"Gentile" is a problem word for Christians. It doesn't mean what you think it means! When you learn what the Bible is really saying with the Greek word "§θvoς" (ethnos), (usually translated as "Gentile") then your entire religion of Christianity will be wonderfully revised and uplifted.
In English Bibles the Greek word "ethnos" (§θvoς) is translated either as "Gentile" or as "nation." A few centuries ago the English word "Gentile" had the same meaning as the Greek "ethnos," but today the meanings are exactly opposite each other. But modern versions of the Bible still use the word "Gentile" just as older versions did. The polar change in the meaning of the word has dramatically influenced the beliefs and the practice of Christianity. Unless one understands what Jesus and the N.T. writers meant by the word (§θvoς), one cannot understand the message of Jesus. This is a critically important factor for every Christian to consider.
Shortly, I will present definitions of these words in detail. The word "Gentiles" historically meant those who belonged to the same ethnic group, clan or tribe. Today it commonly means "those who are not Jews."
First, we will examine the definitions of the word, and then show passages in Matthew and Romans where the word is used. You will see how the present-day understanding of the word "Gentile" gives us a different Christianity than we would have if we understood it correctly.
Gentile and nation are the English words used for the Greek word,"ethnos", which is the root word for our English word ethnic. But Gentile is understood by most people today as non-Jew. Davis Bible Dictionary actually defines it as: "Gentile: All nations of the world other than the Jews." But, that is erroneous, as I will show below. The word, Gentile, has only assumed this corrupted meaning in recent years. According to Skeat's Etymological Dictionary of the English Language (New York: Perigee Books, 1980, p. 210) the word is derived from Old French and Latin. Skeat says: GENTILE. see Genteel. GENTEEL. (F. - L.) XVI cent.; F. gentil. C L. gentilis, belonging to the same clan, a gentile (afterwards applied to mean well-bred, &c). C L. genti-, decl. stem of gens, a clan, tribe. Allied to genus.
The original use of the word referred to those who belong to the same clan or tribe, a meaning nearly opposite its misinterpreted use in Scripture today as all nations other than Jews.
Gentile does not mean all others, but really means excluding all others, i.e.: limited to a specific ethnic group. Websters Unabridged Dictionary defines the word, "gentile," as "of a clan, tribe, people, or nation." The Encyclopedia Americana says for the root word, "gens: GENS, among the Romans, denoted that those persons belonged to the same gens who bore the same name; had no slave among their ancestors; and who had not been reduced from a superior to an inferior condition. The gens consisted of many families, supposedly of kindred blood, but was also applied to a whole community, the members of which were believed to be descended from a common stem." (1956 Americana, XII, p. 401)
The Universal Dictionary of the English Language, 1897, vol II, p. 2286, says: "gen-tile, gen-til, gen-tyl, a. & s. [Fr. gentil, from Lat. gentilis = one belonging to the same class, a gentile, from gens (genit. gentis) = a clan; Sp. & Port. gentil: Ital. gentile. Gentile is thus a doublet of genteel and gentle (q.v.).] A. As adjective: I. Ordinary Language: 1. Of or pertaining to any nation; national. 2. Of noble or gentle birth; of high rank; noble. II. Technically: 1. Gram.: Denoting the clan, race, or country. B. As substantive: I. Ordinary Language: 1. One of the same clan or family. 2. A person of noble or gentle birth; one of high rank."
The Greek word, "ethnos" means exactly the same as the Roman word, gens. When "ethnos" was used by Jesus or others, they didn't mean non-Jews; they meant those of their own ethnic group: Israelites. Occasionally the word referred to some other specific ethnic group, but it NEVER meant all nations of the world other than the Jews!
The ultimate Greek Lexicon, Liddell & Scott, lists many references to secular Greek Classical literature, and Biblical writings, for definition of the word "ethnos". The definitions are: "number of people living together, company, body of men; particular tribe; a nation, a people; a caste, a tribe; a guild; a relation." (p. 480) That is the Greek language known to the Greeks of that day, in academia, and in literature. Biblical Koine Greek is no exception. Thayer's Greek Lexicon of the New Testament defines "ethnos" as "a multitude associated or living together, a company, troop, or swarm, & a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus, & a race or nation." (Thayer, p. 168) ONLY modern Bible-translators are interpreting this Greek word to mean all-others except Jews, and that is an outrageous act of theological mischief in my opinion.
