Useful Bible Studies > 1 Corinthians Commentary > chapter 7

Advice for Christians about circumcision

1 Corinthians 7:18-19

Circumcision is a custom that God told Abraham and his family to carry out. Someone cuts a small piece of skin from the sex part of a manís or boyís body. For Abraham and his family, that mark reminded them about their relationship with God. It reminded them that they must trust God.

The Jews are the people who come from Abrahamís family. They still carry out circumcision today. People from several other nations also carry out this custom. But for the Jews, the custom has special meaning. It reminds them that their nation has a special relationship with God. And it reminds them about Godís promises to Abraham.

Jesus and the first Christians were all Jews, so all the men had received circumcision. But then some people who were not Jews became Christians. They had not received circumcision. This caused an important disagreement among Christians.

You can read what happened in Acts 15:1-29. Some people were arguing that, without circumcision, a man could not be a proper Christian. Really, those people wanted every Christian to obey all the rules that God gave to Moses for the Jews. Paul said that, in fact, those people wanted to control the new Christians (Galatians 2:4).

But God wanted to lead his people not by rules, but by his Spirit. When the Holy Spirit guides someone, that person is obeying all Godís commands (Galatians 5:18-23).

So it does not matter whether a Christian has received circumcision or not. A person does not have to be a Jew in order to become a Christian. And a Jew who becomes a Christian is still a Jew. Their relationship with God is because of Jesus - not because of circumcision.

Next part: Advice to Christian slaves (1 Corinthians 7:20-22)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.