Who Are the Gentiles?
by Pastor David Curtis
by Pastor David Curtis
Weare looking at the last half of Ephesians 2, and before we look at the lastsection, 2:19-22, I want to step back and try to answer the question," Whoare the Gentiles?" Last week we looked at:
AND HECAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERENEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.Ephesians 2:17-18 NASB
Herewe see two groups, the near and the far away, have been given access to theFather through Yeshua. This is good news if one of those groups is us, but somehave said it is not. Verse 17 is a quote from:
Creatingthe praise of the lips. Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who isnear," Says the LORD, "and I will heal him." Isaiah 57:19 NASB
Thispassage speaks of Israelites who have been dispersed among the nations becauseof God's anger against their sins. That is who the "far" and"near" are in Isaiah 57. But most today say that the "near"are Jews and the "far away" were non-Jews.
Thereare some who teach that Ephesians 2:11-22 is not talking about Israel andnon-Israelites, us, being brought together as one in the body of Christ, but isin fact talking about the two houses of Israel, Judah and Israel, being broughttogether as one.
Somewould even go so far as to say that all references to "Gentiles" isreferring not to non-Israelites, but to the ten northern tribes of Israel. Theywould go so far as to say that Ephesians says nothing to us, non-Israelites. Itis talking about God's chosen nation Israel and the reuniting of the twelvetribes.
BritishIsraelism, also known as Anglo-Israelism, would say that Ephesians 2:11-22 istalking about the reuniting of the twelve tribes of Israel. But they see"us," American believers, as part of the northern kingdom of Israel.British Israelism teaches that the "lost ten tribes" of Israelmigrated to Europe and then to England and became the primary ancestors of theBritish people and, thereby, the United States. The doctrine often includes thetenet that the British Royal Family is directly descended from the line of KingDavid. British Israelism was made popular by the Worldwide Church of God andHerbert Armstrong, but other groups have held the doctrine as well. The primarygoal behind British Israelism is to claim that England and the United Stateshave inherited the covenant promises God made to Israel.
Ithink there is some truth to these views, but also much error. Let's see if wecan make some sense of this. Notice what Paul says in:
Thereforeremember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called"Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which isperformed in the flesh by human hands. Ephesians 2:11 NASB
Paulis making a comparison here between Jews-the circumcised, andGentiles-uncircumcised. Some teach that "Gentiles" refers only to thenorthern kingdom of Israel. This excludes us from the blessing spoken of inthis passage unless you hold to British Israelism, then you are the northernkingdom of Israel and these blessing are yours. To clear up the confusion thefirst thing we need to understand is, who are the Gentiles? Paul's ministry waspredominately to the Gentiles:
But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is achosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings andthe sons of Israel; Acts 9:15 NASB
Here the term "Gentiles" is the Greek word ethnos. What do you think of when you hearthe term, "Gentiles"? I think that most Christians today view"Gentiles" as referring exclusively to a non-Israelite, and it isused that way here, but it's use is much broader than that.
First, let me say that "Gentiles" is a badtranslation. It is an English language substitution for the Hebrew words,"goy"(singular) and "goyim" (plural) and the Greek words, "ethne," (singular) or "ethnos," (plural). This word is besttranslated as "nations," representing sometimes the nation of Israel,sometimes the dispersed ten northern tribes, sometimes non-Israelites, andsometimes everybody, as in "all nations."
One writer trying to prove his point that"nations" never refers to non-Jews states, "The Hebrewword 'goy, or goyim,' is NEVER translated to mean 'non-Jew.'" This is a foolish argument fromsilence. It is never translated as non-Jew, but this is how it is often used:
'Itwill come about that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house ofJudah and house of Israel, so I will save you that you may become a blessing.Do not fear; let your hands be strong.' Zechariah 8:13 NASB
Herethe house of Israel was among the nations, the non-Israelites.
Inorder to understand who this term "nations" is referring to we reallyneed to understand who the Jews are. The Bible makes a distinction between Jewsand Nations:
Butwhen the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and begancontradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. Paul andBarnabas spoke out boldly and said, "It was necessary that the word of Godbe spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy ofeternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. Acts 13:45-46 NASB
Herewe see a contrast between Jew and nations. When the Bible talks aboutJews, who is it referring to? I think that many Christians would answer this questionby saying that the Jews are the 12 tribes of Israel, God's covenant people. But this is not correct! Theterm "Jews" was first used in the Babylonian captivity. TheBabylonians called them Jews because they were from the land of Judah. At the time of the writing of theNew Testament, during the Roman kingdom there were only two tribes in thePalestinian area; Judah and Benjamin. There were certain individuals from othertribes, but for the most part, it was only the two tribes. It was onlythose two tribes who were called "Jews", or Judeans .
Let'sback up and look at the history of Israel so we can understand this. Israelbecame a nation at Sinai when Yahweh gave them His law and entered intocovenant with them. They were called the "house of Israel".
Forthroughout all their journeys, the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle byday, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house ofIsrael. Exodus 40:38 NASB
Herethe term "house of Israel" refers to the 12 tribes, the nation Israel.