The reason this word is so important is because the change-in-meaning has caused a very different Christianity than that which Jesus taught. Very simply, today's Christians think Jesus was a Jew who referred to non-Jews (Greeks, Romans, et al) as "Gentiles," as though they were people NOT of His own group. Actually, Jesus used the word "ethnos" (§θvoς) to refer to people OF His own group. Jesus said in Matthew 15:24, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." So, when Jesus sent his disciples forth to spread the word, He was not sending them to outsiders, but ONLY to those lost-sheep for whom He came. Jesus was explicitly and emphatically clear that He came for no others except His lost sheep. It is puzzling that the church has conspicuously ignored this explicit statement of Jesus; let's rephrase it to see if it can be stated more clearly. Jesus said that except for His lost-sheep He was not sent to anyone. It is due to the mis-use of the word "Gentile" that the Christian community has come to believe that Jesus came for all the people of the world; His clear statements to the opposite are inconsistent with such an interpretation, regardless of the charitable motives of those who wish to make for themselves such a satisfyingly compassionate religion.
It has been mostly during this twentieth century that the information has been lost regarding the true identity of those lost-sheep of the House of Israel. During the nineteenth century and the early part of ours there were many publications outlining the history of the migrations of diasporan Israelites from Palestine to Europe and to the United States. There is on the wall of Westminster Abbey in London a genealogical chart which shows the direct lineage of British Royalty from King David. The European white race is the "ethnos" (§θvoς) to which Jesus sends His good news. But western Christianity is today reluctant to recognize our own heritage because we consider ourselves to be a foreign race of Gentiles instead of those lost sheep for whom Jesus came. Great confusion has resulted from this mistake. How can we reconcile Jesus' clear statements about coming ONLY for the lost sheep with our mission outreach toward foreigners whom God always warned against through the Old Testament?
When New Testament writers wanted to refer to unbelievers or infidels, they used the words "apeitheÇ"(•πειθέω) and "apistos" (–πιστoς). These Greek words mean: being outside the belief-system of the group. I just want to indicate there were Greek words to indicate such outside-the-group people without using the word, "ethnos" (§θvoς), which has the ethnic-group connotation.
When you are reading the Bible, the Old or New Testaments, and you see the word "Gentile" or "nation," replace the word (singular) with "our ethnic group," or "our tribe of Israel;" replace the plural with "those ethnic groups" or "our tribes" or "those races." Sometimes it is appropriate to replace the word with "nation" or "nations" as long as the ethnic meaning is maintained. The Greek word "ethnos" (§θvoς) is the very root of our English word "ethnic" and means a specific ethnic group. When used by Jesus or his disciples, it usually meant "our people:" the twelve Israelite tribes. St. Paul sometimes used the word to refer to the ten Israelite tribes of the northern kingdom, distinguishing them from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (Paul's own tribe), known collectively as "Judah," "Ioudaia" (zIoυδαία), and called "Jews." Paul is a little confusing, sometimes preferring to reference his own Jerusalem group as "Israel," and the ten northern tribes as the "ethnos" (§θvoς), sort of meaning the rest of our group outside Judea, or the rest of the tribes. In some instances, it does seem that Paul meant "non-Israelites." But, Paul usually saw himself (with the Jerusalem faithful ones) as the true "Jews" who didn't abandon the region in the prior dispersions, and he referred to those diasporan Israelite tribes in Greece, Asia, and Europe as the "ethnos" (§θvoς).
