There is a belief among some proclaimed followers of Yahweh that in order for men to partake of the Passover, they must first be circumcised of the flesh.
Fleshy circumcision is also held by some as a proof that Passover is not an actual Festival or Feast Day for the reason that the lack of circumcision would prevent individuals from participating in a required sacred day of Yahweh.
What do Scriptures actually say concerning this issue?
If you are interested in finding out the truth of the matter then it would be advantageous for you to continue with our investigation.
Before we can directly address the issue of circumcision as it relates to Passover we must first determine if Scriptures demand fleshy circumcision in order for men to be saved.
Usually two reasons are given by the advocates of circumcision:
• Abraham was circumcised and he was commanded to circumcise all the males of his household.
• Fleshly circumcision is required in the written Torah of Moses (Old Covenant).
The apostle Saul (Paul), on the other hand, argues that fleshly circumcision is no longer applicable since we are no longer under the handwritten Torah but under grace and obligated only to the verbal Torah of Trust.
One might also add that the requirement for fleshly circumcision as a means of salvation would place women in a different category, fleshly circumcision not being applicable to them.
Since the requirement of fleshly circumcision in the written Torah of Moses is for males only, it calls into question the format that there is to be no difference between males and females as heirs to eternal life. (Gal. 3:25-29)
The confusion arises from the misinterpretation that fleshly circumcision was somehow part of the Abrahamic Covenants of Promise. Such a view is at odds with Saul’s statements that one does not need to be circumcised in the flesh, yet he is obligated to the Torah of Trust and to walk as Abraham walked.
These two ideas form an apparent contradiction, for if one has to be circumcised in the flesh to be part of the Abrahamic Covenants why would the apostles at the Council of Jerusalem and the apostle Saul, who reiterates the point a number of times, all deny the importance of fleshly circumcision?
Testimony of the New Testament
The apparent contradiction about the need for fleshly circumcision begins to be unravelled within the explanations provided by the New Testament. We begin this inquiry with the events that brought this issue to the forefront.
In Acts, 15 we read that certain followers of the messiah were teaching:
Unless you be circumcised after the custom of Moses you cannot be saved.”(Acts 15:1)
Those teaching this doctrine were described as “certain (men) from the heresy of the Pharisees who believed (in the messiah) (Acts 15:5).” They argued:
It is necessary to circumcise them (the converts from the nations) and charge them to keep the Torah of Moses.”(Acts 15:5)
This teaching caused a great disturbance among members of the early assembly. It was the cause for convening the Council of Jerusalem in 49 C.E. With all of the apostles in attendance, Jacob (James), the brother of the messiah and first bishop of Jerusalem, issued the unanimous edict:
Wherefore I judge not to trouble those who from the nations turn to Yahweh; but to write to them to abstain from the pollutions of idols, and porneia (sexual misconduct), and (the eating of) that which is strangled and blood. (Acts 15:19-20)
In the epistle sent by the apostles to the assemblies we read:
The apostles and the elders and the brethren, to those in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, brethren from out of the nations, greeting. Inasmuch as we have heard that certain ones from among us having gone out troubled you by words, upsetting your lives, saying, Be circumcised and keep the Torah (of Moses); to whom we gave no such command; it seemed good to us having come with one accord, chosen men to send to you, with our beloved Barnabas and Saul, men who have given up their lives for the name of our sovereign, Yahushua the messiah. Therefore, we have sent Judas and Silas, themselves also by word telling the same things. For it seemed good to the sacred ruach and to us, no further burden to lay upon you than these necessary things: to abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from (the eating of) blood and that which is strangled, and from porneia; from which keeping yourselves you will do well. Farewell. (Acts 15:23-29)
Accordingly, by the agreement of all the apostles and elders, circumcision of the flesh was not considered a requirement for salvation. Addressing this issue Saul writes the following:
Was anyone called having been circumcised? Let him not be uncircumcised. Anyone being called in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping Yahweh’s commandments is (something). (1 Cor. 7:18-20)
For indeed, circumcision profits if you do the Torah (of Moses); but if a transgressor of the Torah (of Moses) you are, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. Therefore, if the uncircumcision keep the justification of the Torah (of Moses), shall not his uncircumcision be reckoned for circumcision? And the uncircumcision by nature, fulfilling the Torah (of Moses), shall judge you who with letter and circumcision are a transgressor of the Torah (of Moses).(Rom. 2:25-27)
For in the messiah Yahushua neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any strength, but trust working through love. (Gal. 5:6)
Regarding the Torah of Moses (the Law, Old Covenant) we must note:
For whosoever shall keep the whole Torah (of Moses), and yet offend in one (point), he is guilty of all. (James 2:10)
The Written Torah of Moses
The first major problem arises with the fact that no one can keep the entire written Torah, for, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of Yahweh. (Rom. 3:23)” Also, “If we should say that we have not sinned, we make him (Yahweh) a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:10)” Sin is defined as “transgression of the Torah. (1 John 3:4)” Only the messiah was without sin. (1 Pet. 1:19, 2:21-22; Heb. 4:15, 7:26, etc.)
