Is Baptism the New Circumcision?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Wittenberger, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. Wittenberger

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    1. Circumcision was not a part of the Mosaic covenant, but of the Abrahamic covenant. It had a much larger application than the former. It was closely connected with justification by faith and the promise of the coming Savior.

    2. The circumcision of Abraham, according to Paul in Romans 4:11, was a seal of the righteousness of faith that he had before he was circumcised. God told Abraham to give this seal to his children/infants so that God could make them partakers of the privileges of His covenant in their early infancy.

    3. Is there any connection between circumcision and baptism? The apostle Paul says that there is, in Colossians 2:11: “ In whom (Christ) you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism, wherein you were also raised with him through faith.”

    The literal, plain, grammatically correct interpretation of that phrase in that verse is that baptism IS the circumcision of Christ. To read into this verse that what God really meant when He used the word “baptism” was “the baptism of the Holy Spirit” is a complete disregard for all rules of scriptural interpretation. If it is ok to re-interpret this verse of scripture and not interpret the word “baptism” to mean the Christian rite/ordinance of baptism, then no one can read the Word of God with any confidence, because the rules of logic have been completely abolished. You are essentially saying that “A” does not mean “A”!

    4. Baptists believe that circumcision was simply an external sign of an external union with a national congregation, to secure the separation of the Jews from all other nations, and their unity as a people. Baptism, on the other hand, they say, is an external sign of an inward spiritual grace already wrought in the heart.

    However, circumcision was not part of the Mosaic covenant, but of the Abrahamic covenant, and was therefore not limited to Israel. The various nations which descended from Abraham use it, not just Israel.

    Abraham was the first man circumcised. Therefore his circumcision sets the precedent and the underlying meaning of this act. His circumcision was an external sign of an inward spiritual grace: “to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee”. According to Paul the profit of the circumcision was that “they were intrusted with the oracles of God.” Romans 3:1-2

    So it is clear that circumcision was an external sign of an inward spiritual grace!
     
  2. Wittenberger

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    continued from above...

    However physical circumcision was not enough, according to Moses: “The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart.” Jeremiah (Jer. 4:4, ; 6:10; 9:26) and the Apostle Paul (Rom. 2:28, 29; 15:8, Phil. 3:3) also speak of the circumcision of the heart as the spiritual meaning and fulfillment of the rite of circumcision.

    The entire Bible teaches circumcision as an external sign of an internal grace!

    1. When Paul deals with the question of circumcision he shows that although it required faith, and some people were faithless, the covenant remained in force on God’s side. It was broken only on the part of men. “For what if some were without faith? Shall their want of faith make of none effect the faithfulness of God?” Romans 3:3

    These words show that God’s covenant and His faithfulness to it were unchanging and objectively valid realities, but men could enjoy the blessings of the covenant ONLY through a personal faith and obedience. Its subjective blessings depended on faith! In the case of Abraham the personal prerequisite, namely, faith, preceded the rite, but otherwise the inward circumcision or renewal to faith and obedience followed afterward.

    Just because an Israelite was circumcised did not mean he was “saved”. He could not enjoy the blessings of the covenant (eternal salvation) without a personal faith and obedience. So too with infant baptism! Just because you were baptized as an infant does not guarantee you a free ticket into heaven. Personal faith and obedience is necessary to obtain the blessings (eternal life) of the NEW covenant also. The subjective benefits of infant baptism are dependent on faith, not in the act itself.

    As we have seen above, Paul calls baptism the circumcision of Christ, or Christian circumcision. In the case of Abraham, circumcision was a seal of the righteousness of faith that he had before this rite. It corresponds to the baptism of people who are converted before baptism, as Cornelius and his household were, and as often happens even in our time (older children and adults hearing the Gospel and believing/repenting.)

    But most Israelites received circumcision as infants; when they reached the age of discretion (Age of Accountability, in Baptist terms) they had to appropriate its blessings and fulfill its requirements afterward, although the majority of them never did so (only the “remnant” of Israel was saved). Here circumcision is analogous to infant baptism.

