Tag Archives: gentile

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!

Defining the term “Israel”

A lot of us see “Israel” on the news. Christians pray for “Israel”. They visit “Israel”. This “Israel” is a cause for anger for some, and relief for others. But, is this the “Israel”, mentioned in the Word of God? Or is the Definition for “Israel” something else? Is it a place? Is it a country? What exactly is “Israel”?

The name of Jacob
Most of us are familiar with the story, where Jacob wrestled with God. In Gen 32:28, The “man” who wrestled with Jacob, blessed him saying “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

Let us study the word “Israel” before we proceed any further –
The Strong’s Hebrew Concordance – H3478 – ישׂראל – yiśrâ’êl – yis-raw-ale’
From H8280 and H410; he will rule as God; a symbolical name of Jacob

Let us also study the two words that form the word “Israel” which are “H8280” & “H410”
H8280 – שׂרה – śârâh – saw-raw’
to prevail: – have power (as a prince).

H410 – אל – ‘êl – ale
strength; as adjective mighty; especially the Almighty God, power, strong.

Looking at the above meanings, it is clear what the Blessing of the name “Israel” meant. Jacob and all who would be called Israel after him, would carry the meaning of “to have Power as a Prince, with Almighty God”.

God reaffirmed and repeated this name in Gen 35:10, and went on to say, ” I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.”

The people which came from Jacob and his 12 Sons or 12 tribes were called “Israel” after Jacob’s death. The main thing we see throughout Scripture is that “Israel” is not a place, but a people. The Land which the Children of Israel lived in, was called the “Land of Israel”. Most Christians believe that the People of Israel were the “Chosen People” before, but that they are no more the “Chosen People”. That the Christian Church is the new “Chosen People”. Let us see what God says about Israel, and whether this claim is true.

Israel is called God’s Firstborn Son

God calls the people – Israel – His Son – His Firstborn (Exod 4:22).

God made His Covenant with Israel
God made His Covenant at Sinai with Israel (Exod 34:27) and promised to renew it with them in the future (Jer 31:33, Heb 8:10)

Israel is God’s People
God calls Israel, “My people” (Exo 3:10 ; 5:1, 7:4, 1Sam 9:16, 2Sam 3:18, 5:2, 7:7,8,10,11, 1Ki 6:13, 8:16, 14:7, 16:2, 1Chr 11:2, 17:6,7,9,10, 2Chr 6:5,6 Psa 50:7, Isa 1:3, Jer 7:12, 12:14, 23:2,13, 31:1,33, Eze 14:9,11, 21:12, 25:14, 34:30, 36:8,12, 38:14, 39:7, Joe 3:2, Amo 7:8,15, 8:2, 9:14,    Mat 2:6, Luk 2:32, Heb 8:10, Rom 11:1)

Israel is called God’s People forever
2Sam 7:24, 1Chr 17:22, 2Chr 20:7, Psa 125:2)
If God said that Israel is His people forever, they “are” His people “forever”.

At this point, I want to stop and make something clear. I am not saying that the “Country which is called Israel” today, is of no importance. It is after all, part of the Promised Land. The country Israel, does not contain most of His people though, because the majority who are called “Israelites” today, are only Jews(from the Tribe of Judah, 1 of the 12 tribes of Israel). We will do an in depth study of what happened to the other 11 Tribes, in a future Study. A person shouldn’t confuse the Land with the People. And as per the Scriptures, most of “Israel” is scattered around the world, not knowing who they really are. These are the lost Sheep. More on that later.

Yeshua had a strong connection with Israel
Yeshua was the Savior of Israel as per God’s Promise (Acts 13:23)
Yeshua is called the King of Israel (Joh 1:49)
Yeshua said that He was sent only for the lost sheep of the House of Israel (Mat 15:24)
Yeshua is said to rule over the House of Jacob (also known as Israel) forever. (Luke 1:32,33)

What about all of us “Gentiles”?
We will define the word Gentile also in a separate study. But, it is of value to notice that Paul called “Israel” an Olive tree that ALL believers are grafted into (Rom 11:16-26). What this means is, when you believe in God and His Salvation, you become part of the commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:12). And notice that not everyone who calls himself an Israelite, is an Israelite. It is not through flesh, but through spirit. (Rom 9:6-8)

By this time, if you are thinking what I am trying to say with all of this, this is it. Whoever believes in God, is “Israel”, a part of His Chosen People. According to John 10:16, Yeshua does not have two folds of sheep. He has only one. If Israel is God’s People Forever, we must be part of His People. I was a Gentile, as long as I did not know God and walked according to my own ways. When I believed in Him and started obeying Him, He became my God and I became a part of His People, Israel. Remember how Ruth, a “Moabite” woman, the great grand mother of David and from whom Yeshua, our Savior also proceed, became part of Israel. In Ruth 1:16, she says to Naomi, for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge: your people shall be my people, and your God, my God“.

Further proof that we can no more be Gentiles
The gate to Heavenly Jerusalem has 12 gates with names of the 12 Tribes of Israel.(Rev 21:12) If we are Gentiles, where do we Gentiles enter through? It does not talk about a 13th gate.

