Defining the terms “Jew” & “Gentile”

Since we have already defined the word “Israel”, it is only fitting that we understand what it means to be a “Jew” or a “Gentile” as per the definition found in the Scriptures.

Who is a Jew?
The word Jew means “of Judah” or Descendant of “Judah” (1 of the 12 sons of Jacob).
Strong’s Hebrew Concordance – H3064 – יהוּדי – yehûdı̂y – yeh-hoo-dee’
Descendant of Jehudah (that is, Judah)

2 of the 12 tribes of Israel (Namely Judah & Benjamin) were in the House/Kingdom of Judah(1Kings 12:23) after the Division of Israel (1 Kings 11 onwards)

Later people coming from the House of Judah, even if they were from the Tribe of Benjamin, were known as Jews. (Esther 2:5,6)
Paul called himself a Jew, (Acts 21:39) but he was from the tribe of Benjamin (Rom 11:1)

The House of Judah was the only 2 tribes left in Judea when Jesus was on earth, as the other 10 tribes were scattered after being taken to Assyria. (2Kings 17:5-23, Eze 28:25) We will do a separate study on the Two Houses of Israel, in the near future.

Peter was called a Jew (Gal 2:14). Yeshua(Hebrew name of Jesus), His disciples and everyone living in Judea were called Jews (John 4:9)

In the last days people will ask the Jews about their God (Zec 8:23)

Judaism is “the Religion of the Jews”, which Paul claims He was a part of before, as a Pharisee. (Gal 1:13,14).

Not all Jews are followers of Judaism. There are Jews who believe in the “Oral Law” and the ways of the Pharisees called “Orthodox Jews”. There are Jews who believe in only the Old Testament(Tanakh) called Karaite Jews. Then there are Jews who believe in Yeshua as Savior, called “Messianic Jews”. The 1st Century Church of the New Testament was also called a Jewish Sect, called “The Way” at Paul’s time.(Acts 24:14,22, Acts 9:2)

Jews are only part of Israel, but all of Israel are not Jews.
The “Israel” mentioned in the Scriptures is not a country or a Land. The land given to Israel was called the “Land of Israel”.

Who is a Gentile?
There are few words in Greek, which have been interchangeably used as Greek & Gentile in the English King James Version Bible

G1672 – Ἕλλην – Hellēn – hel’-lane
From G1671; a Hellen (Grecian) or inhabitant of Hellas; by extension a Greek speaking person, especially a non-Jew: – Gentile, Greek.

The Places G1672 is used in the KJV Bible is given below
It is translated as Gentile in Joh_7:35, Rom_2:9, Rom_3:9, 1Co_10:32, 1Co_12:13,
It is translated as Greek in Joh_12:20, Act_14:1, Act_16:1, Act_16:3, Act_17:4, Act_18:17, Act_19:10, Act_19:17, Act_20:21, Act_21:28, Rom_1:14, Rom_1:16, Rom_2:10, Rom_10:12, 1Co_1:22, 1Co_1:23, 1Co_1:24, Gal_2:3, Gal_3:28, Col_3:11

G1675 – Ἑλληνιστής – Hellēnistēs – hel-lay-nis-tace’
From a derivative of G1672; a Hellenist or Greek speaking Jew: – Grecian.

The places G1675 is used are Act_6:1, Act_9:29 & Act_11:2

G1484 – ἔθνος – ethnos – eth’-nos
Probably from G1486; a race (as of the same habit), that is, a tribe; specifically a foreign (non-Jewish) one (usually by implication pagan): – Gentile, heathen, nation, people.

