Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. Galatians 2:3 (NIV).
What? Where does this statement come from? One second Paul was talking about going to Jerusalem to meet with church leaders (after not meeting with them for over fourteen years), and in the next he’s talking about circumcision. Huh?
When Paul went to Jerusalem – center of Jewish worship as well as the nascent Christian church – he took Titus with him, to meet the apostolic leadership team (Jesus’ inner circle of Peter, James, and John, perhaps others). Titus was a Greek gentile, not a Jew, not one raised in Jewish traditions or practices. Yet, while in Jerusalem, the apostles, all of them circumcised Jews who followed Jesus, agreed that it wasn’t necessary for Titus to be circumcised.
That has much bigger implications beyond just one man’s ceremony. Not unlike Peter’s dream from Acts, in which it was revealed to him that all foods – and all people – are sacred to God, the agreement of Peter, Paul, and the others to not circumcise Titus signifies that this ancient covenant between Abraham and God need not apply to followers of Jesus for them to be saved. Whereas circumcision once identified members of God’s people, now it would be faith in Christ that identified the members of God’s family. This literally opened the world.
Now, couple this with 1 Corinthians 9, where Paul also says, “to those not having the law I became LIKE ONE not having the law.” Translation: I do whatever is honorable and necessary to help others meet Jesus. If others can be part of God’s family, then he would do whatever he had to in order to introduce them. See, also, https://rapsthenjives.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/titus-wasnt-circumcised/ for a really great explanation of this verse.
We don’t know if Titus was ever circumcised. Maybe it happened later; maybe not. Yet, as Paul would be willing to become all things to all people in order to spread the word of Jesus, so Titus might have done the same, even to the point of a bris. If not, he served Jesus anyway.
What does this mean for us? Like Titus, no adherence to law is required to save us. Jesus already did it all; nothing else remains. Like Titus, if we choose to show devotion, it’s an act of love for Christ, instead of compulsion. And, like Paul, we may yet get the opportunity to do whatever is necessary or helpful so that others might know Jesus as their friend, savior, and Lord. The apostles understood this; we should too: no matter what it takes.
For further reading: Acts 10:13, Acts 16:3, 1 Corinthians 9:21, 2 Corinthians 2:13, Galatians 2:4
Lord, show me how I might demonstrate devotion to You so that others might come to know You, too. Help me to always be willing to do whatever it takes.
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