(605) 826-2322 pwsyltie@yahoo.com

Who Are These “Gentiles”, and Can They Become Israelites?

by Paul W. Syltie

October 26, 2007 — Revised May 4, 2011

The eternal God of all creation is an awesome God, One whose ideas and plans far transcend the mind of the common man who is not initiated into the plan of salvation. This plan is a mystery to the world at large, but a concrete revelation to those called in this age … those in whom the Father has placed His spirit and in whom He and Jesus Christ dwell. It is not a secret any longer to those whom the Father has called, but …

… as it is written, ‘eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them that love Him’. But God has revealed them unto us by His spirit, for the spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (I Corinthians 2:9-10).

The identity of the “gentiles” in this amazing plan of almighty God is a valuable truth for the saints … not that their identification would change anything — for the Father calls to the resurrection whomever He desires (John 6:44) despite the opinions of others — but as sons of God we all crave to know the details of God’s plan. Not the least of these truths is the knowledge of the called and chosen gentiles in history, as revealed through Scripture, and their fate.

The Meaning of “Gentile”

The word translated gentile in the Old Testament is nearly always the Hebrew word goy (Strong 1471), meaning “a foreign nation, hence a gentile”. This word is translated “gentile, heathen, nation, or people” in the King James Version of the Bible. Synonyms for gentile include heathen, foreigner, stranger, and alien, but they all give the sense of someone who is not of the genetic lineage of the descendants of Israel himself, that is, Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel (Genesis 32:28). Israel (Strong 3478) means “a prince of God”, or “he will rule as God” … and indeed the promises made by Yahweh to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob center around the very issue of the elect of Elohim becoming gods themselves (John 10:34), brothers of Jesus Christ (Roman 8:29).

Typical places in Scripture where this word goy is used include Genesis 10:5 (“By these were the isles of the gentiles divided in their lands, every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.”), Isaiah 49:6 (“… I will also give you [Israel] for a light to the Gentiles, that you [Israel] may be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”), and Hosea 8:8 (”Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the gentiles, as a vessel wherein is no pleasure”.). Oftentimes Israel is contrasted to the gentile nations, so of necessity they must be non-Israelite, of a different lineage from the descendants of Jacob and those outsiders who allied themselves with Israel, and whose families and genetics were absorbed into that chosen nation. In Genesis 10, verse 5 of which is quoted above, the seventy gentile nations are shown to exist many centuries before the nation of Israel even came into existence, further illustrating that the word gentile usually refers to non-Israelites.

In the New Testament, gentile is uniformly translated from the Greek ethnos (Strong 1484), meaning “a race (as of the same habitat), i.e. a tribe, specifically a foreign (non-Israelite) one (usually by implication pagan).” The word is translated in the King James Version as “gentile, heathen, nation, and people” … the very same four words the translators used to translate the Hebrew goy into English. Examples of the word ethnos used in the New Testament include Matthew 10:5-6 (“Go not into the way of the gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter you not, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”), Acts 13:42 (“And when the Judeans were gone out of the synagogue, the gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.”), and Romans 3:29-30 (“Is He the God of the Judeans only? Is He not also of the gentiles? Yes, of the gentiles also, seeing it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.”). As for the use of goy in the Old Testament, the word ethnos in the New Testament contrasts those of Israelite background from those of non-Israelite genetics.

It Makes No Sense …

It makes no sense that the Word of God would contrast Israelites from gentiles if the latter were Israelites as well. Would not gentiles be called Israelites by God even if they had lost their identity as Israelites over the centuries? Would He lie about who they really are whenever they are mentioned in Scripture? After the northern ten tribes were taken into captivity during the Sixth Century B.C. those peoples were prophesied to lose track of their lineage as Israelites, but did God lose track of them? He declared that they would be “… sifted through the nations …” (Amos 9:9), and not the least grain (genetic material) would be lost.

We have already seen that gentiles includes all of the seventy nations in the Table of Nations in Genesis 10. Abraham came out of one of these seventy nations, — Abraham was a gentile — from the lineage of Arphaxad through Salah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, and Terah (Genesis 11:11-26). Shem had other sons besides Arphaxad, including Elam, Asshur, Lud, and Aram. These other children would logically look similar to Shem and to one another, assuming they were born of the same wife or to women of similar appearance: all were likely fair-skinned, with a generous dose of blue eyes and blonde or reddish hair in the mix as one notes amongst the Anglo-Saxons throughout both Eastern and Western Europe, Scandinavia, the British Isles, and other nations these peoples have settled in North and South America, Australia, and Africa. We are used to calling these people Semites … meaning descendants of Shem.

It is also certain that genetic mixing has occurred amongst many of these descendants of Shem and those of Ham and Japeth in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. We see such racial mixing occurring today, and we are aware that miscegenation has occurred in past generations as well. Amongst the American Indians were found blond-haired Mandans, and red and blonde-haired, blue-eyed Cherokees when the white settlers first arrived on the East Coast. Some of the Spanish Conquistadors, many of whom were fair-haired, settled in South and Central America and Mexico without bringing European wives, and raised children with native dark-skinned women. In the Egyptian Museum in Cairo are statues of dark-skinned rulers beside very light-skinned wives. Despite this racial mixing, God prophesied that He would bring the twelve tribes of Israel through the nations and not let a single grain (genetic material) be lost (Amos 9:9). Those tribes will exist at the very end of the present age; His chosen people will in no way be utterly cast away (Revelation 7:4-8; Isaiah 66:19-20; Romans 11:1-2; Ezekiel 37:11-13).

Israelites and Gentiles: Separate Peoples

The Scriptures always separate the descendants of Jacob (Israel) from those of the surrounding nations. Look at a few of the many citations in God’s word.

Matthew 10:5-6 (already quoted).

Acts 9:15. “But the Lord said unto him [Ananias], ‘Go your way, for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel’.”

Acts 18:6. “And when they [Judeans] opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he [Paul] shook his raiment and said unto them, ‘Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From henceforth I will go unto the gentiles’.”

II Timothy 1:11. “Whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an apostle, and a teacher of the gentiles.”

Isaiah 49:6. “And He said, ‘It is a light thing that you should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Israel. I will also give you for a light to the gentiles, that you may be My salvation unto the end of the earth’.”

Romans 3:29-30 (already quoted).

In all six of these citations a clear distinction is made between Israelites and gentiles — those people descended from Jacob and those not — a distinction that is continued in many other places throughout Scripture. In no place is there a hint that these gentiles might include Israelites. In the discussion about the tame and the wild olive branches, the distinction is further emphasized.

Romans 11:17-24. “And if some of the branches [genetic Israelites] be broken off, and you [gentile Romans], being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree, boast not against the branches [genetic Israelites]. But if you boast, you bear not the root, but the root you. You will say then, ‘The branches were broken off that I may be grafted in’. Well, because of unbelief they [genetic Israelites] were broken off, and you stand by faith. Be not highminded, but fear, for if God spared not the natural branches [genetic Israelites] take heed that He also spare not you [gentile Romans]. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them [genetic Israelites] which fell , severity, but toward you [gentile Romans], goodness, if you continue in this goodness. Otherwise, you [newly converted gentile Romans] shall also be cut off. And they [the genetic Israelites who were cut off due to unbelief] also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you [gentile Romans] were cut out of the olive tree [a cutting ready for grafting to another tree] which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more shall these [genetic Israelites], which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree.”

