Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):

That Unfortunate Word “GENTILE

The Hebrew and Greek words, which are sometimes translated “Gentile”, have both pagan and Israelite connotations. The idea that the word refers only to non-Israel people comes from the translators, who took their lead from the Latin Vulgate -- whose interpretation of “Gentile” was one who was not of Rome. What the word “Gentile” has come to mean is not the original meaning and therefore not the true meaning.

by Arnold Kennedy

There are conflicts within the common belief about “Jews and Gentiles”. The common teaching is that “the Jews” are Israel and the “Gentiles” are everyone else. Part of this obviously is not valid because the words transliterated as “Gentiles” in both Hebrew and Greek, are also used of Israel. We can discover that “the Jews” cannot equate to all Israel and that some “Gentiles” may be Israelites, in Scripture. Because the traditional teaching is so ingrained in commentaries, concordances, Bible dictionaries, books and in people’s minds, it is very hard for anyone brought up with the traditional belief to shake it off.

The purpose of this article is to make an examination of both the words “Jews” and “Gentiles” as used in Scripture. That there are two parties in the New Testament does not mean to say the two parties have to be Jews and Gentiles, in the way that this is taught. Rather than that, the existence of the two parties confirms what is taught in the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets about the division of Israel into two kingdoms from which arose the House of Israel (ten tribes) and the House of Judah (two tribes). These two houses are shown in prophecy to be a continual vexation to each other, with a wall of partition between them, until they are reconciled together under the New Testament (Isaiah 11:13). These two parties of the Old Testament are clearly the same two parties in the New Testament.

Where Did “Gentile” Come From?

This word, “GENTILE”, originated from the Latin Vulgate translation, where the Roman doctrine claimed that Rome had inherited the promises made to Israel, that is, the Roman Church had become the “Israel” of the Bible. Even more recently, Pope Pius XI reinforced this saying, “Spiritually, we Christians are Semites”. The inference of the word, “Gentile”, in the Roman Catholic context, is one who is “not of Rome”. In the English translations that were based upon the Latin Vulgate, this Latin word has carried on with a similar meaning but instead of meaning "not of Rome" it has become to mean "not of Israel". In the minds of those to whom Rome and Israel were synonymous, there was no difference; to be of the Roman Catholic Church was to belong to and to be part of Israel. Rome accommodated all races that could buy citizenship and the “all races” concept came into the Church. Rome calls herself a universal church with a universal Pontiff and is the originator of both modern and ancient universalism in the Christian religion.

But, unfortunately, translators have transliterated this Latin word, “Gentile”, into their versions, and it has carried forward even into recent translations. By transliterating the Latin form, it has allowed scope for the idea that it referred to Roman with all others being non-Roman, to continue. Switch the “Roman” to “Israel” (because Rome said she was Israel) and we then find how Rome expressed the two parties as “Israel” and “non-Israel”. This has continued even to this day. This doctrine has found its way into commentaries and Bible dictionaries and through these media, most Christians are still influenced.

The Latin meaning of Gentiles is confusing in its own right -- it does not mean "nations." The Latin noun gen means "a nation" and is equivalent to ethnos in Greek. However, the word gentiles does not come from the noun but from the adjective, gentilis, which means "of or belonging to a nation". As all Paul’s writings are to Israelites, he uses ethnos to refer to his outcast kinsmen of Israel because that is how they were addressed in the Old Testament Scriptures -- Genesis 19:4-6; Genesis 18:18; Deuteronomy 32:41 (the “with” is not in the Hebrew text); Psalm 22:27, 28; Psalm 57:9; Psalm 67:4; Psalm 81:8; Psalm 108:3; Psalm 117:1; Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 11:12; Isaiah 34:1; Jeremiah 1:5,10. The Latin distorts and obscures these facts and we need to check its context every time it appears in the text.

How the Word “Gentile” is Misused

In both the Hebrew and the Greek there is no word even approaching the way “Gentile” is used today. In the concordances and commentaries we can see the influences of the religious teaching of the day and age where the Roman influence is manifest:

Strong's H1471: "Gowy or goi [goyim Pl.]: a foreign nation, hence a gentile, also a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts, heathen."

Strong's G1484: "Ethnos [Ethne Pl] a race [as of the same] habit, that is, a tribe; spec. a foreign [non-Jewish] one [usually by impl. pagan] gentile, heathen, nation, people."

