Q: Is it one of God's Commandments that you are to be circumcised?
Comments: Paul talks about his concern for ethics and says that there are certain things God prohibits and certain things He commands. The Judaizing party spring up and threatened to destroy the infant Church by seeking to impose the "absolute law" of circumcision on every convert to Christianity.
This became a major controversy in the early church. Which also historically, is one of the driving reasons that the early church began to separate from being united in Christ around 100AD-200AD. The crucifixion happened in 33AD - that means that it was less than 100 years after the crucifixion, that the Church started to see a division of "us" and "them". Believers started separating themselves into a schism of Gentiles who believed in and followed Christ and Jews who believed in and followed Christ.
Q: Do you have to be circumcised in order to receive salvation?
A: The answer is no!
Comments: Scripture does say that Paul circumcised Timothy and then refused to circumcise Titus. Something to bear in mind about this topic; is God's covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12-25) which took place way before Abraham was circumcised himself. We can clearly see that God still blessed him and kept His promise (covenant) to Abraham. Despite that he was eventually circumcised, the initial agreement was made prior to circumcision because Abraham obeyed God. That tells us a lot right there!
Paul's actions are consistent to this in his approach to these things, as we read Paul's correspondence to the Romans and Corinthians. Where in this area, Christians can exercise their Liberty. In the very beginning of the early church, it was the council [who all were "Law Keeping Jews"] conclusion, that it pleased the Holy Spirit not to add all of these burdens upon Gentile converts.
Q: Does not being circumcised impact your salvation in any negative way?
A: Absolutely not!
Comments: Those who wanted to cling to this practice were considered by Paul to be weaker brothers - There was a point to what Paul did with Timothy (going before the Jewish Council). Just an observation and my opinion when observing the text about this, Timothy didn't argue or oppose being circumcised. He not only knew why it was important but he also knew that it was obedient to Gods commandments so it didn't bother him. Adversely, Paul refusing to circumcise Titus makes an even more of a valued point.
That point overall being, that some things that are basically neutral in the ethical sense that in and of themselves, have no importance to salvation. By the time Paul wrote his epistle to the Galatians saw the expansion of this group of judaizers as being such a threat to the truth of the Christian Gospel that he steadfastly refused to engage in circumcision as a religious act and uses the strongest language to condemn those who are trying to make a matter of personal preference the absolute law of God.
Q: What am I ultimately saying here?
Paul said, we don't want do anything to cause the weaker brother to stumble we want to be sensitive to the weaker brother. However, suddenly the weaker brother become so strong that they wanted to tyrannize the church and make their preferences the "absolute law of God" and it caused a huge division of the church.
Specifically, it caused there to be an "us" (being non-Jewsh) and a "them" (being the Jews) when really, there is no such thing as "Christianity". Reality being that, Jesus was a Jew, He and His disciples read Jewish scripture, their "religious rituals" were Jewish, everything about them is and was Jewish.
However, when people present the imposition of, "you're not one of us, if you don't do this [insert-here]" it is a representation of legalism. That of which Jesus and his entire ministry fought against. For those of us who actually do believe in and follow Christ as our Messiah, we should be united in Christ through our belief in his death and resurrection. Through our Love for Him, we submit more of ourselves as we grow in our understanding of him and bear the fruit of that obedience.
Footnotes: From a dispensational point of view
Some still preferred to utilize diets that exclude meat, even though it was permitted in Scripture. For example, Daniel, who lived under the Mosaic covenant, followed a vegetarian diet instead of eating the king’s delicacies while in captivity, and this was not a sin. In the New Covenant, some who are weak eat only vegetables (Romans 14:2). Of course, there are those with health issues that avoid meat. This is not sinful, since the New Testament does not command every Christian to eat meat, but allows it. Further, this answers the verse mentioned previously in Leviticus 11:4, 7.
Some may argue that meat could still be eaten without death, e.g., lizard tails can be removed and regrown without the death of an animal. If such could be designed to have no pain in heaven, this could theoretically allow meat to be eaten in a perfect heavenly state. Though, would such a thing be necessary in a perfect state? Likely not.
Hosea 6:7 Some theologians make distinctions between what have been called the Edenic covenant, the Adamic covenant, and the covenant of works. For the purposes of this example, we have chosen to utilize the term “Edenic,” but this should not be seen as an endorsement of a particular theological position.
In rare cases, some other Christians hold to views different from these two, but to answer this alleged contradiction I am going to stick to the main two theologies that Christians adhere to. So please forgive me if I have not dived into one of the other theological positions.
Leading Covenant Theologian Greg Bahnsen stated: “The methodological point, then, is that we presume our obligation to obey any Old Testament commandment unless the New Testament indicates otherwise. We must assume continuity with the Old Testament rather than discontinuity. This is not to say that there are no changes from Old to New Testament. Indeed, there are — important ones. However, the word of God must be the standard which defines precisely what those changes are for us; we cannot take it upon ourselves to assume such changes or read them into the New Testament. God’s Word, His direction to us, must be taken as continuing in its authority until God Himself reveals otherwise. This is, in a sense, the heart of “covenant theology” over against a dispensational understanding of the relation between Old and New Testaments.” Greg L. Bahnsen, By This Standard: The Authority of God’s Law Today (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, second printing, 1991), p. 3.
Leading Dispensationalist Charles Ryrie states: “Now the Mosaic Law was done away in its entirety as a code. It has been replaced by the law of Christ. The law of Christ contains some new commands (1 Tim. 4:4), some old ones (Rom. 13:9), and some revised ones (Rom. 13:4, with reference to capital punishment). All of the laws of the Mosaic code have been abolished because the code has. Specific Mosaic commands which are part of the Christian code appear there not as a continuation of part of the Mosaic Law, or in order to be observed in some deeper sense but as specifically incorporated into that code, and as such they are binding on believers today. A particular law that was part of the Mosaic code is done away; that same law, if part of the law of Christ, is binding.” Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology (Colorado Springs, CO: ChariotVictor Publishing, 1982), p. 305.
Where they disagree is where it gets interesting. . . .
Answers in Genesis (AiG) is a unique ministry for this time — a biblical authority ministry. AiG is a parachurch ministry staffed by church members from various denominations (e.g., Baptist, Evangelical Free, Christian, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc.) to focus on specific issues and challenges of today’s culture surrounding biblical authority. So internal theological debates are not the focus here at the ministry, so long as the debaters use the Bible as authoritative in the debate, which seems to be the case with this issue. Please do not get us wrong, this is an important debate, but we will let others lead the fight on this one. For more on our biblical authority stance please see: “Where Do We Draw the Line?” Bodie Hodge, AiG website: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2009/10/19/where-do-we-draw-the-line.