G1484 has been translated as Nations in Mat_24:9, Mat_24:14, Mat_25:32, Mat_28:19, Mar_11:17, Mar_13:10, Luk_12:30, Luk_21:24, Luk_21:25, Act_13:19, Act_14:16, Act_17:26, Rom_1:5, Rom_4:17, Rom_4:18, Rom_16:26, Gal_3:8, Rev_2:26, Rev_7:9, Rev_10:11, Rev_11:9, Rev_11:18, Rev_12:5, Rev_13:7, Rev_14:8, Rev_15:4, Rev_16:19, Rev_17:15, Rev_18:3, Rev_18:23, Rev_19:15, Rev_20:3, Rev_20:8, Rev_21:24, Rev_21:26, Rev_22:2

G1484 has been translated as Gentiles in Mat_4:15, Mat_6:32, Mat_10:5, Mat_10:18, Mat_12:18, Mat_12:21, Mat_20:19, Mat_20:25, Mar_10:33, Mar_10:42, Luk_2:32, Luk_18:32, Luk_21:24, Luk_22:25, Act_4:27, Act_7:45, Act_9:15, Act_10:45, Act_11:1, Act_11:18, Act_13:42,
Act_13:46, Act_13:47, Act_13:48, Act_14:2, Act_14:5, Act_14:27, Act_15:3, Act_15:7, Act_15:12,
Act_15:14, Act_15:17, Act_15:19, Act_15:23, Act_18:6, Act_21:1, Act_21:19, Act_21:21, Act_21:25, Act_22:21, Act_26:17, Act_26:20, Act_26:23, Act_28:28, Rom_1:13, Rom_2:14, Rom_2:24, Rom_3:29, Rom_9:24, Rom_9:30, Rom_11:11, Rom_11:12, Rom_11:13, Rom_11:25, Rom_15:9, Rom_15:10, Rom_15:11, Rom_15:12, Rom_15:16, Rom_15:18, Rom_15:27, Rom_16:4, 1Co_5:1, 1Co_10:20, 1Co_12:2, Gal_2:2, Gal_2:8, Gal_2:12, Gal_2:14, Gal_2:15, Gal_3:14, Eph_2:11, Eph_3:1, Eph_3:6, Eph_3:8, Eph_4:17, Col_1:27, 1Th_2:16, 1Th_4:5, 1Ti_2:7, 1Ti_3:16, 2Ti_1:11, 2Ti_4:17, 1Pe_2:12, 1Pe_4:3, 3Jn_1:7, Rev_11:2

Are we Gentiles?
We WERE Gentiles till we accepted Yeshua as Savior (1Cor 12:2, Eph 2:11).
Gentiles do not know God (1Thess 4:5). Gentiles are the ones who seek worldly things such as food and clothing (Mat 6:32)
Peter tells the believers to be honest among the gentiles they live around (1Pet 2:11,12)
Israel is scattered among gentiles (Joh 7:35, Hos 8:8, ) Gentiles have different Gods and sacrifices(1Cor 10:20)
Gentiles got converted (Act 15:3) God picked a people out for Himself out of the gentiles (Act 15:14)

The above instances show a clear separation between Gentile, and believers in Almighty God. The Old Testament also agrees with this concept, saying a Gentile who lives among Israel is to be considered as one born in the land (Lev 19:34). When someone becomes a “Christian” (one who imitates THE Anointed one), he is no more the Old Gentile who dwells in the Gentile Ways, He is a new Creation. One who imitates God’s ways, God’s people. He is grafted in to God’s people Israel (Rom 11:16-26). The title “Gentile Christian” is an oxymoron, as a “Gentile” is one who does not know God and a “Christian” is one who imitates THE Anointed one. Effectively, “Gentile Christian” means “One who imitates THE Anointed one, who does not know God”.

Remember, that the Good Shepherd has only one flock (John 10:16). If God has said that Israel is His people/His flock forever(2Sam 7:24, 1Chr 17:22, 2Chr 20:7, Psa 125:2), can Gentile Christians be another flock?

Whether we call ourselves Gentiles or whether we try to separate ourselves far off, from the Jews, one thing is Clear. We have to shape our ways into God’s People. We cannot act like Gentiles. We must start living how He wanted His people, “Israel” to live. That is for sure!

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