Allthe people who were in the court, and the elders, said, "We are witnesses.May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah,both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathahand become famous in Bethlehem. Ruth 4:11 NASB
Jacobmarried two sisters, Leah and Rachel. With these two women and their maids came12 sons, who were the 12 tribes of Israel. They remained united until after thedeath of Solomon.
Nowthe LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from theLORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded himconcerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did notobserve what the LORD had commanded. So the LORD said to Solomon, "Becauseyou have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which Ihave commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give itto your servant. "Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sakeof your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son."However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribeto your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalemwhich I have chosen." 1 Kings 11:9-13 NASB
The textgoes on to say:
Itcame about at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophetAhijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahijah had clothed himself witha new cloak; and both of them were alone in the field. Then Ahijah took hold ofthe new cloak which was on him and tore it into twelve pieces. He said toJeroboam, "Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the LORD, the Godof Israel, 'Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and giveyou ten tribes (but he will have one tribe, for the sake of My servant Davidand for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen from all the tribesof Israel)... 'Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand,but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of My servantDavid whom I chose, who observed My commandments and My statutes; but I willtake the kingdom from his son's hand and give it to you, even ten tribes. 1Kings 11:29-35 NASB
WhenSolomon died in 925 or 926 B.C., the northerners refused to recognize hissuccessor Rehoboam. Subsequently, the north broke away and was ruled by theHouse of Omri. The northern kingdom of Israel flourished until it wascompletely destroyed, and its ten tribes sent into permanent exile by the Assyriansbetween 740 and 721 B.C.
Sothe house of Israel was split into two kingdoms. The 10 norther tribeswere known as the House of Israel. And the 2 southern tribes were known as the Southernkingdom or Judah:
But asfor the sons of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned overthem. 1 Kings 12:17 NASB
Bothof these kingdoms, Israel and Judah, became harlots and forsook the Lord:
"AndI saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away andgiven her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; butshe went and was a harlot also. Jeremiah 3:8 NASB
Theywere both immoral and ungodly, but Yahweh only divorced Israel. Why was that?He could not divorce Judah, because it was through Judah that Messiah wouldcome:
ThenJacob summoned his sons and said, "Assemble yourselves that I may tell youwhat will befall you in the days to come. Genesis 49:1 NASB
"Thescepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler's staff from between hisfeet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.Genesis 49:10 NASB
"Butas for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah,From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth arefrom long ago, From the days of eternity." Micah 5:2 NASB
InEzekiel we learn more about the sin of these two nations:
Theword of the LORD came to me again, saying, "Son of man, there were twowomen, the daughters of one mother; and they played the harlot in Egypt. Theyplayed the harlot in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and theretheir virgin bosom was handled. "Their names were Oholah the elder andOholibah her sister. And they became Mine, and they bore sons and daughters.And as for their names, Samaria is Oholah and Jerusalem is Oholibah."Oholah played the harlot while she was Mine; and she lusted after herlovers, after the Assyrians, her neighbors, Ezekiel 23:1-5 NASB
TheMother is the 12 tribe nation of Israel. The two daughters are the southernkingdom, Oholibah, and the northern kingdom, Oholah. These two kingdoms cameout of Israel as a result of the two wives and two marriages of Jacob. Thecapital city of Judah was Jerusalem, and the capital of Israel was Samaria.
Yahwehwas their husband until the divorce decree, which we find in Hosea. A divorcerequires that the wife receive the bill of divorce, and then she was put out ofthe house. The house in this context is the land of Palestine, the bill ofdivorce is the book of Hosea, and the putting out of the house was takingIsrael into the Assyrian captivity.
Theword of the LORD which came to Hosea the son of Beeri, during the days ofUzziah, Jotham,
Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the days ofJeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. When the LORD first spoke throughHosea, the LORD said to Hosea, "Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotryand have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry,forsaking the LORD." So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, andshe conceived and bore him a son. And the LORD said to him, "Name himJezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for thebloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house ofIsrael. "On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley ofJezreel." Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And theLORD said to him, "Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer havecompassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them."But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by theLORD their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses orhorsemen." When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth toa son. And the LORD said, "Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people andI am not your God." Yet the number of the sons of Israel Will be like thesand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered; And in the place Whereit is said to them, "You are not My people," It will be said to them,"You are the sons of the living God." And the sons of Judah and thesons of Israel will be gathered together, And they will appoint for themselvesone leader, And they will go up from the land, For great will be the day ofJezreel. Hosea 1:1-11 NASB
"Jezreel"is from an agriculturalterm that refers to everything from the sowing to the harvest. So Yahweh refersto the first son as the sowing and harvest of Israel. So Yahweh is tellingIsrael that He is going to sow them in the nations, but there will come a timewhen He will harvest them out again. He later tells us that the harvest willoccur at the same time that the harvest of the house of Judah occurs. Thatharvest began with the Messiah and continued until the destruction of Jerusalemin A.D. 70. And it continues until this day as God calls His people untoHimself.