We must remember that concordances give past usage rather than definitions, but within these we can see part of the true meaning like “of the same habit and tribe”. Lexicons are more definitive:

Thayer: "A multitude [whether of men or beasts] associated or living together…of the same nature or genus."

Vine: "Denotes firstly a multitude or company, then a multitude of people of the same nature or genus. It is used in the singular of the Jews for example, Luke 7:5, Luke 23:2; John 11:48:50-52."

Vine goes on to show that “Gentiles” is used in Scripture of both Jews and non-Jews. (Strong's and Vine use the word “Jew” for “Israel” following the understanding of the period).

How the Hebrew and Greek Words Are Translated

When we look at the words translated as Gentile in the KJV translation of the Bible, immediately something strange will be seen:

HEBREW as gowy, goi, goyim.
374 as nations.
143 as
30 as
11 as

GREEK as ethnos, ethne
64 as
5 as
93 as
2 as

So, even in the KJV, “nations” is the major translation. The words may be with or without the definite article -- (it can be demonstrated that when the definite article is used, the reference is to Israelites).

In the Greek texts the word Hellen = “Greek”, and is used thirty five times, but our translators have also chosen to translate this word (wrongly) as “gentile”, particularly in the Book of Romans. Ethnos and Hellen are quite different words! Sometimes the justification is to say that the Greeks were not Jews and therefore they must be Gentiles. This is not translating; rather it is interpreting Scripture in the versions. There is neither rhyme nor reason for all these various translations and mis-translations, other than to perpetuate a belief! That false belief is still with us today!

The term “Greeks” refers to the “Greek-speaking” House of Israel members who were then in parts of the old Greek empire following their captivity in Assyria. The “Jew” refers to the Judean Israelites who returned to Judea following their captivity in Babylon. Thus, “The Jew and the Greek” refers to the same two Houses of Israel as we find in the Old Testament.

The commonly accepted meaning of the word “Gentile” immediately falls flat from the translation point of view alone. When we add the fact that the word in Hebrew is used also of Israel, it falls even flatter! When we show the real meaning from the New Testament, it becomes so flat that it cannot be seen! The Hebrew and Greek words mean “nations” as races and peoples. They mean any group of a common origin, including Israel as such a group.

Some Ridiculous Conclusions

Let us look at some Old Testament Scriptures where the word Gowy, Goi or Goyim are used. If we apply the logic concerning “Gentiles” for these words, we can see the ridiculous conclusions that could be reached. Remember that Goi and Ethnos are used of Israel as well as of other races.

Genesis 12:1,2: "Now the LORD said unto Abram...and I will make of thee a great nation (goi)"

Genesis 17:5: "A father of many nations (goyim) have I made thee."

Did YEHOVAH God make a great non-Israel “Gentile” nation out of Abraham and did Abraham father many Gentiles? Was that great nation other than Israel? Did not Israel have many tribes which are sometimes referred to as “nations” (goyim)?

Genesis 25:23: "And the LORD said unto her (Rebecca), Two nations are in thy womb"

Could Rebecca have what would become two non-Israel “Gentiles” in her womb? Were Jacob and Esau both “Gentiles” in the popular concept?

Genesis 48:19: "And his seed shall become a multitude of nations."

There is no evidence in Scripture that Ephraim would procreate to produce a lot of non-Israelites.

Genesis 46:3: "And he said, I am God, the God of thy father (Isaac) fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation."

Could the sons of Jacob really be great non-Israelite “Gentiles”?

Jeremiah 31:36: "If those ordinances [the sun and the moon] depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before me for ever."

As the word for “nation” is the same as that translated “Gentiles”, we could equally read, “the seed of Israel shall not cease from being Gentiles before Me”. We could even say Israel would not cease from being heathens! This is absurd!

When we consider the word ethnos, which is sometimes translated “Gentiles” in the New Testament, we have another block of translations among which we could make transpositions. The consequences are equally absurd!

Luke 7:5: "For he loved our nation, and has built for us a synagogue."

Would that section of Jewry be pleased if the Centurion had built a synagogue for the so-called Gentiles or the heathen? “Nation” is the word ethnos.

Luke 23:2: "We found this fellow perverting the nation."

Would “the Jews” care so much if the Messiah was perverting the “Gentiles”? (Note “the Jews” in the plural is in the context of the Judean leaders who were predominantly of Edomite extraction).