Therefore, we must conclude that only the messiah has qualified to receive the inheritance under the written Torah of Moses. We are not capable of qualifying because all of us, by nature, have transgressed and sinned against this agreement.
Second, we are not justified by the works of the Torah of Moses (Gal. 2:16)—i.e., the sacrifices, cleansing rites, dietary rules, dress codes, and so forth. Circumcision of the flesh is nothing more than a fleshly work of the Torah meant to teach a higher point. (Rom. 2:29) For these reasons, Saul writes:
Behold, I Saul say unto you, that if you are circumcised (to be saved), the messiah shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he has become a debtor to do the whole Torah (of Moses). Messiah has become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the Torah (of Moses); you have fallen from grace. For we through the ruach wait for the hope of justification by trust. For in Yahushua the messiah neither circumcision is of any force, nor uncircumcision; but trust which works by love. (Gal. 5:2-6)
Justified By Grace
Outside of the messiah, no other human is saved or qualifies to receive the inheritance by means of the handwritten Torah of Moses. When you sin you lose all rights. It is for this reason that we do not seek to be justified under the Torah of Moses but under grace.(Rom. 6:14-15; Gal. 4:21-31, 3:22-25, 5:18)
We receive the eternal inheritance as an act of grace from the messiah, who qualified under the written Torah of Moses, for he is the sole recipient of the promises contained in the Abrahamic Covenants of Promise to which the Torah of Moses was attached.(Gal. 3:15-29)
Under grace we circumvent the written Torah of Moses (the Law, Old Covenant), our sins can be forgiven, and we can be accepted into the eternal inheritance as joint-heirs with the messiah.
Those requiring circumcision of the flesh in order to observe Passover and to be justified to receive the eternal inheritance are attempting to be justified by doing the fleshly works of the Torah. They fall under the condemnation and curses attached to these said fleshly works. Saul explains:
You see how large a letter I have written unto you with my own hand. As many as desire to make a fair showing in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the (torture-)stake of messiah. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the Torah (of Moses); but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But Yahweh forbid that I should glory, save in the (torture-)stake of our sovereign Yahushua the messiah, by whom the world is killed on a (torture-)stake unto me, and I unto the world. For in messiah Yahushua neither circumcision is of any force, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of Yahweh. (Gal. 6:11-16)
Justified Under Torah of Trust
We are not under the works of the Torah of Moses. (Rom. 3:28) Therefore, we are not obligated to be circumcised of flesh, because Abraham was not under the works of the Torah of Moses. (Rom. 4:1-5) Rather, we are under the Torah of Trust, (Rom. 3:27) and we are justified by this trust, (Gal. 2:15-16) as Abraham was under the Torah of Trust.