Thesecond child, Lo-Ruhamah, demonstrates that they would be placed out there without the mercy ofGod. The third child demonstrates that they would be out there without the nameof God. They would not be known as the "children of God", which wasthe children of Israel. When they went into the Assyrian captivity, they werenot known as the "children of Israel". They were referred to as the"children of Omry", who was a former king of Israel. So, when the northerntribes went into Assyrian captivity, they lost their identity as Israelites andthus became identifiable only as part of the nations.
Thenthe LORD said, "Thus will the sons of Israel eat their bread unclean amongthe nations where I will banish them." Ezekiel 4:13 NASB
Israelis swallowed up; They are now among the nations Like a vessel in which no onedelights. Hosea 8:8 NASB
SoIsrael is among the nations, which here refers to the non-Israelites, she hasbeen swallowed up. But Yahweh promises that one day the two houses will beunited:
Theword of the LORD came again to me saying, "And you, son of man, take foryourself one stick and write on it, 'For Judah and for the sons of Israel, hiscompanions'; then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph, the stick ofEphraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.' "Then join themfor yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in yourhand. "When the sons of your people speak to you saying, 'Will you notdeclare to us what you mean by these?' say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD,"Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim,and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, withthe stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in Myhand."' Ezekiel 37:15-19 NASB
"Sayto them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will take the sons ofIsrael from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them fromevery side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nationin the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all ofthem; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into twokingdoms. Ezekiel 37:21-22 NASB
Noticethat verse 21 says, "I will take the sons of Israel from among thenations." Thisis a promise of restoration.
Thenit will happen on that day that the Lord Will again recover the second timewith His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, From Assyria, Egypt,Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, And from the islands of the sea. 12 And Hewill lift up a standard for the nations, And will assemble the banished ones ofIsrael, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of theearth. Isaiah 11:11-12 NASB
TheAssyrians had scattered them, but Yahweh had promised to re-gather them. Yahwehsays here that He is going to gather Israel, the 10 northern tribes and Judah,the two southern tribes. Now watch the next verse:
Thenthe jealousy of Ephraim will depart, And those who harass Judah will be cutoff; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, And Judah will not harass Ephraim.Isaiah 11:13 NASB
Ephraimis Samaria. There is going to be peace between Israel and Judah. Yeshua isthis peace.
Butyou are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God'sOWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who hascalled you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT APEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but nowyou have RECEIVED MERCY. 1 Peter 2:9-10 NASB
WhenPeter writes "To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia,Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia", he is writing to the house of Israel who were"pilgrims" - they weren't living in the land of their birth. If youlook at a map, you will see that the areas of "Pontus, Galatia,Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" was the very area that the Tanakh tells usthat the house of Israel was taken to in the
Assyrian captivity. Now they areidentified as "nations or Gentiles". Peter is writing to thesenations, who have become Christians, and he calls them a chosen (race)generation. He says to them, "Which in time past were not apeople, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, butnow have obtained mercy." This is a fulfillment of the promises that God made to thehouse of Israel through Hosea. Yahweh taking the gospel to the nations is afulfillment of the promises that He made in the Tanakh. It was not clearlyrevealed until the New Testament. And Paul was a minister to the "nations",which included thehouse of Israel.
Noticewhat Paul wrote the Corinthians:
For Ido not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under thecloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in thecloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank thesame spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock whichfollowed them; and the rock was Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 NASB
Tothis non-Jewish church he writes, "our fathers" - this is referring to theIsraelites! This is because some of these Christians were from the northern 10tribes of Israel.
Lookwith me at Isaiah 60, this is a Messianic prophecy. It concerns the restorationof Israel; the calling of the nations, and how the nations would view restoredIsrael:
"Arise,shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2"For
behold, darkness will cover the earth, And deep darkness the peoples;But the LORD will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you. 3"And nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of yourrising. 4 "Lift up your eyes round about, and see; They all gathertogether, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, And your daughterswill be carried in the arms. 5 "Then you will see and be radiant, And yourheart will thrill and rejoice; Because the abundance of the sea will be turnedto you, The wealth of the nations will come to you. Isaiah 60:1-5 NASB
Noticeverse 5, "The wealth of the nations will come to you." Who is the "you"? It isrestored Israel. Yahweh said that when Israel was saved, the nations, non-Israelites,would also come to the light, and the nations, non-Israelites, would give theirwealth to Israel. These two groups hated each other, and the nations,non-Israelites, would have never wilfully given wealth to Israel. But inChrist they are now brothers. So out of love they do what they normally would never havedone.
Itis my understand that the northern kingdom of Israel is included in the term"nations or Gentiles" but it is not exclusive of it. We see in theScripture that "nations" is used in distinction to Israel:
ALIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel."Luke 2:32 NASB
Herewe see that "nations or Gentiles" are distinct from Israel.
"Fortruly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servantYeshua, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with theGentiles and the peoples of Israel, Acts 4:27 NASB
Againthe Gentiles are a distinct group from Israel. Here "Gentiles" isnon-Israelites.
