Showing posts with the label Circumcision

Justified From Faith

According to Paul, what identifies God’s people and determines membership in the covenant community is Jesus, especially the Messiah revealed on the cross, and nothing else! That does NOT mean the Mosaic Law serves no purpose, but it is not the basis for determining who is and who is not a redeemed son of God. Right standing before God is based on the “ faith OF Jesus Christ ,” not the “ works of the Law .”

Evidence of Sonship

The Gift of the Spirit among the Galatians demonstrates they are the sons of God and the heirs of the Covenant promises . In his letter, Paul addresses believers who are considering adding circumcision to their faith in Jesus, and in chapters 3 and 4 of the Letter he presents a series of arguments demonstrating why doing so would be disastrous. Included in his arguments are several appeals to the Gift of the Spirit now possessed by the Galatians as evidence of their status as the sons of God and the heirs of Abraham.

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.

The Promise of the Spirit

The Apostle Paul refers to the “ Promise of the Spirit ” which he identifies as the “ Blessing of Abraham .” Jesus subjected himself to the “ curse ” of the Law to redeem believers so that the “ Blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith .” Elsewhere, he states that believers are “ sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession .”

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?