Torah in the Book of the ACTS of the Apostles: Chapters 21 – 26

Acts 21 and 22 – Circumcision…. again –

Chapters 21 and 22 are filled with important information about the early believers’ understanding of their relationship to Torah.

Apparently the issue of circumcision was still a thorn in the side of the Body. 

Paul Falsely accusedWhen we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs [Greek: ethos usage prescribed by law, institute]. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come… Acts 21:17-22 NIV

Rumors had been circulating that Paul was teaching the Jews in the Diaspora (the ‘Greeks’ or ‘Hellenes’) that they did not have to obey Torah.  Since, in Jerusalem, the ‘many thousands of Jews there are which believe’ were ‘all zealous of the law’ (Acts 21:20), this was a matter of great concern – the elders did not wish to permit division and strife in the Body over so fundamental an issue.

They offered Paul a way to prove to these Jerusalem believers that the accusations against him were false.Paul offered opportunity  They understood that he was not instructing people to ignore Torah.

… so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.Acts 21:23-25 NIV

Paul will prove his adherence to Torah by finishing his own Nazarite vow at the temple and by paying the temple offerings for himself and four other Jews. It is hoped that this will convince the Jewish community that Paul is not advocating blasphemy and treason among his fellow Jews.

Is Paul Being Hypocritical?

Many teach that Paul was simply being “all things to all men” in this circumstance – that he was merely trying to quell disorder in the body.   We believe this is incorrect and even unfair on several counts:

  • It assumes that Paul was acting dishonestly – that he was not truly Torah-observant himself – despite the fact that he had taken his own Nazarite vow, and it is recorded that he called himself an observant Jew.  In verse 24, the leadership acknowledges that there is no truth in the accusations.
  • It assumes that he was teaching one thing to Jews and another to Gentiles, in opposition to the ancient scriptures which plainly indicate that Gentiles who identify with YHVH are to worship and behave in exactly the same way that genetic Hebrews are instructed to worship and behave.  (Lev 17:8-16, Isa 56:1-7, and many others, including Paul’s own teaching in Romans.)
  • It assumes that the Jerusalem leadership was willing to act dishonestly in order to restore peace in the body.
  • And (if Paul really was teaching Diaspora Jews to disregard Torah, with the approval of the Jerusalem leadership, per verse 20), then the Jerusalem Jews were in error regarding the need to follow Torah, and their leadership was unwilling to lay themselves on the line and spell that out, thus allowing their flock to walk in error and in sin.

We have a hard time believing that any of these propositions could have truth in them!

Reader’s objection: “You are ignoring the obvious. It clearly says that Gentiles are not expected to comply with Torah!”

Response:  We must remind the reader of our statement In our introduction to the NT series

… any such new understanding must conform to the principles taught in the OT.  If our understanding of a NT passage does not appear to correspond with OT principles, we need to take a much closer look at our understanding of the passage.   This is a good indicator that we are misunderstanding something.

misunderstandingNot only does the Tanakh (OT) tell us repeatedly that all men are eternally subject to YHVH’s one law, but we will find in other epistles written by James, Paul, John and other apostles that they agree that all believers should demonstrate their love for YHVH by obedience to His Torah. [1]

Therefore, we must infer that verse 25 is an insertion, [2] or that James is in error by clinging to the old prejudice that Torah and the Covenant are only for genetic Israelites, or that James is once again merely confirming that new Gentile believers need not conform to rabbinic procedures in order to enter the Covenant community – a decision which is completely in accord with OT teaching.  (Please see the Commentary on Acts Chapter 15.) Because of James’s other statements in the Book of James [3], we believe the latter is true – that he is merely absolving Gentiles of an onerous and unscriptural ‘membership process.’

Back to Paul:

As we have mentioned before, if the Jews had perceived that Paul was indeed teaching that they had been ‘released’ from Torah, they would have been offended to the point of killing him.  This is exactly what is happening in Jerusalem in Chapters 21 and 22!  Word had gotten around – falsely – that Paul was advocating non-adherence, and the Jerusalem Jews were ready to KILL him.