Butthe Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bearMy name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; Acts 9:15 NASB
Paulwas to take the Gospel to the "nations" and to the sons of Israel.
andthey have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are amongthe Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their childrennor to walk according to the customs. Acts 21:21 NASB
Herewe have Jews who are among the "nations", two separate gropes.
Hesays, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise upthe tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will alsomake You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end ofthe earth." Isaiah 49:6 NASB
Yahwehwas going to use Jacob and Israel to be a light to the "nations."
Thenin that day The nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as asignal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious. Isaiah 11:10NASB
The"nations" non-Israelites, would then seek the Lord, when Ephraimand Judah were re-united:
And Hewill lift up a standard for the nations And assemble the banished ones ofIsrael, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of theearth. Isaiah 11:12 NASB
Againwe see the re-gathered Israel and Judah being used to reach the nations.
Egyptand Judah, and Edom and the sons of Ammon, and Moab and all those inhabitingthe desert who clip the hair on their temples; for all the nations areuncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart."Jeremiah 9:26 NASB
Itshould be clear here that "nations" does not mean Israel.
'Thussays the Lord GOD, "When I gather the house of Israel from the peoplesamong whom they are scattered, and will manifest My holiness in them in thesight of the nations, then they will live in their land which I gave to Myservant Jacob. Ezekiel 28:25 NASB
"ButI had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned amongthe nations where they went. Ezekiel 36:21 NASB
So"nations" and Israel are at times two distinct peoples. The"nations" include the house of Israel but also refer to the non-Israelites.
Butthe Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embitteredthem against the brethren. Acts 14:2 NASB
Theterm "Gentile or nation" at times is used of non-Jews. But thesenon-Jews could be Israelites. The "nations", non-Israelites coming tofaith in Messiah was foretold by the prophets:
'Theyhave made Me jealous with what is not God; They have provoked Me to anger withtheir idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people; Iwill provoke them to anger with a foolish nation, Deuteronomy 32:21 NASB
Yahwehwould provoke His people, Israel, with a foolish nation, non-Israelites.
IfIsraelites were really a "no people" and could be declared "mypeople," then non-Israelites, you and me, who were "no people" couldbe declared "my people." We were no people. We had no covenant claimson God. But now God has sent His effective call and we are saved--we are partof His covenant people."
Soit is my understanding that our text in Ephesians 2 is referring to non-Israelitesand Israelites being united to the Jews and becoming one people in Christ. Thebody of Christ is made up of the re-gathered twelve tribes of Israel and manynon-Israelites who have been called of Yahweh and trusted in Christ.
Sowho are the Gentiles? This word is best translated as "nations,"representing sometimes the nation of Israel, sometimes the dispersed tennorthern tribes, sometimes non-Israelites, and sometimes everybody. It'smeaning must be determined by its context, which means we must do our homework.Sometimes the translation "Gentiles is helpful, sometimes it is not. WhenI use the term "Gentile" I mean non-Israelite.
Who Are the Gentiles? - Part 2
Iwas really surprised and encouraged last week with the response I received fromthe message: "Who Are the Gentiles?" I think I received more feedbackon that message than I ever have. So, I guess it is a subject that is ofinterest. So let's spend some more time looking at this subject. I think thisis an important subject, because there are those within Preterism that say thatthe term "Gentiles" refers ONLY to the ten northern tribes of Israel,and thus the Bible is written solely and entirely to national Israel. And,therefore, there is nothing in the Bible for US; it is all about Israel. Wellif you believe that this is true, why would you even bother with the Bible?Once you learned that none of it applied to you, including salvation, whywouldn't you just throw it out and go on?
Ireceived an e-mail last week from a man who wrote this, "I was raised inthe Israel Identity or Christian Identity movement (as it is sometimeslabeled). They are variants of the Anglo-Israel movement. By God's rich grace Iwas allowed to see the errors in that thinking. Fulfilled eschatology was amajor factor in my re-orientation." So Preterism helped him come out ofthat "Identity" movement, and yet there are those in Preterism thatare trying to pull us into it.
Thereis a lot of confusion as to who the Gentiles are and as to who Israel is. I ranacross a new view this week of who Israel is. Listen to these quotes from thewebsite:
"Yahshuah said he was not sent to Muslims,Christians, Jews, Buddhists etc. He was sent to the true Hebrews a.k.a. AfricanAmericans." Notice that they don't say he was sent to Africans, butAfrican Americans. If Yeshua was sent to African Americans, He came at thewrong time and to the wrong place.
"IsrayliteHeritage" goes on to say, "The same love you have for Yah andYahshuah is the same love you must have for True Israel, so-called AfricanAmericans. You as a Gentile can be grafted into the family of Yah, and becomepart of the commonwealth of Israel. You must follow the laws Yah gave to Israelthrough the mouth of his servant Moses." So we become part of Israelthrough Law keeping? In Ephesians 2 Rabbi Sha'ul, who was a true Hebrew, says:
Butnow in Christ Yeshua you who formerly were far off have been brought near bythe blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13 NASB
Weare brought near, not by the Law keeping, but by the blood of Christ.
