Wednesday, 24 February 2016
Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. Galatians 2:3
Though verses 3 through 5 are parenthetical, the very core of the message of Galatians is found in this verse now. Paul had gone up to Jerusalem in order to meet with the leaders there. When he went, he took Titus along with him. Titus was a Greek and a saved believer in Jesus Christ. He was with Paul at the meeting and yet he was not “compelled to be circumcised.”
From this verse, Paul will carefully and methodically detail his argument concerning the bondage of the Law of Moses; the truth that circumcision is not required for salvation; and the fact that this truth is even seen in Abraham, the father of the faith of the Hebrew people. Paul will use circumcision as a benchmark in his argument against any deed of the Law of Moses being required for salvation.
If this most important aspect of being brought into the covenant people was not considered necessary for salvation through Jesus Christ, then nothing else would be as well. Circumcision first goes back to Genesis 17 –
“And God said to Abraham: ‘As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.'” Genesis 17 :9-14
Later, it is noted that for a foreigner to come into the fold, they were required to be circumcised –
“This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it. 44 But every man’s servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it. 45 A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it. 46 In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land.” Exodus 12:43-48
Without meeting this most important requirement, there was to be no inclusion of that person among the covenant people. And yet, Titus was already saved and he was there among the leaders of the church. If those same leaders determined that circumcision for Titus was required, the entire message of grace through faith would crumble and the church would be brought back into legalism and bondage. However, he was not compelled to be circumcised and the truth that Christ is the fulfillment of this requirement, and all of the Law of Moses, was realized and solidified for all time.
Understanding this precept concerning this most important aspect of Jewish covenant life, we can look at any lesser aspect and know that it is also set aside because of the work of Christ. Church doctrine then is established from this point on. As this occurred in Acts 15 where the decision was published for all the Gentile churches to read and accept, then we can know that Paul’s epistles set the parameters for church doctrine and conduct as they are rendered after that point in time and they follow immediately after the book of Acts.
Life application: If someone tells you that you need to be circumcised in order to be saved, tell them, “Take a hike, heretic.” Stand fast on your faith in the grace of Jesus Christ alone.
Heavenly Father, a New Covenant came through the shed blood of Christ my Lord. In that Your word says it is, “A new covenant,” we know that You have made the first obsolete. What is obsolete is done away with in the better and surer promises of the New. Should someone demand that we fall back on the Old in order to be pleasing to You, we will stand on the grace of Christ and tell them, “Get lost heretic!” Thank You for the grace of Christ which comes by faith in His accomplished work. Amen.