Tuesday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Romans 2:25-29

Circumcision under the New Covenant

Turning to this last passage of chapter two, Paul addresses what was a terrible misconception in much of Judaism of his day, and that misconception concerned circumcision.  Circumcision separated the Jew from the Gentile.  It was an indelible mark in the flesh and the sign of the covenant.  Every Jewish male was circumcised on the eighth day according to the Law of Moses, including our Lord (Luke 2:21).  It was truly an important matter.  However, as is often the case with even the most important of ordinances which our Lord commands, there comes a trust in the ordinance itself rather than in the Lord of the ordinance.  And this is what happened with some Jews of Paul’s day: they looked to circumcision to save them; after all, it was the sign of the covenant.  As we said the other day, they had the “A Ticket.”

But even their own prophets had warned them against such presumptuous and sinful thinking.  Both Jeremiah and Moses had told the people to circumcise the foreskins of their hearts (Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 4:4).  God had invested circumcision with great meaning, as we already said, an indelible sign in the flesh of God’s gracious covenant.  But the people had cheapened it and emptied it of meaning.  And how had they done this?  By not circumcising their hearts which the outward circumcision in the flesh was to symbolize; that is, they did not keep the law.  As a result, Paul writes that their circumcision became uncircumcision.

Paul then takes up once again those Gentiles who “keep the law,” not suggesting that any Gentile has ever done so meriting salvation before God, but only showing that when Gentiles behave better then Jews, keeping the law when Jews do not, then they become the circumcised and the Jews the uncircumcised.  Understand that such a statement as this would sound radical in the ears of a Jew of that day.  But it is only Paul’s way of saying again that it is not hearing the word but doing the word that matters (James 1:22), and thereby showing that the heart is circumcised before God.

But Paul gives us a glimpse just before the end of the chapter where he is going: “But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.”  By bringing in the Holy Spirit and his regenerating work upon the believer, Paul foreshadows that his argument will lead to the truth that there is none righteous and that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ for both Jew and Gentile.  He is the Holy Spirit who only can circumcise the heart—oh, and of girls, too.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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