John 11:48: "The Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation."

For the Romans to come to Judea and take away “our” "Gentiles" gets more than a little silly.

John 11:49,50: "Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not."

Caiaphas did not know that this word ethnos would be translated as “Gentile” and “Heathen”, and note he used “nation” in the singular. The Messiah did die for the sheep, which the Father had given him and only that many. He gave himself a ransom for "many", but not every race on earth. It has to be noted that the Law and Covenants were given to the seed of Israel only. Only Israel could be ransomed.

Acts 10:22: "Cornelius…of good report among all the nation of the Jews."

“Nation” is ethnos, which is often translated as “Gentiles”, so could we possibly have “Gentiles of the Jews”? (Note that Cornelius was of “another nation” which in the Greek means roughly “of another tribe of the same sort”, i.e. he was an Israelite Centurion in the Roman army).

Acts 24:17: "I came to bring alms to my nation and offerings."

Here Paul would be saying that he brought alms to his “Gentiles” in Jerusalem. Paul was an Israelite.

We just have to admit that there is no such word in all of Scripture which matches up with the common acceptance of the word “Gentiles”. We can now see that goi and ethnos can mean both Israelites and non-Israelites.

Some teachers who admit to goi and ethnos being used of Israel, declare that in the singular they refer to Israel and in the plural they refer to all the non-Israel nations, just saying it does not make it a fact. Galilee of the Gentiles in Matthew 4:15 is said to refer to “gentiles” because it is the plural. When we make a comparison with Acts 1:11, “Ye men of Galilee“, and Acts 2:7, “Are not all that speak Galileans?, it has to be admitted that the disciples were Israelites even if they were from Galilee and that they were not Judeans.

Popular Theology About “Gentiles”…Is It Right?

We have already made comment on the origin of the word “Gentile”. We have pointed out that there appears to be no evidence that the Apostles could totally and properly distinguish between Israelites and non-Israelites in the nations, to which they went. Hence the message had to be taken to the nations in order for the message to reach “all men” of the descendants of the outcast Israelites. The House of Israel had been scattered amongst other races as a punishment. Those of Israelite extraction had the capacity to believe YEHOVAH God and so could accept the "good news" and become reinstated as YEHOVAH’s people.

Popular theology picked up the Roman error and this error has come to prevail. Of course, the originator, the arch-cult-type, the Roman Catholic Church, keeps on her unchanging doctrine. But she is the one with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication and by whom they have been deceived through her sorceries (Revelation 17:2 and Revelation 18:23). It was Rome which originated the error in doctrine, and Protestants have carried it on.

But we are told “come out of her my people” (Revelation 18:4). YEHOVAH’s chosen people are warned to come out of all of Rome’s doctrines, including Rome’s universalism! Multitudes today are going Rome’s way. What religion leads the ex-communist states? What is sweeping the earth?

But the great whore will be cast down; YEHOVAH God has so decreed, and none need be partakers of her plagues. Who rejoices when Babylon is cast down? Is it not the holy (set-apart) apostles and prophets? (Revelation 18:20). One has to come out to be set-apart! The Faithful and True will come to judge and make war on that false prophet Rome (Revelation 19:11). The “wife” must get ready. It is the saints (Israel by Bible definition -- see Psalm 148:1) who wear the white linen (Revelation 19:8). The voice from out of the Throne addresses His servants. The servant race, the "saints" of Scripture, are of Israel. They are the ones who have the right to enter the city through those twelve gates. Would there be much point in mentioning this if every race went through those gates?

Revelation 21:12: "And a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes the children of Israel."

Revelation 21:27: "And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life."

Who works the abomination in doctrine? Is it not the mother of harlots and abominations? Who spreads the doctrine of universalism? Who originated it? The meaning of Catholicism is universalism! Search the Scriptures and see which race is the only race that is written in the Book of Life! You may get a surprise.

The Kinsman-Redeemer

Yeshua the Messiah is the Redeemer of Kinsmen. If anyone believes the “go ye into all the world” and “Jesus died to save the world” doctrine in the way Rome interprets “the world”, then that person cannot believe that the Messiah is our (that is, Israel’s) Kinsman-Redeemer. At the Second Advent the Messiah will ignore those who are not his kinsmen.

To Whom Did the a Paul Write?

Did he really write to non-Israelites? He could NOT have been writing to other than Israelites.