The New Covenant is made with the House of Judah and House of Israel. Together they form Israel. (Heb 8:8-10). Where is the Covenant for the Gentile?

Yeshua is said to rule over the House of Jacob (also known as Israel) forever. (Luke 1:32,33). Where are the Gentiles in this Kingdom?

The Good Shepherd has only one flock.(John 10:16) If God has said that Israel is His people/His flock forever, can Gentile Christians be another flock?

Does it matter whether we are “Gentiles” or “Israel”?
In my humble opinion, yes. Because God has not made any Covenants with any Gentiles. All His promises are for His people, Israel. All the prophecies revolve around Israel. And calling ourselves Gentiles is as if we are saying we are not His People. This separation from Israel has brought about much confusion in Christianity, as people think that there is one Law for Israel and another Law for the Gentile. One set of Commandments for Israel and another set for the Gentile. The Sabbath for Israel and Sunday for the Gentile. and the list goes on. We must get rid of the separation. and fully understand the God we serve. and in return, who we are, as well. We are called to reign with Him (Rev 20:6), which by the way, is the essence of the name “Israel” as we first discovered. (Israel = to have Power as a Prince, with Almighty God)

Remember Paul’s words in Gal 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Yeshua, The Anointed One(Jesus Christ)”. What has, is and will be, this ONE people? none other than Israel!

Did God tell Peter that he is free to eat unclean animals which He had banned before? Acts 10:1 – 11:18

A lot of people read the events around Peter and the vision he saw, to say that “God revoked the Food Laws”. Is this true? Can we come to the conclusion that God was trying to communicate to Peter that the Food Laws were no more after Christ’s death through this Vision? The objective of this study is not to conclude whether the Food Laws are valid for today, or not. (This will be a separate study, hopefully in the near future). The objective of this article is to study the said passage, so that we can figure out what it means, and what it does not mean. Whether God really did tell Peter to start eating all animals without separating clean and unclean, or whether God’s message was something else.

Let us start at the beginning of the Chapter and work ourselves down step by step. Since this is a verse by verse commentary, I have underlined the critical verses, if you want to get the facts, fast.

Acts 10:1
We know a few things about Cornelius. He was a Centurion of the Italian Regiment. He was posted in Caesarea, a place in Palestine. Mar 8:27, says that Yeshua Himself visited Ceasarea.

Acts 10:2
He was a godly man. He feared God with all his household, helped the poor and prayed constantly to God.

Acts 10:3
It says that he saw a vision about the 9th Hour. Later in verse 30, he confesses that he was fasting and praying at the 9th hour in his house. This was a separated time of prayer as seen in Acts 3:1. In this vision he saw, an Angel of God speaking to him.

Acts 10:4
And the Angel says that his “prayers” and the “compassion he had towards the poor” has reached God.

Acts 10:5,6
He is given direction to send men to Joppa(another place in palestine) to bring Simon Peter to him, so Peter could direct Cornelius as to what must be done.

Acts 10:7,8
When the Angel had left Cornelius, he called two servants and a god-fearing/devout soldier and told them what had happened and sent them to Joppa, as he was commanded.

Acts 10:9
While Cornelius’ men were approaching Joppa the next day, Peter went upstairs to pray around the 6th hour of the day.

Acts 10:10
It says Peter was very hungry, but the food was still being prepared. And he suddenly fell into a trance.

Acts 10:11,12,13
Peter saw the Heavens open up, and a great sheet with all kinds of animals let down to earth. And Peter heard a voice saying “Rise, Peter, Kill and Eat”.

Acts 10:14
Peter says “Not So, Lord”, meaning “may it not be”, I have “never” eaten anything which is unclean or common/unholy. This poses and interesting question. If, as some believe, Yeshua(Real name of Jesus) had taught the Disciples that all things are Clean, and everything can be eaten, why is Peter rejecting this “commandment” from heaven? So, it is safe to say, that Yeshua would have never taught any disciple to break God’s Food Laws.

Acts 10:15,16
Then the voice replies Peter saying, “What God has cleansed, do not call common/unholy”. This happens 3 times and the sheet was taken up back to Heaven. In this vision, did God revoke his food Laws and say God has cleansed all food, and not to call or segregate foods as clean and common/unholy or unclean? It is very clear. But, let us read on before jumping to any conclusions.

Acts 10:17
It says that Peter was unsure of what the vision meant. Why? it was so clear. God had told him to eat all things. But, Peter was not so sure what all of this meant. God had commanded not to eat unclean animals before, and now suddenly, He is asking Peter not to call Unclean animals Unclean! While all of these thoughts were in Peter’s mind, the men from Cornelius had reached the gate of the house where Peter stayed.

Acts 10:18,19,20
While the people asked for Peter, He was still thinking what the Vision meant, when the Holy Spirit spoke to him saying “3 men are looking for you, Arise, Go with them, without doubting anything, I have sent them”. Is this vision somehow connected with the arrival of the 3 men from Cornelius’ house? Let us read on.