There are two groups of people mentioned in this pivotal citation, each group displaying two conditions:

1. Israelites, descendants of Jacob, by nature the “good”, or tame, olive tree

a. Those a part of the good olive tree

b. Those having been cut off from the good olive tree

2. Gentiles, the Romans, by nature the “wild”, or bad, olive tree

a. Those now grafted into the good olive tree and a part of it, as were the genetic Israelites

b. Those not grafted into the good olive tree, but still part of the wild olive tree

The Roman brethren, who probably looked very much like genetic Israelites because of their descent through Shem, had been grafted into Israel, justified through faith just as were the Israelite brethren (Romans 3:28-30). Thus, they were inheritors of salvation just as were the true sons of Jacob, confirming the words of Galatians 3:26-29, words addressed to another gentile people:

For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Judean nor Greek [gentile peoples], there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ. And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

If these “gentiles” were actually Israelites, as some may claim, then why did not Paul call them “Israelites”, since he surely knew who these dispersed Israelites were … scattered abroad after the Assyrian assaults on the nations eight centuries earlier. James knew where they were (James 1:1: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.”), and if he did, then certainly Paul did.

Add to this the fact that Timothy had a “Jewish” (Israelite) mother and a Gentile (Greek) father (Acts 16:1)… yet Timothy was a highly effective servant in the New Testament ecclesia in spite of his Gentile genetics, having had hands laid on him to receive a special gift (I Timothy 4:14); i.e., he had God’s spirit. If Timothy’s father was an Israelite, then why did not Paul say he was, since Paul claimed that Timothy’s mother was a Hebrew? The obvious answer here is that one does not need to be a pure Hebrew to inherit salvation, but God has accepted people from all peoples of the earth whom He calls.

The gist of these scriptures is telling us that people from all nations, from all walks of life, male or female, in whatever state of freedom or servitude, are called and chosen by the Father to come into an intimate, wonderfully close relationship with the Father and Christ … the mystery of ages and generations … “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). That bodily temple wherein the holy spirit dwells has become the very possession of God.

What? Know you not that your body is the temple of the holy spirit, which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? For you are boughten with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

An additional illustration of Romans 11:17-24 may help clarify this analogy of the olive trees to the genetic origins of people. Let us examine a more familiar example, a tame apple tree and a wild apple tree. They, like the tame and wild olive trees, are of the same family, and can cross pollinate to produce seed. The good apple tree is Israel; it can produce fruit with seeds within them. These seeds can be transported one, ten, a hundred, or a thousand miles away and be planted and produce fruit like the original trees. These transplanted good apple trees represent Israel that was moved out of Palestine to Assyria and surrounding districts. They were of the same genetics as the original tree planted in the regions of Samaria, the ten tribes, and the land of Judah as well … for they were all descendants of Jacob.

There are also wild apple trees of various sorts that grow throughout many parts of the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. Their fruit tends to be smaller than the bred-up varieties of apples we eat, but they are apples nonetheless, of the same family as the good apples, and they can interbreed with the good trees.

If one claims that the “wild” apple trees — the “wild” olive trees of Romans 11 — are Israelites that were moved out of Palestine in the captivity, and migrated north and west, and finally to America, South Africa, and certain other countries, then this claim conflicts with the fact that these dispersed Israelites who had lost their identity are still from the stock of the “good” apple tree … from Israel’s genetic lineage. They did not change their genes to wild genes just because they left the proximity of the parent tree: they remained descendants of the good apple tree — the good or tame olive tree — and did not convert over to the wild tree. Oh, their behavior and commitment may have merited them being “cut off” from the good tree, but they still were of the genetic stock of that tame tree. In no way were their genetics switched from good to bad. Thus, Paul’s analogy seals the fact that these gentiles represented by the bad olive tree were not genetic Israelites.

Both Israelites and Gentiles: New Creatures!

The “mystery of ages and generations” (Colossians 1:26-27) that Paul elucidated to the ecclesia at Colossae, of Christ within one’s very being granting the hope of the resurrection, removed the distinction of racial background from the called out ones. Paul outlined that truth very clearly when penning his message to the Ephesian gentiles in the early 60s A.D.

But now in Christ Jesus you [gentiles] who sometimes were afar off are made near by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace [offering] who has made both one … for to make in Himself of twain [of Israelites and gentiles] one new man so making peace; and that He might reconcile both [Israelites and gentiles] unto God in one body by the stake, having slain the enmity thereby” (Ephesians 2:13-16).

The new man is now neither Israelite nor gentile, but a new person. Surely the memory of what that new creation originally was will not be obliterated at the resurrection, but all of the sin will be removed, even as it is today washed away in baptism and the laying on of hands (Acts 19:6; 22:16). The person is totally renewed. There is one body, fitly joined together amongst all of the ecclesia (I Corinthians 12:12). Notice what Ephesians 2:19-21 states.

Now therefore you [gentile Ephesians] are no more strangers and foreigners [which, as non-Israelite gentiles, they were], but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God through the spirit.”

Why would Paul call these people “strangers and foreigners”, terms applied to people who are not genetically of Israel, if they were Israelites? Notice also in Galations 6:15-16, where again the term “new creature” is applied to both Israelites and non-Israelites once they are called by the Eternal to be one of the firstfruits:

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision [Israelite] avails anything, nor uncircumcision [gentile], but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy upon the Israel of God.”

We know that circumcision identified a member of the Israelite nation, whereas those from non-Israelite foreign nations were not circumcised. However, if a non Israelite became a citizen of the nation, he also was required to be circumcised; it was an identification of the descendants of Jacob and their citizens, native-born or converted (Genesis 17:9-14; Exodus 12:44, 48; Leviticus 12:3).

The admission of the gentiles into the body of Christ was an awesomely pivotal event in history prophesied in Joel 2:28:

And it shall come to pass afterward [in the “last days: Acts 2:17] that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh ….”

That event was fulfilled at the first Pentecost, 50 days following Christ’s resurrection in about 30 A.D. The “last days” is an idiom picturing the latter part of the prophetic seven-day week, each day being 1,000 years (II Peter 3:8). This event at Pentecost occurred about 4,000 years after the aeon had begun, well into the latter half of the prophetic week. Here are gentiles now being called and chosen of the Father, given the holy spirit, and beginning about 2,000 years of history during which non-Israelites began comprising part of the ecclesia around the world.

Peter reiterated the truth that gentiles were, after that first Pentecost in 30 A.D., given the hope of eternal life as were Israelites.

“ ‘Forasmuch then as God gave them [the gentiles] the like gift [the holy spirit] as He did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, what was I that I could withstand God?’ When they heard these things they held their peace, and glorified God saying, ‘Then has God also to the gentiles granted repentance unto life’ ” (Acts 11:17-18).

