Galatians 5: Was Paul really teaching against Circumcision according to Moses?
I have been doing this teaching for a while, but I think it is important to list resources to fully understand the context of Galatians 5. Paul was battling a group of Pharisees who believed in Yeshua/Jesus, but these Pharisees were troubling the converts with a law that Paul describes as bondage and slavery, and a circumcision that makes Messiah’s blood of no benefit. The topic of this chapter is salvation, and the proper path to it. We must be careful to give Paul our undivided attention, because Peter warns us that there are some things in Paul’s letters that are hard to understand, and if we misunderstand them, it could lead to destruction, mainly, lawlessness (2 Pet. 3:15-18).
For background, it is important to understand what the Pharisees believed was the proper path to Salvation, and also understand what the Torah says the proper path to Salvation is to fully grasp what Paul is trying to convey. What I have found in my personal experiences, is if we understand the doctrines and beliefs of both parties involved, a very clear picture is painted in a seemingly contradictory chapter of Galatians. Here is Galatians 5, I will add questions in the ( )’s to provoke a thought pattern, and it will help with the terms Paul is using to convey his points.
Gal 5:1 Christ has set us free so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom (Freedom from what?). So keep on standing firm in it, and stop attaching yourselves to the yoke of slavery again.(Is YHVH’s Torah slavery?)
Gal 5:2 Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you allow yourselves to be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. (Is a command that is to be observed FOR EVER of no benefit? Does circumcision according to Moses cut us off from Christ?)
Gal 5:3 Again, I insist that everyone who allows himself to be circumcised is obligated to obey the entire law. (What law? It is stated by Moses, the Prophets, and Messiah that we must observe all the Torah)
Gal 5:4 Those of you who are trying to be justified by the law have been cut off from Christ. You have fallen away from grace. (Do we loose Grace by observing Moses? Paul also says doers of the Torah will be justified, but hearers only will not, Rom.2:13-15)
Gal 5:5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.
Gal 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision matters. What matters is faith that is active through love.
Gal 5:7 You were running beautifully! Who cut in on you and stopped you from obeying the truth(Torah is Truth, Psalms 119:142, Torah says every male is to be circumcised who is Abraham’s seed, Gen.17:10-15, as an EVERLASTING Covenant)?
Gal 5:8 Such influence does not come from the one who calls you.(Did YHVH not command circumcision?)
Gal 5:9 A little yeast spreads through the whole batch of dough. (Is YHVH’s Torah Yeast/leaven?)
Gal 5:10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view of the matter. However, the one who is troubling you will suffer God’s judgment, whoever he is.
Gal 5:11 As for me, brothers, if I am still preaching the necessity of circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. (Paul says he is NO LONGER preaching circumcision, although at one time he did.)
Gal 5:12 I wish that those who are unsettling you would castrate themselves!
Gal 5:13 For you, brothers, were called to freedom. Only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity to gratify your flesh, but through love make it your habit to serve one another.
Gal 5:14 For the whole law is summarized in a single statement: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”
Gal 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you are not destroyed by each other.
Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit(Spirit moves us to keep Torah, Ezekiel 36:26-27, Romans 8), and you will never fulfill the desires of the flesh. (desires of flesh are COMMANDMENTS OF MEN, Col. 2:20-23)
Gal 5:17 For what the flesh wants is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, and so you do not do what you want to do.
Gal 5:18 But if you are being led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, promiscuity,
Gal 5:20 idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, rivalry, jealously, outbursts of anger, quarrels, conflicts, factions,
Gal 5:21 envy, murder, drunkenness, wild partying, and things like that. I am telling you now, as I have told you in the past, that people who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Does YHVH’s Torah teach these things?)
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Gal 5:23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. (Does YHVH’s Torah teach these things?)
Gal 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.
Gal 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
Gal 5:26 Let us stop being arrogant, provoking one another and envying one another.
So, with this by now, you must see these passages in a slightly new light. Now, let’s answer all these questions with scripture as well as an understanding on the Historical view as well as the doctrinal views of the Pharisees and Paul, then these passages will make perfect sense and will be in complete harmony with the rest of the Word of YHVH as intended.
1. Is YHVH’s Torah slavery? Is it a heavy burden?
Deu 30:10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
Deu 30:11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
Deu 30:12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
Deu 30:13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
Deu 30:14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
1Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
2. What law is bondage and slavery?
Mat 23:1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,
Mat 23:2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
Mat 23:3 So do whatever they tell you and follow it, but stop doing what they do, because they don’t do what they say.
