The purpose for this table is simply to show side-by-side, and with accompanying Scripture, how both OT and NT covenant-signs make substantially the same statements, and teach substantially the same truth; while allowing for NT improvement wherever appropriate.

Inward and outward characteristics



Five Symbols

1) Death/sacrifice

circumcision was bloody, like most OT rituals, pointing to the necessity of death and sacrifice; Ex.4:24-26, cf. Gen.17:14Col.2:13; ritual death at Gilgal, Jsh.5:4-7

baptism–Rom.6:3-4Col.2:12; cf. Lk.12:50

2) Cure/cleansing

the cutting away implied needful removal of offense or cleansing, Gen.34:14-24Ex.6:12,30Jer.6:10Is.52:1; cf. Lev.19:23-25

baptism–1Pet.3:21Mk.1:4Act.2:38Act.22:16Heb.10:22; cf. Heb.9:22

3) New humanity

the location of the cut pointed to an ineradicable, intergenerational fault affecting the whole race (scope), and the world was divided between those who became circumcised and those who continued without; Hab.2:161Sam.14:6Ezk.32:17-32Ezk.44:7,9Jer.9:23-26Ex.12:43-49


4) Seed of life

the fact that it was in such a vital place pointed further to a paradoxical situation in which to create more people naturally was simply to create more death, the instrument of life-giving was in reality propagating death, delaying it and even magnifying its hideous effects; the natural resolution would be to geld, to go sterile, and so terminate the sinful race—obviously unacceptable if the goal is to save the race; so the supernatural resolution is to remedy the defect. Jsh.24:2-3 & etc., cf. Jsh.5:9 & Dt.30:191Chr.16:12-14Hos.9:10-17Ps.87:4-6Is.51:1-2, cf. Is.61:9Is.65:23

baptism–new life in Christ’s resurrection, Col.2:131Pet.3:21; new life in Christ’s body, 1Cor.12:12-13,27; cf. Gal.3:29, re. seed of Abraham; see also Jn.3:5 (associated with the new birth); Jn.4:7-15 & Rev.21:6 (water of life); Tit.3:4-6 (washing of regeneration)​

5) Token/Symbolic judgment

the cut was a token removal, though painful, something that compelled deliberation before and after, both on the cost of the solution as well as the source of the solution. One had to look to the supernatural—to God—for his solution. 1Sam.18:27Gal.5:12; cf. Ex.13:15Lk.2:21-24


Significant related issues

Union with a mediator:

Abraham, Gen.18:18-19; Moses, 1Cor.10:2; Christ, Gal.3:27

Name Associations:


circumcision: Rom.4:11
baptism: 2Cor.1:21-22Eph.1:13-14sign: something that points to something else
seal: something that marks or reminds re. God’s claims of ownership and of his oath​

Dispensation-specific qualifiers to the signs

OT circumcision illustrated salvation coming specifically by a holy (Is.52:1) male descendant of Abraham, Gen.17:10 ; then Isaac, Gen.21:12; Jacob, Gen.27:29,33; the nation of Israel, Ex.4:24-26Ex.12:48Jsh.5:2,7; specifically Judah, Gen.34:15Gen.49:10; and finally David, 1Chr.22:10, cf. 1Sam.17:26.

NT baptism illustrates that general outpouring/anointing by the Holy Spirit unto New Covenant believers, Jn.7:39Act.1:5Act.2:17Act.8:12.​

*This is solely an outline of the similarities of both covenant signs.