Instances of the spirit of God being given to gentiles are replete in Acts. One of the first was Cornelius, the Roman centurion, who was met by Peter in Caesarea after Peter saw the vision of a sheet-like vessel descending from heaven having all sorts of wild beasts, unclean fowl, and creeping creatures. Peter had been told to “Rise … kill, and eat” (Acts 10:13). After Peter had met Cornelius and been shown the meaning of the vision, he declared, “… God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean” (Acts 10:28). He reiterated how it is “… an unlawful thing” for a man that is a Judean to keep company, or come unto one of another nation…” (Acts 10:28), something Peter would never have said if Cornelius had been an Israelite.

Why would Peter say that “I should not call any man common or unclean” if “any man” did not include gentiles? Any man means any man, Israelite or not! The wild beasts, unclean fowl, and creeping creatures surely do not refer to Israelites, but to non-Israelite, gentile people. Do not forget that John stated in I John 2:2 that “… He [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” [Strong 2889 = cosmos, “the present order of things in this world”].

Peter then stated,

Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with Him” (Acts 10:35).

Then, Cornelius and his household received the holy spirit and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:44-47). In verse 45 of Acts 10 a most profound statement is made:

And they of the circumcision [genetic Israelites] which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the gentiles also was poured out the gift of the holy spirit.”

Those that were not Jacob’s descendants, but rather Romans most likely from another line of Shem, here received the holy spirit. These were not Israelites who had somehow lost their identity and become known as Romans, since Peter and the other apostles knew who those dispersed Israelites were (James 1:1), and would have identified them as Israelites if that is who they were. They were now identical in their inheritance as were the Israelites who had been given the holy spirit. Indeed, the Father showed Himself to be no respecter of persons (Galatians 2:6; Romans 2:10-11) … for He made all people and has included all of them in His plan, albeit some will be consigned to destruction (Romans 9:20-22). Out of one blood all nations have been fabricated (Acts 17:26); out of all of those nations He has formulated a great plan! Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (I John 2:2)!

People Called of All Nations

It is no accident that in ancient Israel the Eternal allowed people from foreign (gentile) nations to become a part of that chosen nation. Traders and travelers of many sorts sojourned through the land of Israel, which lay on a busy trade route, and some of them decided — for whatever reason — to remain there. Perhaps they saw the prosperity of this specially blessed people, their usually harmonious family relationships, their health laws that kept dreaded diseases at bay, their upright justice system, or their victory in battles against stronger enemies on every side. They had heard of how Yahweh had brought the nation through the Red Sea while destroying the Egyptian army, how the waters of the Jordan River had stopped flowing, even at flood stage, to allow the people to pass over, and how the walls of Jericho had fallen outward the seventh day of Israel’s encompassing that doomed city.

Provisions for non-Israelites to become “grafted in” to ancient Israel are given in many places in the Pentateuch. Notice Exodus 12:48-29:

And when a stranger [non-Israelite] shall sojourn with you, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all of his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it, and he shall be as one that is born in the land, for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger [non-Israelite] that sojourns among you.”

A foreigner, a non-Israelite, could attach himself to one of the tribes of Israel, but by doing so he was required to keep the laws, statutes, and commands of the nation. Likewise, he was required to submit to its justice system. There was to be no intermarriage between Israelites and non-Israelites who were not circumcised and properly assimilated into the nation (Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3) … not because of any innate superiority of the Israelites to other peoples but because intermarriage without reformation of one’s idolatrous mate could draw the person away into worshipping idols. Remember that God recognized and blessed Abraham as the father of many nations not because he was especially handsome (recall that Jesus Himself was not “comely”: Isaiah 53:2), gifted musically, or super-intelligent. Abraham was blessed because he obeyed the Eternal (Genesis 12:1-5), and “… kept [His] charge, commandments, statutes, and laws” (Genesis 26:5). Because of his faith he was blessed (Hebrews 11:8-19). The nations that Israel was to conquer in Canaan were more powerful than their own (Deuteronomy 7:1), but the Eternal promised to fight Israel’s battles for them, and cause the land to vomit the gentiles out (Exodus 23:22-23; 27-33; Leviticus 18:25).

Specific Cases of Gentiles Absorbed

Cases of non-Israelites being grafted into Israel include Doeg the Edomite who fought in David’s army (I Samuel 21:7), and Uriah the Hittite who also was in David’s army (II Samuel 11:2). Caleb, one of the spies who, along with Joshua, surveyed the land of Canaan and look God’s view that the nation should enter (Numbers 13:30) — that God was well able to help them subdue the giants — was also a foreigner, a Kenezite (Numbers 32:12). For a further study on the gentile origins of Caleb and Uriah, see Appendix I.

There were others from gentile, non-Israelite people who were absorbed into the nation of Israel, besides the well-known cases of Uriah and Caleb.

(1) The “mixed multitude”, or “rabble”, that came out of Egypt with the Israelites when they left Ramses were partly or wholly gentile. The implication of “mixed” is that these were descendants of mixed marriages between Israelites and Egyptians, and perhaps people from other nations as well, since Egypt was a major commercial center where many gentile travelers would sojourn. Presumably some full-blooded Egyptians also accompanied Israel. See Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4; Leviticus 24:10.

(2) The Midianites, descendants of Abraham by Keturah, lived in the “country of the east” (Genesis 25:2-6), and were well-known for their foreign trade (Genesis 37:28). Jethro, the priest of Midian, was Moses’ father-in-law. These people joined Israel (Numbers 10:29-32), and later are observed as being associated closely with them (Judges 1:16; 4:11). They ultimately disappeared within the nation as a part of the genetic pool.

(3) Othniel, the brother of Caleb, an Edomite, was among the Israelites when they took over the land of Canaan (Joshua 15:16-19; Judges 1:11-15).

(4) The Gibeonites, who were a gentile Amorite tribe that deceived Israel into making peace with them (Joshua 9:1-27), were saved even though they were supposed to be destroyed. Later they were harassed by Saul, and David allowed them to hang seven sons of Saul (II Samuel 21:1-9). These Amorites disappeared from history, absorbed into the nation of Israel.

(5) God commanded that the males of every village that Israel attacked were to be exterminated, “… but the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shall you take unto yourself …” (Deuteronomy 20:13-14). These women and children, the number of whom we do not know, were thus absorbed into the genetic pool of Israel.

(6) In a war with Midian, virgin females of Midian were saved alive and taken into the tribes of Israel (Numbers 31:18).

(7) God allowed for an Israelite soldier to take a beautiful captive gentile woman, under prescribed conditions, to be his wife (Deuteronomy 21:10-14).

The value of knowing these many instances of non-Israelites being brought into the nation of Israel is to draw a parallel to the ecclesia. God predicted through many Old Testament prophecies that non-Israelite gentiles would be invited into the ecclesia in due time. That time arrived in 30 A.D. when, at the first Pentecost following Christ’s resurrection, Peter declared that the outpouring of God’s spirit would now include non-Israelite gentiles.

But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days [last half of the 6,000-year rule of mankind on the earth], says God, I will pour out of My spirit upon all flesh …” (Acts 2:16-17; Joel 2:28-29).

Just as Israel as a physical nation admitted genetic outsiders to their ranks — under prescribed conditions (circumcision, keep the laws of God, etc.) — so now the spiritual nation of Israel would admit those from other nations whom the Father would call, again under prescribed conditions. This time circumcision was of the heart (Deuteronomy 10:16; Galatians 5:6; 6:15), and the laws of God were placed within the called-out ones so they would keep them according to their intent, like Jesus Christ did (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10).

