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#4.16 WHY SHOULD GENTILES KEEP THE SABBATH AND NOT CIRCUMCISION?

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Greek Word Study on 4521 σάββατον sabbaton Sabbath.
Hebrew Word Study on 7676 שַׁבָּת shabbat Sabbath.
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Introduction 4.16

The question of circumcision for the Gentiles was advocated by some Jewish believers in the New Testament Church, but strongly opposed by the apostle Paul. The matter was brought to the elders at Jerusalem for their judgement, and they finally ruled against Gentiles being circumcised. This bible study explains why the Gentiles should keep the Sabbath day but not circumcision.

#4.161 The Jerusalem council ruled against circumcision for the Gentiles

ACTS 15:24
24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain who went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, You must be circumcised (Greek: περιτέμνεσθαι), and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment (Greek: οὐ διεστειλάμεθα).

1 CORINTHIANS 7:18-19
18 Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised (Greek: ἐκλήθη μὴ περιτεμνέσθω).
19 Circumcision is nothing (Greek: ἡ περιτομὴ οὐδέν ἐστιν), and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

GALATIANS 5:2-4
2 Behold, I Paul say to you, that if you become circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing (Greek: ἐὰν περιτέμνησθε χριστὸς ὑμᾶς οὐδὲν ὠφελήσει).
3 For I testify again to every man who is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4 Christ is become of no effect to you, whoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.

Note: The above scriptures, by the apostle Paul, clearly teach against physical circumcision for Gentiles. So we have to answer the question, "Why should we keep the Sabbath day, if we do not have to be circumcised?" This question arises because of the previous point about the Sabbath for the Gentiles (See #4.14), and there are several reasons why the Sabbath should still be kept, even though physical circumcision isn't necessary for Gentiles.

(1) It is certain physical aspects of the law that have been done away with, such as circumcision and the animal sacrifices, but even these have a spiritual significance which we still should keep. However, all of the ten commandments remain. The first four express our love for and duty to God, and the last six express our love for and duty to our fellow man. As loving God and our fellow man were the two commandments which Jesus emphasized (Matthew 22:36-39), the ten commandments cannot be done away with.

(Matthew 22:36-39) "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself."

(2) The circumcision commandment was given to Abraham, his physical descendants, and his household (Genesis 17:9-14). Therefore it was passed down to Israel, and became part of the Law given by Moses (Exodus 12:48; Leviticus 12:3; John 7:22). However, physical circumcision was only a type of the inward circumcision of the heart (Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4), which Abraham had, and by which he was counted righteous by faith, before he was circumcised physically (Romans 4:9-11). When it comes to Gentiles today, it is circumcision of the heart that makes us spiritual Jews, not circumcision of the flesh:

(Romans 2:28-29) "For he is not a Jew, who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision, that which is outward in the flesh:
But he is a Jew, who 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."

We can be circumcised in heart without being circumcised in the flesh, therefore we can fulfil the commandment of circumcision spiritually, without physical circumcision.

(Romans 8:4) "That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."

Can we fulfil the Sabbath commandment spiritually, without keeping the day in some way? The answer is no (See #1.25).

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