ETYMOLOGY OF THE WORD "GENTILE"
Throughout our Bible, the Greek word§θvoς (ethnos) is translated as "gentile" or as "nation." While Christianity today interprets the word "gentile" as "non-Jew," that is not what it means in the Bible. For writers of the Greek O.T. Septuagint, and of the New Testament, §θvoς meant "ethnic group," or "race." It was most often a reference to our ethnic group, our people of Israel, the lost sheep whom Jesus came to redeem. It was sometimes used to refer to "other ethnic group(s)." Whenever you come to the word "gentile" or "nation" in the Bible, try replacing those words with "our ethnic group." The context will make it clear if it refers to "other" ethnic groups. Mostly, Jesus and N.T. writers used the word to mean their own specific ethnic group, the Israelites. Never did they mean "all who are not Israelites!"
Greek Lexicons, and Greek Word Studies, and the Latin Dictionary, and Skeats Dictionary of Etymology clearly define the word "Gentile" and§θvoς as: race, a tribe, a clan.
The Greek wordγέvoς is listed as a subdivision of §θvoς. It is from γέvoς that the Latin words gens and genus, the XVI C. French word gentil, and our word "gentile" come. There is a slight difference between §θvoς and γέvoς. γέvoς is more specifically "racial," while §θvoς is more general as "ethnic group," which of course, does include the racial quality.
Never does any objective scholar attempt to pervert§θvoς to mean "all those who are not of the Jewish race." That is a meaning exactly opposite from its true meaning. Yet, that is the generally accepted meaning of the word "gentile" by modern Christianity. It is only in recent years that this perverted meaning has become commonplace. At the time of the 1611 King James translation, the word "gentile" meant "race, tribe, clan." So, the word "gentile," was properly used for that 1611 translation, but now that the meaning has been radically changed, it is not a proper word for translations today
The perverted coloration of this word's definition has had a tremendous influence on the character of Christianity in the world today. Instead of recognizing Jesus' statements that He came for"none except the lost sheep of the house of Israel," a specific ethnic, racial group, the church now teaches that Jesus came for all others also. This misunderstanding of "gentile," is so pervasive and over-riding, that Christians willingly overlook Jesus' clear and explicit statements regarding the one specific ethnic group for whom He came: "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Christians offer the New Testament (New Covenant) to all peoples of the world by ignoring the specific words of God in Hebrews 8:8, "I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah." It is explicit that the new covenant belongs to the descendants of Jacob, not to everyone. Christians charge forth to "save" the world, ignoring the fact that Jesus told His disciples He wouldn't speak clearly to the general public because they might understand and repent and be forgiven. It's no wonder that God must hide the higher truths from Christians; they aren't willing to heed Jesus' explicit instructions.
Old Testament history is a story of one specific ethnic group, a race of people whom God nourished and guided and protected, with obvious lack of concern for any neighboring races, except His stern warnings against mixing with them. When Jesus came, He stated explicitly that He came for none except this specific group. There is no inconsistency or ambiguity regarding this, until now that we have the modern definition of "gentile" as "all others than Jews," the very opposite from its true meaning.
Who has permitted this change-of-meaning for the word "gentile?" Western Christianity has done it. Why? Because European Christians have not realized they are the real twelve tribes of Israel whom Jesus refers to as His "lost sheep." If the Christian church would look at the abundant historical facts which show the migrations and identities of these tribes, from the Assyrian purge of 700 B.C., into Scythia, Europe, the British Isles, and finally to America, then it would not be necessary for them to force the word "gentile" to include themselves. We European Christians know in our hearts and souls that Christ is our Lord; we know deep-down that we are the "lost sheep" whom Jesus sought, so we have subconsciously permitted the corruption of this definition in order that the word might include us. It wasn't necessary. We just didn't know the truth about our own origin.
Scholars have done us a disservice by permitting this corruption of definition, making "gentile" mean all the "non-Jew" races of the world. All the races other than true Israel are NOT Jesus' "lost sheep." They are not all evil, and should not be abused or mistreated, and they can share in the rich blessings of God's children if they recognize the true God and Christ as King and Lord. But, they can never become the "house of Israel." That is impossible. That fact isn't something to get upset about! Can the pot say to the potter, "why have you made me thus?" Only when we get honest about the racial issues can we proceed to solve problems of the world, and create a better world.
Following are some definitions:
§θvoς: (ethnos) is the Greek word translated into English as "gentile" or "nation." The word was commonly used to refer to one's own ethnic family group. One might say, "go and tell the ethnos that I'll meet with them tomorrow evening." Other connotations would include such meanings as "that ethnic group," "those ethnic groups," "other ethnic groups," and so on. The use of singular or plural and the context makes it pretty easy to determine what the writer means. Well, it is easy to determine if one understands that the word was commonly used this way.
The Greek Lexicon of Liddell and Scott is the largest and most comprehensive of all Greek lexicons, covering all Biblical and secular Greek literature of all ancient Greek dialects. Rather than being ambiguous about §θvoςit gives these following definitions. "§θvoς: -number of people living together, company, body of men. 2. nation, people. γέvoς being a subdivision of §θvoς 3. class of men, caste, tribe."
γέvoς: (genos) is somewhat more specific than "ethnic group." The word is distinctly "racial" in meaning. γέvoς might refer to one specific tribe of Israel, or to one specific family, while ethnos refers to all the twelve tribes of Israel.
Liddell and Scott "γέvoς: 1. race, stock, kin. 2. direct descent. II. offspring, even of a single descendant. 2. collectively offspring, posterity. III. generally, race, of beings. b. clan, house, family =Lat. gens. c. tribe, as a subdivision of §θvoς."
The Greek word "genos" is the root for the Latin "gens," "genus," and "gentilis," from which our English word "gentile" is derived.
gensaccording to Cassell's Latin Dictionary: "gens gentis, f. a clan, stock, people, tribe, nation."
genusaccording to Cassell's Latin Dictionary: "genus -eris, n. birth, descent, origin; race, stock, family, house; hence offspring, descendant(s)"
The Greek Bible writers did have, and often used, a word which meant "all others than the Israelites." The word is•λλo-φØλoς (allo-phulos). "allo" means "other;" "phulos" (φυλή) means "race." The proper translation is "other race." It is translated in our Bibles as "foreigner" or "stranger," and is used very much throughout the Bible. Translators have been reluctant to translate the word literally because it is politically incorrect to speak of "race," except to say that all humans are the same race. So they use such euphemisms as "foreigner" and "stranger." With such a word as allophylos available, which was often used in the Bible, those same Bible writers had no need to use ethnos to mean "foreign-race." This is clear and simple. §θvoς (ethnos) doesn't mean "non-Jew;" most of the time it means "our own ethnic group." "Stranger" or "foreigner" means "other race." The very theme of the Bible is God's concern with one particular RACIAL group. And once we understand what the mistranslators have done, we will see the theme is consistent.
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