One argument for this skewed interpretation of ethnos (§θvoς) is this: consider that Paul was the "apostle to the Gentiles," as is commonly recognized. Well, if he was sent to pagan-Gentiles, why then did he do his mission work in the synagogues of Asia Minor? Acts 17:1,2 has him going to the synagogue, "as was his custom." The book of Acts shows him teaching in many synagogues: in Salamis 13:5; in Antioch 13:14; Iconium 14:1, Thessalonica 17:1; Berea 17:10; Athens 17:17; Corinth 18:4; Ephesus 18:19. Simply, Paul's commission was to go to the ethnos (§θvoς), meaning: to fellow Israelites of the Diaspora who had become Greeks and other white European groups. Paul knew that ethnos (§θvoς) didn't mean "non-Jew" or he wouldn't have focused his mission work in synagogues! The word, "synagogue" is a Greek word, by the way, not Hebrew. Synagogues were small churches away from Jerusalem where diasporan Israelites could have their Old Testament religion without being closely aligned with the corrupt Talmudic religion of the Jerusalem temple. Edomite Jews didn't start the synagogues, the Greek speaking Israelites did! Within a century after Christ the true Israelites had left the synagogues to be Christians and meet in homes as small groups. The synagogues were left to the Edomite Jews of Jerusalem who still use that Greek (not Hebrew) word today.
The Old English word "Gentile" and the word "nation" were quite similar, both meaning a specific ethnic group of people. When English translations were made, from the 1599 Geneva Bible, and the 1611 KJV up until last century, the words were properly understood and were correctly used for translation of "ethnos" (§θvoς). But, now that "Gentile" is defined by most Christians as "non-Jew," we need to take a serious look at the new Christianity which developed around this mistake. Unless we revise our definition of "Gentile," it should NOT be used for translation of the Greek "ethnos" (§θvoς).
Following are some of the scripture passages where the word "ethnos" (§θvoς) is mistranslated as "Gentile" or "Nation." Following each passage, my comments will indicate a more proper rendering. If you take your time to consider each passage carefully, you will gain insights into the New Testament writings as the early Christians understood them. It is important to take your time with this, use your Bible, examine the context, and imagine Christianity in this new light. Quotations are from KJV, 1929 version.
Mat. 4:15 - "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 'The land of Zabulon and land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;'" (ethnÇn - ¦θvov).
This is a quotation from Isaiah 9:1,2. Isaiah (ca. 760 BC) knew that Galilee was the land of the Israelite tribes of Zebulon and Naphthali. The sentence certainly means,Galilee of our people. Galilee was not a land of foreigners, but BELONGED to and was occupied by Israel!
Mat 6:31-33 - "Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things."
Jesus is criticizing His own people, saying, For after all these things do our people seek. His admonishment is for His own people, meaning that they should know better. God has not forgotten His covenant.
Mat. 10:5,6 - "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them saying, 'Go not into the way of the Gentiles, (ethnÇn - ¦θvov), and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'"
Jesus is telling them to go beyond their familiar local areas where fellow Israelites live. He is saying"don't go to our own people here, or to those whom we know in Samaria, but go and find the lost sheep of Israel." He and his disciples were Galileeans and grew up in the area of Samaria. Bible scholars consider that He sent them out as missionaries for a short duration, like a "test run," after which they returned to Him. So, He was sending them beyond the local area. But He never promoted outreach to non-Israelites. [Note: While modern preachers teach that Jesus' story of the "Good Samaritan" regards compassion between races, the truth is that the "Samaritan" was a true Israelite, as the Samaritans had been for many centuries. At the time of the Assyrian purge of Israelites out of Palestine (8th C. BC), many Israelites did not leave, but continued residence there. The church historian, Kenneth Scott Latourette, says in his A History of Christianity, on page 16 that "The Samaritans were . . .descendants of some of the Israelites who had composed the Northern Kingdom and who had not been carried away captive at the time of the downfall of that state." ]
Mat. 10:17,18 - "But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against (autois - αύτoÃς) them and the Gentiles (ethnesin - §θvεσιv)."
By mistranslating the word"ethnos" as Gentiles, this sentence only makes sense if they also mistranslate the word autois [dative pl.]) as against them. But, this Greek word properly means to them. Jesus is telling His disciples that their persecution will serve as a testimony to the kings and to the lost sheep, whom He wants to reach.
Mat. 12:18 - [referencing a prophecy of Isaiah, Jesus quotes:] "Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment (krisin - κρίσιv) to the Gentiles (ethnesin - §θvεσιv)."