The"Israylite Heritage" website also says, "There are Gentiles whoKNOW AND PREACH THE NAMES OF YAH AND YAHSHUAH, THEY KNOW ABOUT THE FEAST DAYSAND KEEPING THE LAWS. BUT THEY DON'T KNOW AND EXCEPT THAT WE SO CALLED BLACKSARE THE BIBLICAL ISRAELITES." According to what was previously said, it isnot just blacks that are Israel, but American blacks.
Thisis a new one to me. So we have British Israelism saying that white Europeansare the true Israel, and we have "Israylite Heritage" website sayingthat Blacks are the true Israel. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say oneof them is wrong. As a matter of fact, they are both wrong.
Wetalked last week about the term Jews and Gentiles. We looked at Israel'shistory and saw that after the death of Solomon the kingdom was divided intothe ten Northern tribes and the two Southern tribes, known as Israel and Judah.The term "Jews" referred to the Southern Kingdom. The NorthernKingdom, Israel, was divorced by Yahweh because of sin and was dispersedthroughout the nations, and became part of the nations, or Gentiles. Yahwehsaid they were not His people, and He was not their God. Because of this thereare some who say that the term "Gentiles" or "nations"refers only to Israel.
Lastweek I said that "Gentiles" is a bad translation. It is translatedfrom the Hebrew words, "goy" (singular) and "goyim" (plural) and the Greekwords, "ethne," (singular) or "ethnos," (plural). This word isbest translated as "nations," representing sometimes the nation ofIsrael, sometimes the dispersed ten Northern tribes, sometimes non-Israelites,and sometimes everybody, as in "all nations."
Sosometimes "goy" refers to the nation Israel. Yahweh says to Abram:
And Iwill 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. That would make no sense.
TheGreek term ethnos canbe used of the ten Northern tribes as seen in:
evenus, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from amongGentiles. Romans 9:24 NASB
Paulsays that the called are, "Not from among Jews only, but also fromamong Gentiles"—what does Paul mean by this? Most see this as saying that God not onlychooses some out of Israel to be vessels of mercy, but He chooses some from theGentiles also. Although that is true, I don't think that is what Paul issaying here. The word "Gentiles" here is from the Greek ethnos, which is much better translatedas: "nations." Chapters 9-11 are all about Israel, and I thinkwhat Paul says here is dealing only with Israel, the ten Northern tribes.
TheGentiles Paul is referring to are mentioned in:
Yetthe number of the sons of Israel Will be like the sand of the sea, Which cannotbe measured or numbered; And in the place Where it is said to them, "Youare not My people," It will be said to them, "You are the sons of theliving God." Hosea 1:10 NASB
TheseGentiles are identified as the "Children of Israel." So Paul calledIsraelites, the ten Northern tribes, "ethnos." Romans 9:26 and Hosea1:10 are referring to the same people. So at times the ten Northern tribes arecalled, "goy or ethnos." But these terms are not exclusive to the Northern kingdom ofIsrael. For example:
saying,"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will bedelivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him todeath and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. Mark 10:33 NASB
Hereethnos is notreferring to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, but to the Romans who werenon-Israelites. So something "nations," is used of the nation ofIsrael, sometimes of the dispersed ten Northern tribes, and sometimes fornon-Israelites. Its meaning must be determined by its context.
Somepeople have the idea that Yahweh dealt only with Hebrews in the Old Covenantand thus He deals only with Hebrews in the New Covenant. Well let's look at theTanakh and see whatit tells us about Yahweh's dealings with non-Israelites:
"Butif a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the LORD, letall his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; andhe shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat ofit. Exodus 12:48 NASB
Theword "stranger" here is ger, which means: "a foreigner:—alien, sojourner, stranger."The "you" is the nation Israel. Notice what it says, "let himcome near...," and"he shall be like a native...." So here is a non-Israelite, a goy, worshiping Yahweh like a native.He has attached himself to Israel and is worshiping Yahweh. So what we call"Gentiles," non-Israelites, could worship Yahweh, but only throughIsrael.
Andany 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 andwill cut him off from among his people. Leviticus 17:10 NASB
Theword "aliens" here is also ger. So here we have Israel, the twelve tribes, andnon-Israelites,goy, under the same laws. This "alien" could be "cut offfrom his people," which means he was counted as one of the people of Israel:
'Whena stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 'Thestranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and youshall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am theLORD your God. Leviticus 19:33-34 NASB
Strangerhere is ger. The"ger"is to be treated as a native, an Israelite. They are to love the ger, thenon-Israelite, as themselves:
'Thereshall be one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as thenative, for I am the LORD your God.'" Leviticus 24:22 NASB
Thenative, Israelite, and the ger, [gair] non-Israelite are to live by the same Torah. We see this also in:
'If analien sojourns with you, or one who may be among you throughout yourgenerations, and he wishes to make an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma tothe LORD, just as you do so he shall do. 'As for the assembly, there shall beone statute for you and for the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetualstatute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be beforethe LORD. Numbers 15:14-15 NASB
Wesee this all through the Tanakh, the ger live and worshiped with the Israelites, abiding by the same Torah.
