1 Corinthians 7:19 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 7:19, NIV: Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts.

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

1 Corinthians 7:19, KJV: Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

1 Corinthians 7:19, NASB: Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.

1 Corinthians 7:19, NLT: For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God's commandments.

1 Corinthians 7:19, CSB: Circumcision does not matter and uncircumcision does not matter. Keeping God's commands is what matters.

What does 1 Corinthians 7:19 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul has written that those who are married or single should, in many cases, remain as they are when they come to faith in Christ. Now he has expanded on this idea to include other areas of life, such as circumcision. Christian men who are circumcised should not seek out the surgery to reverse or conceal circumcision. Neither should uncircumcised Christians get circumcised.

Why would a man wish to do either of these things? Greco-Roman cultures were far less modest, in terms of nudity, as compared to later western worldviews. It was common for men to be nude in front of other men, such as at baths, in athletics, or in military training. In some public baths or competing in official sporting events, men were often nude in front of public crowds. In that way, their circumcision status would be easily known.

A Jewish man might wish to be "uncircumcised" in order to help his standing among Gentiles. A Gentile might want to be circumcised for the same reason: to be more acceptable to the Jews. Some might have been persuaded by Jewish leaders that God required circumcision for genuine salvation. On the other hand, those convinced by Paul and other teachers that circumcision was a non-issue for salvation, might have sought to remove the evidence that they once trusted in it to save them.

Paul rejects all of this and commands men to stay as they are either way. He insists that circumcision simply does not matter to God. Salvation comes only by God's grace and through faith in Christ. God cares about obedience that comes as a result of that faith. He does not care about whether a man is circumcised or not.