I've received some letters from concerned fathers as to whether or not they should circumcise their newborn sons. In this article, we will explore what circumcision is, why it was done in Scripture, and what duties Christians may or may not have today.
First, let's go to Genesis 17, where the Lord God first talks to Abraham about circumcision:
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. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly... And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 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. 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.
covenant (n): a mutual consent or agreement of two or more persons, to do or to forbear some act or thing; a contract
(See 'covenant', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved May 9, 2016 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
Although there was a verbal agreement, there were also signs of that agreement which both parties would need to keep. The Lord God's sign was that he would give Abraham's children the land of Canaan (i.e. Israel) for an everlasting possession, and in return, Abraham was given specific instruction for his sign:
And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 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. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
token (n): a sign; something intended to represent or indicate another thing or an event
(See 'token', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved May 9, 2016 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
circumcise (v): to cut off the prepuce or foreskin of males
(See 'circumcise', American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, retrieved May 9, 2016 [webstersdictionary1828.com])
(Read "Muslim Woman's Life of Fear" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
The Lord God then instructs Abraham that the circumcision was to be done on the eight day after birth:
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.
In 1943, Danish scientist Henrik Dam (along with Edward Doisy) discovered what we commonly know today as "Vitamin K," which is a vital substance that controls the binding of calcium in bones and tissues to coagulate blood. (i.e. It helps forms scabs to heal tissue and prevent further bleeding.) Along with another substance called prothrombin, your body can seal off bleeding and restore tissue. Vitamin K does not get produced in a baby's intestinal tract until the 5th-7th day of his/her life, which means the first day that would be safe to circumcise would be the eight day, and in addition to that:
"It appears that
an eight day old baby has more available prothrombin than on any other day of its life."
-Birmingham Medical and Dental Schools, Queen's Medical Magazine, Vol. 64, 1973, [University of California]
The substances needed for blood clotting are over double their normal amounts in an eight-day-old baby:
"[P]rothrombin skyrockets on the eighth day to a level even better than normal --
110 percent... We should commend the many hundreds of workers who labored at great expense over a number of years to discover that the safest day to perform circumcision is the eighth. Yet, as we congratulate medical science for this recent finding, we can almost hear the leaves of the Bible rustling. They would like to remind us that four thousand years ago, when God initiated circumcision with Abraham... Abraham did not pick the eighth day after many centuries of trial-and-error experiments. Neither he nor any of his company from the ancient city of Ur in the Chaldees ever had been circumcised. It was a day picked by the Creator of vitamin K."
-S.I. McMillen, None of These Diseases, 1968, p. 21
In fact, in 1964, the Journal of the American Dental Association was reporting on natal teeth, which are small beginnings of teeth in the gum line that somtimes forms in babies at (or before) birth. These natal teeth are sometimes surgically removed since they can cause injury to the baby's tongue during teething, or injury to the mother's breast while nursing, but statistics indicate they only occur in .03-.05% of babies. The journal specifically instructs dentists that they should not extract a natal tooth "
(See Journal of the American Dental Association, Vol. 68, 1964, [University of California]; For natal teeth statistics, see U.S. National Library of Medicine, "Natal Teeth," retrieved May 12, 2016, [nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003268.htm])
However, this simply concerns babies, and only babies that were born of Jewish decent. Adult men can also be circumcised, but with no risk to a lack of blood clotting because they have the needed vitamins to sustain them through the process.
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. 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.
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.
There is a circumcision of the NEW covenant, but it is not the same as the old covenant. In order to understand that, we need to understand why the physical circumcision has no effect in the new covenant:
For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ... In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ... And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
A man being uncircumcised in the flesh can be circumcised in his spirit by the Lord Jesus Christ, and there is no need whatsoever to be circumcised in the flesh. Also, those who have been circumcised in the flesh can be circumcised in the spirit, and his circumcision does not offend the Lord God. It doesn't matter whether a man is circumcised or uncircumcised, so long as they repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
-1 Corinthians 7:17-19
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
The following anonymous author (using an alias), a part of the Hebrew-roots cult, in a blog post he wrote glorying over a man who got circumcised at 30, says:
Paul, Did he say to never get circumcised?Or did he point out over and over again that it was not to be doneaccording to the directives of men? The same is done today with preachers who GLORY over the number of people they can get in their water baptistries. The same was done in Paulís day. Read Carefully! Galatians 6:13 "For neither they (RELIGIOUS LEADERS) themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have YOU circumcised, that they may GLORY in your flesh."