    (Not everyone in the Old Covenant who was circumcised was saved. Not everyone in the New Covenant who is baptized as an infant is saved. To receive the benefits of the seal or mark of Abraham or of Christ, one must have a personal faith and express obedience once one reaches an age of discretion/accountability. Infant baptism is not a Get-out-of-Hell-free card. We are saved ONLY by grace, through faith!)

    It is true that a mere analogy of circumcision and baptism is not enough to prove that baptism follows the same pattern as circumcision. However, Paul calls baptism the circumcision of Christ, and an undeniable fact is that, according to the plan of God, the use of circumcision was to cease when the use of baptism started in its full Christian sense after Pentecost.

    The entire Old Covenant was preparatory to the New Covenant. In both covenants men were saved by grace alone, through faith, and in both of them believers had to show their faith by love and obedience.
     
  3. Scarlett O.

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  4. Wittenberger

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    Yes, it's a great book! I strongly recommend that everyone purchase it and read it:

    The title is: Scriptural Baptism by Uuras Saarnivaara (I think he's Finnish)
     
  5. Wittenberger

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    I would be interested in your serious response to the above statements, Sister Scarlett. Do you agree that circumcision was an outward sign of an inward, spiritual grace?
     
  6. Scarlett O.

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    No. I believe it was an important sign, but only a physical sign. Weren't all Jewish guys circumcised regardless of their belief system? No matter if they were true Israelites or not?

    Genesis 17:10-13

    Didn't Moses have to explain the difference between circumcision of the flesh and the heart?
     
  7. Moriah

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    Circumcision is in the Law of Moses. See Leviticus 12:3.
    The Israelites were circumcised because they were descendants of the forefathers whom God loved.

    Deuteronomy 10:15 Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today.

    People are water baptized because of our individual faith, not because we are related to someone with faith.

    That scripture should show you that baptism is about personal faith. It is about the faith of the person being baptized.

    Colossians 2:11 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

    This scripture also shows that baptism is by immersion, the scripture speaks of being buried in baptism. We are buried with water in full immersion.

    Again, why do you say circumcision was not part of the Mosaic covenant? What do you think of Leviticus 12:3?


    Who can see the external sign of water baptism? When a believer gets water baptized, there is the outward sign of fruits of the Spirit. There is the different lifestyle now being lived by the one who was baptized.
     
  8. Moriah

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    Circumcision of the flesh was an external sign to show who God’s people were. Even when they went against God, they were still known to be God’s people.

    Just the fact that water baptism alone shows nothing externally, this should show you it is not supposed to take the place in the exact same way as circumcision.
    Infant baptism interferes with people knowing and obeying the Truth. Infant baptism confuses non-Christians and those who want to be a Christian. Many people baptized as an infant do not understand why they do not really know the Lord. Those baptized as infants do not usually walk the path that Jesus teaches...unless they learn more of the truth later. Infant baptism has been confusing millions of people for years. It is more serious of an issue that most even realize.

    Water baptism is a promise of a good conscience to God. See 1 Peter 3:21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

    Infants cannot make a promise. Moreover, no one, not even the infant’s parents can make a promise for their child, no one can make a promise to God for anyone else.
     
  9. Michael Wrenn

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    Dr. Fred Malone, Baptist pastor and former Presbyterian pastor writes about this in his "A String of Pearls Unstrung: A Theological Journey into Believers' Baptism", in which he totally dismantles every argument for infant baptism:

    The Second Pearl: The Relationship Between Circumcision and Baptism

    "Circumcision is the second pearl on the string of "good and necessary inference." What exactly is the counterpart of circumcision in the New Covenant? Is it water baptism? What exactly does the Scripture say about the implications of circumcision in the New Covenant?

