Will Physical Circumcision Be Practiced in the Millennium?


Before we answer this question, we need to set forth some basic understanding regarding the concept of physical circumcision.

As we will see, in the Old Testament, physical circumcision was a type or forerunner of spiritual circumcision (as the animal sacrifices were instituted temporarily, pointing to the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ). Compare Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Jeremiah 9:25-26; Jeremiah 4:4.

In the New Testament, it is emphasized time and again that true Christians must be circumcised spiritually… not physically; compare Colossians 2:11. This is the reason why Paul tells us, in 1 Corinthians 7:18-19: “Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.”

Notice, too, Romans 2:28-29: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly [i.e., by being circumcised, verse 27], nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”

Finally, notice Galatians 5:6: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” He adds in Galatians 6:15: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.”

It also became clear in the New Testament that physical circumcision is no longer required and it would be even wrong, if it is done with the mistaken belief of circumcision being a health-law, or, even worse, that it is necessary for spiritual salvation.

Based on this understanding, we can proclaim dogmatically that physical circumcision is NOT a health law. We address this question in a Q&A, where we stated the following:

“God gave man timeless physical and spiritual laws, including health laws, as well as temporary ritual laws, which had a passing and time-related purpose. For instance, God told man that certain animal food is good to eat, while other animals are not fit for consumption (Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14). These are health laws, given for the good of man, which are still in effect today. In fact, they will still be in effect at the time of Christ’s return (compare Isaiah 66:16-17).

“The law of circumcision was clearly not a timeless health law, but a temporary ritual law. We should, first of all, consider why God commanded circumcision. God commanded the practice of circumcision as a sign of the covenant (Romans 4:11; Genesis 17:11), which God made with Abraham and his descendants, along with any who would want to come under the same covenant of promise. At the same time, circumcision constituted itself a covenant (Acts 7:8). But circumcision was not to be understood as a timeless health law. The reason is that the law of physical circumcision only came into effect long after the creation of man, and that it is no longer required today. If it were a health law, then it should have been in effect from the time of man’s creation, and God would still require it today, as He would not deprive man of something that is good for him…

“It is clear to us that God would not have asked Abraham and ancient Israel to become circumcised, if this procedure had been harmful to them, and if it had produced medical side-effects. At the same time, we must emphasize that God did NOT give this law as a health law. It was strictly a temporary ritual law, such as the laws of sacrifices and washings…

“We also read that Paul taught the Gentiles, who wanted to become Christians, that they did not have to become circumcised. IF circumcision were a health law, Paul would have taught them to violate and break one of God’s timeless physical health laws. This very concept, that Paul would have taught this, is preposterous.”

In addition, physical circumcision is clearly NOT required for spiritual salvation.

In our free booklet, Paul’s Letter to the Galatians,” we said the following, quoting from the Authorized Version:

“[Paul] states in Galatians 5:2–4:

“(Verse 2) Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. (Verse 3) For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. (Verse 4) Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

“In these verses, Paul addresses those who were teaching the Galatians, that they must be circumcised to obtain justification and salvation. But Paul says in verse 2 that if the Galatians feel that they must be circumcised for their salvation, then Christ will profit them nothing and they have rejected grace (verse 4)…”

We might ask why God even introduced the temporary concept of physical circumcision and animal sacrifices, since they were not in force prior to Abraham or Moses, and since they are not in force today. The reason could be seen in the tremendous gravity of sin and the consequences of sin, causing the Son of God, Jesus Christ, to become a man, live as a man and die as a man, in order to save man from death.

The sacrificial law with its animal sacrifices was added because of transgression or sin against God’s spiritual law (Galatians 3:19; Romans 5:20). The introduction of circumcision might have been for a similar reason. Abraham and his household had come out of a godless environment of paganism and idolatry, so physical circumcision became a physical sign of separation from ungodliness. Animal sacrifices as well as physical circumcision were introduced to point to Jesus Christ’s supreme Sacrifice. He HAD to be physically circumcised and He had to die for us, so that we could have forgiveness of sin. He became sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) and a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).

We know that in the Millennium, animal sacrifices will be given temporarily… mainly by and for physical Israelites, but notice too Isaiah 19:21, showing that Egyptians and other nations, if they want to become part of Israel, will also give sacrifices on a very temporary basis. The answer why animal sacrifices will be given for a short time is addressed in chapter 8 of our free booklet, Biblical Prophecy… From Now until Forever:

“It is important to understand that the millennial sacrifices will NOT be brought for the purpose of forgiveness of sin! Only Christ’s shed blood accomplished this—once and for all! But God introduced the sacrificial system to ancient Israel because Israel had sinned and the sacrifices served as a reminder of their sins. Apparently, for the same reason in the Millennium, sacrifices will be brought so that carnal, unconverted people can begin to appreciate the awesome purpose and meaning of Christ’s Sacrifice and how God looks at sin…

“Physical Israelites will bring animal sacrifices to a new temple in Jerusalem at the beginning of the Millennium. These sacrifices will not be given for the purpose of obtaining spiritual forgiveness, but just to remind the people that they had sinned, and help them to focus on the ultimate Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As it was the case in Old Testament times, these sacrifices will be temporary and will be administered by physical Levites to physical unconverted people, so as to allow the transgressor to remain within the community of Israel.”

