January 12 - Romans 4:9-12

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Romans 4:9-12 - Circumcised or Uncircumsed

Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Because Paul is speaking to Romans and to Jews, he needed to clarify the fact that disparity need not exist. All can come before God and receive salvation through Jesus Christ. However, the point needed to be proven over and over.

Is salvation … the blessing spoken of by David in Psalm 32 … only for those who were circumcised?

Paul emphatically says no. Abraham’s faith and righteousness came before he was circumcised. It is faith that brings salvation and not some outward ceremony. Nothing else measures salvation but faith. Abraham was loved and accepted by God before he was circumcised. Circumcision was not a condition of that love and acceptance. It was a sign of Abraham’s covenant with God.

If you look at scripture, Abraham in Genesis 15:6 “believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” This occurred before the birth of Ishmael (Genesis 16) and we know from Genesis 16:16 that Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born (Genesis 16:16). He was circumcised at the age of 99 (Genesis 17:24). Abraham’s salvation occurred long before the circumcision.

To understand fully this event, Paul explains that it was a sign and a seal of righteousness. Jews were not the only people who were circumcised at that time. Many other Semitic tribes practiced circumcision as did other peoples who lived around ancient Israel. The sign and seal marked Abraham and his descendants though as ‘owned’ by God. By performing this ritual, they were known to be God’s people … it was not a sign and seal of their salvation and blessings.

He is now the father of those who are circumcised … and those who are not. He is the father of all who have faith in God, whether Jew or Gentile.  Faith brings righteousness, not the ritual of circumcision.