Watchman Willie Martin Archive

From the way it is written, it would appear that many people are somewhat confused about what a "Gentile" really is. It would further appear that many are trying to obey the instructions given to Christians: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)

Gentile Strong’s Concordance: #1672  Hellen (hel'‑lane); from 1671; a Hellen (Grecian) or inhabitant of Hellas; by extension a Greek‑speaking person, especially a non‑Jew: KJV ‑‑ Gentile, Greek.

Thayer’s Definition: #1672  Hellen‑:

1) a Greek either by nationality, whether a native of the main land or of the Greek islands or colonies

2) in a wider sense the name embraces all nations not Jews that made the language, customs, and learning of the Greeks their own; the primary reference is to a difference of religion and worship

Strong’s Concordance: #1671  Hellas (hel‑las'); of uncertain affinity; Hellas (or Greece), a country of Europe: KJV‑‑ Greece.

Thayer’s Definition: #1671 Hellas‑Greece = "unstable: the miry one" a country in southern Europe

Gentiles: Old Testament:

Strong’s Concordance: #1471  gowy (go'‑ee); rarely (shortened) goy (go'‑ee); apparently from the same root as 1465 (in the sense of massing); a foreign nation; hence, a Gentile; also (figuratively) a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts:  KJV‑‑ Gentile, heathen, nation, people.

Brown-Diver-Brigg’s Definition: #1471  gowy rarely (shortened) goy‑as a noun, masculine: nation, people

a) nation, people

1) usually of non‑Hebrew people

2) used of descendants of Abraham

3) used of Israel

b) used of a swarm of locusts or other animals (figurative) as a proper noun, masculine:

c) Goyim? = "nations"

Gentiles: New Testament:

Strong’s Concordance:  #1484 ethnos (eth'‑nos); probably from 1486; a race (as of the same habit), i.e. a tribe; specially, a foreign (non‑Jewish) one (usually by implication, pagan): KJV‑‑ Gentile, heathen, nation, people.

Thayer’s Definition: #1484  ethnos‑:

1) a multitude (whether of men or of beasts) associated or living together; a company, a troop, a swarm

2) a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus, the human race

3) a race, a nation, a people, a group

4) in the Old Testament, foreign nations not worshiping the true God, pagans, Gentiles

5) Paul uses the term for Gentile (non‑Jewish) Christians

Therefore, I am sending this to you as the Lord Jesus Christ has laid it upon my heart to do. In this presentation you will find some things you will not wish to believe, because it is completely opposite to the teachings you have been given from the pulpits of America. But I respectfully ask that you give me the courtesy to read it in its entirety before you throw it away. That is all I ask.

                              WHAT IS A GENTILE

GENTILE: "gentilis"

1). Among Jews, one not a Jew.

2). Among Christians, a heathen or pagan.

3). Among Mormons, one not a Mormon.

4). Of or pertaining to a gens, tribe, or people. (Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary, Volume 1)

Therefore, since you are a Christian you cannot be a "Gentile."

Now as you will soon see a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding has been caused by the use of the word "gentile" in the English translations of the Bible. So let us take up a brief study of it.

First: It should always be remembered that foreign languages often lose the strength of their meaning through translation.

     Second: It should also be remembered that some words have many meanings.

Take the word "man" as an illustration. Generically speaking it means "mankind" generally, both men and women. But if it is used in the same sentence with the word woman, it means the "male of the species." If it is used in the same sentence with the word "boy" it means the "mature of the species." Thus the word "man" has three meanings, the meaning of the word being determined by its use in the context.

Man: Strong’s Concordance: #120  'adam (aw‑dawm'); from 119; ruddy i.e. a human being (an individual or the species, mankind, etc.): KJV‑‑ X another, + hypocrite, + common sort, X low, man (mean, of low degree), person.

Brown-Driver-Brigg’s Definition: #120  'adam‑

1) man, mankind

a) man, human being

b) man, mankind (the much more frequently‑ intended sense in the Old Testament)

c) Adam, the first man

d) a city in the Jordan River valley

The word "Camel" generically speaking means "A large Asian or African ruminant with a humped back, used in the desert as a beast of burden." However, in America it also has come to mean "a cigarette by that name." Thus the word "Camel" has two meanings, the meaning of the word being determined by its use.

