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Monday: Circumcision — 31 Comments

  1. This lesson is a tough one. Circumcision was something given to Abraham's descendants by God as a sign of their relationship with Him. And here were Paul and Barnabas advocating doing away with something that God told them to do. The Descendant Jews must have seen Paul and Barnabas as radical liberals. They were not opposed to the Gentiles being converted but saw circumcision as a requirement when one became a Christian.

    What about some of the things we do as Seventh-day Adventists? Which of our practices are symbolic or a sign? How would you like to give one of those practices up?

    Here is something to think about. I am not suggesting that we give up any of our practices. However, the symbol loses its significance when it becomes more important than what it represents. Had the symbol of circumcision lost its spiritual meaning? If you want a modern context, what is more important, the foot-washing ordinance or the true humility that it represents?

    • Totally in agreement with you; The symbol loses its importance when it is seen as more important than what it represents.

      They is nothing wrong to be an advertist but that should not make me comfortable as already saved.
      Jews were preoccupied by this so called circumcision as a basis to stand and say we are better than thou.

    • Well said. But I think this (Paul´s) lesson is rather liberator. Of course the truth exists and by it we can be set free (John 8:32). But what saves us is the gift, the grace, the voluntary sacrifice, the love of Jesus for us! No matter what church or origin we have. By faith we are saved! Nevertheless, it does not make any sense in knowing the truth and not practicing, although all our works cannot save us, if we believe in Jesus we must try to live as he did.

  2. God brings people into the church circumcised or not. The only circumcision necessary is spiritual circumcision to to cut away the stubbornness and hardness of the heart.

  3. Circumcision set the Jewish people apart from others.
    For a Jew becoming a Christian meant that he lost his identity as a Jew.
    Now to make matters worse, Jew needed to be accepting of gentles whom they regarded as less than a dog.

    However, they had failed to understand their identity was not on the circumcision but was on Jesus Christ who by birth identied himself as Jew.
    By accepting Christ, they could still claim salvation comes from the Jews.
    Their identity was always to be found on God. I am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt. This was to be their true identity.
    They adhered to the physical command but rejected the principle of the law. God was once again pleading with the Jews for acceptance of Himself.

    What about your identity?
    Is it in the relationship of Jesus Christ or in the relationship of a religion?
    Why do you live the way you live?
    Is it because of your parents or is it because of your personnel experience?

    Joshua said, as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
    That should become our experience personnel experience.

    • In the first Century a Jew becoming a follower of Jesus did not mean they lost their identity as a Jew. Most of the followers of Jesus at this time were Jewish. Paul himself several times identified himself as a Jew. Secondly we should abandon the stereotypes the Jews never all believed the same way, and certainly not all Jews considered Gentiles worse than dogs. We have learned there were a great many of proselytes and God fearers in the first century. Obviously the Jews who reached out to gentiles and taught them to be God fearers or even proselytes did not regard gentiles as dogs. Thirdly and I direct this at the lesson, Luke in Acts tells us some of sect of the Pharisees note the word some it does not say all thought gentiles need to be circumcised. Attitudes among the Pharisees regarding gentiles varied those from Shammai that differed from those of Hillel and Gamaliel. Likewise we see differences among the Jews who followed Jesus. The Jewish followers of Jesus (like Jews in general) did not all believe the same this is the reason for the Jerusalem council.

  4. I believe that the issue of circumcision opens the discussion of the difference between Literal Israel and Spiritual Israel?

    Paul is clear -
    Spiritual Israel are grafted into the stock of Literal Israel, thus there is continuity Rom 11:17
    If you are Christ's then you are Abraham's seed and heirs of the promise Gal 3:29

    I believe that the best way to understand is that God's Principles remain the same but the applications now are more spiritual than literal.
    Even circumcision - Paul says that for Jews it is of the heart - so it is now only spiritual for Gentiles.

    Rom 2:28  For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that outwardly in flesh; Rom 2:29  but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart; in spirit and not in letter; whose praise is not from men, but from God. 

  5. God's words are not complicated, He has give us the bible and the Holy Spirit to help us understand circumcision. He said study His words and get understanding. A lack of understanding of what God required from His people was one of the problems. God wants us to be converted. Salvation is free, we need to give the Lord our heart, wisdom to understand.
    the problem

  6. I find it hard to equate foot washing with circumcision. It is something Christ taught us to do until he comes. Yes the point of foot washing being only a symbol rather as it was intended to bring us closer to each other with Christ as the focus by His example is great. We don’t require partipation in communion services to be saved or for that matter to be a member. Rather the Holy Spirit works on me to partipicate, but I don’t say any thing of requirement to any one who does not participate. There really are not any covenents in our church we could relate with circumcision. But yes there are many issues that people use that disrupt the church. For instance diet, obedience taken out of context, dress...Sabbath behavior. Many of these issues are just presented to help our members, but the help is not want to the extent of objecting to them even being taught in the church. We need to lay these issues at the feet of Jesus and love one another, unifying the church rather than deviding it. Pray more together: They who pray together stay together. Be humble by guarding your tongue. James 1:26. 1John 3:18.