Notice that the Jews in Asia, to whom Paul had been preaching for the last two years, were NOT trying to kill him.  They had heard him preach and knew what he was teaching – ‘live by Torah.’  It is the Jerusalem Jews, who have believed a false rumor, who are so upset. They understand that if their people were to fall away from YHVH’s standards, their entire nation would feel the consequences.  From their perspective, Paul is teaching moral depravity and political sedition.

Paul is just barely able to get them to calm down and listen to him, and what he has to say is very enlightening.

Chapter 22 – The Gentile Issue Raises its Head Again

Speaking in Hebrew (which scholars are beginning to acknowledge was the lingua franca of the Judean Jews of the First Century), Paul begins by establishing his Hebraic descent, his pride in that heritage and his devotion to the Torah upon which it is based.  His audience loves what he has to say and listens carefully and quietly.   Paul goes on to explain his experiences regarding his meeting with Y’shua and his first days as a believer, all of which is well received.  Then he says:

Acts-Chapter-21-Paul-Is-Rescued-from-the-Multitude
As soon as he mentioned bringing Gentiles into the Covenant, Paul had to be rescued from the Jewish crowd!

And he [Y’shua] said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. Acts 22:21

The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”  Acts 22:22 NIV

As soon as Paul declares his mission to the detestable Gentiles, the Jews go into complete uproar and Paul has to be removed from their presence for his own safety!

This confirms to us that one of the primary reasons Paul experienced so much persecution was because he was inviting Gentiles into the Covenant family, which was perceived by the general Jewish populace as deeply offensive and even blasphemous.

Chapter 23
Illustration in 1883 encyclopaedia of the ancient Jewish Sanhedrin council (from Greek synedrion, synhedrion) - People's Cyclopedia of Universal Knowledge (1883)
Illustration of the ancient Jewish Sanhedrin council (from Greek synedrion, synhedrion) – People’s Cyclopedia of Universal Knowledge (1883)

The next day, Paul was brought before the Sanhedrin to explain himself.

The first Torah-pertinent passage in this chapter is verse 3:

Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”

Torah is the civil law of the nation.  Paul is not a seditionist, and he upholds that law.  He expects his judges to do the same and is outraged that they are violating the law.   However, when he realizes that he has inadvertently broken the Law himself by insulting the High Priest, he (rather indirectly)  apologizes:

Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’  [Referring to Exodus 22:28]. 

Torah was Paul’s guide in this entire circumstance.

Smooth Move

Paul noticed that there were both Sadducees and Pharisees on the council before which he was being arraigned.  Sadducees did not believe in resurrection, whereas Pharisees did.   In the synagogues, one of the main objections Paul had encountered concerned his teaching that his Messiah Y’shua had suffered, died and then been resurrected, and that believers will share in that resurrection.[4]  This concept was a matter of great discussion and dissension among the Jews of that day.  This gave Paul an idea.

But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.” Acts 23:6

Pharisees vs SadduceesThis was a very canny and astute statement on Paul’s part, though perhaps it was not technically true regarding the recorded charges which had brought him into court:  The sight of the two sects in the courtroom must have reminded him of his experiences in the synagogues, so he smoothly redirected the controversy away from his own Torah-adherence (or supposed lack thereof) and his Gentile-friendly gospel, and to a subject that was a cause of division between his judges.  He derailed the whole court!  Once again he was removed from the chamber as the council disintegrated into warring factions!

Escape and retrial

Remember that Paul is falsely accused of teaching Jews to ignore Torah.   This is why the Jerusalem leadership came up with a way to defend Paul’s honor.  However, there were Jews who believed the accusation, and to them, the very idea was so offensive that 40 [colloq.: ‘a lot’] of them made a pact to kill Paul. The authorities got wind of the plot and whisked Paul off in the dead of night to Caesarea, where he was held pending arrival of his accusers for a formal arraignment.

The ‘accusers’ (a new group) arrived five days later, consisting of the High Priest Ananias, some elders, and an ‘orator’ (attorney) named Tertullus, who made this charge to the court:

For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:   Acts 24:5

Acts_of_the_Apostles_Chapter_18-9_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)We’ve already seen that the Romans had the The Way (aka the Nazarenes) under surveillance because they believed the Nazarenes were politically subversive.  Tertullus (a ‘Greek’ Jew) was capitalizing on this.  He knew that the governor would not be the least bit interested in hearing accusations based on religious differences, so Tertullus ‘translated’ the accusations into a form the Romans would be interested in: sedition and treason; leadership of the politically suspect Nazarenes. These were severe accusations and were received with great attention.

