Today, we’ll go into ancient times and take a look at how children were viewed under Roman rule and why Jesus’ circumcision is an important detail not to skip over!
Yesterday, those who receive emails from the ministry got a blog devotional about the "science" behind Jesus being circumcised on Day 8. It was also yesterday's podcast. (Scroll down our podcast page and listen to Wed 12/21 or find Peace Be Still Daily Prayer Download on your favorite podcast app and listen there. 80% of our listeners use Apple podcasts!)
Today, we continue where we began yesterday, taking notice of Luke 2:21 which says that He was officially named on the 8th day, the same day that he was circumcised. Big deal? Yes or no?
Turns out that detail is pretty interesting and very important! Let's look more closely at ancient culture to understand.
In the time of Jesus, the Romans ruled. And so we are to take note that Luke writes his account to Theophilus, Luke 1:3. He calls him “most excellent Theophilus”. In Roman culture, this implies a Roman title of respect and official importance. So we can make a strong assumption that Theophilus was an important Roman official. Luke also writes the book of Acts to Theophilus. See Acts 1:1. Luke is clear that his account is an orderly account, Luke 1:3.
In his Gospel account to Theophilus, Luke carefully includes the decree issued by Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. It is the reason Joseph and Mary go back to Bethlehem. They are to be “registered”. There is an official count happening of the entire world, Luke 2:1-5.
To understand this better, I'm referencing an exhaustive work written by a man name O M Bakke. It’s called “When Children became people- The Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity”. In it, he explores theological and social history of Greco-Roman and early Christians towards abortion and child prostitution, pedagogy, moral upbringing, and their value within society. It is a shocking and insightful read, especially considering the direction our world is now heading, or should I say reverting to. I highly recommend it.
Related to birth, in the Roman way of life, Bakke notes the father was LEGALLY allowed to decide whether his newborn would live or die! Think of that in modern view. He was legally allowed to decide if the newborn would live or die after birth. He could do so within the first 8-9 days.
So if he accepted the child as a family member, they would hold a ritual known as a day of purification. It was on this day that a child was given its name and LEGALLY REGISTERED. The ceremony for boys was held on the 8th day, and the ceremony for girls was on the 9th day. Under Roman law, the ceremony marked the child's social birth, as compared to biological birth. Read these 2 pages from Bakke's book below.
Pretty upsetting right?
With Roman rule in mind, re-read Luke 2:21 again-
And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
Luke is making it clear that Jesus was officially counted in a worldwide census! As a Roman official, Theophilus could check the record! Can you hear him ordering the Bethlehem census be brought to him?
And just think about this detail as it relates to the many arguments that Jesus never existed. "Jesus is a fictional figure. Jesus is a fairy tale." No. He was real and counted in Caesar Augustus' worldwide census! The promise of Good News for all was included in a worldwide census! The most important One to ever be counted and included in a census!
How awesome is it that we have this holy record! That Luke wrote his account to a Roman official, including significant details that validate Christ, not just under Jewish covenant of circumcision, but along with Roman mandate of legal registration! How awesome that he lets Theophilus know the words of the Angel to Mary…
Luke 1:31-33- 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
This might cause quite a stir within Theophilus don’t you think? If you were a highly influential government official today and received word of a king being born whose kingdom would have no end, would you take a closer look at the careful details shared about him?
May this stir you to notice the tiny details in scripture that maybe you gloss over, skip over, or dismiss off-handedly. Meditate on scripture. The revelation of Luke’s intent to highlight Jesus being officially registered came as a result of digging deeper and wrestling with scripture. Dig deeper to uncover the hidden treasure!!!
NEXT STEP: Consider how thousands of years before Roman rule of 8 days for males to be official and socially registered, God picked the 8th day for males to be circumcised. This brought them under the holy covenant given to Abraham and his descendants! Read about the covenant of circumcision in Genesis 17! As a believer, you are included under that covenant. How does it affect you? Do you know by memory what it includes before reading it again?
We are so blessed to live in a time of solid biblical resources. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and lead you to Spirit filled revelation! May you and yours have a blessed day of celebrating our eternal King and His coming Kingdom! The greatest gift of all!
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Hi my name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 25 year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and praying for His life in greater measure!