Easton's Bible Dictionary
As a rite of the church it ceased when the New Testament times began (Galatians 6:15 ; Colossians 3:11 ). Some Jewish Christians sought to impose it, however, on the Gentile converts; but this the apostles resolutely resisted (Acts 15:1 ; Galatians 6:12 ). Our Lord was circumcised, for it "became him to fulfil all righteousness," as of the seed of Abraham, according to the flesh; and Paul "took and circumcised" Timothy (Acts 16:3 ), to avoid giving offence to the Jews. It would render Timothy's labours more acceptable to the Jews. But Paul would by no means consent to the demand that Titus should be circumcised (Galatians 2:3-5 ). The great point for which he contended was the free admission of uncircumcised Gentiles into the church. He contended successfully in behalf of Titus, even in Jerusalem.
In the Old Testament a spiritual idea is attached to circumcision. It was the symbol of purity (Isaiah 52:1 ). We read of uncircumcised lips (Exodus 6:12,30 ), ears (Jeremiah 6:10 ), hearts (Leviticus 26:41 ). The fruit of a tree that is unclean is spoken of as uncircumcised (Leviticus 19:23 ).
It was a sign and seal of the covenant of grace as well as of the national covenant between God and the Hebrews.
Under the Jewish dispensation, church and state were identical. No one could be a member of the one without also being a member of the other. Circumcision was a sign and seal of membership in both. Every circumcised person bore thereby evidence that he was one of the chosen people, a member of the church of God as it then existed, and consequently also a member of the Jewish commonwealth.
These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.
Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Circumcision'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/ebd/c/circumcision.html. 1897.