Paul defended himself first by asserting that he had done nothing during his time in Jerusalem to have deserved the hostility shown to him. He does not deny that he is a Nazarene, however. In fact, he says:

But this I confess to you, that according to The Way, which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.  Acts 24:14, NKJV

Paul the Nazarene RingleaderNote that Paul states forthrightly that he believes in the Law and the Prophets ‘in accord with the beliefs of The Way.’  To a Jew, one does not ‘believe’ in something unless he acts on it.  Paul’s statement tells us that Torah-observance was a matter of doctrine in the early church, and that he and other followers of ‘The Way’ were Torah-observant and without fault before their brother Jews.

There is considerable historical documentation for our understanding that the Nazarenes were Torah-observant, not least of which are documents in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the writings of Jerome, Eusebius, etc.  Paul is speaking truthfully. [5]

He goes on to state that the only thing they can accuse him of is his belief in the resurrection of Y’shua, which is not a crime.  “And, by the way,” he asks, “where are the guys who originally accused me? According to Torah, they are supposed to be the ones appearing here!” (Acts 24:19, referring to Deut 19:15)

Two Years of Imprisonment

Paul and FelixGovernor Felix knew a little about The Way and wanted to know more.   (He was also hoping for a bribe from Paul or Paul’s friends.)  For two years he held Paul in Caesarea, calling for him once in a while for discussions, and hoping that either Paul or his friends would pay for his release.  (And the Romans thought this was justice??)

Chapter 25 – They Never Give Up

The consistent underlying motive for the continuing Jewish persecution directed specifically towards Paul appears to have been profound resentment against his bringing Gentiles (the hated oppressor) into the synagogues and into the Covenant Community. 

After two years, the Jerusalem Jews were still thirsting for Paul’s blood.  The religious leaders wanted to get rid of him legally, but that meant going through the Roman authorities.  They had to find some pretext on which to accuse Paul.

  • The Torah-observance issue had been tried without success.
  • Next Paul was accused of sedition and treason, but that hadn’t worked, either.
  • Then they tried to get him sent to their own religious court – again with no success. (Acts 25:2-3)

Paul refused to go to Jerusalem to be judged by them – he knew what his fate would be.  In fact, that last request actually escalated the situation to such an extent that, on the basis of his Roman citizenship, Paul claimed the right to appear before Caesar in Rome!  (He had already been told in a vision that he would be ‘a witness’ in Rome [Acts 23:11], so Paul was quite willing to settle his fate in there.)   Well, at least the Jerusalem Jews had gotten him out of their own hair!

The Three Main Issues

Paul and AgrippaBefore Paul was sent to Rome, King Agrippa heard of his case and desired to hear for himself what Paul had to say.  Once again we find Paul responding:

Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Messiah should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles   Acts 26:22

Here are the three issues that are causing Paul all the trouble: a ‘suffering’ (rather than a conquering) Messiah; resurrection; and Gentiles. The last is the most troublesome issue.

One of the authorities in the audience, Festus (Roman Procurator of Judea), immediately shouted:

…. Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad! Acts 26:24

Paul talks to FelixFestus, brand new to his position as Governor of Judea, would have liked to be able to dismiss Paul as a madman – so much easier than trials and disputes with his new subjects, the Jews. But Herod Agrippa saw clearly that Paul was no madman – in fact he told Paul that he was almost convinced himself to become a Christian (the Hebrew version of this word would be ‘Messianic’).  Herod felt that Paul should be set free, but since Paul had already appealed to Caesar, to Caesar he must go, in accordance with Roman law.   Festus had to agree.  Paul would be sent to Rome.

THE BOOK OF ACTSIntroduction * Chapters 1-5 * Chapters 6-10 * Chapters 11-12 * Chapter 13 (Part 1) * Chapter 13 (Part 2)Chapters 14-15 * Chapter 16 * Chapters 17-18 * Chapters 19-20Chapters 21-26 * Chapters 27-28

By Sue and John Wyatt, lambs.servant@gmail.com


© John and Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, 2014.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Lamb’s Servant Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to John and Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


FOOTNOTES

[1]  Please see our articles on the books of Romans, James, Titus, Ephesians, Galatians, etc. Also see the articles entitled YESHUA TAUGHT US TO WALK IN TORAH (not yet posted, but available upon request) and EVIDENCE THAT TORAH WAS GIVEN TO ALL MEN AT CREATION.

