Sunday, April 02, 2023

905. False Assumptions: Gentiles Are Defined as "Unbelievers"

Gentiles are referred to throughout the pages of the Bible, especially in the New Testament. Sometimes when Jesus mentioned them to his Jewish audience, it is assumed by the modern-day reader that he was just referring to unbelieving heathens. The meaning of the word gets more specific in the original language ... a Gentile is defined as a non-Jewish person—which would be over 99% of the world. The reason they were considered heathens and unclean from a Jewish perspective wasn't just because they were viewed as sinners, but were "covenant outsiders." At one point before the cross, Jesus sent out his disciples and told them to avoid going to Gentiles (and Samaritans). Certainly Jesus wouldn't tell them to avoid unbelieving people—that isn't why they were sent. But the gospel was to be ministered to the lost sheep of the house of Israel first.

After the resurrection, Jesus encouraged the disciples/apostles to go to the Gentiles. But that didn't really happen until years later when God came to Peter with a vision ... and Paul would eventually take the gospel to all people—with a big emphasis on Gentiles. Non-Jews were unfamiliar with the law and the promise of a Messiah, they had been without God and without hope in the world. Much to the dismay of many Jews who were clinging to the obsolete Mosaic law at that time, Gentiles would be saved in the same way as Jews—through faith in Jesus Christ, and not by a law of works.

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