Circumcision for Gentiles?



“Paul said that Gentiles don’t have to be circumcised, therefore Gentiles don’t have to keep torah.”


Let’s take a look at the whole of Scripture to investigate the validity of this statement.


First, it is very important to note that the Apostle Paul was Jewish and was well versed in the torah and all of the Old Testament. His mentor in these studies was none other than the then (and to this day) famous Gamaliel (Acts 5:34; 22:3). Therefore, according to Paul’s own words, he was very knowledgeable in the torah/Old Testament and would have used that as a way of teaching the truth of God’s word and that Jesus/Y’shua was the Messiah, especially with Jewish believers.


Scripture says that God does not change (Malachi 3:6) and that Jesus/Y’shua is the same for all time (Hebrew 13:8). Therefore, if the above statement is correct, then Paul is contradicting Jesus/Y’shua, who said:


17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law (torah) or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.  

18 "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Matt 5:17-19


abolish = NT:2647 kataluo (kat-al-oo'-o); to loosen down (disintegrate), i.e. (by implication) to demolish (literally or figuratively)


fulfill = NT:4137 pleroo (play-ro'-o); to make replete, i.e. (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), execute (an office), verify (or coincide with a prediction)


Jesus/Y’shua said that He did not come to disintegrate or demolish the torah! Instead, He came to live it to the full, to verify it so we could see just how we were to live according to His will. Therefore, if Paul were saying believers who come into faith in a Jewish Messiah don’t have to do what that Messiah did and said, then Paul is directly contradicting God. (Jesus/Y’shua is “the Word” according to John 1:1. Therefore, JESUS/Y’SHUA spoke the Old Testament/Tanakh and all its instructions.) If Paul is contradicting God, then we do not have an inerrant Bible in which to place our faith therefore, we believe in a pipe dream and none of this really matters anyway.


IF Paul is telling Gentiles they don’t have to live according to torah, then he contradicts himself:


Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. Rom 3:31


nullify = NT:2673 katargeo (kat-arg-eh'-o); from NT:2596 and NT:691; to be (render) entirely idle (useless), literally or figuratively:

KJV - abolish, cease, cumber, deliver, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, fail, loose, bring (come) to nought, put away (down), vanish away, make void.


establish = NT:2476 histemi (his'-tay-mee); a prolonged form of a primary stao (stah'-o) (of the same meaning, and used for it in certain tenses); to stand (transitively or intransitively), used in various applications (literally or figuratively):

KJV - abide, appoint, bring, continue, covenant, establish, hold up, lay, present, set (up), stanch, stand (by, forth, still, up).


Therefore, Paul was saying, “…we continue, establish, present, set up, the ‘law,’” thus, he did not contradict himself.


IF Paul is telling Gentiles that they don’t have to be circumcised, then he was a hypocrite, because Paul took Timothy his adopted “son” in the faith, and circumcised him! (Acts 16:1-3) Even though his mother was Jewish, Timothy was considered a Gentile because his father was Greek. If Gentiles don’t have to be circumcised, why didn’t Paul defend Timothy’s Gentile status and excuse him from circumcision? Instead, PAUL circumcised Timothy!


Because the church doesn’t have the Hebraic mindset of the Messiah and the disciples, they miss some things in Scripture. Paul’s writings on circumcision covered two basic areas:


1)      Circumcision is not necessary for salvation. Throughout his writings, Paul is showing the Jewish believers that it is not Jesus/Y’shua + circumcision that saves, anymore than it is Jesus/Y’shua + baptism that saves. Salvation is through Jesus/Y’shua ALONE. Like their forefathers who constantly added to God’s word ultimately making God’s instructions a burden, the Jews wanted to add to Jesus/Y’shua for salvation and say that it took circumcision also to be made “righteous.” Paul used his skills as a torah scholar to show them this was not true.

2)     Paul is showing that like the torah being moved from “tablets of stone” to being written on our hearts (Hebrews 8:10, 10:16; Jeremiah 31:33), circumcision as a sign of the covenant has been moved from the flesh to the heart. He is basically saying that circumcision of the heart is how you enter the covenant. Once you have entered the covenant through circumcision of the heart, then circumcision of the flesh is the SIGN of that inward work.  In no way does this discount physical circumcision!  If it had, Paul would not have circumcised Timothy, nor would Paul have upheld the torah as he repeatedly did in the New Testament (Romans 3:31, Acts 18:18 – Acts 21: 18-26; Acts 24:14).


Scripture says that without circumcision a man cannot partake Passover (Exodus 12:43). Paul upheld keeping the Passover, giving New Testament believers instruction in how to observe it (1 Cor. 5:7-8). Since Paul upheld the keeping of Passover and said that he believed “everything that is in accordance with the Law” (Acts 24:14) it seems obvious that in order to remain consistent and non-hypocritical that he also upheld that Gentiles whom he told HOW to keep Passover be circumcised “in accordance with the Law.”


Since Paul was a noted Old Testament scholar, it is highly unlikely that this Scripture escaped his notice:


The Lord Yahweh says this: No alien (non-Hebrew), uncircumcised in heart AND BODY, may enter my sanctuary, none of the aliens living among the Israelites. Ezekiel 44:9


If torah isn’t important for New Testament Gentiles, then why in the future millennial kingdom will God disqualify those from His sanctuary who don’t obey its requirements?