Noticewhat the ger's positionwill be in the Messianic Kingdom:
Whenthe LORD will have compassion on Jacob and again choose Israel, and settle themin their
own land, then strangers will join them and attach themselves to thehouse 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 Yahweh when Ephraim and Judah werere-united.
Noticewhat Ezekiel says about the Messianic Kingdom:
"Youshall divide it by lot for an inheritance among yourselves and among the alienswho stay in your midst, who bring forth sons in your midst. And they shall beto you as the native-born among the sons of Israel; they shall be allotted aninheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. "And in the tribe withwhich the alien stays, there you shall give him his inheritance," declaresthe Lord GOD. Ezekiel 47:22-23 NASB
Didyou catch that? The "ger" are to be as native-born and share the inheritance ofIsrael. So the Bible is not just about Israel; Yahweh has always made provisionfor the goy toshare the inheritance of Israel in the New Covenant.
Lookat King Solomon's prayer to Yahweh at the time of the dedication of the Temple:
"Alsoconcerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from afar country for Your name's sake (for they will hear of Your great name andYour mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays towardthis house, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all forwhich the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earthmay know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they mayknow that this house which I have built is called by Your name. 1 Kings 8:41-43NASB
The"foreigner" here is from the Hebrew nokry, which means: "foreign, non-relative, alien, foreigner, stranger." Noticethat the "foreigner" is "not of Israel," he is a goy. Solomon wanted "allthe peoples of the earth to know Yahweh... as Israel does." So in timethe "ger" were assimilated culturally and religiously into Israel.Doeg the Edomite, for instance, was a worshiper of Yahweh by the time of Saul(1 Sam. 21:8), as was Uriah the Hittite in the reign of David (2 Sam. 11:11):
Inthat 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 witnessto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORDbecause of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and Hewill deliver them. Thus the LORD will make Himself known to Egypt, and theEgyptians will know the LORD in that day. They will even worship with sacrificeand offering, and will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. Isaiah 19:19-21NASB
Againwe see that in the Messianic Kingdom the Egyptians, who were goy, will know Yahweh.
Isaiah56 contains an incredible prophecy:
Thussays the LORD, "Preserve justice and do righteousness, For My salvation isabout to come And My righteousness to be revealed. Isaiah 56:1 NASB
Thisis about the Messianic Temple in the Messianic Kingdom:
Letnot the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, "The LORD willsurely separate me from His people." Nor let the eunuch say, "Behold,I am a dry tree." Isaiah 56:3 NASB
Theword "foreigner" here is nekar, which means: "a foreigner ofalien." It is referring to someone not from the tribes of Israel, anon-Israelite. The "His people" is Israel. Drop down to verse 6:
"Alsothe foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, To minister to Him, and to lovethe name of the LORD, To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaningthe sabbath And holds fast My covenant; Even those I will bring to My holymountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings andtheir sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called ahouse of prayer for all the peoples." Isaiah 56:6-7 NASB
These"foreigners" have joined themselves to Yahweh the God of Israel. Nownotice carefully verse 8:
TheLord GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, "Yet others Iwill gather to them, to those already gathered." Isaiah 56:8 NASB
The"others" are different from Israel. When Yahweh gathered together thetribes of Israel, He also gathered in non-Israelites, you and me.
Throughoutthe TanakhYahweh has promised to reunite the twelve tribes and to make them one with oneleader. This is fulfilled in the New Covenant as Yahweh gathers the tribestogether through faith in Yeshua. And along with Israel the "goy" are coming to faith inChrist.
Let'slook at a verse in the New Testament that seems to teach that the "goy" will also be saved in theMessianic Kingdom:
"Thekingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found andhid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys thatfield. Matthew 13:44 NASB
Manyhave claimed that the man in the parable represents the sinner who, when hefinally realizes the true value of salvation, gives up everything to obtain it.This explanation, however, runs contrary to the whole message of the Scripturesthat salvation is free to the sinner, without money or price; in fact there isnothing he or she can do of themselves to obtain it.
Thiscommon misinterpretation is that Yeshua and salvation are the treasures, andthe man is a seeking sinner who sells all that he has to receive salvation. Ofcourse, there are problems with this interpretation.
Firstof all, the man finds the treasure. But truth is, people don't find Yeshua,rather, He finds them. I know what people mean when they say that theyfound Yeshua, but in theological terms it's not accurate, for if you come toHim it's only because He found you, called you, and you simply are one whoheard His voice and answered the call:
"Noone can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raisehim up on the last day. John 6:44 NASB
"Forthe Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke19:10 NASB
Yeshuadoes the seeking and saving. We do the running away.
Asecond problem is that the man sells all that he has to purchase the field.Obviously, this doesn't send the right message about salvation by grace. Itlooks more like works that way. But many are trying to buy their way intoheaven, sadly:
For bygrace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is thegift of God; Ephesians 2:8 NASB
Salvationis a gift given, not a prize earned.