Here we have God foretelling Jesus' coming, and the purpose for which Jesus shall live, to announce judgment [(krisin -κρίσιv) a separating or distinguishing; a decision; an election] to God's own chosen people, the ethnic group of God's sheep. It would be nonsense to think that Jesus' real purpose was to judge non-Jews when He clearly said He did not come to condemn the world. (Jn 3:17) This could properly read "he shall announce election to his select ethnic group."
Mat. 12:21 - "And in his name shall the Gentiles trust."
This immediately follows the previous passage, where, according to most Bible translators, Jesus' purpose was appointed to judge/condemn the Gentiles; now we really see the joyous statement that the Gentiles will trust in his name! Since Jesus did NOT come to judge and condemn the world, this is very confusing unless one knows the true meaning of (ethnos). Of course, this verse should read "And in His name shall His own people trust."
Mat. 20:17-19 - "And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles (ethnesin - §θvεσιv) to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again."
The chief priests and scribes (Jews) will deliver Jesus to whom? (Keep in mind that Jesus said he was not a Jew like those of Jerusalem; He said their father is the devil. John 8:44) Of course, they delivered Him to His own people, His own"ethnos" who mocked Him; then the Romans (also of Jesus own ethnic group: some of the "lost-sheep") crucified Him. When he forgave them from the cross, He knew He was forgiving His own people; He hadn't come for any others!
Mat. 20:25 - "But Jesus called them, and said, 'Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles (ethnÇn - ¦θvov) exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant."
Two disciples, with their mother, were asking Jesus if they could sit at His right and left sides at His throne. He explained that although our people are ruled over by princes in this world, the disciples should not seek worldly political power, but should be servants instead. This is, of course, the only social path Jesus ever endorsed for His followers.
Mat. 21:43 - "Therefore say I unto you (speaking to Edomite Jew chief priests and elders), The kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation (ethnei - §θvει) bringing forth the fruits thereof."
Jesus is speaking to those "husbandmen" (devil and his followers) who rule God's world up until the time the devil is vanquished and Christ begins His rulership. He says God's vineyard/kingdom will then be given to a nation (the true Israelite nation/race of the Caucasian ethnos) which produces good fruits (values God's commandments and knows Him as our God).
Mat. 24:7 - "For nation (ethnos - §θvoς) shall rise against nation (ethnos - §θvoς), and kingdom against kingdom:"
Here, the word ethnos is appropriately translated as "nation" rather than as "Gentile.""ethnos" cannot here possibly mean "all nations of the world other than the Jews," as defined in Davis Bible Dictionary. "ethnos" is properly translated here as "nation," meaning specific ethnic groups rising up against each other.
Mat. 24:14 - "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations (ethnesin - §θvεσιv [dative pl.]); and then shall the end come."
This, of course, should read, "for a witness unto all our people." It is important to get a feel for how the Gospel authors used this term; for them"ethnos" was their convenient term by which they referred to "our own ethnic people: Israelites." In this case, our people are spread all over the world, so "witness to all of them." (plural)
Mat. 28:19 - "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations (ethné - §θvη [accusative plural]), baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
This is the Great Commission, the mistranslation of which has caused Christianity to pursue a path which is radically different from that which the disciples understood. They did NOT, EVER, understand any commission to preach the gospel to all the various races of the world, but only to those for whom Jesus said He came. They understood Jesus clearly, and we do not see them going south into Africa or China, but only to people of their own ethnic family: the twelve tribes of Israel. Consider that if Jesus came for all the world's people, then we would see His followers going in all compass directions to "claim souls for Jesus." But they went toward Europe where the Israelites had gone from the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. They knew exactly where to go to find Jesus' lost sheep. This seemingly innocent mistranslation of ethnos has resulted in a Christianity where our own Israelite people have lost knowledge of who they are, even believing that Jesus was of a different race from us! I ask you to also look at the beginnings of each of the epistles of Paul and the disciples; they address their letters (to areas of Anatolia, Greece, Rome, etc.) to "saints in Christ Jesus," and other similar terms. Since they well knew that Jesus came ONLY for the "lost sheep of Israel," how can we think they would be so stupid as to betray Jesus as soon as He was gone by going to peoples of the world other than those lost-sheep? The epistle of James is addressed to fellow Israelites of the diaspora: "to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad." Peter's first epistle is badly translated in KJV: "to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia." The literal translation from the Greek is"to the elect sojourners of the diaspora of Pontus, etc." Peter KNOWS he writes to diasporan Israelites, not to strangers! The Great Commission of Mat. 28:19, being translated literally from the Greek, should read "Going therefore, disciple ye all our people." For the N.T. Greek writers, the word ethnos was their common, everyday word which referred to a single, specific ethnic group, usually their own. They understood clearly what the term means. It is only during recent times that we have such blatant misguidance as that definition given in Davis Bible Dictionary, which says it means, "all nations of the world other than Jews."