[2]  Much as it distresses us to have to admit it, there is clear evidence that scribes and copyists did alter, add to and subtract from the epistles.  At the risk of appearing fanatical and heretical, we might suggest that this statement regarding the Gentiles was added later by a copyist for the purpose of doctrinal affirmation. There was actually no reason for James to make such a statement during this particular conversation, which concerned only Paul’s dealings with Jews. The verse truly appears to have been ‘added in,’ perhaps as a reassurance to Gentile readers who might get worried that they, too, like Paul, were supposed to keep Torah despite the ‘official doctrine’ of non-observance…. Just a thought, and not one on which we are insistent or even convinced.

[3] Please see our article on THE BOOK OF JAMES. (Not yet published.)

[4]  There is very little in the Tanakh (Old Testament) that bears on the afterlife, and what does apply can be debated over endlessly, which is exactly what the Jews did and still do!  A dyed-in-the-wool Sadducee would have had a hard time acknowledging Y’shua as Messiah, because Y’shua taught about angels, claimed to have been resurrected from the dead, and promised eternal life to his disciples, all of which profoundly contradicted Sadducee beliefs.

[5]  The Nazarenes were the first believers. “The Nazarenes were similar to the Ebionites, in that they considered themselves Jews, maintained an adherence to the Law of Moses, and used only the Aramaic Gospel of the Hebrews, rejecting all the Canonical gospels. However, unlike half of the Ebionites, they accepted the Virgin Birth.” (Wikipedia – Nazarene (Sect), retrieved 2015-01-15 and referencing Krauss, Samuel. “Nazarenes”. Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-08-23, and Hegg, Tim (2007). “The Virgin Birth – An Inquiry into the Biblical Doctrine” (PDF). TorahResource. Retrieved 2007-08-13.

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12 thoughts on “Torah in the Book of the ACTS of the Apostles: Chapters 21 – 26”

  1. Hi Sue, what’s your stand on ‘circumcision’? I just had a quick read of Genesis 17 to try to understand this. Is this part of the Torah (what exactly constitutes Torah?) Would there have been a point wherein the covenant would have been ‘fulfilled’ already and circumcision can already be done away with–is the everlasting covenant in the flesh (v.13) only for Abraham himself?

    Personally, I feel like this is a subject I could conveniently dismiss–firstly, being female, and secondly, male circumcision being part of my culture back to the time when we were still pagans and animists–long before we were Christianised! But since this seems to be a subject of dispute among Christians even up to now, I would like to hear your and other Christians’ explanations. (Thanks in advance! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting questions, sister. 🙂

      The easy answer first: What is Torah? Torah consists of the first five books of the Bible – Y’shua called them ‘the Law of Moses.’ (Luke 24:44, etc.) Torah is a Hebrew word meaning ‘instructions’ and that’s just what the first five books are – YHVH’s loving instructions designed to guide us into health, peace and long life. (Deut 5:33, etc.)

      You wondered if the requirement for circumcision might have been fulfilled in some way so that it is no longer a necessary ingredient of the covenant. You asked “… is the everlasting covenant in the flesh (v.13) only for Abraham himself?” Since Abraham’s mortal body is not ‘everlasting’, it’s kinda hard to see how the command could be only for him, particularly when Abraham’s part of the covenant was to ‘keep’ the terms of the covenant. “Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come.” (Gen 17:9 and MANY similar verses)

      That word translated as ‘keep’ is the Hebrew word SHAMAR, and it means not only to heed and observe, but also to guard and preserve, to keep watch over and to protect. In other words, an important part of the agreement, from YHVH’s perspective, was that Abraham’s descendants would observe and guard the same covenant, ‘for ever’ and ‘for all generations.’

      Was the command for circumcision fulfilled in some way which now cancels the requirement for it as part of the covenant agreement? The plain and simple answer is, No.

