In this lesson, we are simply going to look at the significance of circumcision according to the Bible, and how it applies to us today.
I. Circumcision was a covenant among the Jews.
A. The practice began before the Law was given to Moses.
1. The practice began with Abraham and his house (Genesis 17:10-14, 23-27, 21:4).
2. The practice was expected of Moses before he received the Law (Exodus 4:26).
B. It was of course given in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12:3).
1. The practice had already gotten away from the children of Israel as they wandered through the wilderness (Joshua 5:1-9)
2. This would apply to converts as well (Exodus 12:44, 48; ).
a. Consider the famous story of the slaying of Shechem and the men of his city (Genesis 34:15-30)
C. It was continued among the Jews into the New Testament.
1. John the Baptist (Luke 1:59)
2. Jesus (Luke 2:21)
3. “The circumcision” was a biblical reference to Jews (Acts 10:45, 11:2, Galatians 2:9, Titus 1:10)
4. Paul (Philippians 3:5)
II. The physical act is a picture of what should happen spiritually
A. “Circumcision of the heart” (Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 4:4)
B. “Uncircumcised lips” (Exodus 6:12, 30)
III. The Bible makes it clear that the physical act of circumcision is of no spiritual value to us today.
A. This was something Paul disputed often with believers of the circumcision (Acts 15:1-10).
1. Interestingly, he did have Timothy circumcised to appease the Jews (Acts 16:3).
2. This was of no value in the end.
B. The practice itself was of no value, even to the Jews, if one didn’t intend on keeping all the law (Romans 2:25-29,
1 Corinthians 7:19, Galatians 6:13).
C. In Christ, we don’t need to identify with “the circumcision” (Colossians 3:11).
D. Our faith is what is counted for righteousness (Romans 3:30, 4:9-11, Galatians 5:6, 6:15).
IV. Baptism is a similar symbol for believers today (Colossians 2:11-15).
A. Baptism is done out of obedience to God’s command and it is a picture of that which is spiritual.
B. Some will actually use this as an argument for baptizing babies (if they were
circumcised on the eighth day, then why should we not baptize on the eighth day?)
C. What they fail to realize is that circumcised babies were identifying as part of a physical family, but New Testament baptism identifies someone as part of a spiritual family (and we aren’t born into that family until we are saved).