The Priority of Faith over Circumcision

Sunday, September 20, 2020 ()

Bible Text: Romans 4:9-12 | Series:

The Priority of Faith over Circumcision

Romans 4:9–12

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?

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