The word "Ivory" means "A hard, white, smooth‑textured dentine, the chief substance of the tusks of elephants, walruses; Any substance resembling ivory; The creamy white color of ivory; The keys of a piano; and type of soap used in cleaning. Thus the word "Ivory" has come to have five meanings, the word meaning of the word being determined by its use in the context.

Now you can understand that the word "gentile" is a translation of the Hebrew word "goi" [singular] and "goyim" [plural] and the Greek word "ethnos" [singular] and "ethne" [plural]. Thus when the translators use the word "gentile" to translate these words is often misleading because it is a misapplication of the Hebrew and Greek words as used in the Bible.

The modern use of the word has come to mean non‑Jew or non‑Israel, but that meaning cannot be maintained in the face of the evidence that will be presented in this study.

The Hebrew word "goi" is a collective noun meaning "nation" or sometimes a collective body of people. But it has been translated into English many different ways. The word occurs 557 times in the Old Testament. The Authorized Version of the Bible translates it "gentile" 30 times; "heathen" 142 times; "nation" 373 times; "people" 11 times; and "another" once. But the American Standard Revised Version cuts the occurrence of "gentile" from 30 to 9 times, and then shows in the footnotes of 5 of those 9 times that the word "nations" should have been used.

Of course the word "nation" is not always an exact equivalent term because there is too much of a political significance attached to it. But it is much better than the word "gentile" and some of our best translators prefer the word "nations." This is also shown by the way the Revised Version eliminates the word "gentiles."

The same thing is true of the Greek word "ethnos." It occurs 164 times in the New Testament. In the Authorized Version it is translated "gentiles" 93 times; "heathen" 5 times; "nation or nations" 64 times; and "people" twice. In the American Standard Revised Version it is "gentiles" 96 times in the text and 7 times in the footnotes, making 103 occurrences altogether. But in the footnotes it is corrected 15 times to read "nations," making the final count 88. So not only the Hebrew word "goi" but also the Greek word "ethnos" has been translated to read "nations" more than any other word.

Though the word "gentiles" and the word "heathen" are used many times in the Bible. We must face the facts that there are NO Hebrew or Greek words that would demand this translation.

If you will consult a good dictionary, you will find that the word "gentile" is derived from the Latin word "gentilis" and properly understood means "non‑ something."

As used by a Jew or an Israelite it would mean non‑ Jew or non‑Israelite as we have already pointed out. But they are not the only people who have a right to use the word, which is why we presented the Mormon portion to demonstrate that point.

In other words, suppose a Buddhist priest spoke Latin and he wanted to refer to the nations that were not Buddhist, he would call them "gentilis."

In Hebrew and Greek, there is no EXACT equivalent to the Latin word "gentilis" or the English word "gentile." Nevertheless, if this same Buddhist priest spoke Hebrew and Greek along with his Latin and wanted to refer to the nations that were not Buddhist, he would call them "goyim" if speaking Hebrew and "ethne" if speaking Greek, and each time he would naturally include the Jewish and Israel people.

Likewise a Moslem priest could use the three languages and refer to the Jews or the Israelites as "gentilis, goyim and ethne."

One very important thing you MUST always keep in mind is that "goi" and "ethnos" are collective nouns and cannot properly be translated to mean an individual person. They ALWAYS refer to a group. There is NO such thing as A GENTILE; it is always plural. "Gentiles" in its plural sense may at times be used to translate "goi" and "ethnos" but its use gives an added thought not intended in the original word which cannot in every case be justified.

Another important word found in the Hebrew text, which needs only passing notice is the Hebrew word "am" and is found many times in the Old Testament text. It is translated "nation" but 17 times. It is usually translated "people," for it occurs that way 1,835 times in our English text. Occasionally it is qualified by the phrase, "every people," but when it is rendered "the people" it usually means Israel. But this is not the word that has been the source of misunderstanding. Translations of the Hebrew word "goi" and the Greek word "ethnos" have caused the trouble.

The Hebrew word "goi" and the Greek word "ethnos" in their singular and plural forms are used in three ways in the Bible.

1). In referring to the Israel and Jewish people ‑‑ let us note the verses which follow below found in the Old Testament and New Testament which refer either to Israel or the Jews as a nation and use the Hebrew word "goi" and the Greek word "ethnos."