Luke 2:30-32 - "For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."
This is Simeon's prophecy for the baby Jesus. It is the light for His own ethnic group which becomes the glory of the people of Israel. It would not be Israel's glory if the light were meant for foreigners! The literal translation is"for my eyes saw your salvation, which you prepared before the face of all the peoples, a light for enlightenment of our people and a glory of your people Israel." Today, in this liberal society, we cannot imagine how racially conscious the different ethnic groups were in Jesus' day. Each group practiced racial discrimination to an extreme. The Israelites knew exactly which tribes they were of. For Simeon to rejoice over other races being enlightened would be ridiculous. Israelites were feeling very persecuted and oppressed by the Roman rulers and the Edomites who had taken over their Temple and region of Judea. Israelites were desperately longing for a Savior for themselves, hardly for their Savior to benefit the others!
Regarding translation of ethnos - §θvoς into English as "Gentile," the Gospel of Mark uses the word only two times and those passages are already covered above, in Matthew. Luke uses the word five times; most are repeats of uses in Matthew. In John, the word is never translated "Gentile," but each time is translated as "nation," a few times, appropriately. The word, ethnos - §θvoς has a consistent meaning, made clear by context, of being an ethnic-group. It might refer to the Israelite group which is not scattered, distinguished from those who are scattered. Or it often means the entire Israelite people. Or it can mean any particular group of people, as in "nation." But, always it means a particular ethnic group, and NEVER means "all people who are not Jews!" St. Paul uses the word frequently in his writings; we will look at the book of Romans to sample his usage. Paul saw himself as a Pharisee from the Jerusalem group, and sometimes called his own Jerusalem Judaist group "ethnos," distinguishing it from the rest of the diasporan Israelites whom he called "Greeks," but usually considered himself a Jew who resented being sent to those Israelite ethnos of the diaspora who had left the religion of the patriarchs centuries before. Those Israelites of Greece and Europe he referred to as ethnos - §θvoς because he recognized them as being part of his own ethnic group of Jacob's descendants.
Romans 1:13 - "Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let [hindered] hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles" (ethnesin - §θvεσιv).
The word "Gentile" is easily understood here to mean others of our own people, since Paul's missionary journeys were to various places throughout the Greek and Latin speaking areas of Asia Minor and southern Europe. Paul understood his commission to be to the ethnos - §θvoς "Gentiles," which explains why he went north and west into the Caucasian settlements of the diasporan Israelites. He wasn't trying to harvest "fruit" among any one outside the Israelite group!
Romans 2:14-15 - "When the Gentiles (ethné - §θvη) which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts,"
Paul is revealing to the Roman Israelites the New Covenant, as foretold in Jeremiah 31:33: "This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." These Israelite children of God are the ones for whom God gave the New Covenant, and the new one is exactly as stated in Jer. 31:33: that written law won't be necessary because God's will shall be made an instinct in the hearts and minds of His chosen people. St. Paul is explaining how the covenant works in simple terms. The word "Gentiles" could not refer to people outside the tribes of Israel, for it is ONLY the Israelites to whom this contract applies. Again, we see the good-news being carried to the lost sheep of Israel: Romans and the Greeks. The Good News is the New Covenant. The New Covenant, as recorded in Hebrews 8, was probably not written yet at this date, so Paul referred to the O.T. contract in Jeremiah.
Romans 2:23-24 - "Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles (ethnesin - §θvεσιv) through you, as it is written."
