Circumcision of the Heart


Paul writes of a “circumcision of the heart”:

28 For he is not a Jew who is one in appearance [only]: also what is made visible in the flesh [alone] is not circumcision.
29 But that one is a Jew, who [is one] secretly: and circumcision is that of the heart by the Spirit, and not by the letter [only]; whose praise is not from men, but from Eloah.
(Rom. 2:28-29 HRV)

11 And by Him, you were circumcised with the Circumcision which is not by our hands, by the putting off of the flesh of sins, by circumcision of the Messiah.
(Col. 2:11 HRV)

Some have wrongly taught that this circumcision of the heart is a new circumcision that has replaced physical circumcision of the flesh. However this circumcision of the heart was not a substitute for physical circumcision nor a substitute for Torah observance in general. To the contrary the Torah itself speaks of the circumcision of the heart:

40 And they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, in their treachery which they committed against Me: and also that they have walked contrary unto Me.
41 I also will walk contrary unto them, and bring them into the land of their enemies. If then perchance, their uncircumcised heart be humbled, and they then be paid the punishment of their iniquity,
42 Then will I remember My covenant with Ya’akov, and also My covenant with Yitz’chak, and also My covenant with Avraham will I remember: and I will remember the land.
(Lev. 26:40-42 HRV)

In Lev. 26 we read a series of curses which will come upon Israel for failing to observe the Torah, and the Torah refers to those who do not observe Torah as having an “uncircumcised heart”.

Next we read of circumcision of the heart in Deuteronomy:

16 Circumcise therefore, the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked.
(Deut. 10:16 HRV)

In fact in this section of Torah we are told to circumcise our heart (Deut. 10:16) love YHWH with all our heart and keep his commandments (Deut. 11:1, 13) and place the Torah in our heart (Deut.11:18). Thus

circumcision of the heart would seem to involve loving YHWH and keeping his commandments and and placing the
Torah in our hearts:

1 Therefore you shall love YHWH your Elohim, and keep His charge, and His statutes, and His ordinances, and His commandments, alway….
13 And it shall come to pass, if you shall hearken diligently unto My commandments which I command you this day, to love YHWH your Elohim, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul,…
18 Therefore shall you lay up these, My words, in your heart and in your soul. And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes.
(Deut. 11:1, 13, 18 HRV)

Also as the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel also referred to the this circumcision of the heart:

4 Circumcise yourselves to YHWH, and take away the foreskins of your heart, you men of Y’hudah and inhabitants of Yerushalayim: lest My fury go forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
(Jer. 4:4 HRV)

24 (9:25) Behold, the days come, says YHWH, that I will punish all them that are circumcised in their uncircumcision:
25 (9:26) Egypt and Y’hudah, and Edom and the children of Ammon, and Mo’av and all that have the corners of their hair polled; that dwell in the wilderness. For all the nations are uncircumcised, but all the House of Yisra’el are uncircumcised in the heart.
(Jer. 9:24-25 (25-26) HRV)

9 Thus says the Adonai YHWH: No alien, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into My sanctuary–even any alien that is among the children of Yisra’el.
(Ezek. 44:9 HRV)

The circumcision of the heart is not a new “New Testament” replacement for the circumcision of the flesh. In fact the Torah and Prophets speak of the circumcision of the heart in terms of Torah observance (which by definition would include circumcision of the flesh).

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