6.But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)-- well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me. 7. But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter [had been] to the circumcised 8. (for He who effectually worked for Peter in [his] apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), 9. and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas (Peter) and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we [might] [go] to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10. [They] only [asked] us to remember the poor-- the very thing I also was eager to do.
Lest we ignore the elephant in the room, I guess it's now time to talk about the Covenant of Circumcision. OK, how to handle this with the importance that is due it? Bear with me all you gals, and guys too for that matter, we need to understand the significance of this in the Jewish culture. There are a lot of verses on this subject, but let's look at the two main ones that show the difference between the opinions and beliefs of the Old Testament Law and New Testament Freedom.
10. "This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11. "And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12. "And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a [servant] who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. 13. "A [servant] who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14. "But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant."
God instituted the Covenant of Circumcision for several reasons I believe. God had set the Hebrew people apart from the rest of the races. He desired that they not marry outside their race, but remain within their own culture. God was and still is, a practical God. He wants us to be careful and wise about our personal health and hygiene. On one level circumcision of the males had to do with health and cleanliness. This practice, that is still used today, kept bacteria and disease to a minimum. In the days of infrequent bathing, there were many things God commanded His people to do that enforced their health. The book of Leviticus focuses on these practices. Amazing that God had them do these things that today we know minimizes sickness and disease, but at the time the people did not fully understand. The practice of Kosher eating that is still used by many Orthodox Jews, is a good example.
Then on another level the entrusting of such an important male body part to the Lord, signifies one's desire for letting God control our actions, our marriage, and to the male, of great importance, the "ego". Turning our bodies over to the Lord is what we all should do: male or female, married or unmarried, celibate or not. This not only goes for our reproductive organs, but our minds, hearts, mouth (talking and speaking), eyes (visually, such as pornography), ears (music and unwholesome talk), and feet (that can take us to some unwholesome and dangerous places).
Version: NASRomans 2:25-29
25. For indeed circumcision is of value, if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26. If therefore the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27. And will not he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter [of the Law] and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? 28. For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
So now, back to Galatians Chapter 2. We know that the Judaizers were infiltrating the Gentile Churches and trying to get the new Gentile converts upset and stirred up about circumcision. They were still going by the Old Covenant and were trying to bring this practice to play on formerly Gentile, adult men. So we can see the upset here. If it were a Covenant of Clipping our Fingernails I doubt that it would have caused much of a ruckus, but this is a little different matter, with some scary consequences for these Galatians. I'm sure that many of them were willing to submit to this, but Paul comes on the scene and says no. This was an Old Covenant practice for the Jews. He didn't see the importance or relevance of holding these people hostage to the practice. I'm sure that God spoke to Paul concerning this issue at the time. He's confident of his stance here and gives everyone something to think about when he basically says that being saved is not about what we do on the outside, but the condition of the heart.
There are alot of issues concerning Old Testament thinking transitioning into New Testament thinking. I want to talk about a few others briefly. Celebrating the Feasts, Tithing, Baptism, to name just a few. Jesus said He came not to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it.
There is a "trend" going on in some of the churches concerning celebrating the Jewish "Feasts" or Holy Days. These are important covenants that we should study and bring into our spiritual life and thinking, but God has not asked us to revert back into Judaism by setting up a tent in our front yard, any more than He REQUIRES us to be circumcised. Some of this has been used as a blatant ploy for money and while it's always wonderful to give to our churches and Christian Networks we cannot let it be held over our heads for a guilt trip if we do not. One such evangelist basically said that if you don't give a particular offering you will be missing out in living in the blessing of God. To that, I put it before the Lord. I'm not one that wants to miss out on ANY blessing that God might desire to give. God basically asked me a question:
"Do you think the blessing and favor is conditional on whether or not you give a certain offering, for a certain amount, on a certain day? Do you not think you walk in my favor now?"
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill."
This means the concepts are still the same, but they are not requirements for our salvation, pure and simple. Tithing, celebrating the Jewish Holy Days, and Baptism were instituted in the Old Testament and early New Testament times. They may have been required in the OT, but when Jesus died on the cross, was resurrected, and sat down at the right hand of God, these became guidelines, yes important ones, but not ones on which our salvation hinges.
To that I say do not be cajoled, or dragged, or pressured to walk back under the Law. We keep the Law by the Grace of God, and only that.
Love you all, dear friends,