The Priority of Faith over Circumcision
If faith was imputed as righteousness to Abraham apart from works, what about God’s command that Abraham and his children must be circumcised?
v. 9 - The issue if circumcision must be addressed because the Old Testament teaches that circumcision is a ritual commanded by God and is necessary to be a part of the people of God - Genesis 17:10–14
- Is circumcision necessary to be counted righteous?
- The argument is that Abraham’s faith was counted as righteousness not his circumcision.
v. 10 - Abraham’s circumcision came after God counted his faith as righteousness.
Genesis 12:1-3 - God initiated His covenant when Abram was 60 years old.
Genesis 12:4-5 - Abram left Haran for Canaan at age 75.
Genesis 15 - God ratified His covenant with Abram and declared him righteous.
Genesis 16 - Ishmael was conceived and born when Abram was 86 years old.
Genesis 17 - God renewed His covenant with Abram, changed his name to Abraham, and introduced circumcision as the sign and seal of the covenant.
Abraham was 99.
Genesis 21 - Isaac, the son of promise, was born. Abraham was 100 years old.
Genesis 22 - Abraham offered Isaac confirming his faith. Abraham was over 120.
v. 11a - Circumcision is a sign and a seal not the substance and the reality.
- A sign points to what is being signified. A sign marks a greater unseen reality. A sign does not add to the content of what is signaled.
- A seal is a confirmation of what is sealed. A seal serves to authenticate and guarantee what has been sealed. A seal does not add to the content of what is sealed.
- Circumcision was a sign and seal of the God’s covenant with Abraham after Abraham received the covenant by faith - Genesis 17:11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.
v. 11b–12 - God made Abraham the father of faith not the father of circumcision.
- Some Jews wrongly thought that they were right before God by virtue of their physical relationship with Abraham through circumcision - John 8:37–40 (24)
- Circumcision is not what identifies one with Abraham; faith is what identifies one with Abraham.
- Both Jews and Gentiles can follow Abraham’s uncircumcised faith.
Do you have a relationship with Christ based upon faith or religious ritual?