Acts 16:3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

Who actually did the operation?

  • 1
    Do you doubt the clear statement of the text you have quoted?
    – Dottard
    Aug 6, 2020 at 21:18
  • @Dottard Were all Pharisees effectively Rabbis ? And were all Pharisees and/or Rabbis authorised and qualified to carry out the procedure ? I have no information on this myself.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 6, 2020 at 23:29
  • 1
    @NigelJ - I think the answer to both is "No". Only some Pharisees were Rabbis. However, in normal circumstances, ideally, the procedure was carried out by a priest, but in practice, this rarely occurred and was usually done by the Father. I could find nothing in the Torah preventing anyone doing this.
    – Dottard
    Aug 6, 2020 at 23:50
  • OK, I'll be more mindful in the future. Thanks.
    – user35953
    Aug 8, 2020 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


There’s no reason to suppose he didn’t. There were no physicians in the time of Abraham1 or Joshua2—or any of the Israelites of that era for that matter—and yet scripture states they were routinely circumcised and even performed circumcision.

According to Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides),3

הכול כשרים למול ואפילו הערל ועבד וקטן ואישה מולין במקום שאין שם איש אבל גוי לא ימול כלל ואם מל אינו צריך לחזור

Everyone is fit to circumcise; even an uncircumcised, a slave, a child, or a woman may cirumcise instead when there is no man there. However, a Gentile may not circumcise at all. But if [the Gentile] circumcised [an Israelite], it is not necessary to repeat [the circumcision].


        1 Gen. 17:24
        2 Jos. 5:3
        5 Sefer Ahava, Hilkhot Milah, Chapter 2, Halakha 1


Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides). Mishneh Torah.

  • 1
    While not a strictly Biblical answer, it in nonetheless and excellent answer. +1.
    – Dottard
    Aug 6, 2020 at 23:54
  • 2
    @Dottard—Unfortunately, there’s no scripture that explicitly states who is qualified to perform circumcision. It seems Abraham circumcised himself, but that is just one instance. Joshua seems to have circumcised numerous people as well. Aug 7, 2020 at 0:01
  • 1
    Quite correct - you answered with the only data available.
    – Dottard
    Aug 7, 2020 at 0:08

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