Does Circumcision Matter?

No, this is not a medical post; it’s a spiritual post.  As I’m sure most of you know, circumcision was given by God to the Jewish race as a sign of God’s covenant with the Jewish people.  All Jewish boys were to be circumcised as a sign of their identification with God.  In the first century, as the gospel began to spread to non-Jewish people there arose a controversy over the need for circumcision.  Did non-Jewish males who began to follow Jesus need to have circumcision?  Paul puts this question in the context of justification.  Here is what he writes in verses 9-12:  “Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. 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, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still circumcised.”  Paul points out that God said that Abraham was declared righteous BEFORE Abraham or his descendants were circumcised; therefore it’s impossible to believe that righteousness came through circumcision.  What does this mean for us?  I think that circumcision is a symbol of the works or deeds of man.  Just as it was not possible for circumcision to bring about righteousness, it is not possible for good works to bring about righteousness.  However, just as circumcision was a “seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised” I think that our good works are an indication of our genuine faith and justification.  It’s not that circumcision was unimportant for the Jewish male, it’s just that it didn’t bring about justification; neither do any human works bring about justification for any of us.


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