When people begin to take interest in Hebraica Veritas, or the recognition of the Hebrew language, the Jewishness of the Bible, and the history of Israel as the only correct way to understand and interpret the teachings of Moses, Jesus and the apostles, some end up asking themselves if they should circumcise in order to keep the Torah. Dr. Joseph Shulam has posted his thoughts on the subject and I would like to offer below summary, you can watch the full message if you want here.
Hello, my name is Joseph Shulam. I am the retired director of Netivya Bible Instruction Ministry.
There are questions that have come up to Netivya on all kinds of issues. One of the questions was whether Gentiles should be circumcised to keep the Torah.
First, let’s put down some of the most important principles when we deal with the Bible and when we want to understand and deal with God himself. The first axiomatic principle is that God doesn’t make mistakes. If He wanted Michael Jackson to be blonde and blue-eyed, he would have made him a Swede. Michael Jackson didn’t need to bleach himself in order to be white. Similarly, if He wanted me to be African, I would have been black. God doesn’t make mistakes. We are born who we are, and we must not want to be somebody else.
The second principle that’s also an immutable principle is that God is the God of all of humanity and creation. That means He’s the God of the Eskimos, our Arab neighbors and our Jewish neighbors, Vladimir Putin, and Joe Biden. God is the God of all, and that is a Biblical principle from the very beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation.
The third principle is that what the Bible doesn’t clearly demand, we don’t have to worry about. Why worry about it? Why do you want to think that God wants you to be a Jew? If He wanted you to be a Jew, you would have been born to Jewish parents, raised as a Jew, and did a bar mitzvah and circumcised on the eighth day. This is the most basic and important principle of the whole Bible.
God revealed His will to us through the witnesses that witnessed the events and to the apostles who were called, anointed, and received Revelation from God. They wrote down what we should teach future generations about how to live in this life and inherit eternal life forever.
Let’s talk about the Jews and the Gentiles. One of the problems with most Christian pastors and even professors of theology is that they have never learned how to read Jewish texts, especially Jewish texts written by a Jewish lawyer.
Let’s go to Galatians chapter 5. In order not to make this answer too long, I’ll only read a few verses.
Stand fast, therefore, in the Liberty by which the Messiah Christ has made us free.
Notice he’s writing to you. Then he says us, including here, in my opinion, the Jews. He’s saying, you Gentiles are just like us. We got liberated by the Messiah.
If you don’t keep one of the laws or the Commandments, you’re breaking your own oath. That’s why don’t enter in their law a yoke of bondage. Yeshua said, “my yoke is easy and light,” not a bondage. So Paul in verse 3 of Galatians 5, “I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised” – every man means Jew or Gentile – “that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.”
Because the minute you begin following Judaism, especially as an adult, if you asked all the questions, you asked to commit, you ask to take a vow, and you have to do two things: circumcise and immersion in water. And when you are in the water before you dunk yourself in the water, you take an oath to keep the law and the Commandments. Everybody does it. When you do this, you give up the right to ask for God’s mercy, for God’s grace, because you have made an oath to keep the law and the Commandments.
Paul said, “I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised.” It doesn’t say every baby. He says every man who becomes circumcised is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from the Messiah, from Christ. You who attempt to be justified by the Torah, you have fallen from Grace. For we, the Jews, through the spirit, eagerly wait for the hope of the righteousness of faith.
As Jews circumcised on the eighth day we didn’t have to make an oath. But if you as an adult now are going to be converted to Judaism in order to keep the Torah, you make an oath. And when you make an oath, if you don’t keep one of The Commandments, you forfeited God’s grace by your oath. For we, the Jews, through the spirit, eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness of faith. We wait for that day in which we are going to be forgiven from our sins by our faith in Yeshua Mashiach, and he said that in verse 6, “for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything but faith working through love is everything.”
In Galatians Paul actually gives a command to all the churches on this topic, and the command is in First Corinthians chapter 7 verse 17 and forward. “But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, let him walk.”
This goes to the first principle that I mentioned before. God doesn’t make mistakes and he gave you what you need and equipped you with what you have in order to achieve the goal and spend eternity with God and the Saints and the prophets and the apostles.
I’m reading verse 17 of chapter 7 of First Corinthians again, “But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk,” that means live. And so I command in all the churches, the Jewish churches, and the non-Jewish churches, and the mixed churches, and the “Tutti-Frutti” churches today. We have some of those too. Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised.
So to summarize, the key principle that Paul emphasizes in both Galatians and Corinthians is that what matters most to God is keeping His commandments, rather than adhering to external practices like circumcision or non-circumcision. As he says in 1 Corinthians 7:19, “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.”
This is a message that applies to both Jews and Gentiles. For Jews, it means not getting too caught up in the external trappings of the law, but focusing on the underlying principles of love, justice, and righteousness that the law is meant to promote. For Gentiles, it means recognizing that they too are called to live in accordance with God’s moral standards, even if they are not bound by the same covenantal obligations as the Jews.
In short, the message of Galatians and Corinthians is that what matters most to God is not our ethnic or religious identity, but our obedience to His will. Whether we are Jews or Gentiles, circumcised or uncircumcised, we are all called to live lives of faith, hope, and love, and to seek to honor God in all that we do.