Mat 23:4 They tie up burdens that are heavy and unbearable and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they refuse to lift a finger to remove them.
3. Does circumcision according to Moses cut us off from Christ? Did Paul teach against circumcision according to Moses?
Act 16:1 Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:
Act 16:2 Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium.
Act 16:3 Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.
If it does cut us off, then Paul ignored that fact when he had Timothy circumcised.
4. Did Paul teach against circumcision according to Moses?
Act 21:19 After greeting them, Paul related one by one the things that God had done among the gentiles through his ministry.
Act 21:20 When they heard about it, they praised God and told him, “You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and all of them are zealous for the law.
Act 21:21 But they have been told about you-that you teach all the Jews living among the gentiles to forsake the Law of Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs.
Act 21:22 What is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come.
Act 21:23 So do what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow.
Act 21:24 Take these men, go through the purification ceremony with them, and pay the expenses to shave their heads. Then everyone will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself constantly observe and guard the law.
So, Paul in fact DID NOT teach against circumcision according to Moses, confirmed by James and the Elders.
5. What law is Paul speaking about in which if these men get circumcised, they are bound to keep it entirely, and in doing so, they are cut off from Christ?
This is where the Historical understanding comes in. The Pharisees by the time of Yeshua/Jesus had added so much to the Torah of YHVH that it was almost unrecognizable, and still is today. In the Rabbinical Covenant of Brit Millah for Converts, even if the man is already circumcised, they must go through a ritual in which blood is drawn from the foreskin area, and once this covenant is completed, the convert is bound to keep the entire Talmud(Pharisee Oral Laws). Understanding how Ancient Covenants worked, it makes it easy for us to understand exactly why willfully submitting to this covenant would cut us off from Christ. Remember, without blood, there is no covenant. When you except this Conversion Covenant, and blood is drawn, and you submit to a law that is not of YHVH, and specifically taught against as evil by the Messiah, you have just committed ADULTERY against your Betrothed by entering a covenant with someone else, this is why it is written, Mat 5:33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago, ‘You must not swear an oath falsely,’ but ‘You must fulfill your oaths to the Lord.’
Mat 5:34 But I tell you not to swear at all, neither by heaven, because it is God’s throne,
Mat 5:35 nor by the earth, because it is his footstool, nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the Great King.
Mat 5:36 Nor should you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.
Mat 5:37 Instead, let your word be ‘Yes’ for ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ for ‘No.’ Anything more than that comes from the evil one.”
Messiah already sprinkled His blood on us for the Covenant, because he won’t break it, although we will. If we willfully submit in a blood oath to another, we are an ADULTERER, and unless we die or Messiah dies again, we can not be remarried to Him. That is why it is written,
Heb 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
Heb 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
Heb 6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. This circumcision Paul id fighting so hard against is an entire NEW COVENANT other than the one delivered through Messiah, it is a Covenant with Man and not YHVH.
6. Do we fall from Grace by being obedient to Moses, and are those who keep Moses justified by doing the Torah commands?
Rev 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
Rev 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Rev 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
Rev 22:15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
Rev 22:16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
This says the same thing Moses says, BLESSED are they that do the Commandments, that they may have access to the Tree of Life. Can we be just by doing the Torah?
Rom 2:13 For it is not merely those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight. No, it is those who do the law, who will be justified.
Rom 2:14 For whenever gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
Rom 2:15 They show that what the law requires is written in their hearts, a fact to which their own consciences testify, and their thoughts will either accuse or excuse them
Rom 2:16 on that day when God, through Jesus Christ, will judge people’s secrets according to my gospel.
So, here we see the sharp contrast between the law of the Pharisees and the Torah of YHVH. Commandments of men do not justify us, but doing YHVH’s commandments do justify us. Salvation is of Grace, but the just will live in the Torah, as it is written,
Gal 3:11 Now it is obvious that no one is justified in the sight of God by the law, because “The righteous will live by faith.”
Gal 3:12 But the law has nothing to do with faith. Instead, “The person who keeps the commandments will have life in them.”
7. What Truth did the Galatians stop obeying????????
Psa 119:142 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
Mal 2:6 The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.
They had traded the Truth for the doctrines and commandments of men, heavy burdens that nullify the Word of YHVH and the work of Messiah.