To demonstrate the absurdity of always translating the word "goi" or "ethnos" as "gentile" we suggest that you read the following verses substituting the word "gentile" or "heathen," for "nation or nations":

"I will make of thee a great nation [gentile/heathen]." (Genesis 12:2)

"A father of many nations [gentile/heathen] have I made thee." (Genesis 17:4‑5)

"Lord, wilt thou slay a righteous nation

[gentile/heathen]?" (Genesis 20:4)

"Two nations [gentile/heathen] are in thy womb." (Genesis 25:23)

"A nation [gentile/heathen] and a company of nations [gentile/heathen]." (Genesis 35:11)

"His seed shall become a multitude of nations [gentile/heathen]." (Genesis 48:19)

"Ah sinful nation [gentile/heathen], a people laden with iniquity." (Isaiah 1:4)

"Send him against an hypocritical nation [gentile/heathen]." (Isaiah 10:6)

      "Shall cease from being a nation [gentile/heathen] before me." (Jeremiah 31:36)

"He loveth our nation [gentile/heathen] and hath built us a synagogue." (Luke 7:5)

"The Romans shall come and take away our place and nation [gentile/heathen]." (John 11:48)

"That one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation [gentile/heathen] perish not." (John 11:50)

"Worthy deeds are done unto the nation [gentile/heathen] by thy providence." (Acts 24:2)

"I came to bring alms to my nation [gentile/heathen]." (Acts 24:17)

Now can you see and understand. For from the foregoing verses and many many others that could be given, it can easily be seen that the Hebrew word "goi" and the Greek word "ethnos" do not ALWAYS refer to non‑Israel people.

2. Now let us read a few verses where the same words are used and, as can be seen, refer very definitely to non‑Israel people.

"With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of (nations)." (Gen 14:9)

"And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a (nation)." (Gen. 21:13)

"For I will make him a great (nation)." (Gen. 21:18)

"There was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a (nation)." (Ex. 9:24)

"For I will cast out the (nations) before thee." (Ex. 34:24)

"Have the gods of the (nations) delivered them." (Isa. 37:12)

"Go not into the way of the (Gentiles)." (Matt. 10:5)

"For nation shall rise against (nation)." (Matt. 24:7)

"Led away captive into all (nations)." (Luke 21:24)

"And the (nation) to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God." (Acts 7:7)

"But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the (people) of Samaria." (Acts 8:9)

"Because that on the (Gentiles) also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 10:45)

In these verses three words have been used to translate the SAME Greek word "ethnos," and they are "nations, gentiles and people."

3. Now we come to the third way in which the words have been used, and that is to describe all nations, which of course always includes Israel and non‑Israel nations.

"And in thy seed shall all the (nations) of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 22:18)

"Two (nations) are in thy womb." (Gen. 25:23)

"Declare his glory among the (heathen); his marvellous works among all (nations)." (1 Chr. 16:24)

"Let the (heathen) be judged in thy sight. Put them in fear, O Lord: that the (nations) may know themselves to be but men. Selah." (Psalms 9:19‑20)

NOTICE: The last two verses have used the two words "heathen" and "nations" to translate the same word in one passage.

"And ye shall be hated of all (nations) for my name's sake...This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations." (Matt. 24:9, 14)

"Go ye therefore, and teach all (nations)." (Matt. 28:20)

"But in every (nation) he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." (Acts 10:35)

We must also direct your attention to another Greek word erroneously translated "gentiles." The word is "hellen" and means "Greeks." It is used 27 times in the New Testament. In 20 places it is properly translated Greeks, but in 7 other places in the Authorized version it is erroneously translated "gentiles." This has been corrected in the Revised Version and nearly all subsequent translations. For example, the Authorized Version translates (John 7:35) to read:

"Will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?"

Nearly all revised versions translate this to read:

“Will he go unto the dispersed among the Greek and teach the Greek?"

Another example can be found in (1 Corinthians 10:32):

"Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God."

Now there are several articles by well‑known Bible teachers who reject the Israel identity of the Anglo‑Saxon people because they say that this verse gives the only classes that God now recognizes. In other words they claim on the authority of this verse that the human race is divided into Jews, Gentiles and the Church of God.

As you can see, this is a good example of how anything can be proved by taking a verse out of its context. The context shows that Paul was admonishing people to be conscientious in their walk so as not to offend a weak brother.

The division made in the text is only incidental to the point he was trying to make. And then too, the text does not say that there are only three classes of people. What it does say is, "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God."

