Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What's Your Identity? Question #7

Here's a question mostly targeted at the gentiles out there (but all comments welcome).  The following verses talk about how gentiles are gentiles no longer and that they shouldn't act like gentiles anymore.  I'll ask the question first and then post the verses:


Are gentiles in the New Covenant supposed to retain their identities as gentiles?

Some verses for consideration:

Eph 4:17-24
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
 20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

 1 Cor 12:2

 2 Ye know that ye WERE Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led .

Here's some literal versions of Eph 2:11

Ephesians 2:11 "Wherefore remember that ye once the gentiles in [the] flesh, who are called uncircumcision by that called circumcision in [the] flesh made by hand" (Interlinear Greek-English New Testament published by Zondervan)

Ephesians 2:11 "Therefore remember that you then the gentiles in the flesh, those being called uncircumcision by those being called circumcision in (the) flesh made by hand" (The Interlinear Bible by Sovereign Grace Publishers)


  1. Our identity as believers in in Messiah, not in Judaism or Gentilism...

    1. Our identity must be as you said. It also follows that from such an identity one would have to be Torah observant, yes?

    2. It all sounds so "hyperspiritual" - but the fact is, G-d has created a male and a female, Jew and Gentile. He didn't make a mistake. Just as you Dan still (hopefully) think of yourself as a male, your identity as a Jew didn't go away either.

  2. Our identity as believers in in Messiah, not in Judaism or Gentilism...

  3. I think yes, we should retain our identity as Gentiles. I think part of this is that the word "Gentile" was used differently, being synonymous with those that were uncircumcised.

    Maintaining one's identity of being Gentile is a reminder of who they are before God. In Ephesians 2, Paul addresses the people by remembering who they once were in order that they can understand who they are now. This serves the purpose of reminding others who God is by His interactions with Gentiles. It's also prophesied that people of unclean lips will praise Him, foreigners and aliens would get it right where the Jews didn't. Yes, I think that Gentiles should remember their heritage. We are saved by faith, not lineage or circumcision.

    Yet, if "Gentile" is synonymous with one that doesn't follow God, then no, we should not be gentiles.

    1. Arthur, welcome to my blog! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I think you made a great point when you said "Maintaining one's identity of being Gentile is a reminder of who they are before God." I agree that Gentiles should "remember". It's important certainly to remember where one comes from. Though I'm curious: what is your opinion about gentiles observing Torah?

    2. " I agree that Gentiles should "remember". It's important certainly to remember where one comes from."

      There's a not so little problem with Gentile identity being only there to act as a "remembrance" - we know from the prophets that there will be many nations in the World to Come, each with their own name, living in their own land... After all, Abraham is the father of many nations, both physically and spiritually. Being a person from one of the nations is not something to shun, forget or feel inferior about. It's something to celebrate - it is the work of G-d's hands.

    3. It sounds weird to me when "Jews" are referred to as if a separate species. There are humans and there are "Jews"???

      When Abraham was separated did he retain his "Gentile identity"?

      Is being Jewish something that was added when Abraham was "put to sleep"?

      If the converted have become "new creatures" is that something different than a regular human?

      Don't beat me up brothers....just askin' :)

    4. Anonymous,

      That's a fantastic comment and you should take credit for it. And don't worry about others beating you up; I've got your back.

      Yes, there are several excellent points here.

      Since Jews, as you say, are not a different species, then it follows that the laws that apply broadly to Israel and which have always been enjoyed by proselytes (going back to Abraham as you mention) are more than fit for current gentiles.

      I love it. Thank you for visiting and engaging with the topic.

  4. Gene,

    You've just given me an idea for a blog post. I'm going to pose a question regarding the prophetic use of the term "goy" and also the term "am." We'll explore the political nuances of each term.