    • Equivalence is not really the issue John. The issue that I was trying to raise was that sometimes the things that we do as Seventh-day Adventists are just a form and that we forget the meaning. It is worth examining ourselves and asking why we do something rather than just habitually doing it. For example; do we say grace, or do we meaningfully thank God for the food we eat? I have to make a conscious effort to say something different to what I habitually say. Are our prayers for forgiveness a couple of key phrases or do we take time to reflect on our lives and think about what we have done?

      We need to make a determined effort to bring back meaning to what we are doing.

  7. What is the Principle behind circumcisions? Abraham and Sarah wanted to fulfill the promise through their own power, God wanted to remind them that He would fulfill it through His power. What is a modern symbol?

    • Keep the Sabbath as given to us in Exodous 20:8-11.
      Carlton, see: Colossians 2:11-14. It tells you what Christ did with circumcision. In verse 16. Many misinterpretation it to mean the 4th Commandment. Paul is talking about the ceremonial laws, the ceremonial drink, food, new moons, and the ceremonial sabbaths, not the 4th Commandment. A physical circumcision is no longer in effect. The Sabbath law is. We keep the Sabbath as well as the other 9 out of love for God. The modern symbolism Shirley is, baptism, also found in Colossians 2:11-14. I would say more than just a symbol, baptism is a public testomony of you covenant with Christ.

  8. In the context of the debate concerning the issue of circumcision, God uses Paul to explain out the principal of the law, circumcision and the covenant. Out of this, the gentiles would now access salvation and would have equal standing before God just like the Israelites.Today,in the 21st century, which school of thought should we embrace in the church, liberalism or conservatism?

  9. Circumcision was the sign of acceptance into the fellowship of God's people Israel, the natural descendants of Abraham, and the covenant made with him and his seed who would inherit the land promised to Abraham and his seed. Anyone who wished to join God people and receive the blessings of God and His covenant by partaking in the appointed ceremonies and feasts, must first receive the sign of the covenant. This was similar to baptism today for all who would join with the church.

    Paul taught that circumcision was not a requirement of the gospel of Christ in order to receive justification by faith. Jesus never taught his disciples to circumcise new believers, only to baptize them. They were not joining Israel of the flesh, but uniting with Christ and His church for the purpose of fulfilling the gospel commission.

    The danger of thinking church membership is salvation misses the point concerning how one is saved doesn't it? The church is not the means of being saved, but is commissioned to bring the news of Salvation through faith in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

    In Christ we find salvation, in the church we labor for the lost. There is no requirement to be of the nation of Israel, which rejected the Gift of God and lost the stewardship of the "vineyard" to "a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof"(Matt 21:43). Those who bring forth the fruits of salvation in their lives are the true church of God.

  10. It is easy for Gentile Christians to point fingers at some of the Jewish believers and condemn them for insisting that gentiles become Jews. Ironically the tables would be soon turned when the Gentiles became the majority. Gentiles then insisted the Jews become just like them and abandon everything Jewish. In time a Jewish Christian caught keeping anything regarded as Jewish such as Sabbath keeping, refraining from pork, eating unleavened bread at Passover etc. were punished, tortured and even put to death. Somehow the gentiles failed to notice what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:18&20 "Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them." It works both ways you see.

  11. Doesn't the teaching of Christ("I am the....Truth..") make clear that circumcision has no place in accepting Jesus as one's Savior? While the Judaizers were perhaps confused about the need of circumcision, their going against the church's decision at the Jerusalem council was their sin. Jesus instructed that the church was to "bind up" or "make loose"(Matt 18:18) and that it would be approved by God(as long as it was according to His will). Anyone protesting such a decision would be rebelling against God.

    • In regards to Gentiles the Jerusalem council made it clear not to impose it on Gentiles. In Acts 16:1-3 after the Jerusalem Council we read that Paul had Timothy who was Jewish circumcised, this was not against Christ or against the Jerusalem council which dealt with Gentiles only not Jews. Paul had Timothy circumcised for the sake of being a witness for Christ as it would be a poor witness to the Jews if Timothy being a Jew forsook the Law God gave to Moses.

