The Jerusalem Council

A Global Association of Orthodox Jewish Believers in Messiah Yeshua

Do I need to be circumcised?

Yes, it’s part of keeping the Covenant.

It is a sign of the Covenant, in that it is a sign as to Who the Messiah is, in that he does not come by human effort, and that He is the “seed of the woman” prophesied in Genesis 3:15.

It is also required of all males who wish to eat of the Passover. Yeshua commanded “do this is remembrance of me,” that is, the Passover. Those males who desire to follow his charge concerning Passover, must also submit to the Torah’s requirements for keeping it, which includes circumcision.

Circumcision has been misunderstood by the traditional Christian community for nearly two millennia. Neither the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, nor Paul in any of his letters ever prohibited circumcision. It was cautioned against, but not prohibited. It was cautioned against because “circumcision” meant more than just the surgical procedure during that time (as it does to this very day). It was cautioned against because of the prevalent view of those promoting it to the community of believers, that it was seen as a means to secure a portion in the World to Come by becoming a Jew. The term “circumcision” was synonymous with Jewish conversion, and was a term that was often used as shorthand to define a Jew. The whole process associated with the the term included getting circumcised, accepting the Torah, presenting a sacrifice, and immersing in a mikvah. After the destruction of the Temple, the sacrificial requirement was dropped.

Jewish conversion, in itself, was not what was cautioned against, but rather the reasons for conversion were. Conversion to Judaism was being preached by certain individuals to Gentile converts to HaDerech as the means by which a Gentile could secure a portion in the World to Come. Obviously, when Yeshua preached repentance (that is, to return to the Torah), he clearly preached that it was not by being born a Jew did one receive a place in the World to Come, but by being “born again” of the Spirit of G-d would eternal life be given as an inheritance. The disciples of Yeshua understood this. So did Rav Shaul (Paul). A place in the World to Come, is only secured when one has faith, like Abraham, in the Promised Seed, the Messiah, Yeshua.The evidence for this faith, however,has always been obedience to G-d’s Torah, that is, keeping the Covenant.

It naturally follows that one who desires to keep the Covenant, is one who will also desire to get circumcised, commit to do the Torah, and even go through a mikvah of conversion!

Repentance to the Torah, then, is given even to the Gentiles! That a place in the World to Come is available even to the Gentiles is without dispute. Most sects of Judaism would have you believe that this security is acheived by keeping the Noachide laws, a set of seven commandments derived from the Torah up until the time of Noah. The insistence that the Torah is for Jews only, is only out of understanding that the Torah is for Covenant members only. If a Gentile does not return to the Covenant that G-d made “with those who are not here today” (Deut 29:15), then what good is the Torah for one in rebellion against G-d anyways? It would only serve to condemn them. However, unlike all other sects of Judaism, we view all believers in Yeshua as full-fledged Covenant members the moment they accept Yeshua as the Messiah, and submit to Him which means to also submit to his Torah teaching. Those who do, have a right (and responsibility) to fully participate in the Torah that G-d gave to Israel; and as a new convert to HaDerech aligns his lifestyle with that of the Torah, circumcision (if a male), comittment to the Torah, and even going through a mikvah in Yeshua’s name will eventually be the fruit.

Conversion into all other sects of Judaism require that circumcision come first. HaDerech has no right to change this universally accepted community requirement, and this site does not intend to do so either. We recognize one who is a Jew as one who has been circumcised according to orthodox halakha. This does not mean, however, giving up the belief that Yeshua is the Messiah, and the Word of HaShem, since to do so would be to rebel against HaShem and His Torah, for which the Torah warns we will not be forgiven if we do so.

