Bible Question:

Can you help me find the correct understanding of the circumcision of Abraham in Romans?

Bible Answer:

Genesis 17:10-11 says that circumcision was also a symbol of the 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

Genesis 15:6 reveals that Abraham was declared to be righteous before he and his offspring were circumcised. Circumcision is the removal of foreskin from the male organ. Yet, this cutting away of flesh was  symbolic of God’s covenant with Abraham when he had already been declared righteous by faith.

The most extensive discussion about circumcision is found in Romans 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 adds that circumcision is a symbol, a sign and seal of righteousness – a righteousness that comes by faith. Notice that Abraham had trusted God while he was uncircumcised. After he believed, God declared him to be righteous. 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.

Conclusion:

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 of the covenant relationship between Abraham and his descendants and God!

Suggested Links:

Promises and Prophecies of God - MP3
The Covenant of Circumcision - MP3
Saved By Faith and Not By Works, part 1 - MP3