LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. (Psalm 30:2)
Today's Devotional Insight...
Defining the problem
In seeking to establish a biblical theology of circumcision, the two facets on which this book focuses are the key biblical concepts of righteousness and faith. Part of the motivation for that comes from Paul’s remark that Abraham ‘received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised’ (Rom. 4:11).4 Paul’s connection of circumcision with the ideas of righteousness and faith is not limited to this particular verse. The three are also clearly connected in Romans 2 – 4, Galatians and Philippians 3. Moreover, in other places circumcision is linked with related concepts like cleansing (John 7:22–23; Acts 15:1–11), reconciliation (Eph. 2:11–22), forgiveness (Col. 2:6–23) and the receipt of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:45; 15:1–11).
However, Romans 4:11 connects the ideas in a way that opens up the subject and some of its inherent complexities. Furthermore, it also highlights Paul’s biblical-theological sensitivity with respect to the meaning of circumcision in so far as it relates to righteousness and faith. Paul’s claim in Romans 4:11 is not first of all anchored in what his opponents thought about circumcision but in how circumcision worked in the OT. Circumcision was given to Abraham as a ‘seal of the righteousness that he had by faith’. In Paul’s mind at least, circumcision was intended to mean something to Abraham. Paul is not making a claim about what became apparent about circumcision later, but about what circumcision already meant from the very beginning. It was intended to communicate something to Abraham about righteousness and faith. That raises the possibility of finding those two themes of righteousness and faith woven into the very fabric of circumcision both in the OT and the NT.
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Today’s Pastoral Resource...
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