What Comes First?


Does wearing a ring on my left hand make me a married man? What if I didn’t wear a ring, but made a covenant with my wife? Clearly, it’s not about the ring. The ring is only a symbol of something that is already at play and much more important. In the same way, our relationship with God is not determined by outward expressions of that relationship.

  • What ceremonies have you gone through as a result of your faith?


9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


1. In your own words, describe the argument Paul was making.

2. Paul used Abraham as an example. What does this reveal about his audience?

3. Why is it important that righteousness came before circumcision? How does this translate to modern expressions of faith?


In a somewhat confusing, crowded passage, Paul essentially said that Abraham was righteous prior to being circumcised, proving that circumcision was merely a symbol of what should already exist in the heart. It sounds primal and perhaps even dated, but we still deal with similar issues today. Does being baptized make you a follower of Christ? How about taking communion? And, becoming a member of the church, does that make you a believer? As always, God is after our hearts, not our symbolism or religious practices.

  • Pray that God takes hold of your heart and that your life will be reflective of that.