      • I find this a bit confusing (Acts 16:1-3). Was it not Paul who dissented with the Judaizers about the need for circumcision (Acts 15:1-5)? How then is having Timothy circumcised consistent with "for the sake of being a witness for Christ..."?

        • The Jerusalem Council was about should Gentiles required to be circumcised meaning to become Jewish. That is why one side is called the Judaizers because they believed Gentiles should be made Jewish and keep Jewish law. Timothy was not a Gentile he was Jewish the Jerusalem Council was not about whether Jews should be circumcised, it was about whether Gentiles should be. There was no question among the many thousands of Jewish believers in Jerusalem that were zealous for the law (Acts 21:20) that Jews are required to be circumcised, again the question is are Gentiles required to not Jews. Since the Law is very clear that Jews are commanded to be circumcised, Timothy would be regarded as a Law Breaker. Paul knew Timothy could not be an effective witness to the Jews being regarded as someone who disregarded the Law. Most Jews would not listen to someone who flagrantly broke the Law. Again Paul argues that Gentiles are not obligated to be circumcised he does not argue that Jews do not have to be circumcised. Paul was accused of this and he takes extreme measures to prove that he did not teach the Jews to forsake circumcision and the Law. (Acts 21:21-24)

          • Jewish law also forbade eating or gathering with Gentiles (Acts 10:28) and we know how hypocritical Paul thought this was (Galatians 2:11-13). Just seems inconsistent.

  12. This discussion actually opens our minds to understand more about this lesson.Briefly explain more about circumcision does Paul meant.Thanks

  13. People of today have no real understanding of the times of Abraham or the cultural implications of circumcision. In the time of the Maccabees, Jewish boys could pass as uncircumcised as the actual mark of Abraham was so minor, but the "sages" changed the covenant mark to the radical circumcision which is practiced today.

    Reality is, God had to make this a covenant mark to protect the children of Abraham from the more radical cutting already being practiced by the pagans to emulate their gods and the mark that God gave to Abraham was very minor and to be even more specific, no one today really even knows what the mark of Abraham was.

    Circumcision today is a brutal torture of baby boys and results in the deaths of over 100 baby boys a year in the USA and countless other baby boys suffering lifelong injuries from "poorly done" circumcisions. Circumcision is neither kind or gentle to baby boys and as practiced today is also not a Christian act.

    • Having given some study to this brutal act, I agree that it is barbaric and justified by the erroneous assertion that babies cannot feel pain. Having given some study to this brutal act, I agree that it is barbaric and often excused by the erroneous assertion that babies cannot feel pain. It is little removed from female circumcision, a similarly brutal act committed on unconsenting babies and a felonious crime in the US since 1996.

      • Some qualification is needed here. I was circumcised as a baby and have no recollection of pain, nor do I have any animosity towards my parents who made the decision to have me circumcised. The decision was based on the current thinking of the day, namely that it was more hygienic. (Incidentally, my father was not circumcised) I do not feel as though I have been mutilated. Health and hygiene ideas have changed over the years and maybe if I had been born today, it would not have happened. And I don't think it has changed my spiritual experience one iota.

        • Remembering or not should not be an acceptable reason for doing this act on a child. One could argue that if you give a date rape drug and then rape an unconscious woman then it is OK because she does not remember it. There are several other examples of doing things to people who won't remember which are also just wrong.

          JHKellogg proposed doing it to young boys in the supposed belief that it would stop masturbation. He proposed it purposely be done without anesthetic thinking the pain would have a "salutary effect" to stop this unwanted touching. He also advocated pouring acid on the genitals of little girls for their unacceptable practice of touching themselves.

          Current thinking of the day was just incompetent. Physicians have been saying for over a hundred years that the procedure was wrong, unethical, and harmful and other doctors just ignored it for many reasons down to and including the money they make for the procedure. When medicaid stopped funding it in some states rates for the procedure dropped to under 30% of boys were so injured.

          No one is suggesting that parents be blamed for following the misguided advice of these "health professionals." But it is time for this procedure to be placed in it's proper place as an abuse and unacceptable for Christians to perpetrate on the bodies of their children.

          • I am not justifying it. Just reporting my own experience. Anyhow it is time to get back to the real issue of the lesson.

  14. How do we recieve circumcision of the heart?
    Believe in Him! 1John 5:1-6.
    Abide in Him! John 15:7.
    Ask for baptism of the Holy Spirit daily. 1John 5:14-15.
    Grow in Christ. 1Peter 2:2. Ephesians 4:15.
    Rest in Him. Matthew 11:29.
    Thought for today: The heart that rests most fully upon
    Christ will be the most earnest and active in labor for Him.


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