It should also be noted that the Greek language tells us much of this information which is lost in translation, again proving the importance and necessity of looking up the Hebrew or Greek to find out what is really being said.  In Greek, the word for circumcision is:


NT:4061 peritome (per-it-om-ay'); from NT:4059; circumcision (the rite, the condition or the people, literally or figuratively)


It is also important to know that in Greek to relate the opposite meaning, the prefix “a” is added to a word. We are familiar with this principle in some borrowed words from the Greek. We know that to “muse” is to think; the word “amuse” means NOT to think. This is where we get “amusement” from, meaning a relaxation that takes our minds off our work. Therefore, the Greek word relating the meaning of un-circumcision would be aperitome.


However, this is NOT the word Paul uses that is translated in English as “uncircumcision” or “uncircumcised.” Indeed, aperitome is used only ONE time in all of the New Testament! Stephen used it before he was stoned to death and he used it in reference to the circumcised JEWS! (Acts 7:51)


EVERY other time “uncircumcised/uncircumcision” is used in the New Testament, the word Paul uses is:

NT:203 akrobustia (ak-rob-oos-tee'-ah); from NT:206 and probably a modified form of posthe (the penis or male sexual organ); the prepuce


This word denotes the flesh that is removed in the act of circumcision and thrown away. The message Paul relates to those he addresses with this word is that they WERE once circumcised, but like this flesh, they threw it away! Paul is simply talking to those for whom Jesus/Y’shua said He was sent:


5 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: "Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;  

6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  Matt 10:5-7


24 But He (Jesus/Y’shua) answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Matt 15:24


In these statements, the “house of Israel” notes what many know as “the 1o lost tribes of Israel.” These were Hebrew people who were divorced by God (Jeremiah 3:8) because they changed His feasts, changed the days the feasts were held, and changed where they were held, all in blatant disobedience to God’s instructions. God decreed that these people would be dispersed among the nations, assimilated into those nations thereby losing their identity, but would ultimately return to God and His ways at the end of days (Hosea 2:8-14; Jeremiah 3:12-14; Ezekiel 36:16-32; Ezekiel 37: 15-28). Paul’s journeys were very much a part of finding the lost sheep to whom Jesus/Y’shua was sent.


This raises a very important question most “Christians” have never addressed. If Jesus/Y’shua was sent ONLY for the lost sheep of the house of Israel, then who are you? IF you were saved by Him, then you must somehow be included in this group, the only group to whom Jesus/Y’shua said He was sent. And if you are part of those He came to find, then – as the akrobustia, who at one time threw away their identity – as lost “Hebrews,” the torah and the teachings it relates DO apply to you! Therefore, those who are saved cannot say, “I’m not a Jew, so that doesn’t apply to me.” IF you are part of the group that Jesus/Y’shua was sent to, then according to Paul’s definition, you ARE part of the Hebrew heritage and all “rules” apply to you!


Paul puts this in much more simple terms:

            Rom 11:11-24

 I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.
12 Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!
13 But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,
14 if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them.
15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
16 If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree,
18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that  it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.
19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in."
20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear;
21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.
22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.
23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?

25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery--so that you will not be wise in your own estimation--that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;
26 and so all Israel will be saved


The highlights in this passage are to show that Paul said that Gentile believers – wild olives (the same species, not oranges or apples, but olives, like the Jews) - were cut off from our former root and grafted into an existing olive tree, which he makes clear is from the heritage of the Hebrew people; Hebraic (not just the two tribes of Benjamin and Judah, or “the Jews”); that we were grafted in among them and became partakers with them. Therefore, if Paul is speaking the truth, and going to great lengths to detail how we “fit,” how we are cut off from our past and totally joined into and have become a part of the Hebrew root, then how can we think we are separate from this Hebraic heritage in any way? If the Jew who is our Savior practiced the things from a Hebrew heritage, then I submit to you Paul is clearly showing us that we are to, also. Since v. 24 tells us that upon belief they can be grafted back into their own olive tree are we to assume that when they become believers they are supposed to become like us – “non-Hebraic”? I think not. The illustration seems to be clear that we partake, indeed, we are supported by their “root” which also will support them when they believe. This is the same root our Savior had; a Hebraic one of Hebraic practices. After all, He was the “Jewish” Messiah! This is also how we are told by Scripture we should live:


6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.  1 John 2:6


Therefore, it should be clear from taking a look at the whole body of Scripture, by looking at the Greek words and their meanings, that Paul was not at any time preaching what the church has traditionally taught. Because of the removal of the seat of the “followers of the Nazarene” from Jerusalem to Greece due to the destruction of the Temple around 70 A.D., New Testament believers lost their Hebraic mindset and understanding of Scripture and adopted a foundation based much more upon Plato, the Greek philosopher. This means that their basic viewpoint was not Scriptural! This shift in foundation has plagued the “church” for nearly 2 thousand years.


However, now - in the end of days as Jesus/Y’shua is preparing to return, He is also preparing His bride to look like the bride He left: one who is Hebraic in nature. As the Holy Spirit said to one young lady, “You are my bride. A bride is to take her husband’s name, identity and practices.” The question is, will the reader submit to the bridal preparations of the Messiah, or rebel and stay with what is comfortable, but not what the Messiah identifies as His own? Will you live in obedience to what Jesus/Y’shua said and that Paul really wrote, or will you stay with the incorrect teaching of traditions made by men?