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Circumcision: What did Jesus say about Circumcision

In the New Testament, Jesus Himself does not explicitly discuss circumcision in detail. However, His views on the matter can be inferred from various passages and the broader context of His teachings and the teachings of His apostles.

  1. Relevant Bible Verses:
  • Matthew 5:17-18: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
    • This verse indicates Jesus’ respect for the Law given to Moses, under which circumcision was a covenant sign between God and Abraham’s descendants (Genesis 17). However, Jesus also brings a new understanding of fulfilling the law beyond its literal observance.
  • Luke 2:21: “And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”
    • This verse shows that Jesus Himself was circumcised according to Jewish law, indicating His adherence to Jewish customs and laws.
  • Galatians 5:6 (Paul’s teaching): “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
    • While not directly from Jesus, Paul’s teachings on circumcision reflect the broader Christian understanding post-Resurrection. Paul argues that in Jesus Christ, the physical act of circumcision is not what justifies one before God, but faith expressing itself through love.
  1. Three Main Takeaways:
  • Fulfillment of the Law: Jesus’ mission was to fulfill the Law rather than abolish it. His adherence to Jewish customs, including circumcision, emphasizes His respect for the law while also pointing towards a deeper, spiritual fulfillment through His life, death, and resurrection.
  • Inward Transformation Over Outward Ritual: The broader New Testament teaching, reflected in Jesus’ life and His apostles’ teachings, emphasizes that spiritual transformation and faith are more critical than physical rituals. Circumcision, therefore, becomes a metaphor for the inward circumcision of the heart—a cutting away of sinful nature, as mentioned in Romans 2:29 and Colossians 2:11-12.
  • Universal Call to Faith: Jesus’ teachings and the apostolic writings, especially Paul’s letters, highlight the shift from viewing circumcision as a necessary physical act for belonging to God’s people to a broader understanding of faith in Christ. This shift opens the way for Gentiles to become part of God’s family without undergoing circumcision, emphasizing that salvation is through faith for all people, regardless of their ethnic or cultural background.

These takeaways underscore the New Testament’s movement from physical circumcision as an essential sign of the covenant with Abraham to a focus on faith in Jesus Christ as the basis for belonging to the covenant people of God.


  • Greg Gaines

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