Here are six Bible verses that talk about what circumcision is.
1 Corinthians 7:19 “For it is not circumcision that counts, nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.”
This was a common theme for the apostle Paul in the New Testament. People received the message of salvation by grace (Eph 2:8) and not by works (Eph 2:9) but then the Judaizers who followed Paul came and said: “You can be saved by Jesus Christ but you must also be. circumcised” and so Paul wrote, “For there are many insubordinates, idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party” (Titus 1:10) but Christians “are the circumcised, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and put no trust in the flesh” (Phil 3:3).
Jeremiah 9:25 “Behold, the days come, declares the Lord, when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh.”
Jeremiah seems to be writing this to the Jews who, centuries later and in Jesus’ time, required a person to be circumcised to be saved, but we know that God wants our hearts to be circumcised and not the flesh. We are no better than anyone, but we cannot add requirements for others who we believe are not following what we believe they should. No one is justified by the works of the law as the apostle Paul warned the Galatians that “we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, so we also believed in Jesus Christ, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Gal 2:16).
Colossians 2:11 “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, taking off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.”
The key to this verse is that the circumcision of the flesh is useless compared to “the circumcision of Christ”, which means a circumcision of the heart. This circumcision of the heart has nothing to do with that done with the hands because it is seen as work-oriented salvation. It is Christ alone who saves (Acts 4:12); not tradition, ritual or rites. Works are useless to God (Eph 2:8-9) because they rob God of all glory since salvation is entirely a work of God.
Galatians 5:6 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision count for anything, but only faith working through charity.”
Paul clearly has problems with the church in Galatia, thanks in large part, I’m sure, to the Jews who were constantly hounding Paul. Right after Paul left on another missionary journey, he would hear reports that the circumcision parties (the Jews) would rush in and tell the Galatians that they must add circumcision to their faith or they cannot be saved. but it is a works-based salvation that God clearly will not accept. Circumcision counts for nothing; it is only by faith and work in love that God honors.
Romans 2:29 “But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not of man but of God.
This is the main point of all these Bible verses; God is concerned with the heart and not with the outward man. God looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7) and not at the outward appearance of man or woman. It is a circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit of God, and “not literally” or by the works of the law by which a person is saved. It is the inner person that God is interested in because everything else passes.
Jeremiah 4:4 “Circumcise yourselves for the Lord; remove the foreskin from your hearts, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! lest my anger burst out like fire and kindle without anyone quenching it, because of the wickedness of your deeds.
Jeremiah seems to be saying the same thing that Paul would later write to the church in Galatia that it is not the outer, carnal foreskin that concerns God, but the foreskin of the heart. It is not about outward, outward works (like circumcision), but an inward work of the Holy Spirit of God to show the necessity of repentance and faith in Christ. It is not the letter because the letter of the law kills; the Spirit of God saves. The Jews in Jeremiah’s day had all the proper rituals and ceremonies, but inwardly they were as wicked as the unconverted.
I hope you can conclude, as I do, that no one can be saved by works, but we are saved for works that God has long planned in which we should walk (Eph 2:10) but these works must not not bring us salvation. ; they are the result of our salvation. God wants our hearts and not our outward works. He looks at the heart and not outwardly as most of us do. We cannot see what is in a person’s heart like God can, so if nothing else, we rest in the work of Calvary that Christ has done for us and not all that what we could do or have done. It’s because it’s “by grace you were saved by faith. And it is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one should boast” (Eph 2:8-9).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is pastor of Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the senior editor of What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage and energize Christians and answer questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.