Acts 10:21,22
Peter goes downstairs and declares that he is Peter and asks for what reason they are looking for him. They tell him that Cornelius, a Centurion, a God fearing just man, who is known by even the Jews with good report, saw an Angel asking him to send for Peter, to hear what he has to say.

Acts 10:23,24
Peter asked them to stay with them in Joppa, and left Joppa the next day with some of the other believers. The next day, they entered Ceasarea, and Cornelius was waiting for Peter in his house, and he had invited his friends and relatives as well.

Acts 10:25,26,27
As Peter was entering the house, Cornelius rushed to him, fell down, and worshiped him. But Peter “took him” up saying “Stand up, I am also just a man”. And then Peter entered the house to see many who had gathered.

Acts 10:28,29
Peter talks to the assembly, and says “You know, that it is unlawful for a Jew to keep company with, or visit foreigners”. Let’s stop here for a minute and study what Peter really meant, before we proceed. First of all, we should see that it was a known fact by all, that Jews did not keep company with foreigners. Otherwise, Peter would not start his speech by saying “You know”. We see this separation throughout the bible(John 4:9) So much so, that Jews did not even talk with non-Jews (John 4:27). They tried to even refrain from stepping into buildings that foreigners were in(John 18:28). Had God Almighty, instituted such a Law? God has always advised Israel not to go after the nations, and their ways, but never to not keep company with them or talk to them. in Deut 4:6-8, God even advised Israel to keep His Laws so Gentiles will see the good things of God and obey God. This law, of division between Jew and Gentile, like many other laws, were forced on Israel by their teachers and rulers, such as the Pharisees. (More about them in a future study). So, in short, It was a custom, or man made law, that no Jew could visit or keep company with a Gentile.

Now we finally get some solid answers to the questions we asked in Acts 10:15,16. Peter goes on to say, “but God has showed me that I should not call any man “common/unholy” or “unclean”. That is why I came promptly to you, as soon as I was asked to come”. It is very clear, by reading this admission, that Peter understood his vision the moment the 3 men asked him to come with them to Ceasarea. He understood that “God had showed” him the vision concerning not calling any man “Common/Unholy” and “Unclean”. Putting no difference between a person who knows God, and a person who is searching for God. Remember, ultimately, all are children of Noah, a child of God.

Peter goes onto ask why they asked him to come.

Acts 10:30-33
Cornelius explains what happened to him and tells Peter that they are present, to learn what God has commanded them to do.

Acts 10:34,35
Then Peter says that he “understands” that God does not respect any particular individual or nation, and that He has accepted all who “fear Him” and “does what is righteous”, in all nations.

Acts 10:36-43
Then Peter goes onto witness about Yeshua and preaches the Gospel to the people.

Acts 10:44-48
Then something fantastic happen. While Peter talks to the people, the Holy Spirit falls on the people. And some of the believers who were of the “Circumcision party”, who had come with Peter, were astonished. (We will check who “the Circumcision party” was, shortly). The Gentiles spoke in tongues, and magnified God. Then, Peter asked “Can anyone forbid these people who have received the Holy Spirit to get baptized? And Peter commanded them to get baptized in the name of the Lord. And he stayed with them for sometime.

Acts 11:1
The apostles and believers in Judea had heard that the gentiles received the Word of God.

Acts 11:2,3
When Peter came to Jerusalem, “those from the Circumcision” opposed Peter. Notice, that it was not the “Apostles” and “all the believers” who opposed him. It was only those of “the Circumcision”. Some think that “the Circumcision” is, all Jews. Not so. (Gal 2:12,13 showcases how Peter was scared of the Circumcision, and how the “other Jews”, who were not of “the Circumcision Party/Group” also followed him). They believed, as per the name which is used to call them, that you needed to be circumcised to be saved.

What was the accusation brought forward against Peter? That Peter went to “men who are not Circumcised” and ate with them.

Acts 11:4-15
To this, Peter replied by conveying the whole story which happened to him, not starting with the 3 men who came to Joppa, but starting with the vision he saw. He tells them the vision, and how as he was having the vision, the 3 men were looking for him at the house, and how 6 believers, present with him, went with him to Caesarea. How Cornelius had seen an Angel, and how the Holy Spirit fell, while he spoke.

Acts 11:16-18
Peter also says that he remembered what Yeshua said “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”. He told everyone, that God had given the Holy Spirit to the gentiles who believed in Yeshua, and asked them, who was he to withstand God. When “the Circumcision party/group” heard this, they kept quiet and glorified God, saying that God had granted repentance unto the gentiles as well.

So, in conclusion, as we have seen throughout this reading, the Vision was connected to the Gentiles and not regarding them as unholy or unclean. It could not have been about the food. If it was so, “The Circumcision Party” who accused Peter of eating with gentiles, would have ripped him to shreds for breaking “God’s Food Laws”. The key to understanding this misunderstood part of the Word, is Acts 10:28, where Peter said “God has showed me that I should not call ANY MAN “common” or “unclean”.