Now if this text were given to show a division of humanity, then it leaves the vast majority of the race out entirely, because the word that is translated "gentiles" is a palpable mistranslation and should be translated "Greeks." This is exactly the way the Revised Version gives it, as is also true of most private translations. But you do not even need a Revised Version to discover this error. Any good Bible with a marginal reading will show this to be true.

The Greek word that has been translated "gentiles" in this verse is "hellen" and means "Greeks." So, if, as these men have claimed, this verse proves there are only three classes of people in the world which God now recognizes, then they are the Jews, the Greeks and the Christians. Everybody else is left out.

By using the same method of reasoning we could quote (Galatians 3:28) and prove that God does not recognize any distinction in the human race; then we could go to the other extreme and quote (Colossians 3:11) to prove that God recognizes eight divisions of mankind.

However in these cases we would be taking the verses out of their context just as these men have done. But all of the confusion over this text would have been avoided if the word "Greeks" had been used instead of "gentiles." Paul was writing to the Corinthians. Corinth was in Greece.

There were three classes of people mentioned here; Jew, Greek and Christian. Had Paul been writing to the Romans he no doubt would have said, "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Romans, nor to the church of God."

Besides these examples, there are three other places where "hellen" has been translated "gentiles" where it should have been translated "Greeks." These are found in (Romans 2:9‑10; 3:9; and 1 Corinthians 12:13).

While on this subject a few words should be said about the way the word "gentiles" has been used in the Epistle to the Romans, one of the important books in the New Testament. And on this matter we will borrow some thoughts from the late Dr. Wm. Pascoe Goard.

In Dr. Goard's book, "Epistle to the Romans," he has given some illuminating comments on how the word "ethne" refers to the ten‑tribed Israel. In these chapters the Apostle Paul quotes quite freely from Hosea, Isaiah and Elijah, and as Dr. Goard shows, all these quotations refer to facts in the history of ten‑tribed Israel, and not in the history of Judah nor in the history of any other nation.

Thus when the word "gentiles" (Greek word "ethne") is used in these three chapters it definitely is ten‑tribed Israel. It is not a contrast between Israel and non‑Israel people. It is a contrast between Israel in 975 B.C. and Israel known as the "nations" in A.D. 60.

Do not let the word "gentiles" mislead you. The Greek word is "ethne" and means "nations." The Apostle Paul in this Israel section of his epistle is merely contrasting Israel's former state when she was known as Israel with her state in his day when she was known as the "nations." To use the popularized meaning of the word, they had become "gentilized" in the sense that they were not known as Israel.

Israel was one nation God had called out from among the other nations; now she was just like the other nations. She had lost her identity so much that the Apostle Paul said;  blindness was to stay on Israel until the "fulness of the gentiles" (nations) be come in (Romans 11:25). This "fullness of the gentiles" should be fullness of "nations." It is a direct reference to (Genesis 48:19), where it is stated that Ephraim was to become a "multitude of nations" in the last days.

This is confirmed by the fact that both Dr. Delitzsch's translation of the New Testament into Hebrew ‑‑ sold by the British and Foreign Bible society; and the Ginsburg‑Salkinson's New Testament, published by the Trinitarian Bible Society, for the use of the Jews, have the very same Hebrew words, "me lo hag‑goyim, in (Romans 11:25), that we find in (Genesis 48:19), in the Hebrew Old Testament, and in this verse only.

We use the expression "multitude of nations" because it is given as the correct reading in most Bibles in preference to "fullness of nations."

In others words, Israel was to be blind to her identity until the tribe of Ephraim became a multitude of nations. That time has arrived now and that is the reason our identity as Israel is becoming known.

As (Isaiah 25:7) reads, "He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations."

That veil is being lifted now and our real identity and the identity of other nations is becoming known.

Some scholars, in translating (Genesis 48:19), where the Hebrew is "me lo hag‑goyim" render it a "company of gentile nations." We are of the opinion that "a company or multitude of nations" is the better translation.

However, there is nothing wrong with the translation if the right meaning is attached to the word "gentile." That is, they would become so much like the other nations that they would not be recognized as Israel. That, of course, is a different meaning given to the word than is meant in the original text.

TO SUMMARIZE: the word "gentile" is derived from the Latin word "gentilis" and is only one of several words that are used to translate the Hebrew word "goi" and the Greek word "ethnos" into English. The best word to us is "nations." It would have been better if the word "gentile" had never appeared in the English text. Neither "goi" nor "ethnos" necessarily mean non‑Israel, as we have shown here.

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