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IS Circumcision of the flesh still required?

I’m writing and discussing this topic because it keeps coming up, sooner or later, as I work with various groups who want to be obedient to God and his word. I keep hearing that there are those who want to require only circumcised males to be able to keep the Passover. 

It is VERY true that in the Old Testament, in the first or “old covenant”, God’s followers from Abraham onwards had to be circumcised as the sign of them being in covenant with the true living God. But what about today? I want to show both the Old Testament and New Testament teaching on this topic.

I strongly recommend everyone studies this short teaching – whether you are male or female, so you can discuss it correctly and intelligently when the topic rears its head again AND as it also bears heavily on understanding how we’re in the NEW COVENANT now.

So we’ll read some of the Old Testament scriptures first and then see what we’re told in the New Covenant. ARE we required TODAY to circumcise our males for spiritual reasons? Many still circumcise for health and hygienic reasons today, but we’re discussing circumcision for spiritual requirement reasons or not.

Here’s God’ command to Abraham in Genesis 17 saying ANY male in his group – whether freeborn or a purchased slave – were all to be circumcised.

Genesis 17:9-14

And God said to Abraham: "As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.

10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 

12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant."

God chose the 8th day because 8 is the number of new beginnings. Like there were 8 in the ark; David was the 8th son of Jesse. But also on the 8th day is when Vitamin K in our blood, needed for strong blood clotting, is at its highest level it will ever be!

It is also true that in the first Passover service in Exodus 12, everyone partaking of the Passover had to first be circumcised. SO understand, before they left Egypt all the males had been circumcised. But we’ll find that in the next 40 years in the wilderness, they did not continue to circumcise any of the newborns. Not at all. Not even Moses enforced it, as we’ll see later on in Joshua 5.

Exodus 12:43-48

And YHVH said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it. 44 But every man's servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it. 45 A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it. 46 In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.

48 And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to YHVH, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.

So that’s clear enough as well! If you wanted to keep Passover back in the day, yes – you had to be circumcised. So all of Israelite males coming OUT of Egypt, had had the circumcision ceremony done on their bodies before they left Egypt. Keep that in mind.

But did you know that in the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites were not circumcised and so probably did not keep Passover either! You can read that all very clearly in Joshua 5:1-9. Not even Moses had made them get circumcised during the 40 years wandering.

Moses and Jeremiah pointed out the real meaning of circumcision is to cut out anything between you and God. 

Deuteronomy 30:6  

“And YHVH your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

Deuteronomy 10:16

“Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer”.

Jeremiah 4:3-4 says to take away the foreskins of your hearts.

So please note: circumcision today – for spiritual reasons – points to exposing your HEART to God, in deep repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ, by FAITH, as your Savior . So even you WOMEN need THIS kind of circumcision, OK?  

Circumcision became an issue in the New Covenant when believers who had been PHARISEES saw uncircumcised Gentiles coming to conversion. Pharisees were super strict and orthodox about keeping the law.

Remember, they did not have any of the New Testament scriptures we have now for the first few DECADES after Christ’s death and resurrection. ALL they had were the scriptures I’ve just read you and if that’s all you had, you too would have said circumcision of the flesh was required.

So there was a ministerial conference in Jerusalem to address this topic of circumcision – AND, verse 5 – whether people had to keep all 613 laws of the entire law of Moses, meaning his 5 books, the Torah. It’s important to understand both questions were being addressed. People were saying one must be circumcised for salvation and keep all 613 laws (the Torah).

You may want to hear my teaching on “The NEW Covenant”.

Acts 15:1-2

And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." 2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. 

Acts 15:5-12

“But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, AND to command them to keep the law of Moses."

6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.

7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, [before those Gentiles were circumcised] 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their HEARTS by faith.

10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ WE shall be saved in the same manner AS THEY" (meaning by faith). 

Peter was circumcised. So were all the other Jews present. What is this yoke on the neck that neither they nor their fathers could keep; weren’t “able to bear?” 

It was this: The Old Covenant was all about blessings and cursings. You were blessed if you obeyed and cursed if you did not (Leviticus 25; Deuteronomy 28). The Old Covenant did not offer eternal life to Israel for being obedient. It offered a blessed life, but not eternal life. This is so key to understanding this.

So people like Joshua and others said they chose LIFE (Joshua 24:15), meaning they chose to be obedient and serve the LORD. But they were not offered eternal life except for a very few exceptions of prophets and leaders and some women who were being called to receive the Holy Spirit even way back then. Hear my “New Covenant” sermon please.