      YHVH said that the commandment was ‘for ever and for all generations.’ Period. No exceptions. The principle is reiterated multiple times in His Word. He makes it clear that circumcision is a sign between Him and His people – and that makes circumcision really important.

      Paul tells us in Ephesians that Gentiles were once “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise” but that “now in Messiah Y’shua, ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Messiah.” (Eph 2:12-13) He goes on to say that believing Gentiles are now “fellow citizens” (of the nation) and part of the family of God. (Eph 2:19) The clear message in all of this is that Gentile believers are NO LONGER Gentiles – they are adopted Israelites and are thus privy to all the blessings and obligations of “the covenants of promise,” including circumcision.

      YHVH also makes it clear that physical circumcision is merely a symbol of the heart circumcision that He is really looking for, and of course the need for the believer’s heart to be circumcised will never pass away.

      What we forget is that the obedient ‘circumcised’ heart literally rejoices when it is given an instruction that permits a demonstration of the love it harbors.

      For example, we are commanded to be baptized, and baptism isn’t a particularly pleasant experience. You get dunked backwards – scary – and if you get baptized in a lake you’re dealing with mud and mess and smell. It isn’t fun to be baptized in front of a lot of strangers, either, but nevertheless, for me it was a joyous occasion and my heart leaped because it allowed me to SHOW my Y’shua that I love Him.

      Another example: I know a young girl whose ‘job’ it is to make coffee for her dad. Her dad is perfectly capable of making his own coffee, and often he would get that coffee quicker if he DID make it himself. 😉 But his daughter takes such joy in being able to demonstrate her love for her dad by making that cup of coffee. In fact, she actually gets her feelings hurt if her dad lets someone else make his coffee! Her dad, in turn, takes great joy in asking her to make a cup of coffee for him. That coffee is the sweetest nectar on the planet to him, because it comes laced with his daughter’s love. In the same way, YHVH’s heart-circumcised children delight to do the things He asks of them, and in turn, He delights in their delight!

      Circumcision is one of those little things we can do to please Him and demonstrate our love for Him. What is a little piece of mortal flesh in comparison with an eternal relationship with the Living God?

      (Note: Scriptural circumcision, so I am told, is much less traumatic than the circumcision currently practiced in American hospitals. Supposedly, scriptural circumcision removes only a tiny portion of skin. However, that too is debated.)

      As you can tell, I have actually given this topic some thought. The matter came close to home when my niece began observing Torah and wanted to know if she should have her little grandson, for whom she is the legal caregiver, circumcised.

      She had read the scripture that says “And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.” (Gen 17:14) That obviously worried her, because she wanted her little grandson to have the option of entering the Kingdom. Unfortunately, she had already attempted to have him circumcised in his first year, without success. The boy’s father hadn’t had the money to pay to have it done in the hospital when the child was born, so they figured they could get it done later. Little did they know that circumcision is a hotly debated topic in their state (California), and the law would not permit circumcision after the baby left the hospital.

      With the child’s eternal destiny possibly hanging in the balance, suddenly circumcision became a matter of real interest to us!!

      After considerable reading, prayer and discussion, here is the ‘stand’ that I took:

      I believe that ideally every male child of a believer should indeed be circumcised and, ideally, that circumcision should take place on the 8th day of the child’s life, according to the scriptures. Although some people consider the practice to be a form of mutilation, it seems to me that YHVH was the creator of the human body, and if He wants a little piece of loose skin removed, we shouldn’t question His right to require such a thing.

      But what of those who are not circumcised? My niece is not willing to subject her grandson to an illegal circumcision, because she loves her grandson more than her own life, and she isn’t willing to do anything that might jeopardize her ability to care for him. She has decided to obey the law of her state. How will Y’shua judge that? I can’t say for sure, but my guess is this: Since the little guy really doesn’t have any control over the situation at the moment, if he were to die now or if Y’shua was to return tomorrow, I believe that the boy would NOT be rejected from the Kingdom based on his lack of circumcision, because the boy loves Y’shua and does his childish best to observe Y’shua’s commandments. And how would Y’shua judge my niece? The word tells us that “Love covers a multitude of sins.” (Prov 10:12, 1Peter 4:8) I believe that He sees the intent of her heart, which is to honor Him in every way AVAILABLE to her.