    Physical Circumcision and Heart Circumcision

    In Rom. 2:28,29, we find that circumcision was always meant to represent the inward work of the Spirit on the heart. According to the principles of typological interpretation, physical circumcision is the type and regeneration is the antitype or fulfillment. This was the definition of a true Jew, whether of Jewish or Gentile descent. The outward sign of circumcision was to symbolize that which God desired inwardly of the heart. But more than that, the reality of the symbol also had to be present in order for a person to be a true Jew or to receive all of God's covenant blessings.

    This same truth is taught in Rom. 9:6-8, where Paul says that "they are not all Israel who are of Israel." This is another reference to the faithful remnant idea which began in the physical nation of Abraham's descendants and came to fruition in the New Covenant members or church. This is further explained in Rom. 4:12, where the promised "seed" of Abraham consists not of those of physical descent only, but those who are of the faith of their father Abraham. These, and these only, are his fulfilled "seed" (Rom. 4:23). It is those who are of faith, Jew and Gentile, who are the "seed" of Abraham. In all these Scriptures, the true Jews, or Abraham's "seed," in fulfillment of God's promise to him, are those who have the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit, which is exhibited by faith in Christ.

    Heart Circumcision and Baptism

    What then is the counterpart of circumcision in the New Covenant? The most quoted text to link circumcision and water baptism is Col. 2:9-12:

    For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

    This text, however, has been misinterpreted by many covenant paedobaptists.

    Paul teaches that all Christians have received circumcision by the circumcision of Christ. What is "the circumcision of Christ?" It may be interpreted to be either the death of Christ objectively or the circumcising of the believer's heart by Christ. Either way, Paul is speaking of the manner in which the believer has been "circumcised also" through Christ's death and resurrection. Because of Christ's death, we have received a better circumcision than the Judaizers "by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, . . . buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith [emphasis added] in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead" (Col. 2:11,12).

    Here is a definite link between circumcision and baptism. Christians have been circumcised "also" by being buried with Christ in baptism. But is Paul referring only to the actual water baptism as the direct fulfillment of circumcision? To quote Paul, "May it never be!" This fulfilled circumcision is "made without hands." There is no human hand involved in its administration, whether by knife or by water. His full definition of the Christian's fulfillment of circumcision is "by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised up with Him through faith [emphasis added] in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead."

    To summarize, the Christian's circumcision is that union with Christ's death and resurrection, symbolized by baptism, which is evidenced by outward faith! Verses 13 and 14 also support this view by defining the ones who have received the "circumcision" as those who have actually experienced the new birth and the blotting out of sins. This new life of faith is the New Covenant heart-circumcision "by the circumcision of Christ" which fulfills the type of Old Covenant circumcision. Only these people were "buried with Christ in baptism," according to this passage, because their hearts had been circumcised; and this was exhibited by their faith. Their water baptism symbolized their prior spiritual baptism.

    Some paedobaptists consider union with Christ in baptism in Rom. 6:3,4 as a secondary reference to water baptism, counting it primarily a reference to regeneration. Yet, inconsistently, they use the same concept of union with Christ in baptism in Col. 2:11,12 as a primary reference to the relationship of water baptism to circumcision instead of its clear intention of relating circumcision to regeneration. My conclusion is that Paul defined the circumcision of Christians in Col. 2:9-12 as primarily union with Christ by faith, secondarily symbolized in their water baptism, as in Rom. 6:3,4.

    If circumcision is the sign and seal of the Abrahamic Covenant, what then is its New Covenant counterpart? I believe the Scriptures define it to be the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit exhibited in faith. This is why Paul prohibited physical circumcision. They had received its reality in the new heart (Gal. 3:3). Paul tells the Galatians that they do not need physical circumcision to enter into the covenant relationship with God because they have already entered that covenant relationship by the circumcision of Christ, a new heart by union with His death and resurrection. Therefore, as circumcision (the shadow or type) was the sign of entrance into the Abrahamic Covenant and the seal of Abraham's saving faith, so regeneration (the form or antitype) is the sign of entrance into the New Covenant and the seal of the believer's faith (Eph. 1:13,14; Jn. 3:5,6).

