|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:17-24 The rules of Christianity reach every condition; and in every state a man may live so as to be a credit to it. It is the duty of every Christian to be content with his lot, and to conduct himself in his rank and place as becomes a Christian. Our comfort and happiness depend on what we are to Christ, not what we are in the world. No man should think to make his faith or religion, an argument to break through any natural or civil obligations. He should quietly and contentedly abide in the condition in which he is placed by Divine Providence.
Verse 18. - Being circumcised. The first instance he gives is that of Judaism and paganism. The circumcised Jew is to remain circumcised; the uncircumcised Gentile is not to undergo circumcision. Become uncircumcised. The Hellenising Jews in the days of the priest Menelaus (1 Macc. 1:15; Josephus, 'Ant.,' 12:05, 1) had discovered a process for obliterating the appearance of circumcision; such persons were known as masochim. St. Paul does not permit the adoption of this course. In the rebellion of Barcocheba many obliterated the sign of circumcision, and were afterwards, at great danger to themselves, recircumcised. ('Yevamoth,' tel. 72, 1). Let him not be circumcised. This rule was of much more practical significance than the other. The early fortunes of Christianity had been almost shipwrecked by the attempt of Jewish rigorists to enforce this odious bondage on the Gentiles, and their deliverance flora it had been due almost solely to St. Paul. It was his inspired insight which had swayed the decision of the synod at Jerusalem (Acts 15.); and at a later period his Epistle to the Galatians was the manifesto of Gentile emancipation. He proved that after Christ's death "circumcision" (peritome) became to Gentiles a mere physical mutilation (katatome) (Philippians 3:2).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Is any man called being circumcised?.... That is, if any man that is a Jew, who has been circumcised in his infancy, is called by the grace of God, as there were many in those days, and many of them in the church at Corinth:
let him not become uncircumcised; or "draw on" the foreskin; as some did in the times of Antiochus, for fear of him, and to curry favour with him, who, it is said, 1 Maccab. 1:15, "made themselves uncircumcised", and forsook the holy covenant; and so did Menelaus, and the sons of Tobias, as Josephus reports (b); and there were many, in the days of Ben Cozba, who became uncircumcised by force, they had their foreskins drawn on by the Gentiles against their wills, and when he came to reign were circumcised again (c); for, according to the Jews, circumcision must be repeated, and not only four or five times (d), but a hundred times, if a man becomes so often uncircumcised (e) They make mention of several particular persons who voluntarily became uncircumcised, or, to use their phrase, and which exactly answers to the word used by the apostle, "that drew over his foreskin"; as Jehoiachin (f), Achan (g), yea even the first Adam (h); one guilty of this, they say, makes void the covenant (i); it was accounted a very great sin, so great that he that committed it was reckoned (k) among them that shall have no part in the world to come, but shall be cut off and perish; physicians say, this may be done by the use of an instrument they call spaster, which has its name from the word used in the text. The apostle's sense is, that such as had been circumcised, and had now embraced the faith of Christ, had no reason to be uneasy, or take any methods to remove this mark from their flesh, because it was abolished by Christ, and now of no significance; since as it did them no good, it did them no hurt:
is any called in uncircumcision? let him not become circumcised?; that is, if a Gentile who was never circumcised is called by grace, let him not submit to circumcision, which is now abrogated, and is altogether unnecessary and unprofitable in the business of salvation; yea, hurtful and pernicious if done on that account, since it makes men debtors to do the whole law, and Christ of none effect unto them.
(b) Antiqu. l. 12. c. 5. sect. 1.((c) Hieros. Yebamot, fol. 9. 1. & Sabbat, fol. 17. 1. T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 72. 1. & Gloss. in ib. (d) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 46. fol. 41. 4. (e) T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 72. 1.((f) Vajikra Rabba, sect. 19. fol. 161. 1.((g) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 44. 1.((h) Ib. fol. 38. 2. Zohar in Gen. fol. 27. 1. & 40. 4. (i) Hieros, Peah, fol. 16. 2. & Sanhedrin, fol. 27. 3. Bereshit Rabba, fol. 41. 4. (k) Maimon. Hilch. Teshuba, c. 3. sect. 6. & Milah, c. 3. sect. 8.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
18. not become uncircumcised—by surgical operation (1 Maccabees 1:15; Josephus [Antiquities, 12.5.1]). Some Christians in excess of anti-Jewish feeling might be tempted to this.
let him not be circumcised—as the Judaizing Christians would have him (Ac 15:1, 5, 24; Ga 5:2).
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