Abraham, remember, was justified to receive the eternal inheritance of the covenant by “righteousness (justification) apart from works (of the Torah of Moses).” (Rom. 4:6) Saul asked the key question when he wrote:
Is this blessedness then on the circumcision, or also on the uncircumcision? For we say the trust was counted to Abraham for righteousness (Gen. 15:6). How then was it counted? Being in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, BUT IN UNCIRCUMCISION!” (Rom. 4:9-10)
Abraham was not in circumcision of the flesh when he received the covenant of the eternal inheritance but was justified by trust. It is true that fleshly circumcision was later introduced but not as a requirement of the covenant. It was a token (sign) of his trust. Saul writes:
And he received A SIGN OF CIRCUMCISION (as) a seal of the righteousness of trust (while) in uncircumcision, for him to be a father of those believing through uncircumcision, for righteousness to be counted to them also, and a father of circumcision to those not of circumcision only, but also to those WALKING IN THE STEPS OF THE TRUST OF OUR FATHER ABRAHAM DURING UNCIRCUMCISION. For the promise was not through the (written) Torah to Abraham, or to his seed, (for) him to be the heir of the world, but through a righteousness of trust. For if those of the (written) Torah are heirs, trust has been made of no effect, and the promise has been destroyed. For the (written) Torah works out wrath; for where no Torah is, neither is there transgression. On account of this, it is of trust, that it be according to grace, for the promise to be made sure to all the seed, not to that of the (written) Torah only, but also to that of the trust of Abraham, who is father of us all. (Rom. 4:11-16)
Again Saul writes:
Even as Abraham trusted Yahweh, and it was reckoned to him for justification, know then that they that are out of trust, these are the sons of Abraham; and the scripture foreseeing that out of trust Yahweh justifies the nations, before announcing the good news to Abraham: “In you shall all nations be blessed (Gen. 12:3).” So that those out of trust are being blessed with trusting Abraham. (Gal. 3:6-9)
Was not our father Abraham justified by works (of trust) offering up his son Isaak on the altar (Gen. 22:9)? You see that trust was working with his works (of trust); and out of the works (of trust) trust was perfected. And the scripture was fulfilled, saying, “And Abraham trusted Yahweh, and it was counted for justification to him;” and he was called, a friend of Yahweh. (James 2:21-23)
So far, Scriptures make it clear that we cannot qualify (i.e., be justified) under the written Torah of Moses and the works of the Torah of Moses attached thereto. Accordingly, it is necessary for us to circumvent the Torah of Moses and come under grace.
As Saul reports in the book of Galatians:
For if by the Torah (of Moses) is the inheritance, it is no longer by promise; but to Abraham through promise Yahweh granted it. (Gal. 3:19)
Walking As Abraham Walked
One who is under grace is under the Torah of Trust, as Abraham was. As a result, we must walk as Abraham walked. Abraham kept the commandments, laws, and statutes of Yahweh (Gen. 26:1), but he was never under the works of the written Torah.
The commandments, laws, and statutes that Abraham followed are nevertheless revealed in the written Torah of Moses and prophets and are called the righteousness (justification) of the Torah and the justification of the deity, which is attained by trust. (Rom. 3:21-26, 9:30-33)
Because of the fleshly works found in the written Torah of Moses, the written Torah was not made to justify or give life; rather, it was only meant to give the knowledge of what sin is. (1 Tim. 1:9; Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:21-29)
For example, in the Torah of Moses we find the knowledge of the Ten Commandments, which are part of the justification of the Torah of Trust. Meanwhile, under the Torah of Moses you are required to keep both the Ten Commandments and works of the flesh, such as fleshly circumcision and sleeping in tents during the Festival of Tabernacles.
Under the Abrahamic Covenants of Promise you are required only to keep those things later described as the righteousness (justification) of the Torah of Trust (e.g., the Ten Commandments and the Festival of Tabernacles itself).
Therefore, we are still required to keep the Ten Commandments (Matt. 5:17-19, 19:16-19; 1 John 5:2-3), but we no longer need to concern ourselves with sleeping in tents during the Festival of Tabernacles (a work of the Torah of Moses) or with being circumcised of flesh.
This is the end of the line for this part of our study. Be sure to continue with: Circumcision & Passover – Pt 2 which addresses the issue of “Circumcision” as discussed in the Old Testament.
We will then wrap it up with a conclusion derived from Scriptures regarding the issue of “Circumcision & Passover.”
One thought on “Circumcision & Passover – Pt 1”
So interesting! Another great read. Thank you.