Based on the following verses - Are Christians required to circumcise their flesh or not? - "Paul" (Παῦλον) seems to contradict himself regarding circumcision.

Colossians 2:11

"[11] and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision performed without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ"

Galatians 3:27-28

"[27] For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. [28] There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Galatians 2:1-5

"[1] Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. [2] It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that somehow I might be running, or had run, in vain. [3] But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. [4] Yet it was a concern because of the false brothers secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy on our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to enslave us. [5] But we did not yield in subjection to them, even for an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you."

Are Christians not required to circumcise their flesh [Acts 15],[Galatians 2:1-5] because their baptism already circumcised their flesh [Galatians 3:27-28],[Colossians 2:11]?

  • 1
    I think you have already answered the question by referring to the 'circumcision without hands'. Yes, there is a circumcision but it is a spiritual circumcision not the figurative one previously instituted to herald the coming reality. (Up-voted as question and answer.)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 18:23
  • Not requiring is not the same as forbidding.
    – Lucian
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 2:11

3 Answers 3


Circumcision and the New Covenant

Among the Israelites, circumcision was designated a “sign” -- an indication in the flesh of Jewish males denoting a special covenant relationship with God:

Genesis 17:10-11: This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.

There are indications that it also may have been instituted to suggest the entire nation’s need for sexual purity and the avoidance of pagan worship. However, when practiced without an attendant sincerity of heart and faithful obedience to God, the ritual was rendered worthless[1]:

Deuteronomy 30:6: Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.

Jeremiah 4:4: Circumcise yourselves to the LORD
And remove the foreskins of your heart,
Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
Or else My wrath will go forth like fire
And burn with none to quench it,
Because of the evil of your deeds.

During Stephen’s elaboration to the faithless Jews of his day that they were “uncircumcised in heart and ears,” he was essentially charging that they were "uncircumcised" and pagan in disposition:

Acts 7:51: You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.

In the New Testament, there is a strong sense in which circumcision symbolized baptism. Just as the Jewish rite involved a severing of the flesh, similarly, when someone is immersed in water, they wash away the old, sinful person (are severed from it), and become a new creation in Christ, one without spot or blemish:

1 Peter 3:21: Corresponding to [Noah's baptism in the Flood], baptism now saves you — not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience — through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Emphasis added).

Col. 2:11-12: [And] in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of [sin from] the body of the flesh by the circumcision [water immersion in] Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism [baptism is a death, burial, and resurrection], in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Emphasis added.)

Circumcision was integral to the Old Covenant relationship with God, one which has been abolished after being nailed to the cross:

Colossians 1:13b-14: He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

That should be as striking a reminder as any that the Law of Moses, the Old Covenant, has been superseded by the New Covenant of Christ, and that baptism is now our "circumcision" into Christ.

[1] See ChristianCourier.com.

  • Interesting comment : "when practiced without an attendant sincerity of heart and faithful obedience to God, the ritual was rendered worthless" - this can also be associated with ritual baptisms. | Both covenant rituals would appear equal & everlasting as a declaration for continuous devotion to only HaShem [or] to the Trinity. Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 20:48

Are we confusing definitions or concepts here?

Both physical and spiritual circumcision is the commitment to keep Gods Laws. Baptism is defined as ritual cleansing for the remission of sin. Two different subjects?

Spiritual circumcision was taught by Paul in both Hebrews & Romans. We see below the Laws written on our hearts which is spiritual circumcision, our commitment to keep God’s Laws the same as physical circumcision.

Hebrews 10:16-17 16 This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts (LOVING HEART TO KEEP THE LAWS), and I will write them on their minds."

Romans 5:5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Explanations for the above, God’s love defined as keeping His commands: 1John 5:3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

Explanation for “God’s love poured into our hearts” is found above in Hebrews 10:16-17, the foundation of this new covenant, a loving heart for God’s Laws. Which again, is spiritual circumcision.

Explanation for Romans 5:5 “through the Holy Spirit”. Another foundation of this new covenant is we are gifted with God’s spirit which moves us to KEEP THE LAWS.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh (LOVING HEART FOR THE LAW). 27. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws (SPIRIT DEFINED AS SPIRIT OF LOVING OBEDIENCE TO KEEP GODS LAWS).

So we see Paul in Hebrews & Romans repeating the message in Ezekiel clearly teaching the spiritual application of circumcision which remains the same as physical circumcision. A commitment to keep God’s Laws but out of love as our fear (of death) of the Laws has been covered in this new covenant.

Baptism is clearly an application of the Law but for a different purpose to circumcision. Amusing how some teach the Laws are abolished but preach baptism which is of course the application of the Law for ritual cleansing of sin!


Even in the OT, there was the concept of the circumcision of the heart in Deuteronomy 30:6

The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

Paul took that concept and applied it to us by Christ in Colossians 2:

11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Christians do not get circumcision in the genital but Christ circumcises our hearts. It is an inward circumcision rather than an outward one.

  • thanks Tony, I learned something today from your post re Deu 30:6.
    – Craig
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 2:39
  • Amen. We are here to help one another.
    – user35953
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 13:01

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