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28 For [gar] he is [esti] not [ou] a Jew [Ioudaios], which is one outwardly [en]
[phaneros]; neither [oude] is that circumcision [peritome], which is outward [en] [phaneros] in [en] the flesh [sarx]: KJV-Interlinear
28 For no
one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and
The words for Jew, Israelite and Hebrew, were all used interchangeably, back in Pauls day. And even though they all have different origins and meanings, to be referred to as Jewish, represented the heritage of the culture and race, that dated back to Abraham.
Abraham was the first to cross over the river from the land of Ur, to the land of Canaan. He was then referred to as a Hebrew, or one who crossed over the river, or one on the other side of the river. This all began with the faith of Abraham, and continued through his son Isaac, and then Jacob, which is the line of faith, not simply genetics. Abraham and Isaac both had several children, but the line of faith went only through to Jacob, and then to his twelve sons.
Abraham turned away from the idols of his fathers and headed to Canaan in search of, and in obedience to, God.
Later, when his grandson, Jacob had his twelve sons, Jacobs name was changed to Israel, meaning, may God prevail, He struggles with God, God perseveres, contends.
The nation of Israel came out of Jacobs new name, Israel and of course the people came to be known as Israelites.
Through the centuries, and following King Solomon's time, the nation split into two nations, the northern kingdom generally called Israel or Samaria, and the southern kingdom which retained its tribe name, Judah.
The northern kingdom split away from the dynasty of David and attempted to invent its own dynasty. That kingdom was eventually destroyed. It was a false path, which was not of Gods plan.
Judah eventually became known as Judea and thus the term Jew evolved as the name for those who lived in Judea.
The religion of Judaism followed the Mosaic Law, claimed it as their one true religion and developed most of the additional rules that were incorporated into the Levitical Priesthood. This was a religion of works, or trying to keep the Law, and they drifted away from the true Messiah and its intent, looking for a leader and king, rather than looking for a savior.
They held onto the rituals, including the ritual of circumcision for their new born male infants.
But after Christ, then the Christian segment of the religion became confused and tried to incorporate the Mosaic Law and its rituals into the new faith in Christ, demanding that any gentile abide by the Law, as they implied that they were.
This is the misapplication of faith and salvation, that Paul is addressing in these verses.
Salvation is by faith, not by some physical act.
Becoming a member of the family of God, is more than merely being a descendant of Abraham. Abraham had many sons, but only one believed while the others did not.
Circumcision was to represent the cutting away of the sins from the individual, and thus was a spiritual cutting away, as the dead skin is cut away on the male genitals. Physical circumcision was symbolic of the spiritual principle.
True circumcision is the inward cutting away of sin from the life of the believer, through faith.
A physical circumcision is the outward only and does nothing for the spiritual life.
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Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.