Doctrine of Circumcision

July 25, 2010

I.  Vocabulary.

A.  Hebrew vocabulary.

1.  mul, 36X, to cut off or remove.  The majority  of  the

times this word is used refers to the act of circumcision.

2.  mulah, 1X, the rite or act of circumcision.  Ex 4:26

3.  ‘ar lah, 16X, foreskin of the male phallus.

4.  ‘arel, 34X, having the foreskin intact, uncircumcised.

B.  Greek vocabulary.

1.  peritemno, 17X, to cut around, to circumcise.

2.  peritome, 36X, the act or rite of  circumcision,

those who have been circumcised, the state  of  having  been


3.  akrobustia, 20X, used of the foreskin, one who

has the foreskin intact, uncircumcised. a Gentile.

4.  1X, having the foreskin, uncircumcised.
II. Definition.

Circumcision is the act by which the excess  skin  around  the  male

phallus, called the foreskin, is removed  by  being  cut  completely


A.  While some suggest that circumcision was practiced  before  YHWH

instituted it in Genesis 17, there is no proof.

B.  They offer several explanations as to why  various  groups  have

practiced this act, including:

1.  Cleanliness or hygienic reasons.

2.  Tribal marking.

3.  A rite of passage around the time of puberty.

4.  Vicarious human sacrifice.

5.  Religious distortion.

C.  The fact is that while some of these hypotheses may  be  related

to the various causes surrounding the practice of  circumcision,

there is no compelling reason  to  reject  the  account  of  its

origin in Genesis.

D.  Circumcision was established by God as the  overt  sign  of  the

Abrahamic covenant.

E.  Jesus Christ acknowledged that it originated with the  ancestors

of Moses.  Jn. 7:22
IV. Scope.

A.  The initial act of circumcision was performed by all  the  males

in the household of Abraham who  were  older  than  eight  days.

Gen. 17:26-27

B.  Each male infant born after this event was to be circumcised  on

the eighth day of life.  Gen. 17:12

C.  This applied to everyone born to Abraham, or born in his  house-

hold, or acquired by him.  Gen. 17:12

D.  Circumcision was the sign that they fell under the  umbrella  of

the Abrahamic covenant.  Gen. 17:10-11

E.  This practice was to be observed by all of the physical  descen-

dants of Abraham for perpetuity.  Gen. 17:9,13

F.  Circumcision was to be observed by the Jews to  remind  them  of

their spiritual heritage and position “in Abraham.”

G.  It was also to remind them that they were to emulate Abraham  in

terms of his adjustment to God.
V.  The necessity of circumcision for Abraham and his descendants.

A.  It was strictly commanded by  God  as  a  perpetual  observance.

Gen. 17:9-13

B.  It was a prerequisite for observing the Passover.  Ex. 12:48

C.  It was necessary to be circumcised in order to be fully accepted

into the community of the Jews.  Gen. 34:14-15

D.  Joshua was commanded to  perform  this  ritual  before  entering

Canaan.  Josh. 5:2

E.  It will be necessary in the Millennium.  Ezk. 44:9

F.  Failure to fulfill this ritual brought Divine discipline.

1.  Excommunication or even death.  Gen. 17:14

2.  On the negligent parents.  Ex. 4:25-26

3.  Separation from the covenant promises.  Gen. 17:14
VI.  Misconceptions.

A.  Many misconceptions have arisen  in  regard  to  this  practice,

which may be dispelled by careful study of the WOG.

B.  The most usual distortion of any ritual is confusing the  ritual

with the reality it is intended to portray.

C.  Circumcision was designed  to  portray  one’s  association  with

Abraham, and be a reminder that one was to follow in  the  foot-

steps of his father, Abraham.  Rom. 4:11-12

D.  Circumcision is a means of salvation.  Rom. 4:9-10

1.  SAJG is not attained through works.  Rom. 4:1-2; Eph. 2:8-9

2.  Abraham was already a believer at the time  he  was  circum-

cised.  Gen. 15:6

E.  Circumcision guaranteed one would participate in  the  blessings

of the Abrahamic covenant.

