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Dear Refiner's Fire...

Isn't circumcision just an Old Testament Jewish thing?

Our Response...

No, it isn't. "Religion" doesn't play a part in Yahweh's commands! As "grafted in" believers to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through Messiah Yeshua, every male has to be circumcised. Yahweh said that male babies must be circumcised when they are eight days old (Genesis 21:4). But, remember, Abraham was circumcised at the ripe old age of 99 (Genesis 17:24) which shows us that there is no age limit. Once a man becomes a Torah observant believer in Messiah Yeshua, he must become circumcised.

Genesis 17: 7 "I am establishing my covenant between me and you, along with your descendants after you, generation after generation, as an everlasting covenant, to be God for you and for your descendants after you. 8 I will give you and your descendants after you the land in which you are now foreigners, all the land of Kena'an, as a permanent possession; and I will be their God." 9 God said to Avraham, "As for you, you are to keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you, generation after generation. 10 Here is my covenant, which you are to keep, between me and you, along with your descendants after you: every male among you is to be circumcised. 11 You are to be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; this will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 Generation after generation, every male among you who is eight days old is to be circumcised, including slaves born within your household and those bought from a foreigner not descended from you. 13 The slave born in your house and the person bought with your money must be circumcised; thus my covenant will be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who will not let himself be circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin - that person will be cut off from his people, because he has broken my covenant." (Stern's)

The key is right here:

Exodus 12: 48 If a foreigner staying with you wants to observe ADONAI's Pesach, all his males must be circumcised. Then he may take part and observe it; he will be like a citizen of the land. But no uncircumcised person is to eat it. 49 The same teaching is to apply equally to the citizen and to the foreigner living among you." 50 All the people of Isra'el did just as ADONAI had ordered Moshe and Aharon. 51 On that very day, ADONAI brought the people of Isra'el out of the land of Egypt by their divisions.

As "grafted in" believers of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, EVERY male must be circumcised. The death of Yeshua never negated that "forever" command.

1 Corinthians 7: 18. Is a circumcised person called, let him not revert to uncircumcision: and if one uncircumcised be called, let him not become circumcised.[1] 19. For circumcision is nothing, neither is uncircumcision; but the keeping of Elohim’s commands.[2] (AENT)

Footnotes from the Aramaic English New Testament:

[1] Perhaps an odd statement to modern ears. During the conquests by Ptolemies, Seleucids and the Romans, Jews were under pressure to assimilate into the Gentile societies. One of the ways Jews assimilated was to compete at the Olympic Games (see 1 Corinthians 9:24). Since all athletes competed in the nude, a circumcised Jew faced an obvious dilemma. And so, many Jews made the unfortunate decision to reverse the appearance of their circumcision! Ironically, if they had been inspected at the Temple, they would have been barred.

[2] This is the key verse of the whole discourse in this chapter. Making circumcision into a tradition and distorting it into something other than what is intended by YHWH is to bring it to “nothing.” Most Christians tend to read “circumcision is nothing” and stop there, as if that is the message Rav Shaul is sending out. But they fail to grasp the last line, because if keeping Elohim’s commands is what counts, circumcision is most definitely one of these Commandments! The Renewed Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:8) was given to the house of Israel and Judah, but includes all others who join, meaning the Renewed Covenant is not just a “Jewish thing” nor is there a division between what Jews observe and what “Elohim Fearing” non-Jewish disciples of Y’shua observe. The Kingdom of Elohim is open for all souls to enter, and we are all called into His Kingdom on His terms, not ours.

Some attempt to use Romans 2 and Galatians 5 as proof that today's believers (especially from a Gentile background) do not have to become circumcised. (We are again using the AENT as a reference.):

Romans 2: 9. And tribulation and anguish (will be) to every man that does evil; to the Jews first, and also to the Arameans. 10. But glory and honor and peace to every one that does good; to the Jews first, and also to the Arameans.[1] 11. For there is no respect of persons with Elohim. 12. For those without Torah, who sin, will also perish without Torah; and those under Torah, who sin, will be judged by Torah. 13. For not the hearers of Torah are righteous before Elohim; but the doers of Torah are being made righteous. [2]

