Romans 2: 28-29- “For the real Jew is not merely Jewish outwardly: true circumcision is not only external and physical. On the contrary, the real Jew is one inwardly; and true circumcision is of the heart, spiritual not literal; so that his praise comes not from other people but from God.” CJB
During the Second World War, the phrase, “Judeo-Christian Tradition” was coined by Protestants and Catholics who wanted to express their solidarity with the threatened Jewish population of Europe. As Hitler was bent on annihilating the Jews in Europe, Christians took a stand declaring that they could not overlook what was happening to the Jews. By the 1950s, Catholics were in denial that the Christian faith had any connection to Judaism, and was more closely connected to the Hellenic culture. By the 1970s, writers were attacking the Judeo-Christian concept stating that the only thing the Jews had in common with the Christians was that they were enemies, and that the Christians laid the ground work for anti-Semitism. During the Reagan presidency, Judeo-Christian ethics once again saw the light as a platform for religious and social conservatism, resulting in a stand against abortion and homosexuality. And today, the Christian Coalition, a by product of the Judeo-Christian concept, is in alliance with Israel as the land of God’s people. Now that we have heard of it’s secular history, let’s see what the Bible has to say about all of this!
Paul states that the real Jew is not merely Jewish outwardly.
And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.Genesis 17:9-11 NKJV
God established circumcision with Abraham as part of the Abrahamic covenant. This was their outward sign that they were Jews. However, the sons of Jacob proved that there was more to being Jewish than the circumcision when they convinced Shechem and Hamor to be circumcised that they might be one people, after Shechem raped Dinah. Then as soon as they were all circumcised, the brothers went in and murdered every male in the city as revenge for their sister. So it was pretty obvious that the outward circumcision wasn’t the only thing making them Jewish. Paul points out that the cutting away of the flesh of their foreskin was definitely a part, but it wasn’t the only part.
Paul continues by telling his readers that the real Jew is the one who is a Jew inwardly. This individual, Paul states, has had a circumcision of the heart and not the foreskin. In modern medicine, most boys are circumcised at birth without being Jewish. But the covenant of God regarding circumcision did not change, only the method. Instead of a circumcision in the flesh, there is one being required in the heart. Not a physical circumcision, but a spiritual circumcision.
Paul reminds them that breaking the law, in essence, nullifies the circumcision:
“For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.”Romans 2:25 NKJV
Spiritual circumcision is as a result of making Jesus Christ the Lord of your life:
“For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh”Philippians 3:3 NKJV
And in his letter to the Colossians, Paul wrote:
“In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”Colossians 2:11-15 NKJV
And to the Galatians Paul wrote:
“For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.”Galatians 6:11-15 NKJV
Basically, Paul sums it up in this verse in Galatians. Circumcision of the flesh, or not being circumcised of the flesh is irrelevant in the face of the cross. The most important thing is becoming a new creation, a spiritual Jew, circumcised in the heart by the Blood! Therefore, according to scripture, if you are born again, you are the real Jew, the spiritual Jew!!
Now back to Judeo-Christian tradition. It’s interesting to me to note when the term Christian appears in scriptures:
“Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”Acts 11:25-26 NKJV
Today we are getting a history lesson. The term Christian was not adopted by the early church or the apostles. I will summarize what is stated in the Vine’s for brevity sake. When the Jewish believers were called Christians in Antioch, it was implied with scorn, much as the same way Agrippa used it when telling Paul he was almost persuaded to become a Christian. Peter also mentioned that if they were being persecuted for being “Christians” consider it an honor. Therefore, the title became one of honor and not of ridicule and was adopted as such after the second century.
Christians, being linked with the faith of Judaism, is therefore no surprise. None of the apostles or people we honor in the word ever considered themselves to be Christians. Paul said that he was a Jew. We know how proud Peter was of his Jewish heritage! And Jesus was also a Jew, and He is our Messiah! It is easy to understand how the two were connected, although we may not be proud of the way the phrase has been used in the past. But now that you see the history of how we came to be called Christians, you can easily see that titles can start out with a negative connotation, and end up being one of honor.
Last history lesson for today! Constantine the Great was the first Roman king to become a Christian. As a result of his conversion, Rome became Christianized. He built St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. He also held the First Council of Nicaea where many of the tenements of the Christian faith, now practiced, were decided, like worship on Sunday.
In my next blog, I will revisit Judaism, as Paul asks the question in chapter 3, “To what advantage is there in being Jewish”! I can’t wait! Wonderful Jesus!