Since there will be, apparently on a very temporary basis, animal sacrifices after Christ’s return, will the practice of physical circumcision also be re-introduced? After all, Paul circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3), even though he had made it clear that circumcision was no longer required. We state the following in a Q&A regarding this event:

“Timothy was circumcised because Paul wanted him to be used effectively for the preaching of the gospel. While it is not necessary for salvation, it is not wrong to perform… By circumcising Timothy, he became accepted as a Jew, and avoided unnecessary disputes… Paul did not want Timothy to become a stumbling block to the Jews… The circumcision of Timothy was an action performed to prevent unnecessary conflict…”

However, this particular incident cannot be used as a general injunction for circumcision; nor can it be used to state that, therefore, circumcision will be universally practiced in the Millennium. While we find passages in the Bible clearly saying that animal sacrifices will be given at the beginning of the Millennium, we would need to find passages which would express something similar for physical circumcision.

There seem to be only two biblical passages which address circumcision in the Millennium.

The first passage is in Isaiah 52:1, stating that “the uncircumcised and the unclean Shall no longer come to… Jerusalem, the holy city.”

However, it is overwhelmingly agreed that this passage does not address physical circumcision and the need to be physically circumcised in order to be allowed to enter the city of Jerusalem in the Millennium.

Barnes Notes on the Bible states:

“The uncircumcised and the unclean – The idea is, that those only should enter Jerusalem and dwell there who would be worshippers of the true God. The uncircumcised are emblems of the impure, the unconverted, and the idolatrous… the view of the prophet extended to the purer and happier times under the Messiah…”

The commentary of Jamison, Fausset and Brown agrees, stating:

“uncircumcised—spiritually… Christ’s kingdom shall be exalted…”

The Pulpit Commentary says:

“Henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised… When the influx of the Gentiles comes (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6, 22, etc.), it will be one of Gentiles who are ‘circumcised in heart and lips,’ and no longer ‘unclean’ (Acts 10:15).”

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges adds:

“… the uncircumcised and the unclean, i.e. not foreigners generally… but the ‘destroyers’ and ‘wasters’…”

The second passage can be found in Ezekiel 44:7-9, which states that “no one uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh” shall enter God’s sanctuary.

The explanation for this passage is similar to the one given for Isaiah 52:1.

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible states:

(7) In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers,… Unregenerate men, who are in a state of alienation and estrangement to divine and spiritual things: strangers to God; to the true knowledge of him… strangers to the nature of sin, and the exceeding sinfulness of it; to the deceitfulness of sin, and the consequences of it; to true repentance for it, and to the right way of atonement of it, by the blood of Christ: strangers to the Gospel of Christ, and the truths of it; and to the saints and people of God:

“and uncircumcised in heart; who never were pricked in the heart for sin, or felt any pain there on account of it; never had the hardness of their heart removed, or the impurity of it discovered to them; never were filled with shame and loathing because of it; or ever put off the body of sins in a course of conversation…

“and uncircumcised in flesh; carnal, as they were born; men in the flesh… and do the works of it; having never been taught by the grace of God to deny ungodliness, and worldly lusts, and to abstain from fleshly ones: or, who put their trust in the flesh, in outward things, in carnal privileges, and external righteousness: these the Lord complains were brought “to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house: either to be members here, and partake of all the ordinances and privileges of the Lord’s house; or to officiate here as priests and ministers of the Lord…”

Elliott’s Commentary for English Readers states:

“(9) Shall enter into my sanctuary—To guard against the evils of the past, the command is now given that none of the strangers described shall even enter the sanctuary; but our version gives a wrong impression of this prohibition by rendering, “nor uncircumcised in flesh.” It should be, as in Ezekiel 44:7, “and.” The command is not that no uncircumcised person should be allowed to enter the sanctuary, for the residence of strangers among the Israelites is expressly provided for in Ezekiel 47:22-23; but the emphasis here, as before, is upon the ‘uncircumcised in heart.’ No godless heathen should be allowed to enter in to profane the Divine worship.”

From this it follows that there is no clear biblical passage suggesting that the practice of physical circumcision will be re-introduced in the Millennium as a requirement. Physical circumcision was never a health law or a law which was necessary for salvation. But as it is the case today, to circumcise one’s baby boy on the eighth day is a personal decision by the parents. It is not required, nor is it forbidden, as long as it is not done because of improper and unbiblical reasons or beliefs. We might therefore conclude that under certain circumstances, physical circumcision might be permitted in the Millennium, but that it would not be required.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

©2024 Church of the Eternal God