Who Are the Gentiles? – Part 2

In my last blog on the above subject we about examined the term Jews and Gentiles. We looked at Israel’s history and saw that after the death of Solomon the kingdom was divided into the ten Northern tribes and the two Southern tribes, known as Israel and Judah. The term “Jews” referred to the Southern Kingdom. The Northern Kingdom, Israel, was divorced by Yahweh because of sin and was dispersed throughout the nations, and became part of the nations, or Gentiles.
It was stated they were not His people, and He was not their God. Because of this there are some who say that the term “Gentiles” or “nations” refers only to Israel.
The first thing we noted was that “Gentiles” is a bad translation. It is translated from the Hebrew words, “goy” (singular) and “goyim” (plural) and the Greek words, “ethne,” (singular) or “ethnos,” (plural). This word is best translated as “nations,” representing sometimes the nation of Israel, sometimes the dispersed ten Northern tribes, sometimes non-Israelites, and sometimes everybody, as in “all nations.”
So sometimes “goy” refers to the nation Israel. God says to Abram:
And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; Genesis 12:2 NASB
Here “goy” refers to the twelve tribes of Israel. It’s easy to see that “goy” could not be translated as “Gentile” here.
The Greek term ethnos can be used of the ten Northern tribes as seen in:
even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. Romans 9:24 NASB
Paul says that the called are, “Not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles”—what does Paul mean by this?
The word “Gentiles” here is from the Greek ethnos, which is much better translated as: “nations.” Chapters 9-11 are all about Israel, and it is obvious to see that what Paul says here; God is dealing only with Israel, the ten Northern tribes.
The Gentiles Paul is referring to are mentioned in:
Yet the number of the sons of Israel Will be like the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered; And in the place Where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” It will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.” Hosea 1:10 NASB
These Gentiles are identified as the “Children of Israel.” So Paul called Israelites, the ten Northern tribes, “ethnos.” Romans 9:26 and Hosea 1:10 are referring to the same people. So at times the ten Northern tribes are called, “goy or ethnos.” But these terms are not exclusive to the Northern kingdom of Israel. For example:
saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. Mark 10:33 NASB
Here ethnos is not referring to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, but to the Romans who were non-Israelites. So sometimes “nations” is used of the nation of Israel, sometimes of the dispersed ten Northern tribes, and sometimes for non-Israelites. Its meaning must always be determined by its context. This is where some folks miss it. They give a one-rule general application.
Some people have the idea that God dealt only with Hebrews in the Old Covenant and thus He deals only with Hebrews in the New Covenant. Well let’s look at the old testament and see what it tells us about Yah’s dealings with non-Israelites:
“But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. Exodus 12:48 NASB
The word “stranger” here is ger, which means: “a foreigner:—alien, sojourner, stranger.” The “you” is the nation Israel. Notice what it says, “let him come near…,” and “he shall be like a native….” So here is a non-Israelite, a goy, worshiping God like a native. He has attached himself to Israel and is worshiping God. So what we call “Gentiles,” non-Israelites, could worship Him, but only through Israel.
‘And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. Leviticus 17:10 NASB
The word “aliens” here is also ger. So here we have Israel, the twelve tribes, and non-Israelites, goy, under the same laws. This “alien” could be “cut off from his people,” which means he was counted as one of the people of Israel:
‘When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. ‘The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:33-34 NASB
Stranger here is ger. The “ger” is to be treated as a native, an Israelite. They are to love the ger, the non-Israelite, as themselves:
‘There shall be one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as the native, for I am the LORD your God.'” Leviticus 24:22 NASB
The native, Israelite, and the ger, [gair] non-Israelite are to live by the same Mosaic law. We see this also in:
‘If an alien sojourns with you, or one who may be among you throughout your generations, and he wishes to make an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD, just as you do so he shall do. ‘As for the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the LORD. Numbers 15:14-15 NASB
We see this all through the Old testament, the ger live and worshiped with the Israelites, abiding by the same Torah.
Notice what the ger’s position will be in the Messianic Kingdom:
When the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and again choose Israel, and settle them in their own land, then strangers will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob. Isaiah 14:1 NASB
Here “ger” are distinct from Jacob and Israel, they are non-Israelites. The “nations,” non-Israelites, would then be joined to God when Ephraim and Judah were re-united. They have always been in the plan.
Look at what Ezekiel says about the Messianic Kingdom:
“You shall divide it by lot for an inheritance among yourselves and among the aliens who stay in your midst, who bring forth sons in your midst. And they shall be to you as the native-born among the sons of Israel; they shall be allotted an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. “And in the tribe with which the alien stays, there you shall give him his inheritance,” declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 47:22-23 NASB
Did you see that? The “ger” are to be as native-born and share the inheritance of Israel. So the journey is not just about Israel; God had has always made provision for the goy to share the inheritance of Israel in the New Covenant.
Look at King Solomon’s prayer to God at the time of the dedication of the Temple:
“Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name. 1 Kings 8:41-43 NASB
The “foreigner” here is from the Hebrew nokry, which means: “foreign, non-relative, alien, foreigner, stranger.” Notice that the “foreigner” is “not of Israel,” he is a goy. Solomon wanted “all the peoples of the earth to know God… as Israel does.”
So in time the “ger” were integrated culturally and religiously into Israel. Doeg the Edomite, for instance, was a worshiper of the LORD by the time of King Saul (1 Sam. 21:8), as was Uriah the Hittite in the reign of David (2 Sam. 11:11):
In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD near its border. It will become a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them. Thus the LORD will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. Isaiah 19:19-21 NASB
Again we see that in the Messianic Kingdom the Egyptians, who were goy, will know the LORD.
Isaiah 56 contains a powerful prophecy:
Thus says the LORD, “Preserve justice and do righteousness, For My salvation is about to come And My righteousness to be revealed. Isaiah 56:1 NASB
This is about the Messianic Temple in the Messianic Kingdom:
Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely separate me from His people.” Nor let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” Isaiah 56:3 NASB
The word “foreigner” here is nekar, which means: “a foreigner of alien.” It is referring to someone not from the tribes of Israel, a non-Israelite. The “His people” is Israel. See verse 6:
“Also the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, To minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD, To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath And holds fast My covenant; Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” Isaiah 56:6-7 NASB
These “foreigners” have joined themselves to the LORD, the God of Israel. Now see verse 8:
The Lord GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, “Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.” Isaiah 56:8 NASB
The “others” are different from Israel. When the LORD gathered together the tribes of Israel, He also gathered in non-Israelites.
Throughout the Old testament the LORD had promised to reunite the twelve tribes and to make them one with a leader. This is fulfilled in the New Covenant as the LORD gathers the tribes together through faith in Jesus Christ, along with Israel the “goy” who came to faith in Christ. He is indeed the last Adam.
Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; 1 Corinthians 10:32 NASB
Here we have Jews Greeks and the church. The “church” is a new category, it is the “one new man” of Ephesians 2:15.
So the terms “goy” and “ethnos” are used of both the ten Northern tribes of Israel and of non-Israelites. The promises of Jesus are for all who trust in Him. Salvation is for us, non-Israelite goy who trust in Him as well as for Israelites:
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Revelation 5:9 NASB
Jesus’s finished work purchased men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
From our study text in Ephesians 2, we see Paul is referring to Israelites being united to the Jews, in accordance with God’s promise to unite the twelve tribes and also non-Israelites in accordance with his promise that when He united the twelve tribes also save the goy. Those of Israel and those not of Israel who trust in Jesus are joined to the “One New Man” becoming one people in the body of Christ.

Simeon Edigbe

Resident Kingdom is hosted by Simeon Edigbe. He pastors a young and growing church in Lagos, Nigeria named Gloryville Christian Centre. He is the author of the book “Your talk is your future”. He is wonderfully married to his wife Comfort Edigbe and are blessed with three lovely kids.

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