What did Paul teach about circumcision?

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Was Paul against circumcision?

This was a false accusation from the Judaizers. Paul lived a life of adaptation (1 Cor. 9:19–23); he lived as a Jew, among Jews and permitted the Jew in the Christian church freedom to remain in his ceremonial practices until he saw their insignificance in the light of the gospel of faith (Rom. 14:1–10; 1 Cor. 7:17–24).

The apostle himself had taken the Nazirite vow (Acts 18:18). He allowed Timothy to be circumcised (Acts 16:3). Thus, there was no truth for the charge that Paul taught the Jewish Christians “not to circumcise their children.” The charge was a created by of his enemies.

Paul taught that although circumcision was commanded by God in the OT (Lev. 12:3). It was an external “sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness” of a covenant relation between a nation, or people, and their God (Rom. 4:11). Although the rite was individually done, the reception was not by faith on the part of the child who was to undergo this ritual. Thus, circumcision was merely a national sign.

Circumcision was no longer important

For this reason, Circumcision became without a meaning when the worship of God, in Christ, was no longer a national sign (Gal. 3:28, 29; Col. 3:11). Circumcision became a living relationship to Christ by faith (Rom. 3:22–24; Gal 3:26, 27; Eph. 2:8). Through, Christ of the new covenant of salvation by faith (Jer. 31:31–34; 2 Cor. 3:6–9; Heb. 8:6–13), the old covenant sign, circumcision, was no longer important.

Paul preached, “circumcision is nothing,” so far as a man’s connection to God is considered (1 Cor. 7:19; Rom. 3:31; 8:4; 1 John 2:3). In the gospel of Christ, circumcision has no place (Gal. 5:6; 6:12–17). Jew and Gentile are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:16, 27–29; Col. 2:9–14), who has erased the “middle wall of partition” between them (Eph. 2:11–17). All must be saved by Christ alone, “by grace … through faith” (Eph. 2:4–10; Rom. 3:26–30).

Conclusion

Paul negated a religion of “touch not; taste not; handle not,” as developed and enforced by men (Col. 2:20–22); of rules and scruples concerning things (like circumcision) that had no real moral and spiritual significance (Rom. 14:1–10; Gal. 4:9–11; Heb. 9:9, 10), and which in view of the life and sacrifice of Christ had ceased to have meaning (Col. 2:8–17).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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