As disciples of Yeshua, our responsibility is to add to Jewish conversion, the requirement of faith on Yeshua the Messiah for one’s redemption into the World to Come, in accordance with the Torah. One must accept that one only inherits a portion in the World to Come by faith in Messiah’s work of redemption alone, evidenced by our obedience to Him as our King (keeping the Covenant). We must deny any request to witness a conversion to Judaism of anyone converting for the purpose of securing a place in the World to Come, since it is not by Jewish identity one has eternal life, but only by the same faith of Abraham who believed on the Word of HaShem, and was credited righteousness, does one have eternal life. Obedience to the Covenant is simply the evidence of this, and certainly following through the process of conversion to the Jewish sect of HaDerech (getting circumcised if male, committing to do Torah, and going through a mikvah in Yeshua’s name) is such evidence, but it is not absolute proof of a changed (circumcised) heart.

Turning your heart toward obedience to HaShem is the first act of obedience that is required for conversion (and all other sects of Judaism agree!). To convert to the Jewish sect of HaDerech, accepting Yeshua as your King is the first act after one’s heart turns toward HaShem and His Torah – as one can not obey a commandment of G-d if they first do not love G-d, and we love G-d by following his Messiah.

Without first accepting Yeshua as the King and thus obeying Him, then getting circumcised for the purpose of Jewish conversion only gains you access to the Jewish community. It means nothing when it comes to inheriting a place in the World to Come. Conversion through other sects of Judaism makes you Jewish in the eyes of all Judaism, most certainly! But at what cost? To get accepted into the majority of Jewish communities, you must include in your conversion the denial that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Word of HaShem – a vetting out process that orthodox halacha demands for any potential converts to Judaism! When one submits to this process, one must ask why. Is it to secure a portion in the World to Come? When it comes to a portion in the World to Come, circumcision and uncircumcision both mean nothing! What matters is faith in Messiah Yeshua for your redemption from the sin of rebellion against HaShem, without which your name is blotted out of HaShem’s book. Until you understand this, we repeat the words of Rav Shaul: do not convert to Judaism for any other reason than as an act of obedience to the Messiah, for if you do, then you will have indeed fallen from the grace of G-d offered by the Messiah’s work of redemption, and forfeited your right to a portion in the World to Come for then your hope is not in Messiah’s work of redemption, but in your flesh.

Getting circumcised apart from desiring to be obedient to HaShem, and apart from accepting Yeshua as your King, is nothing but a surgical procedure, or worse, could lead to you believe that Jewish identity grants you a portion in the World to Come – at which point, what good is Messiah Yeshua, the Word of HaShem to you? He would have died for nothing!

Circumcision is one of the most obvious signs of a “circumcised heart” yet it is not proof of one. We view circumcision as we view any other commandment in the Torah: a standard of obedience to the Messiah who himself was circumcised and commands us to do the same. If ones does not get circumcised, then they are not obeying the Messiah in this regard, and thus not obeying HaShem, and thus have not made true teshuvah – repentance to the Torah; and all are called to repentance!

As a convert from the nations, part of your obligation in keeping the Covenant, if you are a male, is to get circumcised in fulfillment of the commandment regarding circumcision. Circumcision is not an absolute requirement of being a Covenant member (that is, being made righteous before HaShem, and thus obtaining eternal life), but it is a requirement of obedience to G-d’s commandments, because circumcision is commanded for those who are of the seed of Abraham, whether born into the family, adopted, or converted.

As mentioned above, circumcision reminds us that the Messiah came not through human effort, but by G-d’s providence through supernatural means.

If after reading all of this you understand what circumcision is, and that is an act of obedience, rather than an act of gaining favor before HaShem for the purpose of receiving eternal life, then if you are male believer in Yeshua the Messiah for the redemption from death, the consequence of your sin of rebellion against Him, then pursue circumcision, and thus conversion into Judaism, as an act of obedience to the Messiah.

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14 Responses to “Do I need to be circumcised?”

  • PJ says:

    Circumcision is unnecessary for Christians, for those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. There are no valid medical or religious reasons for Christians to be circumcised. Learn more at:

    http://www.acts15.org/

    and

    http://www.catholicsagainstcircumcision.org/

    Jesus never advocated circumcision.

    St. Peter dismissed circumcision as unnecessary and disadvantageous in Acts 15:10, “And now are you going to correct G-d by burdening the Gentiles with a yoke that neither we nor our fathers were able to bear?”