14. For if Gentiles who have not Torah will, by their nature, do the things of Torah; they, while without Torah, become a Torah to themselves.[3] 15. Additionally, they show the work of Torah as it is inscribed on their hearts; and their conscience bears testimony to them, their own reflections rebuking or vindicating one another. 16. (And that vindication is for) in the day in which Elohim will judge the secret (actions) of men, as my tidings (teaches), by Y'shua the Mashiyach. 17. But if you who are called a Jew, and rely yourself on Torah and glory in Elohim, 18. (And further that you think) that you know His good pleasure and discern obligations because you are instructed in Torah;

19. And (that Elohim) has confidence in yourself, that you are a guide to the blind, and a light to them who are in darkness, 20. And an instructor of those lacking knowledge, and a preceptor to the young; and you have the appearance of knowledge and of verity in Torah (then what do you all say to the following): 21. You therefore, who teach others, teach you not yourself? And you who teach that men must not steal, do you steal? 22. And you who say, Men must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? And you who condemn idols, do you plunder the sanctuary? 23. And you who glory in Torah, don't you, by acting contrary to Torah, insult Elohim himself?[4]

FOOTNOTES:

1. Arameans, as opposed to "Gentiles" who have no ancestral ties to Israel. Rav Shaul is extremely clear throughout this epistle to make proper distinction between these two, although the point of the message is clear that YHWH is no respecter of persons.

2. Notice how those "under Torah" and those "doers of Torah" are put in opposition to one another; therefore, both cannot simultaneously be in error. This is clarified with the phrase "for doers of Torah will be made righteous." So, if Torah-doers are made righteous, it stands to reason Torah itself is not passing away! The fact that such deep pro-Torah statements are being sent to Gentiles in Rome speaks volumes of how mainstream Christianity is perverting Rav Shaul's teachings.

"Under Torah" means to look to its rituals as a form of magic; a power that needs no purity of intent to bring about blessing, but merely fixed repetition. Torah in itself provides no authority of magic. Rather, Torah has authority because it is YHWH's instruction to man! So "under Torah" is a false teaching that has never been true according to the Tanakh: YHWH blesses man for Torah observance, which is obedience to His Commandments. Notice in Matthew 15 how Y'shua rebukes the Pharisees on this very issue, how they set aside YHWH's Torah (instructions) in favor of their traditions.

3. Rav Shaul does not suggest that Gentiles are spontaneously Mastering Torah. The point is they should learn the written Torah without distraction from Pharisaic traditions which are not rooted in the plain understanding of Torah.

4. Torah is the standard for righteousness that Rav Shaul applies to both himself and his readers; violation of Torah, Paul states, is an insult to Elohim; therefore, Paul never teaches against Torah as modern translations suggest.

Moving on to Galatians 5:1-6 with explanatory footnotes from the Aramaic English New Testament:

Galatians 5: 1. Therefore you stand in the liberty of the Mashiyach, liberty and not subjugation, turning from the yoke of servitude. 2. Behold, I Paul say to you, if you are circumcised[1], then Mashiyach is a thing that has no benefit for you. 3. I testify to you again (return to my testifying)[2], that every circumcised man is obligated to act on the entire Torah. 4. Those of you who are in Torah and who are seeking justification (from it) [3], you have ceased to be from Mashiyach, (and therefore) you have fallen from grace. 5. For we, through the blessings of the Spirit, which is from faith, abide in the hope of righteousness. 6. For in Mashiyach Y'shua, circumcision and uncircumcision are nothing, but faith is completed through love.

FOOTNOTES:

1. If a person is immersed (baptized) or circumcised to please the status quo, it profits them nothing. Paul is referring to traditional, religious, Pharisaical, peer group circumcisions that are required before acceptance into status quo religious organizations. Christians who have been baptized into the name of a denomination can likely relate to this as well. Many Christians choose to be re-baptized after realizing their former baptism was into a denominational religion, rather than into the Kingdom of Elohim.

2. The word tob has multiple meanings; the root means "to return" and this covers several related ideas. Semitic thought has always viewed morality as a straight path (Isaiah 40:3, Matthew 3:3). An evil person is one who is lost or has taken a crooked path, but if he repents he is said to have "turned back." That is why a variant on this word, teshuvah means "to repent." In this case, Rav Shaul is literally "returning" to his main point.

3. Some seek "justification" through observance of Torah, others seek it by not observing Torah; both pursuits are based on man's religion. The answer is to observe Torah in YHWH and His Mashiyach and live righteously as Y'shua did. Put trust and Faith in YHWH, not in works or religion, but as co-laborers with Mashiyach!