Still on the subject of circumcision–from my last post–we come to a very interesting if confusing section of Scripture in Paul’s Epistle to the GALATIANS. Perhaps the average reader of this book believes he has the understanding of it down pat, but no matter how many times I would read it in the past, it simply did not make sense to me–not in the modern Bible translations or in the King James Version. Why, for example, would Paul write in GALATIANS 2:3: But not even Titus who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
The Greeks did not practise circumcision so why did Paul make a point of saying Titus was a Greek? It would make sense if Titus had been circumcised, then Paul would have written: Even Titus, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. Both the sentence and Titus’s actions would then have been reasonable. Likewise if Titus was a Jew and refused circumcision, it would also make sense: But not even Titus, though he was a Jew, was compelled to be circumcised.
We know however that Titus was a Greek, so let us assume there is an error in the sentence translation that renders it confusing. In fact, one word has been incorrectly translated, thereby completely changing the meaning and understanding of it. That word is ‘compelled’. It is Strong’s Greek word #314. According to the Lexicon to the Old and New Testaments edited Greek scholar Spiros Zodhiates, the word anaginosko means: to know, take knowledge of, to perceive accurately, recognize, to read. Always in the N.T. and Septuagint, the consequential meaning is: to know by reading.
There is not a hint of ‘being compelled’ as the word is rendered in the KJV, NASB, or The Interlinear Bible. After as thorough and exhaustive study of this passage and indeed the whole Epistle as I could manage, I was only able to conclude that the lying pen of the scribes (YER. 8:8) has been at the verse and that, in fact, Titus did indeed receive the rite of circumcision just as did Timothy, his countryman and brother (ACTS 16:3). And that he was furthermore led to do so by the Holy Spirit through the Book of the Law.
If we go to the relevant Scriptures in GALATIANS we find Paul defending his apostleship and Gospel, that it was the same Gospel preached by that of the Yerushalem Church (2:6). He presents these Yerushalem leaders with his Gospel to check they are no different. Yes, Paul preached the very same message as the Yerushalem apostles; he kept the Law, and regularly attended the Feasts in Yerushalem! Why wouldn’t he? Then in his Epistle he comes to the issue of Titus’s circumcision.
Continuing along this theme, it makes complete sense: Was not even Titus, a Greek, by the reading of the Word, led (by the Holy Spirit) to be circumcised, like me–not on account of false brothers (Judaizers like those in Galatia) who had infiltrated the Church in order to steal away our freedom in Messiah and put us back into bondage to man-made laws? (These Judaizers said a man must be circumcised to be saved.)
I have taken a liberty with the above verse, may my readers be aware. Paul is here saying there is a place for circumcision in Gentile believers who were not circumcised at eight days of age. The Holy Spirit will lead. But not according to any doctrine that says it is necessary in order to be saved.