Can you help me find the correct understanding of the circumcision of Abraham in Romans?
The most significant discussion about circumcision in Romans is found in chapter 4,
Is this blessing then upon the circumcised, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say, “FAITH WAS RECKONED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” How then was it reckoned? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be reckoned to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised. For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. (NASB) Romans 4:9-13
Romans says that circumcision is a symbol, a sign and seal of righteousness – a righteousness that comes by faith. Abraham had trusted God while he was uncircumcised. After he believed God declared him to be righteous.
Genesis 17:10-11 says that circumcision was also a symbol of the new covenant that God made with Abraham,
This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. (NASB) Genesis 17:10-11
God had told Abraham that He would make of Abraham a mighty nation. The Romans passage explains that the promised nation was a nation of believers – a people of faith. As part of Abraham’s faithfulness, he and all of his descendants were to be circumcised. Initially the people of faith were Jews and the book of Romans explains the people of faith now include anyone who believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Abraham responded in faith and circumcised himself. Circumcision is the removal of skin from the male organ.
Romans 3:1 asks, “What is the benefit of circumcision?” (NASB) Romans 3:29-30 answers, ” . . . there is only one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.” (NIV) There is no spiritual benefit to being circumcised. It was merely a symbol!