9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised?We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
Which Came First, Circumcision or Faith?
Paul is arguing that God’s blessing is for all. The Jewish people in Rome would think that because they had followed the rites of Judaism they were to receive God’s blessings. those who did not follow the rites, especially circumcision, could not be blessed with God’s plan of salvation. Paul argues that the blessing was given before the rites were issued. Abraham was blessed by God and then, as an symbol of God’s blessing, the Jewish people have adopted circumcision.
It is Paul’s point that Abraham had faith and exercised it before he had the rituals which showed his faith. The faith enabled him to follow God.
In today’s world we may think that Bible-study, prayer, and serving others make us faithful. However, it is a core of faith, given freely by God, that works itself out in those actions. If we do not know God, our Bible-study, prayer, and acts of service are empty. If there is a lifelessness to our acts, we need to reconnect to the source of life. Paul is showing that a life of religious service has to serve a higher power. God, as the ultimate one in the universe, wishes for us to serve him faithfully.
Do you need to take time to connect with the source of life? Are you resting on your behaviors to prove something to yourself, God, and others? What is the quality of your relationship with God? Do you have a dynamic faith?
Dear God, I often feel like I am not able to serve you well. In those times I realize that I am serving you in my own strength. Let me have faith that depends upon you. Let my life reflect a vibrant faith which flows from a heart which is in the Spirit.
- Who is used as an example?
- What is Paul trying to prove through this example?
- How do you think Jews in Rome might respond?
- How do some people think that their acts of obedience to God will save them?
- How can you know if you have the faith Paul is advocating?