Inhis book, Protestant Biblical Interpretation, Bernard Ramm says this:"Determine the one central truth the parable is attempting to teach. Thismight be called the golden rule of parabolic interpretation for practically allwriters on the subject mention it with stress." Dodd writes, "Thetypical parable presents one single point of comparison." The details arenot intended to have independent significance. Others have put the rule thisway: "Don't make a parable walk on all fours." Keeping this in mind,let's look at a few details of this parable.
"Kingdomof heaven is like"—there is no real difference in the identity of Kingdom of Heaven andKingdom of God. Matthew uses "heaven" as a substitute for God, whichwould have been a common Jewish practice out of reverence for the divine name.Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God are used interchangeable in theScriptures.
TheKingdom of Heaven is the central theme of Yeshua's preaching, according to theSynoptic Gospels. The Kingdom of God is synonymous with the Church; it is theNew Covenant; it is Mount Zion, the Heavenly Jerusalem. The Kingdom of Heaven is the rule or reign of God. It is a spiritual,not geographical kingdom. God reigns in the hearts of people!Christianity is the Kingdom of God.
"Likea treasure"—whatis this treasure? May I suggest to you that this treasure is Israel? It is myunderstanding that all the parables are about Israel:
ForJacob hath Jah chosen for Himself, Israel for His peculiar treasure. Psalms135:4 YLT
Theword "treasure" here is the Hebrew word segullah, which means: "to shut up; wealth (as closely shut up):—jewel, peculiar (treasure),proper good, special." We see this same word used of Israel in:
"TheLORD has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as Hepromised you, and that you should keep all His commandments; Deuteronomy 26:18NASB
"Foryou are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be apeople for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of theearth. Deuteronomy 14:2 NASB
Againthe word "possession" is the Hebrew word segullah. So Israel is Yahweh'streasure.
Wesee in the parable that the treasure is hidden in a field. "Hiddenin the field"—who is the father of the Hebrew people? Abraham. Go back to thestarting-point in Abraham's life. Did Yahweh choose him because he was godly?Was he living in separation from the idolatrous people around him? No, he washidden away among them—one of them! Abraham was a pagan moon worshiper, agoy, when Yahwehcalled him.
Abraham'sand Jacob's descendants become a numerous progeny, until they number some twomillion souls. But where were they? Working in the brick-kilns of Egypt, acompany of slaves. What was there to distinguish them? What was there todenote that they were Yahweh's peculiar treasure? Nothing, the treasure was"hidden." That is where the parable begins, and that is wheretheir history as a nation began—buried, as it were, amid the rubbish of Egypt.
"Whicha man found"—whois the man? We see a "Man" in the first two parables—a Man who sowedgood seed in His field (v. 24). The Lord Yeshua Himself has told us who thatMan is:
And Hesaid, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, Matthew 13:37NASB
If,then, the Man in the second parable represents the Son of Man, then in thisfifth parable it is safe to say He is the Man also.
"Whicha man found and hid again"—this is the scattering of Israel among the nations. Theten Northern Tribes rebelled and formed a separate Kingdom of Israel ruled byJeroboam. Rehoboam retained the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi to formthe Southern Kingdom of Judah. Henceforth they are spoken of in history andprophecy as Two Kingdoms, Two Houses, Two Families, Two Nations, Two Sticks,Two Sisters and Two Sons.
Rehoboamassembled a great army to march north, subdue the rebels and reunite the IsraelKingdom, but was expressly forbidden by God to do so:
'Thussays the LORD, "You must not go up and fight against your relatives thesons of Israel; return every man to his house, for this thing has come fromMe."'" So they listened to the word of the LORD, and returned andwent their way according to the word of the LORD. 1 Kings 12:24 NASB
Sometwo centuries later the Northern Kingdom of Israel became so wicked andapostate that God allowed them to be conquered by the Assyrians, together withan estimated two hundred thousand Judahites from the Southern Kingdom as well.They were deported into exile from 745-676 B.C. never to return to Palestine.Thus we read:
"Behold,the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, And I will destroy it fromthe face of the earth; Nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house ofJacob," Declares the LORD. "For behold, I am commanding, And I willshake the house of Israel among all nations As grain is shaken in a sieve, Butnot a kernel will fall to the ground. "All the sinners of My people willdie by the sword, Those who say, 'The calamity will not overtake or confrontus.' "In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, And wall upits breaches; I will also raise up its ruins And rebuild it as in the daysof old; Amos 9:8-11 NASB
Thus was the Israel Treasure lost and hidden even as the Lord had spoken. But Hepromised to one day reunite the two kingdoms. Yeshua talks about thisre-gathering in:
"Andthen the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribesof the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDSOF THE SKY with power and great glory. "And He will send forth His angelswith A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the fourwinds, from one end of the sky to the other. Matthew 24:30-31 NASB
Thisis the fulfillment of all those promise in the Tanakh that speak of the re-gatheringof Israel, especially in conjunction with the diaspora, the scattered Northerntribes. This verse is a clear reference to the fulfillment of those promises.