  5. First, there is much confusion in the discussion of the term gentile with regards to its contextual/theological use and of that pertaining to race; this distinction is consistent throughtout the Pauline epistles. However, context is everything and one cannot manipulate a verse to suit one's own whim, regardless of their intention. Thus, when the term gentile is used, many times it relates to an overall hermenutic applied by Paul to refer to ones who existed and exist without the revelation of God; this theme begins in Romans. Thus from there, the gentile pertains a metaphorical use with regards to the greek syntax and thus denotes those who are without God, outside of God, and living a life divorced from revelation. However, in light of the revelation of God in Christ, this distinction yet retains its purpose for Paul; when Paul wants to remind his readers, specific churches, of that life which is contrary to revelation, the gentile suits his purpose. This usage has been generally undebated from the first century; read Clement of Rome, Alexanderia, Athanasius, Ireaneus, etc. However, with regards to a distinction in race, well, the DNA which has been selected by God, this being Abraham's and his descendants retains, Israel., i.e. Jacob originally, is maintained. Modern DNA biology obviously shows that different people groups have inherited different DNA mutations; the difference in Chromosone, for example in Asian and those of African descendent; this is no exception for a donmiate dna strand found only in Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews; really, how does one account for empirical differences between races without considering the inworkings of dna mutation? But this fact is well established scientifically and thus retains a greater clarity than exegesis arguments which envelop numerous other fields and consideration; biblical hermenuetics is obviously problematic as reveal from 2000 years of theological disputation and discussion. There is much more that can be said, but when it comes down to it, are thinking about these discussions are loaded with presuppositions, even me. So, there has to be a criterion or criteria wherefrom to begin this conversations, a given set of rules. THanks, Turchin

    1. Turchin! Now it's officially a party. But which Turchin is this? It will have to be a mystery I suppose. Is it one of the Turchin twins?

      Re: "However, in light of the revelation of God in Christ, this distinction yet retains its purpose for Paul; when Paul wants to remind his readers, specific churches, of that life which is contrary to revelation, the gentile suits his purpose."

      Couldn't have said it better myself. Paul isn't trying to be a jerk, of course, but reminding the gentiles of their worthless past does serve its purposes from time to time.

      Thank you for visiting, sir. And do come again!

    2. From David:

      Turchin is correct that there is sufficient evidence in the DNA of any and all human beings to determine their membership in the Jewish race. One can even distinguish those who have links to Jacob exclusively through the paternal line and those who have a continuous maternal line done by analysis of the Y-chromosome and the Mitochondrial DNA respectively.

      Presumably, if one does not have such evidence in their DNA, then they are a gentile.

      Regarding metaphorical usage of the word "gentile" I am not sure. I prefer to avoid any kind of loose hermeneutic whenever possible. By loose I mean allegorical, symbolic, or metaphorical. I know that, in many places, this cannot be avoided. I also recognize that a text's genre can introduce certain rules that we must follow. Nonetheless, I avoid introducing such methods whenever possible. Or, to put it another way, I see where the literal sense takes me before I rule it out.

      Of course, whether a Gentile or a Jew, any human being who has faith in Christ, in this age, is a member of the Church. Gentiles are grafted in to a covenant promised to Jews first. This new covenant (Jer 31:31-34) is meant to eventually establish a new kingdom of God on earth. This kingdom will be a monarchy headed by Christ sitting on the throne of David. This earthly Jewish kingdom is not currently a reality. Thus, the Church is the intervening entity that watches for the return of the King and the establishment of the kingdom. The Church, therefore, is generated by God as a response to the rejection of Messiah by the Jewish NATION.

      So, the Church is not a national entity, but the kingdom is. The church receives the spiritual blessings of the new covenant, but none of the physical/national blessings.

      So, to answer the original question, gentiles can remain gentiles and need not heed any of the racial or national demands of Jewishness. They need not heed the Mosaic Covenant in any part . . . at all! Jesus is the master of the Church, and Jesus will be the king of the new kingdom when he comes to establish his reign. Thus, the only rules a Christian Gentile needs to follow are those that come from Jesus.

      Jesus did provide a code of conduct. Many of these rules repeat rules from the Mosaic Covenant. E.g., thou shalt not lie, commit adultery, etc.

      Paul spilled much ink trying to keep people from returning to the Mosaic covenant.

      Is that enough for now?


    3. David,

      Is this David the professor? Glad to hear from you in any case. And I realize that your profession might require you to remain anonymous. That's perfectly fine.

      While I don't agree with you, I do appreciate hearing opposing viewpoints. Since you've raised some broader issues, I think I'll create a separate blog post to begin a discussion about whether the ekklesia is a national entity. As I'm sure you're aware, the Hebraic analogue to ekklesia is kahal as in "the day of the kahal" from Torah, the assembly of the Israelites when the national entity known as "Israel" was created, and which is also a synonym for Israel. So perhaps I'll present the case for that in a different post if you're interested. Please subscribe to my blog if you haven't already.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting, David.

      Shalom, brother

  6. Cheers! and Shalom

  7. I appreciate your blog. I have gone to church all my life, and I never knew the Jewish Jesus. It makes me think. It is challenging me... all that I have ever known.


    1. Shalom Patricia!

      Welcome to the blog. I'm actually working on an introduction section for the blog that I'll try to have up momentarily. So be sure to check it out!

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!