At Jerusalem during the feast of Pentecost there were not just Israelites, but also strangers of Rome (Strong 1927 = epidomeo, “a sojourner of a foreign resident, among any people, in any country”) and proselytes (Strong 4339 = proselutos, “foreign converts to the Jewish religion, or one who has arrived, a stranger”), in contrast to “Jews” [Israelites] in Acts 2:10. Apparently this great crowd that had assembled for Pentecost included more than just those of Israelite origin, but interested and excited adherents to this faith that gave new hope and life for whomever the Father would call from any nation. People from at least 15 nations are mentioned in Acts 2 who flocked to Jerusalem that Pentecost.

Avoiding False Gods

The emphasis throughout the Old Testament was for Israel to avoid worshipping foreign deities:

You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them nor do after their works, but you shall utterly overthrow them and quite break down their images” (Exodus 23:24; 34:12-14; see also Deuteronomy 7:5).

Note Deuteronomy 7:8, where Egyptians and Edomites, non-Israelite people, are absorbed into the nation of Israel.

You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were a stranger in his land. The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the Lord in their third generation”.

Thus, families of Edomites or Egyptians, or children of mixed marriages of Israelites with Edomites or Egyptians, were permitted to be full-fledged Israelites through nationality and promise in their third generation.

Yahweh was (and is) jealous for His people. He does not want them to become perverted by worshipping false gods and following the licentiousness of the gentile nations. Leaving idol worshippers in the land, and intermarrying and associating with them, would tempt the people of God and draw them away from the true God, as so often happened to Israel and Judah during their infamous history. The race of these tribes surrounding Israel was not the predominate issue — for some of them such as the Ammonites and Moabites were close relatives of Israel — but rather the pagan deities of these tribes were utterly detestable. Ezra stated in Ezra 9:1 how the people of Israel, the Levites, and the priests had not separated themselves from the idol worshipping Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites. They were required to put away their foreign wives, for …

… the land unto which you go to possess is an unclean land, with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness” (Ezra 9:11).

We have already seen that the New Testament corroborates the message of the Old Testament to graft in non-Israelites to the tame olive tree, God’s nation of Israel. Such is also true in a spiritual sense: non-Israelites can inherit salvation by being grafted in by faith and the Father’s calling.

For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Judean [Israelite] nor Greek [gentile], there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And is you be Christ’s then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29).

Colossians 3:10-11 is even more comprehensive in identifying these gentiles:

… and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him [that is, the “new man”], where there is neither Greek nor Judean, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all”.

Notice Isaiah 56:6-8, which indicates that “sons of the stranger” (Strong 5236: neker = foreigner) will join themselves to the Lord, and dwell in His holy mountain.

Abraham, the Father of the Faithful … a Gentile?

Is such a statement even plausible, that the father of the faithful, the one whom God chose out of all the earth to begin His special nation, was a gentile? Yet he was! Abram was born of Terah, the son of Nahor, who traced his lineage back through Serug, Reu, Peleg, Eber, Salah, and Arphaxad to Shem (Genesis 11:11-27). Many other people had the very same lineage and could do the same, notably Nahor and Haran, Abram’s brothers. However, we hear little of these two brothers in history.

These people, who settled in Ur of the Chaldees and were descendants of one of the 70 nations mentioned in Genesis 10, were thus of the gentiles, or goyim (Genesis 10:5). There was nothing particularly special about this line of Nahor until one man — Abram — was called by Yahweh out of that idol-worshipping culture in which they lived. He was selected to leave Mesopotamia and its idolatry, and journey to a distant country of which he knew little. He followed the Creator’s command entirely on faith. Then, two generations later, Jacob was born and inherited the promises made first to Abram and began the great nation of Israel … to which all people whom the Father calls to salvation must attach themselves.

Here we see that the father of the faithful, the grandfather of Israel, was a gentile, called out of confusion and sin just as we of Israelite background — along with those of non-Israelite heritage — are likewise called. The process is the same. All non-Israelites must be grafted into Israel (Romans 11:17-24), into the people that was first called unto salvation to be a “… peculiar treasure … above all people … a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6). We have all deserved death because of sin, but now we have life eternal due to Christ’s redemptive blood shed for us.

All Nations Indeed!

Notice the words of Jesus Christ as revealed through John in Revelation 7:9, 13-17:

After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude which no man could number of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their hands …. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, ‘Who are these that are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?’ And I said unto him, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said unto me, ‘These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He that sits on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat, for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.’”

Is there any possibility that these nations, kindreds, people, and tongues are Israelites? No, because the 144,000 of the tribes of Israel are already elucidated in Revelation 7:4-8, just before this quote. These are gentile people, ethnos, from around the world who in time of tribulation have been called by the Father, have turned to Him with their whole hearts, have been given His spirit, and are at the very throne of God in heaven to serve Him continually … just as do the saints of Israelite extraction (Revelation 3:21). Note that verse 9 of the scripture above is virtually identical to the last part of Revelation 5:9, which states, “… for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” “All nations”, which includes the gentiles that the Eternal has created, is given double emphasis.

God is no respecter of persons, and all of those whom He calls become grafted into a tribe of Israel to comprise the City of God with its twelve gates … wherein are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel (Revelation 21:2). Therein is the fulfillment of the commission Jesus Christ gave to the disciples: “Go you therefore, and teach all nations [ethnos], baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy spirit …” (Matthew 28:19).

Look also at the straightforward message embedded within Romans 9. Here Paul shows that the Master Potter has sovereignty over the clay, and can make either vessels fit for honor, or vessels fit for dishonor. God “… endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction … that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom He has called, not of the Judeans only, but also of the gentiles [ethnos](Romans 9:23-24).

Paul went on to say that “… the gentiles [ethnos], which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith” (Romans 9:30). The gentiles are then contrasted to Israelites in verse 31, who did not attain unto the “law of righteousness” because they did not seek it by faith; they stumbled at the stumblingblock of Jesus Christ, whom they rejected, but whom the called gentiles did not. Of course, this is not saying that some Israelites were not called. Many were, and Paul was one of them.

Several prophecies of the Old Testament refer to this time of calling the non-Israelite gentiles into the ecclesia, such as the following:

Rejoice, O you nations, with His people, for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to His adversaries, and will be merciful unto His land, and to His people” (Deuteronomy 32:43).

O praise the Lord, all you nations: praise Him, all you people, for His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise you the Lord” (Psalm 117:1-2).

And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the gentiles seek, and His rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea, And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:10-12).

Notice that Isaiah 11:10-12 makes a clear distinction between the Israelites and Judaites, and the gentiles. In verse 12, is one to claim that the “nations” are really Israelites, and that Israelites are being gathered out of Israel? Of course not. Notice later in Isaiah as well:

For thus says the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep My sabbaths, and choose the things that please Me, and take hold of My covenant, even unto them will Igive in My house and within My walls a place and a name better that of sons and of daughters:Iwill give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger [foreigner, from the Hebrew] that join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants, every one that keeps the sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of My covenant: even them will Ibring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted upon My altar, for My house shal be called a house of prayer for all people” (Isaiah 56:4-7).

