To Circumcise or Not to Circumcise?

In Acts 15, Paul goes on an extensive journey to establish agreement on the lack of necessity for circumcision. Then he immediately turns around in Act 16 and has Timothy circumcised.


My first thought was that Timothy’s mother is Jewish, so maybe being half Jewish it was thought better to be circumcised. But then in verse three it says Paul did it because the Jews in the places they were going knew Timothy’s father was * Greek*. I don’t get it. :shrug:

A minute of googling commentary answered the question.

Timothy was circumcised not to place him under the yoke of the law, but to avoid the prejudice of unbelieving Jews who would reject him as a teacher in the synagogues. It was OK because he wasn’t assuming any righteousness based on his circumcision.

Not quite the whole story, he seems to have caved in that instance the Jewish pressure, but that does not make circumcision ok for Christians. Paul’s epistles roundly denounced it in increasingly heated tones, calling those who practice it “dogs” and urging Christians not to practice “the mutilation of the flesh”. This was also in his time a much more minor cut than what is done in hospitals today. In Paul’s time they only cut the very tip of the foreskin that extends past the glans.

There is absolutely no medical need or proven benefit to it, you wouldn’t cut a daughter, don’t cut your son either. Leave well enough alone.

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Whoa. I wasn’t talking about actually doing it to anyone. I was only talking about the theological implications to Paul’s teaching.

But yea, considering how vehemently he spoke out against it, it’s striking how soon after the trip to Jerusalem he decides to circumcise Timothy.

But again, the difference is in the intent of the circumcision. The Judaizers were teaching that the gentiles had to be circumcised to be saved, i.e. to gain righteousness. Timothy was not circumcised for that reason. He was circumcised in order to be more effective in bringing the good news to the Jews.

Was it common for Jews to look at a man’s penis to determine their credibility? How would anyone know whether or not Timothy was circumcised?

Maybe it was done so he wouldn’t have to lie about it.

Can you imagine?

However a quick read here

Will show you that sometimes they DO check a man’s penis to determine who/what faith he is… and act accordingly…

Very sad times… Will we ever be free of this???

An interesting question, and quite a story too!

I spent time in France in 1986 and 1987. In Europe it is common knowledge that only male Jews are circumcised. And it is a topic of discussion at the dinner table. They are not shy and often engage in heated political debate while breaking bread with friends. Yes, they look at a man’s penis when in the restroom and will even sometimes report back that there was a jew in the bathroom or brag I don’t have a circumcised penis, etc.

It is in USA that we routinely circumcise boys regardless of religion or heritage and also that we think it is shameful to discuss.

So yes, I think that it was common knowledge in biblical times if a man was circumcised or not. How much privacy do you think a person got living in large families, offering hospitality to any one who knocked on your door?

I really don’t get why circumcision is so common in the US.

In biblical times people were around each a lot but I seriously don’t imagine it was difficult for them to cover their private parts… haha.

Where on earth did you get such information? Its rubbish. When you make a claim like that you have to back it up with information from a credible source.

I think that it was pushed by the medical profession 50 - 100 years ago as a hygienic measure. I don’t have a good source for that; just from what I have heard from time to time.

Men were not as unacustomed to being naked around each other as we are today in western society.

*So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. (John 13:3-4)*This is Jesus himself guys. And they didn’t wear boxers or briefs back then either. He gets himself naked right before the first Eucharist.:eek:

Nakedness was much more common. Remember that there were no little urinals with the metal dividers between them back in the day.


In Germany and German occupied Europe, during the Nazi era, being circumsized would get any male a fast trip to a concentration camp!
I find the comments about Iraq and circumcision interesting because in most North African and Arab (Sunni) countries circumcision is as commonplace as in the US.
Circumcision was pushed by the medical profession in the US from after WW I up to the present time as a health measure. In reality, I suspect that it meant extra fees for the doctors attending childbirth. In many hospitals today the parents aren’t even consulted, they just do it. I know of cases where the parents specifically asked that it not be done and it was done anyway. When a complaint was filed the hospitals reply was " Well, if you are so crass as to not want it, we won’t charge you for it…just sign papers so you won’t sue!"

It was a common topic of discussion, thus common knowledge. Men and women, students, business owners, waiters at cafes. My credible source is my experience in Paris. There were men from Greece, Italy, Morocco, England, Germany, Spain, Israel, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, etc.

The men who were not of the Jewish faith or ethnic group were not circumcised and they boasted about it. Yes, they were racist. Sorry it exists. I am not making a judgment. Rather I am relating my personal experience. How much more credible can you get?

Well I’m British and you are talking nonsense. Getting information from racists does not make you credible at all!!

That’s not a question you hear a lot in the circles I travel in. :wink:

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