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Circumcision

A plain statement by the apostle Paul (see Paul's Ministry) about circumcision (keep in mind that Paul was a circumcised Jew when he said this):

"5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 5:2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 5:3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5:5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. 5:7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" (Galatians 5:1-7 KJV)

Did Paul Change Something?

Consider what Paul said in the quote above with the original command by the LORD (i.e. Jesus Christ - see 'Before Abraham Was, I AM') to righteous Abraham regarding circumcision:

Abraham

"17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect [see Perfection]. 17:2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

17:3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, 17:4 As for me, behold, my covenant [see also Covenant and Testament] is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 17:5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram [see Abram and Sarai], but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 17:6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 17:8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

17:9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 17:10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 17:11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 17:12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. 17:13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 17:14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant." (Genesis 17:1-14 KJV)

"17:23 And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. 17:24 And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 17:25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 17:26 In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. 17:27 And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him." (Genesis 17:23-27 KJV)

When Abraham was circumcised, at the age of 99, he had already lived a righteous life for nearly a century - uncircumcised. Abraham was born in what is today Iraq, a nation regarded as "gentile" by the Jews of today. And yet Abraham was the "gentile" who became a key ancestor of the people of Judah. What was the point of having a righteous old man circumcised? Because he was "the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised."

The Ten Commandments

"4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 4:7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 4:8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

4:9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. 4:10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 4:12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised." (Romans 4:1-12 KJV)

Circumcision was given, as a sign, to a specific people, for a specific time, for a specific purpose. Circumcision isn't wrong, it's just unnecessary for righteousness. What did the apostle Paul, the Jew Paul, say about circumcision's relevance to Christianity? What did he say is important for righteousness in the eyes of the LORD, just as it was to righteous Abraham during the nearly 100 years that he lived before he was circumcised as a physical sign of inner righteousness? Did Paul change something regarding circumcision? Answer - no. It has always been about obeying God. Obeying God's Commandments is what made the "uncircumcised gentile" Abraham righteous before he was circumcised and obeying God's Commandments is what kept Abraham righteous after he was circumcised.

"7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the Commandments of God. 7:20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called." (1 Corinthians 7:19-20 KJV)

Fact Finder: What other physical signs of righteousness have erroneously been made into "righteous" ends in themselves?
See Frontlets and Phylacteries


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