Galatians 2:7: "…the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter."

Romans 11:13: "For I speak unto you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles."

It is important to remember that the word translated as “Gentiles” in these verses is ethnos in Romans and hellen in Galatians. Ethnos refers to Israelites just as goi applied to them in the Old Testament. Everyone who has been taught that the Gentiles are always non-Israel does experience difficulty in “unlearning”. This is understandable, because this doctrine is what theology has taught; this is written into translations in a way which makes unlearning difficult.

Now we can look at some other Scriptures from the New Testament that shows Israel as the only people being addressed. Please note what is highlighted in bold print.

Acts 10:36: "The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching (proclaiming) peace by Jesus Christ."

Acts 10:43: "To Him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins." (From the verse above we can see that “whosoever” refers to the Children of Israel).

Acts 13:23: "Of this man’s seed hath God, according to his promise raised up unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus."

Acts 13:32,33: "How the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children."

Here we see direct Scriptures that are particular and the exclusive. We also have a “whosoever” to which all the prophets of Israel give witness. Now, in the Old Testament books, to what “whosoever” is the Redeemer of Israel to come? Is it "whosoever of Israel" as the prophets say, or is it the "whosoever of every race" as translators think it should say? A positive decision has to be made!

Someone might be thinking, “Yes, but there are still two parties“. This problem completely disappears when we take note of the historical fact that Israel separated into two Kingdoms and became known in prophecy as:

[a] The House of Israel (10 tribes) -- The Uncircumcision.

[b] The House of Judah (2 tribes) -- The Circumcision.

Subsequently, both Kingdoms went into captivity in Assyria and Babylon, respectively.

Following the captivities, all of the 12 tribes (except for a small remnant) went North and were dispersed among the nations. These became known as the Dispersion or Uncircumcision. A small remnant of the Babylonian captivity of the Southern Kingdom returned to Palestine and formed the Judean nation. The ruling classes of the Judean nation were dominated by Edomites and their subversion of the Scriptures, the Traditions of the Elders, became the religion of the land. The Judean nation practiced circumcision and hence in the Scriptures, is referred to as the Circumcision. Consequently, the New Testament refers to two groups -- the Uncircumcision (the Israelites outside the Judean nation) and the Circumcision (the Israelites inside the Judean nation). The other uncircumcised races are not included in the uncircumcision, because the sum of the two groups addressed is “all Israel”. It is just that simple!

The Messiah’s Ministry Was Not Primarily to the Jews Or in Judea

Most people would question this statement without even thinking about it! But let us look at this matter more closely. In the gospels, the Messiah makes a clear distinction between Galilee and Judea, the latter being the territory of “The Jews.”

John 7:1: "After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him."

John 11:53, 54: "Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim."

Matthew 19:1: "And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judea, beyond Jordan."

Matthew 4:12: "Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee (from Judea)."

Acts 9:31: "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee…"

These verses highlight clearly that the two territories are treated differently. There was a clear barrier between the two.

Matthew 4:23: "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom…"

Matthew 4:15,16: "The land of Zabulon and the land of Nepthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people which sat in darkness saw great light…"

The latter verse identifies these Israelites in Galilee and translators calls them “Gentiles”! In the Thompson Chain Reference Bible, the footprints of the Messiah are presented graphically on pages 274 and 275 showing that Galilee was the major area of the Messiah’s ministry.

Matthew 4:13: "And leaving Nazereth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum."

Most Christians seem to think that the Messiah dwelt among “the Jews” in Jerusalem, but this is not so. Christians seem to think that Jerusalem was the center-point of the Messiah’s teaching ministry. Yeshua went to Jerusalem at particular times for particular purposes. His disciples did not appreciate these times about going up to Jerusalem, as Yeshua once told them, “Your time is always now, but My time is not yet” (John 7:6). Yeshua fulfilled the Old Testament times exactly regarding the Sabbaths and the feasts of Israel. Yeshua said he knew the exact day of his crucifixion at Jerusalem (Matthew 26:2). He went to Jerusalem on exactly the right day (Nisan 10th) to be chosen by the Israelite people among the population as their King, and he was delivered to become the all-sufficient sacrifice for the redemption of his people. Jerusalem was the center-point where the Messiah would fulfill his mission and his Father’s Will to be the Passover Lamb for Israel. The institution of the Passover Lamb was only to Israel.

