Circumcision


"And we, who have approached God through Him (Christ), have received not carnal, but spiritual circumcision, which Enoch and those like him observed. And we have received it through baptism, since we were sinners, by God's mercy; and all men may equally obtain it." -Justin Martyr There is little attention given to the practice of circumcision. Many Christians continue to circumcise their children (myself included) without any attention given to whether or not it is necessary for the child, nor giving remembrance to the true circumcision. To call to witness the words of my brother Paul and Novatian, “first of all, we must avail ourselves of that passage, ‘that the law is spiritual;” and if they deny it to be spiritual, they assuredly blaspheme.” So let us therefore look at the subject spiritually. Moses long before gave preview of the true circumcision when he stated, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” The prophet Jeremiah stated, “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart” and again he says, “behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken:” and once more, “for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.” Stephen reproved them by saying, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” We see that the circumcision was not about that of the flesh, but rather of the heart and ears! Paul speaks regarding such, “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.” And also, “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...” The Apostle Barnabas states: “He speaks moreover concerning our ears, how He hath circumcised both them and our heart. The Lord saith in the prophet, "In the hearing of the ear they obeyed me." And again He saith, "By hearing, those shall hear who are afar off; they shall know what I have done." And, "Be ye circumcised in your hearts, saith the Lord." And again He says, "Hear, O Israel, for these things saith the Lord thy God." And once more the Spirit of the Lord proclaims, "Who is he that wishes to live for ever? By hearing let him hear the voice of my servant." And again He saith, "Hear, O heaven, and give ear, O earth, for God hath spoken." These are in proof. And again He saith, "Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of this people." And again He saith, "Hear, ye children, the voice of one crying in the wilderness." Therefore He hath circumcised our ears, that we might hear His word and believe, for the circumcision in which they trusted is abolished. For He declared that circumcision was not of the flesh, but they transgressed because an evil angel deluded them. He saith to them, "These things saith the Lord your God"-(here I find a new commandment)-"Sow not among thorns, but circumcise yourselves to the Lord." And why speaks He thus: "Circumcise the stubbornness of your heart, and harden not your neck? "And again: "Behold, saith the Lord, all the nations are uncircumcised in the flesh, but this people are uncircumcised in heart." But thou wilt say, "Yea, verily the people are circumcised for a seal." But so also is every Syrian and Arab, and all the priests of idols: are these then also within the bond of His covenant? Yea, the Egyptians also practise circumcision. Learn then, my children, concerning all things richly, that Abraham, the first who enjoined circumcision, looking forward in spirit to Jesus, practised that rite, having received the mysteries of the three letters. For [the Scripture] saith, "And Abraham circumcised ten, and eight, and three hundred men of his household." What, then, was the knowledge given to him in this? Learn the eighteen first, and then the three hundred. The ten and the eight are thus denoted-Ten by I, and Eight by H. You have [the initials of the, name of] Jesus. And because the cross was to express the grace [of our redemption] by the letter T, he says also, "Three Hundred." He signifies, therefore, Jesus by two letters, and the cross by one. He knows this, who has put within us the engrafted gift of His doctrine. No one has been admitted by me to a more excellent piece of knowledge than this, but I know that ye are worthy.” Let’s also consider these testimonies as well: Origen wrote: Circumcision ... was discontinued by Jesus, who desired that His disciples should not practise it." Quoting Chrysostom, Thomas Aquinas wrote: Through Christ circumcision ceased." Martin Luther stated: "After the promised Christ came into the flesh and was revealed to the world, circumcision was to cease entirely." John Calvin also says: "And that, by the coming of Christ, external circumcision ceased, is plain from the words of Paul; ... truly baptism could not succeed circumcision without taking it away." It appears through scripture and the words of men who literally hazarded their lives for the gospel, that the understanding of circumcision was that the outward circumcision is no longer required, only being the foreshadowing of the circumcision of the heart and ears. Let us always remember this, or risk falling into the errors of the Jews.


“Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment...”

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