    St. Paul often condemned circumcising the flesh, as seen in the following passages:

    Galatians 5:2-6: “Pay close attention to me, Paul, when I tell you that if you have yourselves circumcised, Christ will be of no use to you. I point out once more to all who receive circumcision that they are bound to the law in its entirety. Any of you who seek your justification in the law have severed yourselves from Christ and fallen from G-d’s favor! It is in the spirit that we eagerly await the justification we hope for, and only faith can yield it. In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor the lack of it counts for anything; only faith, which expresses itself through love.”

    Philippians 3:2-3: “Beware of unbelieving dogs. Watch out for workers of evil. Be on guard against those who mutilate. It is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the spirit of G-d and glory in Christ Jesus rather than putting our trust in the flesh.”

    1 Corinthians 7:18-19: “Was someone called after he had been circumcised? He should not hide his circumcision. Did the call come to another who had never been circumcised? He is not to be circumcised. Circumcision counts for nothing, and its lack makes no difference either. What matters is keeping G-d’s commandments.”

  • Israel says:

    In order for a Christian to eat of the Passover in “remembrance” of Messiah, according to Exodus 12:48, even they must get circumcised, or they can’t eat of it. Also if a Christian considers themselves a part of Abraham’s household, “bought from a foreigner” by Messiah’s redemption of them, they are commanded to get circumcised in accordance with Gen 17:12 which says such.

    Also, keeping G-d’s instructions for right living is not a burden. Getting circumcised reminds one that the Messiah did not come by man, but of the woman.

    You have a fundamental misunderstanding of the term “circumcision” as Rav Shaul used it, and as it was used in the 1st Century. It was a term denoting a ritual of Jewish conversion, not the medical act of snip snip. And it wasn’t Jewish conversion that Rav Shaul or the Jerusalem Council were against. It was the belief that the Jewish conversion ritual “saved” a gentile by securing for them through their new Jewish identity from a ritual, a place in the World to Come. It was a salvation by Jewish identity alone that was at odds with Yeshua’s requirement that even a Jew must be “born again” – which means to make true teshuvah, repentance to the Torah and thus submit to him as King, and thus receive the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) as a deposit for eternal life based on Messiah’s perfect merit alone.

    Your anti-circumcision stance would wind up condemning anyone who gets circumcised, whether for religious, or for medical reasons.

  • Ron Low says:

    I would like to point out that “Thou shall not steal” was handed down hundreds of years after Abraham. It can only be stealing to take healthy normal body parts when no permission can be obtained.

    Roughly 3% of Jews in Israel do not circumcise. The world over, many Jews are adopting a bloodless naming ceremony – Bris Shalom – so that the decision about the fate of a male’s genitals can be made in a meaningful way by the owner of those genitals at a responsible age.

    Fewer than 2 in 1000 males who reach adulthood intact choose to be circumcised.

    Reverered Hebrew philosopher Moses Maimonedes said that a Jewish woman who has been with an intact man will never again settle for a circumcised man.

    • It’s so easy to get into the brain-twisting, word-bending excuses on these things. I guess it’s your life and you can play mental gymnastics if you want, but I don’t understand why you would want to… Besides it’s an uphill battle. You can’t say G-d doesn’t care about circumcision when He threatens to kill Moses because he “forgot” to circumcise his son. He commanded circumcision for anyone eating Passover so it’s really hypocritical to say He doesn’t care about it. I guess you could say it was only important to G-d back then and not now but you’d have to explain how G-d changes when He’s not supposed to change… Ugh! Too much mental gymnastics for me! Why bother?

      When you encounter a command like this is your first thought obedience or avoidance? It’s really indicative to the allegiance in your heart. “Did G-d really say I have to?” was the first road to sin. Remember the serpent? Any time we start down that line of reasoning it’s certainly not inspired by anything heavenly. Even a rebel child will do something if he HAS TO. But when you don’t have to obey why wouldn’t you still WANT TO? Love is defined by the things that we want to do even though we don’t have to do them. Lust is defined by the things we want to do even when they are forbidden.

      Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with our hard line stance. (And really it’s not all that hard line – none of us see circumcision as a prerequisite for salvation…) Regardless of where you stand, my request is that you examine your heart. Are you looking through the eyes of obedience or the eyes of a rebel? Just be honest with yourself. In the end the issue is between you and G-d. No skin off me. But I hope you learn to desire obedience more than anything so that you may walk in blessing all of your days.

      …Rods ;-)

  • Israel says:

    And circumcision was commanded in Leviticus 12:3, well after “thou shall not steal” was given. So I fail to see your logic that keeping a command that G-d says is for “the generations to come” was nullified by a command written later, since chronologically speaking, the nullification was nullified later. So what is G-d now, G-d-forbid, bi-polar?

  • Mark Lyndon says:

    Not all Jewish people believe in circumcision. Brit Shalom is an alternative naming ceremony to celebrate the birth of baby boys to Jewish families. These sites are all run by Jewish people opposed to circumcision:

    The form of circumcision undergone changed around 1900 years ago btw. A Jewish man before then would have looked more like an intact man than someone who has had a modern Jewish circumcision.

  • Israel says:

    I have removed your anti-circumcision sites from your post to deal with the issue at hand.

    Circumcision is commanded for all generations, and reminds us that the Messiah does not come from a man. Whether its painful or not, we choose to submit to the Word of HaShem regarding this matter, and not to the fears of men who make themselves G-d by promoting a practice that is nothing more than a repeat of the generation in the wilderness that didn’t circumcise their sons. Reminder: all that generation died in the desert and did not inherit the Land.

  • viola rogers says:

    A commandment is a commandment. Do we obey G-d or what? Yeshua is the word of G-d made flesh. He was circumcised. When I have my sons, Lord willing they will be circumcised as according to the commandment.

  • Harry Case says:

    I am a gentile who was circumcised as an infant (in accordance with the common medical practice of the day) so this is a decision I don’t have to make for myself. At 14 I accepted Yeshua as my savior. I was immersed in the name of Yeshua at 18. Is it your view that, as a believer in Yeshua as Messiah, I should still undergo conversion to Messianic Judaism? I still find this hard to accept in light of Paul’s warnings against it.

    • A medical circumcision alone does not meet the orthodox criteria for conversion. You must go through a brit in order to complete your conversion. Paul warned against going through a brit for the wrong reason (salvation by Jewish identity alone), but he certainly had Timothy, his student, go through a brit for the right reasons (obedience to HaShem and the community). Getting circumcised is an act of obedience if you are a male, and it reminds us in our flesh that the Messiah did not come through man, but of the woman. Should you go through the brit and complete your conversion to Messianic Judaism? Only if you want to be obedient to HaShem.

  • Uziel says:

    I believe that to a Christian there is no need for circumcision but for an observant Jew who believe in Mashiach its not only necesary it is a mitzvah. If you dont want to be circumsised, be christian!!!

  • Jakes says:

    What about where one was circumcised earlier in life for other reasons and it had nothing to do with obeying Torah. What does one do in case such as this?

    • Uziel, if a Christian is of Abraham seed, he is commanded by Torah to get circumcised for all those in Abraham’s house are to be circumcised.

      Jakes, according to orthodoxy you would need to be re-circumcised, however there is no such precedent in the Torah.

  • Uziel says:

    Yes, if a Christian is of Abraham seed he is commandet to be circumcised and to practice the whole Torah and we should convert him. But if a so called ‘Mesianic Jew’ dosnt want to be circumcised then he is not a Torah observant = he is not a real Jew. Its not a matter of salvation is a matter of obedience. We should imitate Rabenu Yeshua as an example of Torah observance.

    Circumcition is a blood covenant, its a simbol of the whole covenant. If the circumsition was not a Jewish circumsition then there have to be a drawn of blood (a drop – dam berit) from the area to give the circumsition the new spiritual meening. To make it a blood covenant with Hashem, is needed at least a drop of blood for that purpose.