Minister of the Circumcision

Justin Johnson

Jesus was Jewish. He was circumcised the eighth day, he ate kosher food, he kept the feast days, and he followed the law of Moses. He also recognized the special standing that Israel had with God as being separate from the Gentiles (Mat 10:6).

Paul writes that Jesus was a minister of the circumcision just like Peter, James, and John (Gal 2:7-9). The uncircumcised were cutoff from God (Gen 17:14). Gentiles could only garner a hearing with Jesus if they exhibited blessing of the nation Israel and him as the Messiah. Jesus healed a few Gentiles and used them as examples to a faithless Israel (Luke 7:9).

Although Israel had every advantage and opportunity they rejected the prophets and disobeyed the law of God. These lost sheep needed their shepherd to lead them. Jesus was that Shepherd and Israel the sheep (John 10:1).

While Jesus was a minister to the circumcision, Paul writes that he is a minister of Jesus Christ to the uncircumcision (Rom 15:16). Paul was never sent to the circumcision except to show them that salvation was now apart from the law sent to all men. Peter and Paul even went separate ways when they agreed to minister to these different groups (Gal 2:9).

Israel was privileged and had been given a promised Messiah, earthly kingdom, and covenantal blessing. The Gentiles were hopeless enemies of God who had long ago rejected God (Rom 1:28).

Jesus and Paul ministered to different audiences. They ministered different messages. Jesus ministered kingdom promises and prophecy. Paul ministered Jesus’ grace on the cross.

While we know many things about Jesus according to his earthly ministry to the circumcision we must understand to whom that ministry was performed. This is the great tool in understanding your Bible. Those who ignore this do so at the peril of doctrinal confusion and contention.

Our gospel and instructions were not given by the Lord during his earthly ministry, which was to Israel, but from heaven to our apostle, the apostle to the uncircumcision.

“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. ” – 2 Corinthians 5:16

Top of the Page
Article Index
Published: December 9, 2008
Last Modified: May 4, 2016
Receive articles like this in our weekly email update sent free to subscribers.