The Covenant of Circumcision

  • What is circumcision?
    • An act of circumcise is called circumcision.
  • What is circumcise?
    • Hebrew word used for this circumcise is namal (Strongs: H5243)
    • It means become clipped, be circumcised, be cut off, to remove the foreskin (the fold of skin that covers the head) of a male's reproductive/sexual organ.
  • Where and who instituted/established the circumcision? Why?
    Circumcision originates from the Covenant of Circumcision in Genesis 17
    1. Who made this covenant?
      • God made covenant between Himself and Abraham:
      • Genesis 17:7 - And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.
    2. When God made this covenant with Abraham?
      • God made covenant when Abraham was 99 years old:
      • Genesis 17:1 - When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless
      • Genesis 17:7 - And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.
    3. What is this Covenant?
      • God Make Abraham a father of many nations:
      • Genesis 17:4-6 - 4 "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram (means Exalted Father), but your name shall be Abraham (Father of a Multitude); for I have made you a father of many nations. ... ... ...
        8 Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."
    4. What needs to be done to keep the covenant?
      • Abraham needs to circumcise the flesh of his foreskins:
      • Genesis 17:10-11 - 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.
  • Who are all needs to be circumcised?
    • All the males in Abraham family, their descendants and their slaves:
    • Genesis 17:10,13 - 9 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 ... ... ... ... ... 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.
  • In what age they need to circumcise?
    • All eight days old males in Abraham family, his servants, and their descendants:
    • Genesis 17:12 - 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.
  • What happen if one refuse to circumcise?
    • They will be cut off from Abraham's family or Israel:
    • Genesis 17:14 - 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."
  • Is there any way/options God provided to anyone who wants to become a Abraham's family (Israelites)?
    • Yes, if anyone or a community who needs to become Abraham's or God's family can do so by circumcising all males.
    • Genesis 17:12 - 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.
    • Exodus 12:48 - And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, 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.
    • Genesis 34:15,16 - 11 Then Shechem said to her father (Jacob) and her brothers (Jacob sons and their sister Dinah), "Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. 12 Ask me ever so much dowry and gift, and I will give according to what you say to me; but give me the young woman as a wife." 13 But the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father, and spoke deceitfully, because he had defiled Dinah their sister. 14 And they said to them, "We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a reproach to us. 15 But on this condition we will consent to you: If you will become as we are, if every male of you is circumcised, 16 then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to us; and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. 17 But if you will not heed us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and be gone." 18 And their words pleased Hamor and Shechem, Hamor's son. 19 So the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he delighted in Jacob's daughter. He was more honorable than all the household of his father.
    • Joshua 2:8-13 - 8 Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, 9 and said to the men: "I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. 12 Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father's house, and give me a true token, 13 and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death." 14 So the men answered her, "Our lives for yours, if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when the Lord has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you."
    • Joshua 6:23,25 - 23 And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel. 24 But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father's household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
  • Does this circumcision saves/justifies them?
    • No.
    • To join the Abraham's family or descendant of Abraham they have to have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised and circumcised.
      • Romans 3:30 - 29 Or Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
      • NLT: Romans 4:12 - And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised.
    • Circumcision is the outward sign of our inward change in our heart due to our faith in God.
  • Is this circumcision still applicable or necessary now?
    • Similar question arises during 1st century Christians:
      • Acts 15:19,20 - 19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.
    • Therefore circumcision is not necessary now.
  • Why circumcision is not necessary now?
    • All are saved by the grace of God not by the works/circumcision but by believing in Jesus Christ through their faith:
      • Acts 15:5-11 - 1 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. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. 4 And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. 5 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, 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."
      • Eph 2:8-9 - 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
    • Circumcision is not necessary because God fulfilled His promise to Abraham through Jesus Christ.
      • Galatians 3:16 - Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.
      • Genesis 22:18 - In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."
      • Genesis 28:14 - Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
    • Believers in Christ become heirs of Abraham without physical circumcision.
      • Galatians 3:28-29 - 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
      • Romans 4:11 - 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 uncircumcised.
  • Is there anything similar to circumcision exist in Christianity?
    • Yes, it is water baptism. This is the one and only ritual exist in Christianity.
      • Matt 28:19-20 - 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
  • Does this water baptism saves/justifies us?
    • No, like circumcision baptism is the one and only ritual God asked us to do but not to get saved/justified. Be baptized in response to your salvation/justification.
      • Mark 16:16 - He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned
      • NLT: Mark 16:16 - Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.
      • Luke 23:43 - 38 And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: a THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." 40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." 42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." 43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
    • Water baptism is the outward sign of our inward change in our heart due to our faith in God.
  • What Circumcision really means?
    • True circumcision is not just outward action in the flesh; but circumcision is of inward change of heart by the work of the Spirit, not just the knowledge or the God's word.
      • Romans 2:28,29 - 28 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.
      • NLT: Romans 2:28-29 - 28 For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the Jewish ceremony of circumcision. 29 No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not a cutting of the body but a change of heart produced by God's Spirit. Whoever has that kind of change seeks praise from God, not from people.
      • Romans 2:25a For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law;
      • Deuteronomy 10:16 - Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.
      • Deuteronomy 30:6 - And the Lord 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.
      • Jeremiah 4:4 - Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, And take away the foreskins of your hearts, You men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Lest My fury come forth like fire, And burn so that no one can quench it, Because of the evil of your doings."
      • Lev 26:41 - and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt--
      • Acts 7:51 - 51 "You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.
    • (JC) Circumcision was
      1. an identification of God’s covenant people, an outward sign of what was to be an inward reality; and
      2. an illustration of God’s dealing with the flesh.
        • In the Old Testament, God defined how the illustration of circumcision was intended to work.
          • Exodus 6:12 speaks of the circumcision of the lips.
          • Jeremiah 6:10 speaks of the circumcision of the ears.
          • Ezekiel 44 speaks of the circumcision of the heart.
        • God’s people were to speak with tenderness, hear with sensitivity, feel with compassion. Circumcision was meant to be a picture externally of the transformation that takes place internally. Yet although the Jews were outwardly circumcised, they were far from where they should have been internally.
          • As the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, the Lord said, “Before you can take on Jericho in victory, before you can enter the Promised Land and enjoy the milk and honey, you must circumcise all those who came out of Egypt” (see Joshua 5). They needed to do away with the flesh before they could have victory in the Spirit. But this principle became lost in the community of the super-religious, for although they boasted of their circumcision physically, their hearts, lips, and ears were hardened to the Lord in reality.
    • (WW) Circumcision was the great mark of the covenant, and it had its beginning with Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation (Gen. 17). To the Jews, the Gentiles were "uncircumcised dogs." The tragedy is that the Jews depended on this physical mark instead of the spiritual reality it represented (Deut. 10:16; Jer. 9:26; Ezek. 44:9). A true Jew is one who has had an inward spiritual experience in the heart, and not merely an outward physical operation. People today make this same mistake with reference to baptism or the Lord's Supper, or even church membership.