Puritan Board Freshman
Hello all, this is my first post here on the PB so please forgive me if this has been answered/discussed elsewhere (I couldn't find it), but I was looking for some opinions on the symbolism of circumcision. Let me explain how I presently understand it and then anyone can feel free to help me out/correct me: The sign of circumcision, given in Gen. 17, is a sign ultimately pointing to the purity/holiness needed in order for there to be covenantal relationship with God. This makes contextual sense to me, for the establishment of what O. Palmer Robertson calls the "Immanuel Principle" seems to be clearly stated in this chapter, "And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you" (17:7). In other words, if there is to be relationship between a holy God and man, then man must be cut off from sin i.e. purified. This idea that circumcision in the flesh points to a needed circumcision of the heart becomes rather plain in various places in Scripture (Deut. 10:12-16; 30:6; Jer. 4:3,4; Rom. 2:25-29). However, this is where it gets confusing to me. In Romans 4, Paul states that Abraham received the sign of circumcision "as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith". So, this seems to indicate that Abraham received it as a symbol of the justification that was his via the imputed righteousness of Christ. But how does this square with the idea of the circumcised heart seeing how the concept seems to be referencing a change in behavior of the person who receives it (see previously cited texts), rather than a mere legal declaration? Is circumcision in the flesh pointing to justification (legal status) or regeneration?