1 Corinthians 7:18b-19a Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision…

This statement about circumcision can seem like a contradiction to modern Christians. 

For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.” (1 Corinthians 7:19)

This is because we think of circumcision as only the medical procedure. But people in the first century used the word circumcision to mean going through the rigorous proselyte process to become a Jew. Verse 19 would have been understood by Paul’s original readers to be saying, “It doesn’t matter whether you are Jewish or not. What matters is that you keep the commandments of God.”

For more on the meaning of circumcision in the first century, please see the section related to Acts 1 called Circumcision in First Century Judaism.

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