Abraham’s Core Message: Righteousness Through Faith,

Not Genetics

It is easy to forget the essential message given to us by Abraham’s calling, which is righteousness through belief and faith in God.

And he [Abram] believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

Here is the core issue of God’s word: belief, or faith, in God and in His Son Jesus Christ, and consequential living by God’s laws through the spirit He places within you. As Peter stated in Acts 3:26, “Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” This faith was not justified by works — or keeping the law — for the promises made to Abraham of vast inheritances of multitudes of descendants, territory, and wealth were gifts of his Creator. Works of the law did not justify Abraham, but as a consequence of his calling he kept the laws that provided him and his family peace, protection, and prosperity.

The Pharisees, Sadducees, and others in Jesus’’ and the disciples’ day claimed that somehow by being descendants of Abraham they were made right with God, that the physical genes of Abraham in them guaranteed their resurrection of the end of days. Notice their claims:

Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed in Him, If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. They answered Him, We be Abraham’s seed and were never in bondage to any man; how say You, You shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily I say unto you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abides not in the house forever: but the Son abides forever. If the Son therefore shall make your free, you shall be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s seed, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with My Father, and you do that which you have seen with your father. They answered and said unto Him, Abraham is our father. Jesus said unto them, If you were Abraham’s children you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a man that has told you the truth, which I have heard of God; this did not Abraham. You do the works of your father” (John 8:31-41).

Paul in Romans echoed Christ’s teaching by saying,

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertains to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has whereof to glory, but not before God. For what says the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describes the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputes righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Romans 4:1-8).

Paul was not claiming here, of course, that works guided by the law are not essential to Christian living. He is rather claiming that man is made right before God — justified — by the gift of forgiveness and grace. Paul stated a little later in Romans that “… the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12), and we know from James 2:23 that “… by works a man is justified, and not by faith only”. James says in James 2:26,

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

God teaches us that genetics is not the key to eternal life; it is a new spirit (Romans 8:9), a broken and contrite heart (Isaiah 66:2), a new creature:

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Galatians 6:15).

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17).

Jesus Christ and the apostles made plain that being a descendant of Abraham is important for salvation only if one puts on the nature of God … and that nature can be attained by Israelites or gentiles (non-Israelite). Claiming a lineage from Abraham may be interesting and exciting, but it is not a prescription for eternal life and for one’s calling by our Father in heaven. Recall what John the Baptist said in Matthew 3:7-9 to the hypocritical Pharisees and Sadducees who came to the Jordan River for baptism.

O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”

Would the lineage of those stones be through Abraham? Not hardly! No more would they be descendants of Abraham than are the non-Israelite people whom God has called out of all nations to be His sons in the first resurrection.

What About I Corinthians 10:1?

Some people may read I Corinthians 10:1 and conclude that Paul here is identifying the new brethren from Corinth as Israelites.

Moreover, brethren, Ido not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea ….”

Does this verse mean that those in the Corinthian ecclesia were genetic sons of Jacob, or was Paul referring to the Corinthian brethren as now being attached — grafted in — to Jacob through the spirit of God they had received at baptism and the laying on of hands? The answer may surprise you, since there were both Israelites and gentiles in the congregation. Note again Galations 3:27-29:

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Jesus Christ. And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

The Corinthian brethren who were not of the lineage of Abraham, through baptism and the spirit, had become Israelites and inheritors of the promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Thus, Paul could speak of them as being amongst those whose “… fathers were under the cloud.” After all, Paul identified them as genetic non-Israelites in the same letter, in I Corinthians 12:2: “You know that you were gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led.” Here, the word gentile is translated from the Greek ethnos, meaning, as we saw earlier, “race, i.e. a tribe, specifically a foreign tribe”, as it is used elsewhere in the New Testament.

This interpretation concurs with many commentators, including A.R. Fausset in A Commentary On the Old and New Testaments, Volume 3 (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1973), when he stated that “our fathers” of I Corinthians 10:1 relates to the “Jewish” Church as parent to the Christian Church. Likewise, The Abingdon Bible Commentary (edited by F.C. Eiselen, E. Lewis, and D.G. Downey, The Abingdon Press, Inc, New York, 1929) states, concerning this verse, that “The church in the wilderness was a type of the church at Corinth”, implying that these Corinthians were not totally genetic Israelites, but from another branch of humanity.

In the notes of the 1599 Geneva Bible, the commentator gives the same sense, adding, “Paul says this in respect of the covenant, and not in respect of the persons [i.e., their genetic background], except generally.” Furthermore, Barnes’ Notes On the New Testament adds that this statement regarding the Israelites at the Red Sea, while showing their great favor in being protected by God, “… did not [keep] them from the displeasure of God when they sinned,” indicating this event as a type or lesson for these non-Israelites to carefully observe. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary agrees with this view.

Though there were both Israelites and gentiles in the Corinthian Church, there were more gentiles than Israelites. Chapters 10 and 11 were written mainly to the Judean believers, while chapter 12 was written more to the gentiles among them. This fact is oftentimes not recognized when discerning the meanings of Paul’s writings to this group. Thus, it is natural that Paul would be addressing primarily the descendants of Jacob in I Corinthians 10, referring to the crossing of the Red Sea by their forefathers, while concentrating more on spiritual gifts in the following chapters … though certainly all of the chapters had relevance to the entire congregation.

Further Points and Considerations

Jesus Christ stated that He had “other sheep” that were not of “this fold”. Them He would also bring [to His calling], “… and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd” (John 10:16). Christ’s sheep are of Israel. “All Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26), stated Paul, and indeed they will be in due process. Are not these “other sheep” the non-Israelite gentiles who will share salvation with those called out of Jacob’s very own descendants? Will not all of those gentiles who are ordained [Greek tasso (Strong 5021), “assigned or disposed to a certain position”] to eternal life indeed believe, and not forsake their calling (Acts 13:48)?

Some may claim that Jesus Christ never went to non-Israelitish people during His tenure on earth, thus proving that non-Israelitish, gentile peoples cannot inherit salvation. For instance, at Jacob’s well He told the Samaritan woman to partake of the water that He would give, after which she would never thirst. He saw into her mind and told her that she had had five husbands, besides the man she then was living with. The disciples marveled that He so much as spoke with her, since the Judeans were highly prejudiced against Samaritans and other non-Israelitish races, even though the woman claimed a lineage back to Jacob (John 4:12).

Jesus told the disciples to go to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel”, not to any gentile [ethnos] areas (Matthew 10:5-6). In Matthew 16:21-28 Jesus was approached by a Canaanite woman whose daughter was vexed with a devil. Knowing His power to heal, she admitted she was a “dog” (non-Israelite), but because of her great faith He healed the girl. Acts 22:1-22 describes how Paul, in Jerusalem, testified to a crowd of prejudiced Judeans that he had been sent by God to preach unto the gentiles. The resulting eruption of emotions resulted in cries for Paul’s death. These instances of intense opposition of the Judean population to admitting any non-Israelites (gentiles) into their closed society — especially when it came to spiritual matters — reveals why Jesus Christ could not preach salvation to gentiles during His time on earth. Were He to have done so He could not have carried out His commission: the Judeans would have rejected Him. It also reveals that both these gentiles and Paul knew who was of Israelitish origin and who was not; they were 2,000 years closer to their fathers than we are today in 21st Century America and ought to have known.

