Summary: Other than our faith, there is nothing we can appeal to in an effort to merit God’s favor.
Grace And Identity
I. Paul Defines A True Jew
A. Did the Jews have special privileges others did not have? Do they now? Where does the modern day Christian fall in this scheme?
1. The Jews did have special privileges.
2. God gave his Law to them; he called them as his special people; and some even propose they will once again enjoy a special place in his world plan prior to the end of time.
B. Paul mentions the Jewish practice of circumcision. (v. 25)
1. This part of God’s covenant began with Abraham the Hebrew and his descendants. (Genesis 17:9-14)
2. After initiating the covenant with him, God placed the requirement on him and his descendants that every male must be circumcised on the eighth day after birth.
3. Entering into that practice would prove they accepted the covenant obligations.
4. This law also applied to all servants born into Abraham’s household as well as foreign born servants he purchased.
5. The penalty for refusing the sign involved being cut off from the covenant family.
C. Why Circumcision?
1. Many children are still circumcised today, and we are now aware one advantage involves health issues. Some of the other laws God gave to Moses seem strange to us as well, but when we take into consideration the conditions under which they were given, we come to understand many of them also related to health concerns in a time when sanitation was not equal to modern standards.
2. It was a sign of obedience.
3. It was a sign one belonged to the covenant community.
4. As Paul will deal with, it was a sign of the “cutting off” of the old life; it separated the Jewish people from their pagan neighbors.
D. The term was also used to distinguish those who were followers of the one True God from those who were not; “circumcised” versus “uncircumcised.”
E. Unfortunately, many Jews came to wear this as a badge of honor and pride they felt made them better than the “Gentiles.” Some also believed obeying this practice meant they were accepted by God regardless of what else they did.
1. This matter is one that Paul will now address.
2. In his continuing apology that all are guilty before God regardless of their cultural heritage, he must address this matter so many put great stock in.
3. He will also define the true meaning of the practice. Just as there was the literal practice of circumcision, so there was a deeper spiritual meaning.
4. In fact, he will go so far as to say an uncircumcised Gentile could be a true Jew.
5. We can only imagine the anger this aroused from the pious Judaizer.
F. The cutting away that accompanied the procedure of circumcision actually referred to the cutting away of some things as it related to the spiritual side of a person.
1. The deeper matter under consideration is what a person has to do-or not do, to please God.
2. What does it take to enter God’s family?
3. Paul was addressing people who had a misunderstanding about salvation or who wanted to add to the pure gospel.