Comes this blessedness then on the circumcision only, or on the uncircumcision also?…
Under the old covenant the ground of man's justification with God was the same as it is under the new, viz., faith. Ordinances varied, being but helpful accessories leading to, or resting upon, the one changeless basis of man's justification.
I. FAITH ALONE COULD ADMIT JEWS OR GENTILES TO THE SPIRITUAL FAMILY OF ABRAHAM.
1. Faith was Abraham's sole ground of acceptance (ver. 9; Galatians 3:6). The promises (Genesis 12:3: 17:4-6) preceded his circumcision.
2. Faith was indispensable for the Jews, although descended from Abraham, and circumcised (ver. 12; chap. Romans 2:28, 29; 9:6, 7). For neglecting this truth, and unduly trusting in their privileges of birth and circumcision, Christ rebuked them in Matthew 3:9; John 8:39; and in the parable of Dives and Lazarus (Luke 16:22, 23).
3. Faith admits Gentiles (ver. 11) into the family of Abraham (Galatians 3:7, 9, 29), "who is the father of us all" (ver. 16). Zaccheus was thus admitted (Luke 19:9).
II. CIRCUMCISION HAD A TWO-FOLD ASPECT.
1. To Abraham and adult proselytes it was a seal of antecedent faith (ver. 11).
2. To infants receiving it, as did Jesus when eight days old, it was the seal of their admission into covenant with God; an incentive and pledge of future faith. If a child did not receive it, "he hath broken My covenant" (Genesis 17:14).
III. ANALOGY BETWEEN BAPTISM AND CIRCUMCISION.
1. St. Paul implies this when naming baptism (Galatians 3:26, 27, 29) in connection with the Christian's adoption into the family of Abraham and heirship of the promises.
2. Thus, to adults, baptism is, as circumcision was to Abraham, a seal of antecedent faith (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:41; Acts 8:12, 3 7).
3. To infants, baptism is, like circumcision, the seal of admission to covenant; pledge and incentive to future faith. The analogy of Genesis 17:14, "he hath broken My covenant," bears strongly on need of infant baptism.Conclusion:
1. Examine ourselves as to performance of covenant promises made to God in baptism and renewed in confirmation.
2. Shun Jewish error of resting on rites and on privileges while ignoring the spiritual root of the matter — faith (Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15, 16).
(A. Scott Robertson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.