Paul went to the Israelites first, but later went to non-Israelites as stated in Acts 22:21. Several instances in Acts and his other letters (already discussed) confirm that indeed he did work amongst the gentile elect of Italy, Galatia, Ephesus, Colossae, and other cities of Asia and Asia Minor. According to folklore, he and other apostles also apparently journied to other countries where Israelites had migrated — India, Spain, England, and North Africa to name a few — where both Israelites and surrounding gentiles would have been contacted with the good news of the Kingdom of God.

It is instructive to read a portion of Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the temple in II Chronicles, which deals with the issue of non-Israelites who may wish to visit —ir perhaps be absorbed into — God’s great nation. Note the following verses.

Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for the sake of Your great Name and Your mighty hand and your outstretched arm, when he comes and prays toward this house, hear from heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that Ihave built is called by Your name” (II Chronicles 32-33).

First of all, notice that Solomon is speaking clearly of non-Israelites, one “who is not of your people Israel.” Second, realize the great regard God is showing toward these gentiles, promising to bless them if they will pray to Him, and then stating His desire to bless all of the people across the earth in all gentile, non-Israelite nations just as He would bless Israel when they would turn to Him in prayer, fear, and obedience. This is essentially the same as the calling God gave to all gentile nations at the first Pentecost after the recurrection in Acts 2! These words could not have been spoken if God was not allowing people from other nations, who came to understand the truth of Yahweh and His blessings and live in His shadow, to join Israel and receive the blessing promised to that nation.

Some have claimed that over a billion people on earth were prophesied to be of the lineage of Rebecca. God did indeed promise to Rebecca that she would be “… the mother of thousands of millions, and let your seed possess the gate of those that hate them” (Genesis 25:60). This is an idiom that approximates another idiom related to the number of descendants to come from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob:

… that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies” (Genesis 22:17; see also Genesis 32:12).

Both idioms — thousands of millions, and as the sand of the seashore and the stars of heaven — indicate a lot of people will come from Rebecca, the chosen line. Yet, there are trillions upon trillions of stars and grains of sand. I Kings 4:20 solves the mystery of the meaning of these idioms:

Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry.”

Here we see a nation of several million people during the days of Solomon, king of Israel. The “sand which is by the sea” did not mean billions or trillions … though it could if the textual usage meant so. Perhaps over the coming ages this prophecy of thousands of millions from Rebecca will come to pass as the people of Israel overspread the cosmos. However, such vast numbers of Israelites hardly exist today in a world of about 6.5 billion people, the majority of whom are Chinese, Indians, Indonesians, and Arabs.

Where exactly are the descendants of Jacob, the progeny of the twelve tribes of Israel? Strong evidence from archaeology and written records points towards these people migrating from Mesopotamia, where they were placed after their initial captivity in Palestine, and moving into Europe, the British Isles, Scandinavia, and other places where these people later migrated: North and South America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and other places across the globe. It is in most cases impossible to know exactly who the true genetic Israelites are amongst the Caucasian people of the world, since Shem had several sons, and more recently Abraham himself had six male children by Keturah that were sent to the “east country”. We do know that the royal lineage of England and Europe is descended from Judah. There also were children born to Lot’s daughters, whose descendants became the Moabites and Ammonites, and many other progeny of Shem’s line down to Abraham (Genesis 11:10-28) presumably populated the earth over the centuries. Did they look similar to one another? Did they have blue eyes, blonde and reddish hair, light complexions, and the Nordic or Alpine physiques that are generally associated with Israelitish peoples that populate the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe, South America, South Africa, and Australia?

By strong indirect evidence we know that the prosperity and resources, the knowledge of God’s word and Bible-based constitutions, and the general appearance of various populations point towards the fulfillment of the promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in these populations. Thus, it may be stated that the United States, above all nations, has been blessed with Joseph’s promises. The same may be said of Britain, and in earlier decades and centuries of Portugal, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Norway, Holland, and Sweden. Iceland claims in its constitution that it has descended from Benjamin.

Yet, can it be said that all blond-haired or red-haired, blue-eyed, Caucasian peoples are of the seed of Jacob? Hardly. God knows precisely where the people of the twelve tribes are, for He is going to bring back descendants of these people to their promised land at the end of the age. Can people, with their limited knowledge, say exactly who they are?

Some have gone so far as to claim that, over the centuries, Israelites have prospered to such an extent above other white gentile non-Israelite people that these white non-Israelites have disappeared. It is not difficult to disprove this theory. Note that, in the coming age, Israel will be be “… the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land” (Isaiah 19:24). Asshur is a descendant of Shem along with Elam, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram (Genesis 10:22). Two generations after Arphaxad, Eber was born, from whose name the title “Hebrews” comes, and from whom Abraham was born several generations later (Genesis 11:16-31). Thus, one can see the close genetic relationship between Asshur and the Assyrians, and Arphaxad and the Israelites, both nations which will be in the new age. These fair-skinned Assyrians must of necessity exist today to survive into the age to come.

Does it matter if these Caucasians are all of Israel? Not if we understand that non-Israelites as well as Israelites are today being called by our heavenly Father. God will call whomever He wills; it is an issue beyond our control, and certainly not worthy of our worry. God says in Titus 3:9 that we are to “… avoid foolish questions, and genealogies … for they are unprofitable and vain.” Proving one’s lineage to Israel, then, would be an unprofitable exercise, because the truly important issue is the calling that the Father gives you, and your vigilant fulfilling of that calling irregardless of your genealogy.

As a corollary to this discussion on race and salvation — and a major subject that will only be touched upon here — it is important to marry within one’s own racial group. We need to teach our sons and daughters to live righteous lives, and marry those that are of their own kin: red with red, yellow with yellow, white with white, black with black … and preferably amongst our own countrymen. Israelites were taught to marry within their own tribes, and many, if not most, of these marriages were arranged by parents. Today it is crucial to marry someone who is within the ecclesia (II Corinthians 7:39). That only makes sense. Why create conflict within marriages and families by bringing together contrasting temperaments, colors, and beliefs? Like attracts like; opposites may attract as well, but those attractions do not usually endure.

Our Father in heaven is now calling and choosing people from all nations on earth to be in His earthly Kingdom that will be established very soon. These saints, while they must become Israelites, are grafted into the tribes, and are becoming new creatures, free of sin and the curse of death … washed clean of their unrighteousness, circumcised in their hearts, and energized to perform the commandments of God. They are of every color and people on earth. Perhaps the Eternal is bringing many of them to the United States for their place of calling. Many of those being called we may not recognize, but we do know that the spirit within them will move them to perform the Father’s will as brothers of Jesus Christ. They will ultimately be moved to embrace the Sabbath day, the annual festivals, the cautions to avoid lying, stealing, adultery, coveting, making idols of material things, and worshiping false gods. They will honor their physical and spiritual parents, and grow in grace, joy, peace, hope, gentleness, kindness, faith, moderation, and humility.

