Acts 16:1-5

1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.

2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.

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

4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem.

5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.

Derbe and Lystra (v.1) — in Galatia (see Acts 14:6-20). This was Paul’s third visit to Lystra, where he had been stoned and left for dead.

behold (v.1) — an expression of glad surprise

a certain Jewish woman (v.1) — Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5)

Timothy had been saved under Paul’s ministry on one of his earlier visits (1 Timothy 1:2), about six years previously.

Timothy was already known outside his home church (v.4).

The Holy Spirit moved the apostle to have Timotheus to go forth with him. The Epistles to Timothy shed more light on this. In 1 Timothy 1:18 we read: “This charge I commit  unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou mightest war a good warfare.” A better translation of “according to the prophecies which went before thee” is “according to the prophecies which led the way to thee.” Timothy had been marked out by the Holy Spirit through the gift of prophecy as the proper companion of the apostle. No mention is made in the record before us of the laying on of hands. However, we read of it in the Epistles to Timothy. “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership” (1 Timothy 4:14). “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6). — Gaebelein, page 278.


The law has nothing to say about the circumcision of the offspring of mixed marriages. It is well known that, if there was a mixed marriage (i.e., between a Jew and a Gentile), the law would have nothing to say to the offspring. “Legally, the Jewish father could not own his own children born of a Gentile mother, or vice versa (see Ezra 10). Now Timothy being the offspring of such a marriage, there could be no claim, even if there was a license to circumcise him; and Paul condescends out of grace to those who were on lower ground, and stops their mouths most effectually. His act then was not according to Law, for circumcision in Timothy’s case was not commanded but it was done on the ground of grace; he did not want to put a stumbling block into the way of the Jews. — Gaebelein, page 279.

decrees (v.4) — the decision of the Jerusalem council in Acts 15.

strengthened (v.5) — and  yet, not long after, Paul writes to these same churches: I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel (Galatians 1:6).

Timothy — Converted, we may well believe, during Paul’s former visit to Lystra (cf. 2 Timothy 3:10-11 and 1 Timothy 1:2, with Acts 14:19-20). We find him, in this chapter, accompanying the apostle to Philippi (vs.6-12). He also assisted in the work at Thessalonica (17:1-9; 1 Thessalonians 1:1), and at Berea (17:10-14), where he remained behind with Silas to strengthen the church, rejoining Paul later at Athens (17:15), — only, however, to be dispatched again on a mission to Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 3:1-2). He rejoined his chief once more at Corinth (18:5), and there we lose sight of him till we find him with Paul at Ephesus during the third missionary journey (19:22), from whence he was sent with Erastus and others to Macedonia (1 Corinthians 16:10-11), with the intention of going on to Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:17). He is still in Macedonia, however, with Paul when 2 Corinthians is written (2 Corinthians 1:1); and, in his company, goes on to Corinth (Romans 16:21). He continued with the apostle on the return journey, at least as far as Troas (20:1-5). There is no further mention of him till we find him with Paul at Rome during the latter’s first imprisonment there (Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1), about to be sent on a special errand to Philippi (Philippians 2:19-24). After his release, Paul placed him in charge of the church at Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3), and we see him once more in 2 Timothy 4:9, 21, summoned to come to Rome as speedily as possible during the apostle’s second imprisonment there. There is one other allusion to him, in Hebrews 13:23. — Walker, pages 339-340.

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