal decision. Just as it was wrong to insist that Gentiles be circumcised, even so it was wrong to forbid it (Cf. Gal. 2:3; 5:2). For Paul it was a matter of what might serve for the furtherance of the gospel.

Timothy “was well spoken of by the brethren,” and he didn’t want the issue of circumcision to be a barrier to the work (vv. 2-3). The fact that they were also delivering the decrees from the General Assembly, makes his point all the more poignant. The GA decreed that Gentiles should not be compelled to be circumcised, but they did not forbid it. So in addition to the main content of the GA’s decisions, they in effect also laid down the principle of freedom of conscience (15:28). Ultimately their visits meant that “the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily” (v. 5). We should also not lose sight of the fact that there were also people being added daily to the church.

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