In this letter to the Romans, Paul begins chapter 2 by addressing "O Man," sort of "to whom it may concern." He admonishes them for several different problems in the prior verses. In this verse he warns them about blaspheming the name of God among their own ethnic group. It wouldn't be very serious to most Romans to think they might be badly influencing foreigners. It might cause some concern to think they might be harming their own people, which, of course, is the point Paul is making.
Romans 3:29 - "Is he the God of the Jews (IoudaiÇn -zIoυδαίωv = Judah tribe) only? is he not also of the Gentiles (ethnon)? Yes, of the Gentiles also."
There had been division between the houses of Judah and Israel since about 950 BC when the two kingdoms split apart. The northern kingdom, Israel, was then purged from the Palestine area by 700 BC, and the southern kingdom, Judah, was taken captive about 580 BC. A few of the Judahites returned from the Babylonian Captivity about 510 BC, rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem, and came to be known as "Jews," God's chosen people. Paul, of the house of Judah/Benjamin, shared the elitist arrogance of those who called themselves "Jews" because he was a Pharisee, and held some animosity toward the house-of-Israel which had migrated into southern Europe and Asia Minor. Now, he is called by Christ to spread the word to the rest of theethnon to that very house-of-Israel which was scattered in the north. Here in this passage, we see Paul reassuring the Romans that he is not a bigoted Judahite, but rather he sees them as God's chosen people also. After all, that's what ethnon is all about, all twelve tribes of Israel!
Modern Christians who insist on the doctrine of Universal Gospel, namely that Jesus wants to "save" all the people of the world, of all races, need to believe that the Greeks were not Israelites. But, Greece (the Hellenes) was founded by the Zara Juda branch of the Royal Tribe of Juda. It would be helpful if the N.T. stated explicitly that the Greek race consisted of Israelites, but we don't have that. The truth is that explicit statements, even by Jesus, have little influence on religious teachings. But, for those who are open to scriptural statements, we do have confirmation of the Greek identity in the historical book of I Maccabees. Jonathan wrote a letter to the Greeks at Sparta (Lacedemonians) saying, "There were letters sent in times past unto Onias the High Priest (at Jerusalem) from Darius, who reigned then among you, to signify that ye are our brethren." (I Mac 12:7) Three times in that letter, Jonathan speaks of the brotherhood of the Greeks with the Jerusalem Israelites. Then, in 12:21 King Areus of Sparta, wrote to Onias, saying: "It is found in writing that the Lacedemonians and Jews (Judean Israelites) are brethren, and that they are of the stock of Abraham." The point is that the genetic racial brotherhood of Greeks with the tribe of Juda was known and admitted.
Romans 9:22-26 - "What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews (IoudaiÇn -zIoυδαίωv = House of Judah) only, but also of the Gentiles (ethnon - ¦θvov [this is Paul's term for the diasporan Israelites])? As he saith in Osee (Hosea), I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God."
Paul distinguishes between the evil race of Edomites which was destined for destruction and those whom God "afore prepared." He includes the House of Israel, whom he calls"ethnos," with his House of Judah, both of which were aforetimes prepared for glory and whom God has called. Certainly, Paul had a clear vision that the ethnos - §θvoς of God's chosen vessels included the Romans and the Greeks who were the diasporan Israelites, but he felt necessary to reassure them of His favor. Since Paul knew well the history of the 12 tribes, he knew God had cursed the ten northern tribes of Israel, and scattered them to distant lands, divorcing them from himself, so they would forget their God and no longer be His people for the period of the curse. Paul is making the prophecy of Hosea pertinent to these diasporans by reminding them of their divorce from God, and their reclamation whereby the divorcee would again become God's beloved bride. And in those lands of the diaspora where the people had heard only about their rejection by God, it is there that they shall be called again, "the children of the living God." This is a beautiful statement of reconciliation for these lost sheep whose divorce was now past, as they are reclaimed by their God of the everlasting covenant.
Romans 9:30-32 - "What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone."
