Circumcision and the New Covenant
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,
In Galatians 5:2-4, Paul claims that circumcision is of no importance due to the new covenant:
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
According to him, circumcision is no longer important, and worse yet, if you do get circumcised, it is as if you are enslaving yourself to the Law in a vain attempt of appealing to systems that cannot benefit you, while ignoring that Jesus laid down his life in order to liberate you from this Law. Some of the great exegetes of the Bible have commented on this issue:
Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
Christ is become of no effect unto you – It is vain for you to attempt to unite the two systems. You must have the law and no Christ, or Christ and no law, for your justification.
Ye are fallen from grace – From the Gospel. They had been brought into the grace of the Gospel; and now, by readopting the Mosaic ordinances, they had apostatized from the Gospel as a system of religion, and had lost the grace communicated to their souls, by which they were preserved in a state of salvation. The peace and love of God, received by Jesus Christ, could not remain in the hearts of those who had rejected Christ. They had, therefore, in every sense of the word, fallen from grace; and whether some of them ever rose again is more than we can tell.
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
Christ is become of no effect unto you,…. Or “ye are abolished from Christ”; or as others by an “hypallage” read the words, “Christ is abolished unto you”; for by their seeking for justification by their own works, it was all one to them as if there was no Christ, and no righteousness in him, and no salvation by him; they had nothing to do with him, nor he with them:
whosoever of you are justified by the law; that is, who sought to be justified by their obedience to the law, or who thought they were, and trusted in themselves that they were righteous; for otherwise, by the deeds of the law, no flesh living can be justified:
ye are fallen from grace; that is, either from that grace which they professed to have; for there might be some in these churches, as in others, who were only nominal Christians, and formal professors; who had declared they saw themselves lost and undone sinners, destitute of a righteousness, and professed to believe in Christ alone for righteousness and strength, but now trusted in themselves, and in the works of the law: or from the scheme of grace in the whole of man’s salvation, which will admit of no mixture of works; either it is one or the other, it cannot be both; wherefore by their taking on the side of works, they showed that they had entirely dropped the scheme of grace: or else from the Gospel of the grace of God, from whence they were removed, through the influence of false teachers; particularly the doctrine of free justification by the grace of God, through the righteousness of Christ; which was entirely set aside by their seeking to be instilled by the works of the law; and from this they might be said to be fallen, who were on such a bottom.
Where does Paul believes the solution to the law lies? Simple:
“For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”
Simply righteous faith.
You should ask Christians,”why have you abolished the Circumcision covenant, a covenant given to Abraham by God and his descendants until the day of judgment?”, anyone who is not circumcised has broken the covenant and is cut from God’s people.
Genesis 17: 9-14
Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant. ”
Their response would be again the new covenant set by Jesus:
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Supposedly the verses in Mark 14:22-24, Matthew 26:27-29 and Luke 22:20 were explicit (for which they are not) verses that spoke of Jesus shedding blood for our sins, leading us to abolish the law, if that is the case, would these problems arise:
1. Would God in Genesis 17:9-14 state Circumcision is God’s eternal covenant with Abraham and his descendants, for all the generations to come. Whoever abandons it is broken from the chosen people and has no salvation. If God knew he was going to change such a covenant why claim it was eternal?
a) God had no knowledge of the future, and therefore changed his mind (that would make him not God) ?
b) The Old testament is corrupted since scribes tampered with it ?
c) The New Testament is corrupted and/or Jesus never said there was a new covenant? Concluding that Paul of Tarsus invented a new religious phenomena.
2. How is it that every born child is to be circumcised on the eight day according to the law?
“Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised.
Jesus (to some Christians, God the son) himself , complying with the Old Covenant, was circumcised according to the New Testament:
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
If God did not want the circumcision covenant to remain, why did He allow Jesus (God himself) to be circumcised ? Such an act or decision is confusing. If it wasn’t God’s intention that circumcision was to remain eternally as his covenant, then why was Jesus circumcised?Didn’t God know that Jesus was an example and role model for humanity to follow.
Later on, Jesus, a grown circumcised man, goes on to confirm that he has come to fulfill the law (including Circumcision) and not to ignore it.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
He further says in Matthew:
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
How is the new covenant in consistency with the words and deeds of Jesus?
3. If we recall in Galatians 5:2-4, it was Paul the so called “apostle” of Jesus who claimed that circumcision enslaves you to the law and that Jesus laid down his life to liberate us from such a burden. Ironically, what would one expect Paul to do?
Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
Paul, preaching against circumcision, circumcises Timothy! Doesn’t this show double standards?
As we have seen above, Paul’s words and the so called New Covenant are baseless. In returning to Genesis 17: 9-14, who other than the Jews have fulfilled the covenant?
It is important to note that Islam is not a new religion, it is a Semitic religion stating that Adam, Abraham, David, Solomon, Moses, Joseph, Jesus … Muhammad (May peace and blessing of Allah fall upon them all) are considered Prophets holding the same message of Monotheism .
Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:136,
Say ye: “We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we submit to Allah.”
The Covenant of Abraham was not abolished in Islam. On the contrary, it remains as a must for all Muslims.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“The Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was circumcised when he was eighty years old.” (Al-Bukhari, Vol 6/p. 388, Al-Salfiyya printing).
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is reported to have said, “Five are the acts quite akin to fitrah: Circumcision, shaving the pubes, cutting the nails, plucking the hair under the armpits and clipping (or shaving) the moustache.” (Reported in all the six authentic collections of Hadith).
In accordance with God ‘s command through the line and message sent to his Prophets, whoever accepts Islam does not leave the true religion but follow s its final testament.