-NEW2TORAH, "Circumcised at 30!" New 2 Torah, Apr 11, 2013, retrieved May 11, 2016, [new2torah.com/2013/04/circumcised-at-30]
First, I would point out where he is correct, specifically in reproving the new-age church buildings for glorying over the number of baptisms they've done, which is a point of pride in their works. There's nothing wrong with talking about baptisms, but often the modern-day church buildings have habits of making trophies out of people.
With that said, let's look closely at his error. He asked if Paul ever said people should not get circumcised, and then quoted Gal 6, but we just read the previous chapter, Gal 5, in which Paul (by inspiration of the Lord Jesus Christ) wrote "if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing" because you would become "a debtor to do the whole of the law" being "entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
We also just read from 1Co 7 where Paul said "Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised." Is this too hard to understand? Or is it that this anonymous author doesn't study his Scripture as much as he claims? What men like him will try to say is that some are called INTO circumcision or uncircumcision, which is not at all what Paul was saying. He's saying they are called "in circumcision," meaning that they were already circumcised when they were called by God, and so they don't need to alter it, but also those who are uncircumcised ought not to circumcise.
If this anonymous author would continue reading Galations 6, he might learn something about Biblical doctrine:
As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain [i.e. urge or put pressure on] you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.This means these men profess Christ, but they don't want to be persecuted by the Jews, so they try to keep one foot on both sides of the fence. The Lord Jesus Christ is disgusted by those who don't pick a side and stand on it (Rev 3:16). So the context here is the people in the churches trying to teach that Christians should be circumcised, which was wrong.
For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
The action of physical circumcision was for the old covenant between Abraham and his children, but even in the old covenant, as in the new covenant, circumcision is a representation of sanctification of the heart; to love the Lord God with all thine heart and thy soul:
Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.
And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.
No; I believe it is error to teach that baptism replaces circumcision, and I do not make that argument. As we read earlier, Scripture tells us that practices like physical circumcision of the old covenant are nailed to the cross, and that baptism is an outward sign of our being born-again by the redeeming power of His blood, which is a different sign for a different covenant.
If a Christian is asking this question, I have a better question: Why not leave the Jewish Passover feast behind and move forward in Christ? I would highly suggest reading our article on that subject. (Read "Should Christians Observe Jewish Passover?" here at creationliberty.com for more details.)
If an uncircumcised Christian gets kicked out of a Jewish Passover tradition, praise God for that! We Christians who rightly divide the Word of Truth, and study to show ourselves approved unto God (2Ti 2:15), know that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Passover, and that the observance of it is no longer necessary because it has already been fulfilled in Him.
No. First, let's look at Gal 3:
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
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.
Question: Do all children that receive an inheritance have the same requirements for that inheritance? Not necessarily. There are many instances in which a deceased parent leaves instructions of conditions the children have to meet in order to receive an inheritance, and those instructions are not always equal. One child may have more expectations put on them than another child, and since in the Song of Solomon, both the old covenant Jews and the new covenant church are labeled as the older and younger sisters in the family (Sng 8:8), it starts to make sense when looking at it from God's perspective instead of our own.
The promises of the everlasting covenant are not exclusive to the Jews. The Lord God can give His promised blessings to anyone He chooses, but that doesn't automatically mean the same requirements are placed on each child, which is why Paul pointed out that if we are Christ's, then we are heirs to the promise, circumcised in our hearts, without the need of circumcision of the flesh.
As a side note, the Jews no longer need to practice those traditions either, since the Lord Jesus Christ has fulfilled them. Just as Paul said "there is neither Jew nor Greek" in Christ, those who repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved and be heirs to the promise.