After announcing God's reclamation of these Gentiles ethnos - §θvoς, who are the very House of Israel, Paul poses the question of how they could have attained the great reward without even trying to follow after righteousness, while those of Israel in Jerusalem failed. Paul's underlying anger shows a little bit here as he refers to his House of Judah as "Israel," which of course it is; but usually he refers to his own Jerusalem group as "Judah." This was a problem which tormented Paul, as he sees the entire ethnic group of all twelve tribes of God's children getting the reward which some Jerusalem-temple-Israelites failed to get. Paul has resolved his quandary for himself and now shares his good-news of salvation-by-faith. The stumblingstone which Paul refers to occasionally is the idea which is so difficult for so many to accept, that God has rewritten the contract so that Law is not the justification for salvation, but rather faith is the key, and that is given by grace. That is a stumblingblock which many can never get past.
If anyone still insists that the Jews of today are the real chosen ones of God, and that Gentiles are non-Jews, what will they ever do about the many passages which clearly contradict such a belief? There is a considerable anger in my heart that Christian theologians have not been willing to stand up and confront such strong witness against their traditional teachings. It is reason to rejoice that God's New Covenant does not sanction teachers, but that the Spirit of God will work within every true seeker-of-truth that which he needs. Praise God that He pushes the false-teachers aside and reclaims us as His own. May the Spirit of Truth, which our Lord promised us, guide our hearts and minds to find Him in truth and righteousness.
John Jay Chapman, a brilliant critic of late 1800's said, "If a professor is given a false teaching when young, then he will teach it until he dies. He has no way to correct himself." That is exactly the situation with our learned theologians in Christian academies. They pass on that which they were taught, with no way to correct their errors. Just as Jesus came to those outside the Temple of 2,000 years ago, so in these end times will God awaken His children outside the dark sepulchres of sectarian academies.
Here are more passages which make it explicitly clear that the word, ethnos - §θvoς, cannot mean non-Jews.
Luke 7:4, 5 - "When he heard about Jesus, he sent Jewish elders to Him, asking Him that He might come and heal his servant. Those who came to Jesus were begging Him earnestly, saying 'He is worthy of having you do this for him. For he loves our nation (ethnos - §θvoς) and he built the synagogue for us."
It was Jewish elders who argued that the Centurion loves "OUR NATION" (ethnos). Can anyone argue that the Jews were saying the Centurion loves "our non-Jews?" That would be nonsense.
Luke 23:1-2 - "Then the assembly arose and led Him before Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, 'We found this one misleading our nation (ethnos - §θvoς). . ."
Here we have Jews using the word to mean "our people." Should a Bible reader assume that they were complaining to Pilate that Jesus was misleading their non-Jews?
John 11:48 - "If we leave him thus, all men will believe in Him and the Romans will come and will take our holy place and our nation (ethnos - §θvoς)."
Again we have Jews using the word to mean their own people.
John 18:35 - "Pilate answered, 'Surely I am not a Jew, am I? Your people (ethnos - §θvoς) and the High Priest delivered you to me."
Seems clear enough that Pilate used the word to mean Jesus' own people. And that is exactly how the disciples understood Jesus Great Commission to reach Israel.
Acts 10:22 - "And they said, Cornelius, a Centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man, and being well spoken-of by all the nation (ethnos - §θvoς) of the Jews, was directed by a holy angel to summon you. . ."
"Nation of the Jews." Do modern theologians mean "all the non-Jews of the Jews"? Well, they avoid something so obvious by translating it so it sounds okay to the brainwashed Bible readers of today. But, the Greek text is using the word ethnos in its proper sense here, as "the race of the Jews."
Now, here are some quotations from the Greek Septuagint of 285BC. You can see that it clearly uses the word ethnos - §θvoς to mean Israelites.
Esaias (Isaiah) 1:2-4 - "Hear, O heaven, and hearken, O earth: for the Lord has spoken, saying 'I have begotten and reared up children, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel does not know me, and the people has not regarded me. Ah, sinful nation (ethnos - §θvoς), a people full of sins, an evil seed, lawless children: ye have forsaken the Lord and provoked the Holy One of Israel."
Esaias 8:8-9 - "Know, ye Gentiles (ethné - §θvη), and be conquered; hearken ye, even to the extremity of the earth: be conquered . . ."
The Lord is speaking to His own people of Israel, warning them that He will send the Assyrians against them to conquer them. It makes no sense at all to insert the word "gentiles" here if the word is to mean non-Israelites. God is speaking most clearly to His own people!
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