In Acts 16, Timothy joined Paul and Silas in their missionary. Timothy’s mother was a Jewish and his father was a Greek, and he hadn’t been circumcised. Paul wanted to take Timothy along on the journey, so Paul circumcised Timothy because they were going into the Jews, and Paul didn’t want to give them any excuse to oppose them. Because of this act, many people criticized Paul as being inconsistent. In the previous chapter, we see that Paul insisted that Gentiles do not have to be circumcised, and he even took it to the council at Jerusalem. However, in this chapter Paul circumcised Timothy.
Although it may seem contradictory at first, it is actually the display of Paul’s ingenuity and flexibility under the condition that no gospel is violated. The circumcision Timothy received is not relevant to his salvation, instead, it is for the sake of his missionary. It is just a strategy to abate the opposition from the Jews.
In Galatians Paul wrote, “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.” So we do not need to argue over whether “one must be circumcised” or “one mustn’t be circumcised”; circumcision cannot save a person. Believing in Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection is our only salvation and new creation.
In this chapter we see that a dealer of purple cloth, Lydia, converted to Christianity in Philippi. After that, all her family members were baptized, and they established the first church in Philippi. Later, Paul cast a spirit out of a slave girl. Her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, so they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the magistrates and accused them, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” As a result, Paul and Silas were beaten with rods and were thrown into prison.
While in prison, Paul and Silas prayed and sang to God around midnight. Afterwards, there were violent earthquake and all the prison doors flew open. If Paul and Silas ran away, not only would they become fugitives, but also they wouldn’t have a chance to witness the miracles the followed. When the jailer asked Paul and Silas how to receive salvation, they replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved－you and your household. “The jailer and his family received God words, and they were all baptized. They were filled with joy because they now believed in Jesus Christ.
Christians often say, “One man being saved, a household being saved.” However, there are many contrasting examples. This is because salvation is a personal and individual relationship with God; no one can substitute for another, and no one can share it with others. Your believing in Jesus Christ does not bring salvation to your family. Every person has to receive salvation from God on his/her own. God’s will is to save the whole family; He wants a household to turn to Him. Cornelius’s family were saved, Lydia’s family were saved, and the jailer’s family were saved; from their examples, we see that they believed in Jesus first, and they brought the gospel into their families, then their families were baptized and saved. Therefore, we need to believe in Jesus Christ first, then convey the word of God to our family. Yet, each of our family members has to accept Jesus Christ on his/her own, and they’ll be saved once they believe.