The NEW covenant that we and they in Acts 15 were now a part of – was a covenant of salvation, righteousness and eternal life by FAITH in Yeshua and our Father. But too many 21st century believers don’t understand this still. Too many are still trying to QUALIFY for eternal life, instead of receiving the GIFT of salvation. Peter is trying to explain that in Acts 15:9 and 11 especially. Read it again. Salvation by FAITH in Christ and in faith receiving the gift of God’s favor, God’s grace (verses 9, 11). Eternal life is God’s free GIFT (Rom. 6:23). 

12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.

Then for the rest of the chapter – they issued a decree that they wanted 4 points emphasized to the uncircumcised Gentiles: abstain from meat offered to idols, no sexual immorality, don’t eat meat strangled, and don’t be drinking blood (v. 20).

BUT WHAT WAS LEFT OUT of the 4 requirements? CIRCUMCISION.

 Timothy was half Jewish by his mom and half Gentile by his dad. So he was circumcised to keep from offending the Jews.

Acts 16:3

“Paul wanted to have him (Timothy) go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.”

But Titus, a Greek man, was not required to be circumcised (Galatians 2:3).

WHAT CIRCUMCISION IS REQUIRED – both of men and women of God 

The Apostle Paul, especially, clarifies that circumcision of the male parts is not required or even desired in the new covenant. We become spiritual Jews by faith and circumcision of the heart.

Romans 2:28-29

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh;

29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

1 Cor. 7:18 is so clear. If a believing man is uncircumcised, “let him NOT be circumcised.” And verse 20 – stay the way you are! It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

1 Corinthians 7:18-20

“Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him NOT be circumcised.

19 Circumcision is NOTHING and uncircumcision is NOTHING, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.

20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.”

This next passage in Galatians 5 is especially strong.

Galatians 5:1-6 especially   v 2, 4

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you NOTHING.”

3 “And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails ANYTHING, but faith working through love.”

Paul goes on in Galatians 6:14-15 to say he did not want to boast in anything he did in the flesh – but just to glory to what Yeshua did on the cross. Paul really puts down those in the church who were advocating for circumcising the men and boys. 

So today, we do NOT seek to circumcise our males for spiritual reasons. If anyone wants to circumcise their 8-day old boys for health reasons, that’s fine; but please – not for spiritual reasons. We ARE all circumcised in the New Covenant if we have repented, opened up and exposed our soul and heart to God, and accepted Yeshua as our Savior. We had circumcision of the HEART, which is what physical circumcision pointed to.

Colossians 3:9-11

“Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

I want to end by reading again, the first 5-6 verses of Galatians 5:

Galatians 5:1-2, 6

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you NOTHING.”

6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love”.

So, are we to be circumcised now, in the New Covenant?

Yes – but only by circumcision of our heart; being tender-hearted to God and baring our soul.

But if someone means physical circumcision of the male foreskin, then NO. Absolutely not.  

So to be clear: in the new covenant, NOBODY has to be physically circumcised today to keep the Passover, or to be baptized, or to be allowed to marry, or to attend church services. Nobody has to be circumcised today, except in our hearts. And we are in the New Covenant!

1
When the Bible is literal and or figurative
Are We Crucified With Christ?
 

Comments 2

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Ondigo Ochieng on Thursday, 28 April 2022 18:36
Circumcision

Many thanks for sharing this wonderful message. Keeping the commandments of God is what matters.

0
Many thanks for sharing this wonderful message. Keeping the commandments of God is what matters.
Carol on Thursday, 05 May 2022 20:12
Yes!

How can anyone see circumcision any differently after reading this? I would just add that, since God required circumcision of BABIES, it could NEVER have been seen as anything Spiritual since obviously an 8-day-old baby doesn't even know he's alive! If anyone thinks circumcision has to do with anything spiritual, they really should wait till their baby is OLD ENOUGH TO DECIDE FOR HIMSELF--AN ADULT! Ridiculous, right?

0
How can anyone see circumcision any differently after reading this? I would just add that, since God required circumcision of BABIES, it could NEVER have been seen as anything Spiritual since obviously an 8-day-old baby doesn't even know he's alive! If anyone thinks circumcision has to do with anything spiritual, they really should wait till their baby is OLD ENOUGH TO DECIDE FOR HIMSELF--AN ADULT! Ridiculous, right?

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