1.  All the men of Abraham’s family,  especially  Ishmael,  were

circumcised and Ishmael was rejected under the terms of  the

covenant.  Gen. 17:19, 21:9-12

2.  Women were never circumcised and they  participated  in  the

blessings.  Gen. 21:1ff

F.  Physical descent from Abraham and compliance  with  circumcision

makes one acceptable to God.

1.  The notion that if one was in Abraham made  them  acceptable

to God is refuted by Jesus.  Jn. 8:37ff

2.  Paul states that circumcision in itself  is  not  enough  to

commend one to God.  Rom. 2:17,25

3.  The Exodus generation was  both  physically  descended  from

Abraham and circumcised, yet rejected by  God.   Josh.  5:5;

Ps. 95:10-11
VII. Symbolism.

A.  The ritual of circumcision is used to  illustrate  several  real

truths in the Word of God.

B.  It is used to portray retroactive positional truth and the posi-

tional separation from the STA by  virtue  of  our  position  in

Christ.  Col. 2:11-13

1.  The uncircumcised state represents the unbeliever under  the

complete domination of the STA.  vs 13

2.  Upon faith in Christ, God enters  the  believer  into  union

with Christ. vs 10-11

3.  Into the flesh of Jesus Christ the  STA  and  its  attendant

production were imputed and judged.  Rom. 6:6

4.  Upon being entered into union with Christ, positionally  the

STA was “cut off”, and as a result we are no  longer  to  be

under its domination.  Col. 2:11; Rom. 6:6

5.  We have been set free from the slavery to the  STA  and  are

exhorted to make our position in Christ true  in  our  daily

experience.  Rom. 5:11-13

C.  Circumcision is also used to portray  the  experiential  setting

aside of the STA.

1.  It is commanded on various occasions.   Deut.  10:16;  Jere.


2.  The uncircumcised heart represents the  believer  under  STA

domination and arrogance.  Lev. 26:41

3.  Living under the STA destines the believer  for  DD.   Jere.


D.  Uncircumcised is used in regard to the following:

1.  As a derogatory term for those who were spiritually unclean.

Jud. 14:3; ISam. 17:26

2.  Those outside the commonwealth of Israel  and  so  separated

from the blessing of God.  Eph. 2:11-12

3.  Uncircumcised of heart represents negative  volition  toward

the truth.  Jere. 9:25-26; Acts 7:51

4.  Uncircumcised ears represents STA domination  to  the  point

that one will not listen to the  truth.   Jere.  6:10;  Acts

VIII.Circumcision and the Church Age.

A.  Although circumcision became a rallying point  of  legalists  in

the early Church, physical circumcision has no  significance  in

the CA.

1.  The advocates of this position  were  mainly  Jewish.   Acts

15:1, Phil. 3:2-3

2.  These were generally legalistic believers.  Acts. 15:5

3.  They, like their fathers before them, confused  ritual  with


4.  They are referred to as the false circumcision.  Phil. 3:2

5.  The fell into the category  of  circumcised,  yet  uncircum-

cised.  Jere. 9:25; Rom. 2:25

B.  The true circumcision is inner and not external.  Rom. 2:28-29

1.  The mutilation of the body is of no value in the CWL.   Col.


2.  The real issue is the STA, and the true circumcision  places

no confidence in the flesh.  Rom. 7:18; Phil. 3:3

C.  Believers are commanded not to pursue circumcision, since it  is

of no benefit.  ICor. 7:17-19; Gal. 5:6

D.  In Christ, whether you are circumcised or not is no issue.  Gal.

6:15; Col. 3:11
IX. Conclusions.

A.  Circumcision is merely a sign or ritual which was  commanded  to

Abraham and his descendants.

B.  The outward sign was to remind the Jew of the realities  of  the

three adjustments which Abraham made, and to follow in the steps

of his ancestor.  Rom. 4:11-12

C.  For the CA believer it is no issue, and never commanded.

D.  The true issues of positional and experiential victory over  the

STA are not achieved by fleshly activity.  ICor. 7:19

E.  The  enforcement  of  this  sign  is  tantamount  to  a  heathen

mutilation of the body.  Phil. 3:2-3
“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is

nothing, but what matters is  the  keeping

of the commandments of God.”

I Corinthians 7:19