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Posts Tagged ‘circumcision’

Verse 3: “Paul wanted to have him go with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.”

In the Saturday morning series Star Trek: The Animated Series, there was an episode entitled “Yesteryear”, in which we learn more about Mr. Spock’s childhood. As a child, he would soon have to undergo the maturity test known as the kahs-wan, in which he chooses his life’s path during a survival test. Because Spock’s father was Vulcan and his mother was a human Terran, Spock had a harder struggle with this than most Vulcan boys. Part of this episode had the grown Spock, playing the time-tossed role of a cousin named Selek, rescuing young Spock in the desert, as well as counseling him (young Spock undertook his own personal test before the kahs-wan, to see if he could succeed). Young Spock emerged from his personal test successfully; furthermore, he determined to choose the Vulcan way of life, which set him on the path his future self already knew of.

In today’s passage, Paul has met young Timothy and wishes to take the young man with him on his second missionary journey. Before they leave, Paul, who served as mentor to the young Timothy, had him circumcised in accordance with Jewish custom. Wait, you might say…didn’t Paul just lead a quest in the recent Jerusalem council to ensure that Gentile converts didn’t have to be circumcised like Jews? Yes, he did; but remember here, Timothy was raised a Jew. His mother was Jewish, although his father was Greek. To avoid giving any Jewish opposition any foothold against their mission, he advised Timothy to be circumcised. Paul was first and foremost a Christian, but he did follow Jewish tradition. You might see this parallel as when parents who go to a certain church, rear their children to attend the same church as well, instructing them in its customs and traditions. The children eventually will have to make their own choices, of course.

In today’s world, like that of the New Testament, people had a choice to make regarding their future. For those who have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you have a choice. You can reject it and choose the world, or you can accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and live this life on Earth for Him…and spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

What choice will you make?

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Verses 1-2: “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.”

When I was growing up, one of my favorite Rankin-Bass Christmas specials was The Year Without a Santa Claus. Probably the most memorable characters in that special were the feuding Miser brothers: Snow Miser, the cheery, frozen master of all things cold (thus he ruled the polar areas) and Heat Miser, the hot-tempered, combustible king of heat (who ruled the warm regions). Mrs. Claus was trying to convince a sick, tired, and depressed Santa that he hadn’t been forgotten by people. Her plan was to get Snow Miser to make it snow in Southtown; if the citizens saw snow there (where it hadn’t ever fallen), they’d whip up a parade and celebration for Santa. Unfortunately, Mrs. Claus had to secure the permission of Heat Miser to let it snow in his territory…which he would, IF…there’s always an “if”…he could make it warm for one day at the North Pole. Of course, both boys couldn’t compromise and resumed their feuding!

Mrs. Claus had had enough…and threatened to go “all the way to the top”. This put the fear into both of the Miser brothers; she was going to go to their mother! (Mother Nature, to be exact). For all their power and bravado, Mother Nature only had to remind them that SHE was in charge, and that they would do whatever she commanded. She was the authority, no question about it.

Here we have the situation of some Pharisees who did believe in Jesus, and came down to where Paul and Barnabas had been teaching. They were in agreement about faith in Jesus…plus some extras. They were insisting, to be saved, the Gentiles had to be circumcised like the Jews! Oh, boy. Talk about an argument! When Paul and Barnabas found out, it was probably a war of words to put the Miser brothers to shame. And, in this case, the result was similar: Paul, Barnabas, and some others were sent to Jerusalem, still considered the center of the Christian church in the known world. Paul and Barnabas knew they had to get support to stop this heresy…and they did…in what you might call the church’s first big convention and business meeting!

More to come!

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Romans 4:11 “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also,”

Remember Thurston Howell III? You know, “the millionaire” in the Gilligan’s Island opening theme song, played comically by Jim Backus? Here was a man and his wife going on a “three hour tour” yet they brought enough luggage, clothes, and a trunk full of money for a summer vacation (why? Because money talks!) When push came to shove, Thurston would be there for his fellow castaways, but otherwise, he acted like the caricature of “old money”, not really associating with people who were not rich. There were a few plotlines in both the live-action series and the Saturday morning cartoon, when his attitude would change if he thought someone came into money and was now rich (such as Gilligan once). To him, money changed the status of the person; until then, he wouldn’t invite them into his social circle.

There was an argument that Paul is commenting on here: was Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, declared righteous after he got circumcised or before? Most assuredly, Paul writes, before! His faith in God already had sealed him as righteous in God’s eyes. Now, he followed circumcision according to Jewish law, but this act alone didn’t make him righteous in God’s eyes. Paul was expounding that fact that salvation/righteousness was available to the circumcised (Jewish) and uncircumcised (Gentile) alike.

Back to a particular Gilligan’s Island cartoon: Howell and his wife weren’t allowing the other castaways to be members of their private beach resort that Thurston had tricked them into building. But when a storm threatened the island and wrecked the resort, Thurston and Lovey managed to make it to the emergency cave shelter…only to find a door! The Professor and Gilligan greeted them; however, the Professor asked if they had membership; meekly Howell admitted, they didn’t. “Good! We don’t believe in exclusion…come on in!” said the Professor. They were welcomed into the cave because they were fellow castaways and were their friends.

For your information: God’s gift of salvation doesn’t hinge on who you are, or what your status is…only if you have accepted Jesus, God the Son, as your Lord and Savior. If that’s the case…come on in!

Something to think about today.

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