A common question concerns why Paul allowed the circumcision of Timothy. Not only did he allow it, he is the one who oversaw it. He is the one who did it.
“Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek” (Acts 16:3).
But Paul had flatly refused to have Titus circumcised.
“But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised” (Gal. 2:3).
And Paul had thrown down over the Galatians thinking about submitting to circumcision
“Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing” (Gal. 5:2).
The controversy was big enough to bring about the first great church council in Jerusalem (Acts 15), where the viewpoint maintained by Paul prevailed. Why then, did he agree to have Timothy circumcised? This happened in Acts 16, immediately after the church council decided in Paul’s favor. Was this like Elijah winning a great victory on Mt. Carmel, and then wavering immediately after because Jezebel threatened him? Was this an example of the stalwart Paul wavering? I don’t think so, not at all.
We need to remember that Timothy had a Jewish mother
“Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1).
Not only was his mother a Jewess, but she was a pious one. She had a sincere faith, one that was shared by her mother.
“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also” (2 Tim. 1:5).
Timothy had been brought up in this pious (Jewish) household.
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15).
His father was a Greek, but Timothy apparently carried himself as a Jew. My supposition is that he walked, talked, dressed, and acted as a cultural Jew. But it was known that his father was a Greek.
Paul was adamantly opposed to forcing Gentiles to become Jews, because then they would have to submit to the rest of the Mosaic yoke. But here was someone who had been brought up under that manner of life, and that “yoke” wouldn’t be a burden to him at all. Circumcision was the only thing missing.
Circumcising Timothy would place no unnecessary burden on the Gentiles, and it would remove an unnecessary burden from the Jews, who would be troubled by the Jew who wasn’t really one.