We should feel free to enjoy the fellowship of any of the saints when the opportunity presents itself. Being of one body we should not allow prejudice to enter into our spiritual relationships as did the Judeans of Christ’s day. This does not mean we should allow marriages across racial lines. That is “missing the mark”, which the Bible defines as sin.

Israel to Be a Standard for All Nations

Be assured that the gentiles spoken of in both the Old and New Testaments were not of Israelitish genetics. They were of other nations: otherwise it makes no sense that they should be called gentiles, for the whole issue behind using the word goy or ethnos was to show a difference between the sons of Jacob and those that were not. Will these gentiles inherit salvation? Some will, but not all. Some are condemned to destruction. Rest assured that all of Israel shall be saved — both those truly of Jacob, and those of other peoples who are grafted into Jacob’s lineage — and inherit the coming age as brothers of our soon-coming Savior! After all, it was, and is, the Eternal’s purpose to make a grand display in the sight of all nations of how He will bless a people that will hear and obey him (Deuteronomy 4:5-8) so that they too will turn to Him and be His people, just as our forefather Abraham.

Jesus Christ was sent to all nations, as we read in Isaiah 43:1-9, especially verse 6: “I the Lord have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand, and will keep You, and give You for a covenant of the people, [people (5971) = ‘am, “people, relative”], for a light of the gentiles [gentiles (1471) = goy, “nation; people; heathen”].

Abram and his descendants were to be a “great nation” [nation (1471) = goy] that would be a “blessing” … obviously to other nations not descended from Abram. Note this fact in Genesis 12:1-3. ; see Zodhiates’ comments on page 19 of the Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible. “This promise to Abram is one of the most significant passages in the entire Bible. It points ultimately to the redemption of the whole world. Abram’s family became a divinely appointed channel through which blessing would come to all men. The promise was formalized in a covenant (Genesis 15:18-21), and was repeated four additional times: to Abraham (Genesis 17:6-8; 22:16-18), to Isaac (Genesis 26:3, 4), and to Jacob (Genesis 28:13-14). Note the critical circumstances for the family in each case. The promise is emphasized in the New Testament in Acts 3:35, Romans 4:13, Galatians 3:8 and 27, and Ephesians 2:12. Galatians calls it ‘the gospel’. Its importance to the gentiles is stressed in Galatians as well as Ephesians where it is clearly stated that gentiles who were ‘far off’ and ‘strangers to the covenant of promise’ have been brought to it by the blood of Christ.”

Note expecially Genesis 22:18: “And in your [Abraham’s] seed shall all the nations [nations (1471) = goy] of the earth be blessed.” This promise is repeated in Genesis 26:4 and again in Genesis 28:14; goy is used in Genesis 26:4, and families (4940) = mishpachah in Genesis 28:14, “family or clan.”

Simeon, at Jesus’ dedication in the temple (Luke 2:25-32), said of Him, “For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (verses 30-32; from Isaiah 42:6; 49:6; 60:1-3). Truly, Jesus Christ came to forgive the sins of the whole world (I John 2:2).

Israel was chosen as a peculiar treasure, to be a channel of blessing for the rest of the world. This nation was to be a witness to God by being obedient in the land He gave to them, so all other nations — gentiles — could see and understand the blessings He showers on those who obey Him … on Israel first, and then upon all people from all nations whom He would call.These gentile nations would also be able to consider the curses that accompany disobedience, as revealed in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Israel turned out to be a model of both good and evil, a stark example to all of the world to this very day as we read His word.

God made one law for all of mankind, not one set of precepts for the “Jews” and another for other “gentile” people. The word of God is designed for all people; He is the designer of all, and does not have “rspect of persons”. All men are made in His image. He will not reject any that come to Him of whom He calls.

God cares about all of His creations. II Kings 5:1 reveals that even the Syrians were being looked after during the time of Naaman, captain of the Syrian army, “… because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria ….” If our great God cared about the gentile Syrians, then might He also be caring about the Chinese, the Indians, the Nigerians, the Peruvians, and the Japanese? They are, after all, humans made in His image, and He has a care for all of them. This leads naturally to a most important statement that all Christians should remember: God’s word, the Bible is designed not just for Israel, but for all people from all nations across the earth who are grafted into His ecclesia through His spirit.

One’s physical lineage is not the most important issue in life, but becoming a new creature in Jesus Christ.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. For as many [Hebrews and gentiles] as walk according to this rule, peace be on them , and mercy, and upon the Israel of God” (Galations 6:15-16).

Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:19,

Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God ….”

Truly, our Father in heaven has called, is calling, and will be calling people from all nationalities to be His saints. What He has declared He will do, for His will is immutable.

Appendix I

Were Caleb and Uriah Genetic


Caleb the Son Of Jephunneh

Caleb in Hebrew means “dog”, of all things. What makes this research doubly interesting is that there are at least two Calebs that are mentioned in Scripture.

This most interesting character, who lived during the days of Moses and Joshua, is unambiguously described as the son of Jephunneh in Numbers 13:6, Deuteronomy 1:36, Joshua 14:6, and I Chronicles 4:15. He is also identified as a Kenizzite in Numbers 32:12. The Kenizzites were …

One of the non-Israelite peoples who inhabited southern Canaan during the period of the patriarchs (Genesis 15:19). Their ancestor, Kenaz, appears as the son of Eliphaz, the eldest son of Esau (Genesis 36:15, 42; I Chronicles 1:53). an important Kenezite family, the Caleb clan (Numbers 32:12), conquered Hebron (Joshua14:6,12-14), and became part of Judah according to the commandment of God to Joshua (15:13). The Kennizite origin of the Caleb clan is also emphasized in the information about Othniel son of Kenaz — the ancestor of the Kenizzites (I Chronicles 4:13)…” (Geoffrey Wigoder, editor, Illustrated Dictionary and Concordance of the Bible, GG.The Jerusalem Publishing Company, Jerusalem, Israel, 1986, pages 591-592).

Another well-reputed source puts the Kenizzites in a similar light:

References to the Kenizzites suggest a complex social and political history, particularly if the name Kenaz represents not only persons but also social groups. These people are reckoned among the pre-Israelite inhabitants of Canaan (Genesis 15:19), having perhaps migrated earlier from Anatolia. Situated in southern Judah or the northern Negeb, they apparently allied first with the Edomites. That they are later listed as descendants of Judah may indicate that they joined with the mixed multitude (Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4) of Israelites in the conquest of Canaan” (Allen C. Myers, editor, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, page 620).

I had considerable trouble trying to correlate the lives and genealogies of the two Calebs in time and space, since the genealogies are not all complete, so I searched high and low to try and understand this dilemma. Finally I came across a really thorough, comprehensive, and cogent explanation of the matter in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Volume 1, A-C (Edited by D. Freedman, G. Herion, D. Graf, and A. Beck, Doubleday, New York, 1992). This comprehensive, scholarly treatment of the subject “Caleb” turned out to be the best I have found, and it answers most of the questions I had about the two Calebs, the times and genealogies of their clans, and their origins, based on Scripture and knowledge of the culture and politics of the times in which they lived. I have copied pages 808 to 810 and placed the near the end of this paper so one can see for himself this well-done piece.

