In the New Testament there are many passages discussing circumcision and Jewish identity. The significance of circumcision initiated in Genesis 17 is restated several times in the Old Testament. In this article, the significance of circumcision primarily in the Old Testament is explored under the discipline of Biblical Theology. The study draws the same conclusion as Paul did based on the text in Pentateuch and the Prophets. The circumcision is a sign on the flesh of the chosen people, while the purpose is to remind the human obligations in Abraham’s covenant with God. While the rite is on the flesh, the true reflection should be in the heart.
In 2006, BBC Mischief series took a documentary video named “Circumcise Me.” The purpose of the video is to explore whether circumcision can really bring people benefits or not. When a group of Jewish young people were interviewed by the journalist on the reason for circumcision, they laughed at what seemed to be an obvious question. One young man responded, “Because we are Jewish.”
Paul argued about circumcision in his letters many times. In the New Testament, circumcision is treated as a sign of being Jewish, and most of the time connected with legalism and ignorance of God’s grace through Jesus Christ. If circumcision is commanded by God, it must carry some deeper significance. Though most modern Jews and Jews of Paul’s time treat circumcision solely as a sign of ethnicity or being a chosen people, one must understand the original meaning that God assigned to circumcision. One must also seek to understand whether it is Paul or the Jewish people who abolished the true meaning of the circumcision.