    Baptism then, is the indirect fulfillment of physical circumcision only through its association with the direct fulfillment, spiritual circumcision. This is why we see only confessors' baptism in the New Testament record. It was easy to know who entered the Abrahamic Covenant; they were born into the household and were outwardly circumcised. But how can one tell if someone has entered the New Covenant and has experienced spiritual circumcision? Only by his repentance and faith, signified by the outward sign of fulfilled circumcision and cleansing, water baptism. Acts 2:37-42 is clear exegetical proof that the only children baptized were those who received Peter's word of repentance and faith in Christ (Acts 2:38,39,41). They outwardly showed inward circumcision and then were baptized. This is how Christ ordained to build His church (Mt. 16:16-18; 28:19).

    Water baptism, then, is the outward sign of the inward circumcision of the heart rather than the outward counterpart of the outward circumcision of the flesh. Just as Abraham's Old Covenant "seed" initially entered the covenant by physical circumcision and confirmed it by spiritual circumcision, his New Covenant "seed" initially enter the covenant by spiritual circumcision and confirm it by baptism. Physical descendants of Abraham's New Covenant "seed" are not to be permitted the sign of baptism until they show by faith that they have also become the spiritual "seed" of Abraham. David Kingdon's book, Children of Abraham, is a more thorough study of this concept. Regeneration by the Spirit, not the infant baptism of believers' "seed," is the fulfillment of the promise to give a multitude of nations to Abraham as his descendants. Faith comes first as the evidence of regeneration, then comes baptism–not the other way around."
     
    #9 Michael Wrenn, Aug 6, 2012
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  10. convicted1

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    The OT circumcision was a sign that you were in a covenant with God. The water baptism is a sign that you are in the New Covenant with God.


    The circumcision of the heart, not made with hands is God's work when He saves someone, and takes away the stony heart and gives a heart of flesh, a heart of love.
     
  11. Wittenberger

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    I am in total agreement with your last statement. Did you read all of the OP?
     
  12. savedbymercy

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    Physical Circumcision for God's Covenant People was a Type for the Circumcision of the Heart that all the Israel of God, God's Eternal Covenant People receive at New Birth !

    Rom 2:28-29

    28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

    29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

    Phil 3:3

    3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

    Water baptism has nothing to do with it !
     
  13. Wittenberger

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    I appreciate all the excellent comments! I also appreciate the civil tone. We can disagree without being disagreable.

    First, "Moriah" has correctlly pointed out that circumcision was a part of the Mosaic Law. What I meant to say was that circumcision preceded the Mosaic Law and had a wider meaning than just a national identity. Yes, the ongoing practice of circumcision was adopted into the Mosaic Law.

    So if I am understanding all of you, I will refer to you as credo-baptists, (you are not all Baptists), you believe that there were more than one type of circumcision in the OT.

    Abraham's circumcision was an external sign/seal of an inward grace, received by Abraham's faith, as mentioned by the Apostle Paul.

    However, the circumcision of the infant children of Abraham and of Abraham's descendants thereafter, up until the day of Pentecost, had a different meaning: it was an external sign of a national covenant: the covenant with the nation of Israel.

    But, what about the 300 male servants in Abraham's household that were circumcised? They were never the children of Israel. Only the 12 sons of Jacob/Israel and their descendants could claim that their circumcision was a sign of a national identity.

    What about Ishmael? He was the father of the Arabs. How could his circumcision be a sign of national identity. What was the purpose of his circumcision?

    What about Esau? What was the meaning of his circumcision and the circumcision of his children/grandchildren? Did God make a separate national covenant with them?

    So God made national covenants with the Arabs, with the descendants of Esau and the descendants of all the male servants and slaves in Abraham's household? So God made multiple national covenants??

    If the only purpose of circumcision was to be a sign of the covenant with the nation of Israel, there sure were alot of people who were circumcised that never were part of the nation that they were supposedly identifying with by having their foreskin removed!

