What Does the Bible Say About Circumcision?

In this eBibleguide, Victor answers the question “What Does The Bible Say About Circumcision”?

In the first section, the article starts by listing all Bible verses that mention circumcision (NKJV). The verses are divided into Old and New testaments – in chronological order. 

The second section highlights the main facts about circumcision in the Bible while the third and final section covers life lessons about circumcision in the Bible.

Circumcision may mean different things in the Bible. This ebibleguide discusses circumcision as to cutting of the foreskin. Therefore, the scriptures referenced in this eBibleguide are verses that mentioned circumcision as to cutting of the foreskin.
Warning!
Just to be clear, this post is about foreskin circumcision of Males, NOT female genital mutilation. The Bible never said that women or girls should be circumcised.

Bible Verses About Circumcision

What Does the Bible Say About Circumcision? Bible Verses About Circumcision

To answer the question “What Does The Bible Say About Circumcision”?, I will start by listing all the Bible verses that mention the subject.

Old Testament Bible Verses About Circumcision 

Genesis 17:10-14 (NKJV)
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 17:23-24 (NKJV)
23 So Abraham took Ishmael his son, all who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very same day, as God had said to him.
24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.

Leviticus 12:2-3 (NKJV)
2 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean. 

3 And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

Joshua 5:2-8 (NKJV)
2
At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.” 

3 So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. 

4 And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way, after they had come out of Egypt. 

5 For all the people who came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness, on the way as they came out of Egypt, had not been circumcised. 

6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they did not obey the voice of the Lord—to whom the Lord swore that He would not show them the land which the Lord had sworn to their fathers that He would give us, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” 

7 Then Joshua circumcised their sons whom He raised up in their place; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.

8 So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed.

New Testament Bible Verses About Circumcision 

To further answer the question “What Does The Bible Say About Circumcision” here are more Bible verses from the new testament:

Luke 1:57-59 (NKJV)
57 Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son.

58 When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias.

Luke 2:21 (NKJV)
21 And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

22 Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord

23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”),

Act 7:8 (NKJV)
Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs.

Act 15:1 (NKJV)
And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

Acts 15:24 (NKJV)
Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment—

Acts 15:24-29 (NKJV)
24
Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment—

25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 

26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 

28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 

29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.

More Bible Verses About Circumcision from the books of Acts, Romans, and 1 Corinthians…

Acts 16:1-3 (NKJV)
1
Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. 

2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. 

3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.

Romans 3:28-31 (NKJV)
28
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. 

29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 

30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 

31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

1 Corinthians 7:17-20 (NKJV)
17
But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches. 

18 Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. 

19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. 

20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.

Facts About Circumcision in the Bible

What Does The Bible Say About Circumcision - Facts About Circumcision in the Bible

Based on the scriptures listed so far, to further answer the question “What Does The Bible Say About Circumcision”, here are some important facts about circumcision in the Bible:

  1. God introduced circumcision through Abraham. The primary purpose? “My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you” (Genesis 17:10). A covenant is a an agreement between 2 people. God created circumcision as “the sign of” the agreement between Him (God) and Abraham and his descendants.
  2. God gave specific details of how the circumcision must be performed:-
  • You must cut off the flesh of your foreskin as a sign of the covenant between me and you.Genesis 17:11 (NLT)
  • He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations“, Genesis 17:12a (NKJV)
  • 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.Genesis 17:13 (NKJV)
  1. God also clearly specified the consequences of male children in Abraham’s household who fail to be circumcised – “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 17:14 (NKJV)
  2. Abraham’s descendants continued with this agreement – Joshua 5:2-8 (NKJV)
  3. Jesus’s and John’s parents also kept this agreement – Luke 1:59 and Luke 2:21.
  4. However, Jesus never made mention of circumcision (If He did, I haven’t found it in the scriptures!).
  5. Moreover, based on the fact that Jesus established a new covenant, Paul and the other disciples clarified the issue of circumcision and how new testament Christians should respond to it:
  • You DO NOT need to be circumcised to be saved. All you need to do as a Christian is to is to “that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.” Acts 15:29 (NKJV)
  • Your justification comes by faith, not by keeping of the laws of Moses – “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:28 (NKJV)
  • To be accepted by God,you are NOT required to be circumcised or uncircumcised. 1 Corinthians 7:19
  • If you were circumcised when you started following Christ, it is okay. Moreover, if you were uncircumcised when you became a follower of Christ, you are welcome as well. 1 Corinthians 7:18, 20.

Life Lessons from Circumcision in the Bible

What Does The Bible Say About Circumcision - Life Lessons from Circumcision in the Bible

Finally, to help you answer the question, “What Does The Bible Say About Circumcision”, here are life lessons and applications of this study.

  1. Circumcision as a law is an old testament doctrine that was relevant for Abraham and His descendants to remember the agreement they had with God
  2. However, in the new testament, this is completely optional for Christians – it is NOT a requirement for God to accept you. All you need to be accepted into God’s family is faith in Jesus – NOT some physical cutting of the foreskin. Obviously, Jesus’s death and resurrection supersedes any thing we can do to “please GOD”.
  3. Moreover, if you feel that you need to or that circumstances call for it, by all means go for it. Paul circumcised Timothy in Acts 16:3because of the Jews who were in that region“. But DO NOT do it as a way to get God to accept you.

I hope this eBibleguide answered the question “What Does The Bible Say About Circumcision”? Kindly share your views using the “Leave a Reply” form found towards the end of this page. You may also share your life experiences that will help other readers.

Finally, for more eBibleguide studies about other Bible FAQs, visit our Bible FAQs page.

Victor Ashiedu
Victor started following Christ on December 30th, 1999. He believes that believers have to spend time in God's word - the more you know the Word, the more you know your rights in Christ Jesus! He started eBibleguide.com, firstly to help him stay in God's Word. But, eBibleguide.com also hopes to contribute to the Christain community.

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