A few conclusions from the research of these authors are given below:

1. These authors admit that the Calebites became a part of the tribe of Judah within the Israelite tradition, but retained their distinctiveness.

2. Of the Calebs mentioned in I Chronicles, Caleb the son of Jephunneh is only explicitly mentioned in a genealogy of the sons of Kenaz, or the Kenizzites (I Chronicles 4:13-15), which is set within a section concerned with the descendants of Perez. Follow the discussion near the bottom of the left-hand column of page 809 of the text, and one will see that “… this Caleb appears to be his own grandfather”.(!)

3. The names of some of Caleb’s descendants are place names, which complicates an attempt to understand the purpose of the genealogies.

4. The key to understanding the tensions of the various genealogies is to see that Caleb is part of Judah’s genealogy. Caleb the son of Hezron plays a role only in the genealogies of Judah, and Bezaleel the tabernacle builder is a central character in his genealogy .,. but Caleb the son of Jephunneh is a Kenezite who gained special status through his wilderness deeds and the conquest of Canaan.

5. So … the chronicler does not attempt to relate Caleb the son of Jephunneh to Caleb the son of Hezron because neither are central in the purpose of establishing a royal origin in the tribe of Judah. On the other hand, Caleb the son of Jephunneh is important because of the things he did and the associations he had.outside the chronicler’s framework, and these were know to the chronicler.

6. Genealogies can be used to delineate social and political ties between two groups, and, in particular, to incorporate marginally affiliated clans into a central group. The genealogy of Caleb is related in this way to the tribe of Judah, and was assimilated into the Israelite tribal system thereby. Not only the individuals and groups of people, but the places associated with them became part of the tribe.

7. I will quote the last short paragraph under the first Caleb. “… Caleb the son of Jephunneh is the name of a Kenezzite whose personal exploits became the tradition of the clan which took his name as patronym. This clan existed independently in south Palestine, but through political, economic, and religious ties it eventually became part of the tribe of Judah. Even within the larger Israelite tradition, the distinctive stories of the Calebites were retained into the postexilic period.”

An outside non-Israelite person or clan, once incorporated into the social and economic structure of the tribe, becomes a part of that tribe, losing his (its) former identity over time, even as a gentile non-Israelite, called into the body of Christ, will lose his former identity and become one with the body. This, of course, does not imply any correctness with interracial marriage amongst the fleshly races.

Jephunneh is missing from the list of Kenaz’s children. This is because not every father in the genetic line is included. There is a gap of several generations between Kenaz and Jephunneh in the genealogy. Esau was contemporaneous with Jacob, who migrated with his family to Egypt. Kenaz was the grandson of Esau, One can see that there is not a fully recorded genealogy over a few hundred years from that grandson to the father of Caleb.

Matthew Henry’s speculation that Caleb is called a Kenizzite because of some “remarkable victory” over these people is indeed speculation, but it is not based on the use of genealogical names in Scripture. Are we then to say that “Joshua the son of Nun” was not really the son of Nun, that the Israelites were not from Israel (Jacob), that the Moabites were not from Moab, and the Ammonites were not from Ben-Ammi? These titles show genetic relationships. In the case of Caleb, he and his clan became amalgamated into Judah, and were a part of the tribe of Judah. Perhaps Roman chroniclers could name great generals after a country they conquered, but where do we see Roman chronicles included in the Bible?

To suggest that the statement of Ruth in Ruth 3:9 proves that Ruth was an Israelite is not accurate, for she stated that she was a “near kinsman”, or, more accurately, “one that has the right to redeem”. As Matthew Henry says about this verse, “The course she [Naomi] took in order to her daughter’s preferment was very extraordinary and looks suspicious. If there was any thing improper in it, the fault must lie upon Naomi, who put her daughter upon it, and who knew, or should know, the laws and usages of Israel better than Ruth. It was true that Boaz, being near of kin to the deceased, and (for aught that Naomi knew to the contrary) the nearest of all now alive, was obliged by the divine law to marry the widow of Mahlon, who was the eldest son of Elimelech, and was dead without issue (v. 2): ‘Is not Boaz of our kindred, and therefore bound in conscience to take care of our affairs?’”

The inheritance passed on through the widow of the eldest son of Elimalech. Whether she was an Israelite or not is not at question here. If she was truly of the line of Moab she would be “grafted in” to the line of Israel at marriage, and be an Israelite national, similar to the beautiful captive women from the Canaanites who were taken as wives of Israelite soldiers … provided, of course, they weren’t overly repulsed by their prospective mates (Deuteronomy 21:10-14).

Zipporah was a racial daughter of Jethro indeed. Jethro was a descendant of Midian, who descended from Abraham and Keturah and was sent to the “east country”. Thus, Zipporah was closely related to the Israelites and to Moses, but she was not an Israelite genetically.

Uriah the Hittite

Once again, as with Caleb, I was unable to locate a more scholarly, well-documented writeup on Uriah the Hittite than in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Si-Z (Volume 6. Edited by D. Freedman, G. Herion, D. Graf, and A. Beck, Doubleday, New York, 1992). I have included the text of this article at the end of this paper.

Note that in the article the researcher says that Uriah the Hittite may not have actually come from the Hittite nation to the north of Palestine, but from one of the “Neo-Hittite states” in nearby northern Syria, where Hittite civilization survived the collapse of the empire. There is not a question posed that Uriah might not be a descendant of the Hittites. As stated above regarding people who are identified as being from a certain tribe or lineage in Scripture, when the Scriptures gives that lineage it is meant as it is said. As Elijah was a Tishbite, as Jesse was a Bethlehemite, as Haman was an Agagite, and as all of the families of the various Israelite tribes were identified as Simeonites, Reubenites, Asherites, or Benjamites because of the people and/or location of their possession, so was Uriah called a Hittite because that is what he was … a Hittite, and not because he won some great battle over the Hittites at some time. Scripture does not treat lineage terminology the way the Romans might.


Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Uriah the Hittite were both genetic non-Israelites. Caleb had his roots in a certain tribe descended for Esau, and Uriah’s roots extended back to the Hittites. Both had been adopted into one of the tribes of Israel when they appear on the scene, and both were loyal servants and warriors for Israel and her leaders. To suggest otherwise is to contradict the body of scholarship that has examined these issues over many decades.

The wonderful message that these two men shout out to us is that our heavenly Father has a plan that He is fulfilling which involves all nations on earth, not just the descendants of Israel … albeit those from non-Israelite nations must be grafted into the spiritual nation of Israel to inherit salvation. As Galations 3:26-19 so wonderfully states,

But after that faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Judean nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”.

Can we see that our Father in heaven has a great love and plan for all nations, tongues, and tribes, for all of those individuals whom He will eventually call and choose, all of them being made in His own image … Who has made of one blood all nations through Adam {Acts 17:26)? Of course, we know that some individuals will not repent of their sins amongst the non-Israelite peoples, but God does say that all of Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).

Should we not have open hands and hearts to all of humanity in this seething, insane world of Satan’s influence? Should we not have hearts to wish that those in gentile, non-Israelite nations should taste the fruits of God’s promise of salvation just as we do? After all, no matter what we think, our Father will do what He wills. Yet, He wills that none be lost, even though some will not repent of their sins and will be utterly burned up.