8. Paul states he is NO LONGER preaching circumcision, but we already saw that he never taught against circumcision according to Moses, but what circumcision did Paul used to preach, but NO LONGER does?
Ahhhh, Paul was once a Pharisee.
Php 3:5 Having been circumcised on the eighth day, I am of the nation of Israel, from the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. As far as the law is concerned, I was a Pharisee.
Php 3:6 As far as zeal is concerned, I was a persecutor of the church. As far as the righteousness that is in the law is concerned, I was perfect.
Php 3:7 But whatever things were assets to me, these I now consider a loss for the sake of Christ.
9. Paul says to walk by the Spirit and not after the works of the flesh. What is walking in the Spirit?
Eze 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Eze 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
Rom 8:3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to deal with sin. He condemned sin in the flesh
Rom 8:4 so that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Rom 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
Rom 8:6 To set our minds on the flesh leads to death, but to set our minds on the Spirit leads to life and peace.
Rom 8:7 That is why the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile toward God. For it refuses to submit to the authority of God’s law because it is powerless to do so.
Rom 8:8 Indeed, those who are under the control of the flesh cannot please God.
Rom 8:9 You, however, are not of the flesh but under the control of the Spirit, since God’s Spirit lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him.
10. What are the works of the Flesh?
Col 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with the Messiah from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
Col 2:21 Touch not; taste not; handle not;
Col 2:22 Which all are to perish with the using; after the commandments and doctrines of men?
Col 2:23 Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
Mar 7:6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
Mar 7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Mar 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
Mar 7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, promiscuity,
Gal 5:20 idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, rivalry, jealously, outbursts of anger, quarrels, conflicts, factions,
Gal 5:21 envy, murder, drunkenness, wild partying, and things like that. I am telling you now, as I have told you in the past, that people who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Now, why does the Church teach that obeying Torah is works of the Flesh?
Now, for the break down at the end of the investigation, we see Paul teaching against a law alright, but not the Torah of Moses. He was teaching against the law and circumcision covenant of the Pharisees, same as Messiah Yeshua, Paul and Yeshua are in complete agreement, and they are also in agreement with Torah as well. These Pharisees were harassing the new converts in Galatia with their twisted and backwards path to citizenship of Israel, they were teaching that before someone could be saved, or considered a Brother, they must draw blood for a covenant not on the Authority of YHVH, and forcing men to go through a long process of Mitzvoh in order to be a fellow Citizen of Israel.
Paul was fighting this Heresy because he understood that the True Blood of the Covenant was shed at the cross for us by Messiah, so we ourselves would not be accountable for breaking it. A representation of this in the Torah would be Abraham’s Covenant of Pieces in Gen. 15, where Yeshua/Angel of the LORD/Memra/Word of YHVH made the covenant and swore by Himself and required no oath of Abraham, it was a promise. The Pharisees were undoing Messiah’s work by teaching converts they must FIRST observe all the laws before they can be saved. This is not what Torah Teaches, what Torah teaches is the same as what Paul taught, that the strangers/Gentiles among the Israelites were considered fellow citizens of Israel after they had been circumcised (Circumsision of Heart New Covenant) and partake of the Passover/Lord’s Supper.
Exo 12:48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
Exo 12:49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.
Remember, Salvation came first, then conversion on free will. A mixed multitude left Egypt with the Israelites, this was their Salvation, and they did not receive circumcision nor the Torah until AFTER they were saved. We as Chritians have the exact same path to Salvation, by Grace we are saved, but AFTER Salvation, we must also be obedient, the ones who were saved from Egypt rebelled after they were saved and were destroyed, Jude warns us of the same fate.
Jud 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jud 1:5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
Now that we have let the Scriptures interpret themselves, we should have a deeper, and less contradicting interpretation to these “hard to understand” writings of Paul. We do not observe the Torah for Salvation, we pursue the Torah because it gives us instructions on righteous living. It is important we know the differences between the path to Salvation, and the process of Sanctification.
We have lost much Truth over the years because the definitions of words have been cleverly changed by the enemy, and we must start testing EVERYTHING to see if what we have always practiced is Truth. After all, Faith based on lies or half-truths is well, dead. Truth has fallen in the streets, I believe it is time to resurrect the Truth. I pray that this has been edifying for you all, Shalom, and have a wonderful day.