9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised.
Who is it that benefits from God’s forgiveness and justification? Jewish readers could not infer that, simply because Paul quoted the Old Testament, they were the only ones God justified. In 4:9-12 Paul argued that faith is the sole condition of salvation and that circumcision has nothing to do with it.
9 Does this blessedness [declared blessed] then come upon the circumcised [Jews] only, or upon the uncircumcised [Gentiles] also? [Greek expects a “no” answer.]
“Blessedness” here is the salvation of the soul. The issue was whether Jews had special privilege before God over the Gentiles regarding salvation. Was the declaration of blessedness for them only? Jews were convinced that circumcision set them apart from Gentiles as the means of salvation, but they were wrong.
For we say [contend] that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness.
God justified Abraham by faith while he was still a Gentile (Ge 15:6).
10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised [Jews], or uncircumcised [Gentiles]?
God justified Abraham before he was circumcised (the sign of becoming a Jew). God ordained circumcision to ratify salvation for the Jews but not as a means of salvation.
Not while circumcised, but [strong contrast] while uncircumcised.
The circumcision of Abraham occurred 13 years after God justified him. After his salvation of many years before, God instructed him to circumcise all his male descendants as a sign of His covenant with him (Ge 17:24). It is patently clear that God justified Abraham while he was a Gentile. He was not circumcised until he was 99 years of age (Ge 17:24). On that same day Abraham circumcised Ishmael (Ge 17:25). Ishmael was not even conceived at Abraham’s justification (Ge 15:2-5; 16:4).
God always saves people by grace through faith and not by the law, during any time period.
Neither circumcision nor any other rite saves the soul. Ritual is worthless without reality.
Ga 5: 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
Ga 6: 12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.