      What about grown men who come to faith? I believe that they too – if it is at all possible – should seek circumcision, but only under the direction of the Holy Spirit. He will tell them when they should make that decision. And they, too, may be unable to fulfill this mitzvah. Many American states do not permit adult non-medical circumcision except by a certified Jewish ‘mohel’ – and a mohel will not perform a circumcision on a male who has not converted to Judaism. Catch 22!

      So my stand is: Circumcise the flesh when possible, and trust in the mercy and righteous judgement of Y’shua when it is not possible. And at ALL times, remember that the circumcision of the flesh is merely the outward symbol of one’s commitment to be circumcised in the HEART!

      Thankfully, Y’shua is a righteous Judge and will judge righteously!

      PS – I hope that some day I will learn how to answer a question without writing a book…. Sorry about that!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Then we set up our own circumcision resources. Ask a German or Dutch lady doctor to come over to the States to train people in low, tight freehand circumcisions.

        Biblical circumcision is less traumatic than hospital circumcision because they wanted to cut corners and started to use clamps, which take a quarter of an hour (so needlessly painful), and worse, do not fully remove the inner foreskin, which is NECESSARY for full health and hygiene benefits and, by inevitably removing the frenulum, making sure the circumcision cannot be reversed.

        Circumcision of the heart makes me REALLY rejoice over the fact that God has forbidden us to even know what sex with a foreskin feels like, FOREVER.

        Like

        1. Maybe taking the child to Holland is the answer. If an American were to circumcise their child on their own, they would definitely risk losing their child – they would, under the laws of many states, be considered child abusers and no longer fit parents. 😦

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          1. That is the answer. In Holland, there are a lot of specialized medical centres specialized in circumcision catering to Muslims. Check out “besnijdenis”, “besnijdeniskliniek”, or “besnijdeniscentrum”. It would be nice to meet you in Holland. By placing my comment, you have my email.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much, Sue for accommodating my question (I knew it would take a lot of your time!). You are always so gracious!

    So now I know that Torah is what we usually call Pentateuch. And thanks for mentioning that Jehovah’s instructions were designed for our well-being–I will remember that. I always think that everything is for His glory (which ultimately should be), but you’ve just reminded me that He is a loving Father who also wants the best for us (and when we are in our best, we bring glory to Him!).

    Thanks for explaining to me how you came up with your ‘stand’ about circumcision. It also reminds me of the events in Acts, re Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit pre-circumcision/baptism (am I right? ‘will check my Bible later); also the thief beside Jesus at Calvary–being assured of salvation (I’m quite certain he hadn’t been baptised before the crucifixion!). Yes, the Lord is a righteous Judge.

    Thanks as well for the cultural exchange 🙂 Interesting to know more about America. I should say that baptismal events on our side of the globe are exciting–as we schedule it first thing during church outings–sunny day, warm seas 🙂 And male circumcision, although could be arranged privately, are also offered annually (usually during school holidays) for free for men of all ages! Oh, some trivia–I think there are recent studies showing that circumcised male have fewer reproductive health risks than those who are not; also, a child’s 8th day is when his vitamin K (which clots blood) sort of shoots up–you will have to double check all these info, I’m not certain if I got reliable sources!

    Thanks so much, Sue. I intend to just make this a short essay, I’m not yet ready for a book! 😉 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting about circumcision being offered free to men in your culture! Wow! Yes, I have seen a number of studies indicating that there are definite benefits to circumcision. However, there are those in our country who believe that it is ‘barbaric’ to ‘subject’ an infant to circumcision. Personally, I believe that the enemy is simply using such soft-hearted people to advance his own agenda of keeping as many people as possible out of the covenant and out of relationship with Abba. Ah well, we know Who will win THAT battle!!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The government funds it, it does mention health benefits. But mainly, culturally, it’s a rite of passage for boys–so even though they’re nervous they willingly go through it! But now I realise that that’s the incentive–nothing Biblical about it. But I think that makes a point–if it’s easy to make it as a rite of passage to manhood, shouldn’t it be easier to make it as rite to inclusion in the people of God. But as you said, it is only symbolic of the circumcision of the heart. Just as with Abraham. His relationship with God came first before his circumcision.

        I feel like I just had another Bible study session with you, Sue! Thanks, and bless you! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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