Across the border from Judea, mention is made of Ephraimites or Galileans. The Messiah was safe amongst the Israelites in Galilee whereas he was not safe amongst the Judeans. This fulfilled the prophecy made by Moses:

Deuteronomy 33:12: "And of Benjamin he said, the beloved of the LORD shall dwell safely by him; and the LORD shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders."

We have seen from Matthew 4:15,16 above that these Israelites in Galilee are called “Gentiles”. It was Galilee from whence the Messiah picked out eleven of his disciples. Judas, the Judean, was the one who betrayed the Messiah! Eleven of the disciples were not of “the Jews” and were not of Judah either. When the Messiah ascended, the witnesses are described as “Men of Galilee” in Acts 1:11 and Acts 2:7. In Acts 2:22 those addressed were “Men of Israel“, but not “Jews”. But whilst addressing the “Men of Israel”, the disciples soon came up against the Edomite “the Jews” in the national leadership. The more we look into this matter, the more impossible it becomes to say “the Jews” and “the Men of Israel” ever refer to the same people.

Today most denominations insist that “the Jews” and “Israel” are the same! We read in the New Testament that some of the priesthood believed in the Messiah; all were not Edomites or other proselytes. Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews and so was among the leaders. But his counsel was somewhat different as a non-Edomite! The Messiah was speaking primarily of the leadership in general when referring to “the Jews”. Yeshua described these leaders as hirelings, and being shepherds, "whose own the sheep are not." Each such person in the religious leadership was climbing up some other way and each was a thief and robber (John 10:1). In Verse 5 the Messiah calls them “strangers” = allotrios, that is, they were not of the same family group and they are identifiable because of what they were doing. Remember how the Messiah said that these could not hear his words?


YEHOVAH God says that Israel would always be a nation. The word ethnos could not apply to a multiracial church. Israel is a separate people of a common racial origin. They would remain a nation (or nations) as long as the sun and the moon are shining (Jeremiah 31:36).

The Hebrew and the Greek words, which are sometimes translated “Gentile”, have both pagan and Israelite connotations. The words goi and ethnos are used of any group of a common racial origin. The idea that the word refers only to non-Israel people comes from the translators, who took their lead from the Latin Vulgate whose interpretation of “Gentile” was one who was not of Rome. This can never mean “not a Jew” in the sense it is given today. There are other words that apply to “heathen” and “barbarians” and Paul could have used these to describe non-Israelites if that had been his mind. But he did not! What the word “Gentile” has come to mean is not the original meaning and therefore not the true meaning.

It is necessary to point out:

[a] If “the Gentiles” does not mean what we have been taught, then the word “Church” may not mean what tradition teaches either.

[b] If any want to declare that “the Gentiles” are non-Israel, then why does YEHOVAH God say something different and still isolate Israel and Judah from the other races?

[c] If any want to say that Israel is now “the Church”, called out of every race, then they have a problem understanding the difference between race and nationality. These are not identical.

Israel was scattered among the nations, and is re-gathered out of (not of) them. This means that they are separated from other races.

The Apostle Paul concludes his argument in the Book of Romans by saying:

Romans 11:26: "And so shall all Israel be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away all ungodliness from Jacob."

It is not said that the Deliverer will turn away ungodliness from others as well as from Jacob, or that other than “all Israel” will be saved. We cannot somehow change all races into “Jacob”. And, of course, there is no way “all Israel” can be made to mean all people on earth. The parties that make up all Israel are still the House of Israel and the House of Judah.

Thus says the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets! Thus says the New Testament also! Therefore, the two groups are not “Jews and non-Jews”, or “Jews and Gentiles” in the popular concept.

What is Being Said?

This article is saying that the so-called “Gentiles” being addressed cannot possibly be other than Israelites. In general, they represent the House of Israel as opposed to the Judean nation. The Bible is a book about the whole nation of Israel and the covenants and promises made to that nation, either as a whole nation or to individual parts of it. The other races are mentioned in the Bible only as they affect Israel.

The exclusive nature of Israel, as found through the Old Testament, continues through the New Testament.

The popular historic and the modern use of “Gentiles” is wrong!


Hope of Israel Ministries -- Proclaiming the Good News of the Soon-Coming Kingdom of YEHOVAH God Here On This Earth!

Hope of Israel Ministries
P.O. Box 853
Azusa, CA 91702, U.S.A.

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