"Fromthe four winds" —thatis, from the four quarters of the globe—East, West, North, and South. The Jewsexpressed those quarters by the winds blowing from them.
Backto our text: What is the field? The "field" is mentioned in two of thepreceding parables—the field in which the good seed was sown, and the fieldthat was over-sown by tares; and in verse 38
Christ tells us that the field isthe world:
andthe field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of thekingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; Matthew 13:38 NASB
IfChrist says that the field is the world in a previous parable, why would itmean something entirely different in this fifth parable of the same chapter?:
"Andfrom joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field"—in buying the whole field, He alsoregained the treasure which He found. The Bible tells us that the Man,Yeshua the Christ, sells all that He has and buys the field. At this point, wemust notice that the picture in this parable is not focused on the treasure. Inother words, the parable tells us that the Man, Yeshua, buys the field. Weunderstand, of course, that He does it for the sake of the treasure. But itsays that He bought the field. After His death and resurrection, Yeshuadeclared to His disciples:
AndYeshua came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given toMe in heaven and on earth. Matthew 28:18 NASB
WithHis death, Yeshua bought the world. Why? To save every individual? No. We seeYeshua's limited atonement in the parables that follow. He bought the world tohave authority over it. The word "authority" in Matthew 28:18 is fromexousia,and is often translated: "power," but it more properly means:"authority." Since His resurrection, Yeshua has been ruling theworld.
Butwhy did Yeshua buy the world and gain this authority? After telling Hisdisciples that He had authority over the world, Yeshua says:
"Gotherefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name ofthe Father
and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Icommanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."Matthew 28:19-20 NASB
Noticethe "therefore." This is why He has the authority over the world.It is so His disciples could teach all the nations. Satan has been bound, andYeshua is plundering his house.
Animportant point in understanding this parable is that Christ had sent themultitude away, had entered the house and spoke this parable to His disciplesonly. This parable, unlike the four which precede it, was spoken to thedisciples only.
Thepurchase is made after the treasure had been "hidden"—notice whatJohn says:
Now hedid not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, heprophesied that Yeshua was going to die for the nation, and not for the nationonly, but in order that He might alsogather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.John 11:51-52 NASB
Herewe are told that Yeshua died not just for the nation, which is the word ethnos, and is referring to the nationIsrael. But not just for the nation, butfor the children of God scattered abroad. Just as in Ephesians 2 Heis going to gather the nations and the children of God into one.
Thisphrase "children of God" is used ten time in the Scripture, never ofIsrael:
But asmany as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, evento those who believe in His name, John 1:12 NASB
Doyou know what the previous says? "He came to His own [Israel], and thosewho were His own did not receive Him." But the ones who did receive Him Hegave the right to become the children of God. This is a term used forbelievers, the elect, throughout the New Testament.
Inthis parable we have the treasure hidden in the field: that takes us back tothe beginning of Israel's history as a nation. Second, we have the Man findingthat treasure; Third, we have the Man hiding the treasure; that is Christ'sjudgment upon Israel because of their sin. It is referring to their dispersionabroad throughout the earth. Fourth, we have the Man purchasing the treasureand the whole field in which it was found, referring to the death of Christ.The treasure in the field is Israel. The Man in the parable is Christ. He wentand sold all that He had. He who was rich became poor, and bought the field,which is the world.
"Again,the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon findingone pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.Matthew 13:45-46 NASB
Therehas been a tendency among many to say that these two Parables mean one and thesame thing. It is true that there are certain important similarities betweenthe two stories but there are also certain important differences.
Throughoutthe Scripture the pearl is regarded as something very costly and precious:
Andthe twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl.And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. Revelation21:21 NASB
Thepearl which the merchant bought, contrary to popular theology and hymnology, isnot the Lord Yeshua the Christ, neither is it Israel the Hidden Treasure."What else," you may ask then, "did our Lord purchase with Hisblood?":
"Beon guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit hasmade you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with Hisown blood. Acts 20:28 NASB
Foryou have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1Corinthians 6:20 NASB
Sowe see that Christ died not for Israel only, but also for the Church, which isHis body. The Church which is made up of those from Israel and those of thenations.
Giveno offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; 1 Corinthians10:32 NASB
Herewe have Jews Greeks and the church. The "church" is a new category,it is the "one new man" of Ephesians 2:15.
Sothe terms "goy" and "ethnos" are used of both the ten Northern tribes of Israeland of non-Israelites. Believers, the promises of Yeshua for salvation are forall who trust in Him. Salvation is for us, non-Israelite goy who trust in Him as well as forIsraelites:
Andthey sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and tobreak its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood menfrom every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Revelation 5:9 NASB
Yeshua'sdeath purchased men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
tounite the twelve tribes, and it also refers to non-Israelites in accordancewith Yahweh's promise that when He united the twelve tribes also save the goy. Those of Israel and those notof Israel who trust in Yeshua are joined to the "One New Man"becoming one people in the body of Christ.
So it is myunderstanding that our text in Ephesians 2 is referring to Israelites beingunited to the Jews, in accordance with Yahweh's promise