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Showing posts with the label Circumcision

Justified From Faith

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What identifies God’s people and determines membership in His covenant community is Jesus, especially the Messiah as revealed on the cross,  and nothing else!  This does  NOT  mean that the Law given at Sinai served no purpose, but it is not the basis for determining who is and who is not acquitted of sin by God. Right standing before Him is obtained “ through the faith OF Jesus Christ ,” and not “ from the works of the Law .”

Having Started in the Spirit

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul addresses a growing danger. Certain “ men from Jerusalem ” claim that Gentiles must keep the deeds of the Mosaic Law to “ complete ” their faith, or at least, some of them. They are “ compelling Gentiles to Judaize ” by adopting circumcision, calendrical observances, and perhaps the Levitical dietary restrictions.

Limits of the Law

In responding to claims that Gentiles must be circumcised, Paul appeals to the common experience of the Spirit received by the Galatians. Did they receive the gift due to a “ hearing of faith ” or “ from the works of the Law? ” Having begun in the Spirit, why do they now seek “ completion ” based on “ flesh ” by submitting to circumcision?

Doing the Whole Law

Anyone who is under the Law of Moses is obligated to keep all its required deeds and rituals, and therefore, risks coming under its curse .  In Galatians , Paul responds to teachings from certain “ men from Jerusalem ” who are disrupting the churches by claiming that male Gentiles must be circumcised to “ complete ” their faith.

Circumcision - Cutting Issue

With the new era inaugurated by Jesus, circumcision is no longer a sign of membership in the covenant community .  Circumcision is an obstacle to claims that disciples must keep the Mosaic Law. In Genesis , it is the entrance rite of the Abrahamic covenant and the identifying sign of the covenant. And it is mandatory under the law given through Moses at Mount Sinai.

Controversy in Galatia

The key issue in Galatia is whether Gentiles must be circumcised and keep some, at least, of the deeds required by the Torah .  Paul’s letter to the Galatians is his response to a controversy in the churches of Galatia. The issue is the status of Gentile believers. Must they conform to Jewish practices and submit to the regulation of the Mosaic Law, especially the rite of circumcision?