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The purpose and intent of this site is twofold:

1. Share the Word of God as found in the Bible.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Origin Of The English Word “Gentile”

AN UNFORTUNATE TRANSLATION ERROR

TECHNICAL ASPECTS
Ethnos – G1484 in Strong’s numbering system.  It is used 164 times in the New Testament translated “Nation or Nations” 64 times; “Gentiles” 93 times; “Heathen” 5 times; and “People” 2 times.

Strong’s G1074 appears once as “Nations” and in other places is translated as “generation(s)”, “time”, and “ages”.  G1085 appears twice as “nation(s)” and other times as:  kind, kindred, country, stock, offspring, born, diversities, and countrymen.

G246 appears once as “nation.”

G1672 (Hellen) is used 6 times as “Gentiles”, with 40 instances translated as “Greek” or “Greeks” as it should be.

The English word - Gentile - has its origin from the Latin gentelisis and the French gentil, both derived from the Latin root gens, meaning - "A Selected Clan or Race of the same ethnic stock.”

The word “ethnos” (G1484) literally means ‘nation’ or a homogenous race of people.  It is not applicable to an individual. A person cannot be addressed as a nation or race.  The idea that a person can be called a "gentile" - stems from an incorrect translation of the original word.

THE ORIGIN AND USAGE
It appears that the translators of the Authorized Version of the Bible are responsible for the perpetuation of the word “Gentile” in the English language.  It was evidently coined by the translators to correspond with their personal understanding and bias that excluded the national theme of Israel as the northern ten tribes from the Old Testament and referred to in the New Testament.   Lacking knowledge of the location and racial makeup of the dispersed nation of Israel, they considered “Israel” and “Jew” as interchangeable terms.

Due to centuries of mass indoctrination, in the minds of most people, the world is now divided into two groups of people – the Jews and everyone else as if the Jews constitute the entirety of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel.  I have heard people refer to Abraham as a Jew and the Israelites in Egypt prior to the exodus as Jews.  The term “Jew” did not even appear until the southern kingdom of Judah was taken captive to Babylon.  Jew is an abbreviated slang term for Judahite, a resident of the southern kingdom of Judah, much like the Japanese, during WWII, were referred to as “Japs”.

In the translator’s understanding, the area around New Testament Judea contained all the people of the Birthright promise that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob which consisted, after the death of Solomon, of the nations of Judah and Israel.  Recall from previous posts that the northern nation of Israel was conquered by Assyria who deported the vast majority (but not all) of the Israelites to the northeastern region of their territory.  A hundred plus years later, the southern kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians with three different deportations.  Most (but not all) of the Judahites were taken captive back to Babylon.  Seventy years later some (but not all) of the captives were allowed to return.

Had the translators used the word "nation" in every occurrence, the context would dictate whether “ethnos” was applicable to the nation of Israel or nations of a non-Israelite race and much confusion concerning the New Testament message would have been avoided.
This unfortunate translation of introducing the previously unknown word “gentile” into the Bible and the English language has become a de facto convention around the world.  There are no popular commentaries, eschatology books, or Bible studies that do not employ the concept of the modern “Jews” as the totality of every instance of words such as:  Jew, Zion, Israel, and Israelite.  Almost all secular encyclopedias and dictionaries, give a definition of ‘gentile’ as a ‘non-Jew’ with no further elaboration.

Bible scholars, preachers, pastors, and teachers design convoluted and confusing explanations for sections of Paul’s letters because they believe his epistles were addressed to some foreign group of people of a non-Israelite race called “Gentiles.”  Many Church doctrines are erroneous and full of contradictions because of this misunderstanding.  In Matthew 10:5-6 the Lord Jesus sent His disciples to deliver the message of the Kingdom to the lost sheep of the house of Israel only.
These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles (ethnos: the multitude – in this instance the ethnos refers to Judea), and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  (Matthew 10:5-6 KJV)
NOTE that in the above scripture reference, the word “ethnos” defined as: a nation, a race, or a homogenous ethnic group can even refer to the Jews of the province of Judea because the disciples were sent out of Judea.

The same bias that prompted the translators of the Authorized Version to distort the meaning of ethnos, is also evident with the Greek words genes, genos and gennema, whose primary meaning in each instance is “race.” 

In many passages they confused the racial meaning by rendering “genos” or "race" as "generation.”  In the following scripture passages the word "generation" makes no sense with the context:  Matthew 3:7. 12:34; 23:33, 24:34, Mark 13:30; Luke 3:7; 21:32; 1 Peter 2:9.
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.  (Matthew 24:34 KJV)  The generation Jesus was talking to has already passed but the race of Israelites is still alive and well and will be at the return of Jesus.  This causes many prophecy expositors to proclaim that the ‘generation’ referred to in this verse commenced in 1948 with the recognition of the modern state of Israel.  However, they are running out of time and may soon be forced to view this verse with its original intent.
Paul recognized that the Israelites, among the nations, were blind to their identity.
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel (northern 10 tribes), until the fullness of the Gentiles (Nations or races) be come in.  (Rom 11:25 KJV)
Jeremiah lived around 100 to 130 years after the nation of Israel was deported by Assyria.  He indicated that Israel were like lost sheep and had forgotten their national origins.
Jeremiah 50:4-6 KJV  In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together….  (5)  They shall ask the way to Zion….saying….let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant…. (6)  My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.
Many difficult Bible passages can be more easily understood when the target population that the message was intended for is known.  All translations are subject to the biases and world views of the translators.  Anyone who believes that the pens of the King James translators were any more directed by God than any other are deluded – the pens of the original Hebrew and Greek authors – Yes – others not so much.

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