    Isn't there just one meaning of circumcision? Isn't it the same meaning for everyone in the OT? Why would God create a sign of national identity but give it to so many different nations?
     
    #13 Wittenberger, Aug 6, 2012
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  14. Wittenberger

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    On another point brought up by Michael (Wren) regarding the verse in Colossians mentioned above.

    Colossians 2:11: “ In whom (Christ) you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism, wherein you were also raised with him through faith.”

    So credobaptists believe that when the Scriptures use the Greek word for "baptism" it does not ALWAYS mean "to dip or immerse in water"?? I thought that you did. The word "baptism" in this verse means something else entirely unrelated: a non-water baptism of the Holy Spirit??

    Doesn't that destroy the credobaptist arguement that the Greek word for "baptism" always means dipping/immersion with water? Doesn't that open the door to multiple interpretations of what the word "baptism" means?

    Why not just stick to the word baptism meaning to dip/immerse everywhere that it is mentioned in Scripture except where it SPECIFICALLY mentions another type of baptism?
     
    #14 Wittenberger, Aug 6, 2012
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  15. billwald

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    >The OT circumcision was a sign that you were in a covenant with God. The water baptism is a sign that you are in the New Covenant with God.

    YES!

    A sign to whom? A sign to/for the community. Not a sign to/for God.
     
  16. billwald

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    >Physical Circumcision for God's Covenant People was a Type for the Circumcision of the Heart that all the Israel of God, God's Eternal Covenant People receive at New Birth !

    But only God knows the condition of the heart. Only God knows if the "new birth" has occurred to any specific person.
     
  17. Wittenberger

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    I very much agree with you. Circumcision in the OT WAS a sign that you were in a covenant with God, even if you were not a descendant of Jacob (Israel) the father of the Jews.

    But what was the meaning of this covenant? For Ishmael, Esau and the others mentioned above, the covenant that God made with them could not have been a national Jewish identity. It had to be something else!

    Isn't it possible that the sign of the covenant that was given to all the offspring of Abraham (Jews and non-Jews) was God's promise of an internal, spiritual covenant, but that the blessings or benefits of this covenant were not received by the one circumcised until that person reached an age at which time he expressed faith and obedience to God?

    Just because Ishmael and Esau were circumcised did not mean they were saved!

    But it did mean that they were recepients of the promises of the covenant and IF when they reached an age of discretion (accountability) they placed their faith and obedience in Jehovah, they would be saved.
     
    #17 Wittenberger, Aug 6, 2012
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  18. Wittenberger

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    Lutherans would absolutely agree with you. Physical circumcision was not enough. Just because you were circumcised did not guarantee that you would receive eternal life!

    But your circumcision was a sign to you that God had given you the promises of eternal life, they were availabe to you, but you had to grow up and profess faith and obedience to God in order to receive the benefits (eternal life) of the covenant.

    Circumcision of the body AND circumcision of the heart were required in the OT for salvation. The two went hand in hand. One could not profess faith in Jehovah but refuse the sign, circumcision, and expect to receive the benefits of the covenant, salvation.

    Likewise, you could not receive the benefits of the covenant just because you were circumcised. You had to at some point in your life profess a true faith in God and true obedience to God to be saved.
     
    #18 Wittenberger, Aug 6, 2012
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  19. Wittenberger

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    So I think I have pretty clearly demonstated that circumcision in the OT could not have been simply an external sign of a national identity. No, circumcision in the OT was an external sign of God's promise of salvation to those who received the sign (circumcision) AND then professed a true faith and obedience to God when they grew up and became an older child (who could discern good from evil), or as an adult.

    Salvation is not produced by physically receiving the sign or mark. No, salvation is promised at the time the sign or mark is given, but the full benefits of this promise are received by faith and obedience when the recipient is older.
     
  20. padredurand

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    Calvin, Institutes, Book 4, Chapter 16
     

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