Are Believers in Yeshua Gentiles or Jews (or Israelites)?
The Scriptures Call the Israelites Gentiles. Isaiah 1:4 calls Israel a sinful nation. The word nation is the Hebrew word goy (Strong’s H1471) meaning “gentile” or, in a spiritual sense, “worldly or secular.”
This is one of a number of passages in the Scriptures where Israel itself is referred to as being gentile. A quick study of the Hebrew word goy will bear this fact out. This word is translated in the Tanakh (Old Testament) as nation 374 times, as heathen 143 times, as Gentiles 30 times, and people 11 times. Whenever the word gentile is used in the KJV Bible it is the word goy. According to Strong’s Concordance, the meaning of goy or gowy is “a foreign nation; hence a Gentile; also (fig.) a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts.” According to Gesenius Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, the word goy means “a people, a confluence of men,” and “contextually in Holy Scripture it is used to refer to the other nations besides Israel, the foes of Israel, and strangers to the true religion of Israel.”
There are times when this word refers specifically to Israel (e.g., the descendants of Joseph in general: Gen 48:19; to the southern kingdom of Judah when it forsook Elohim and its covenant with him and became like the surrounding heathen nations: Isa 1:4; to the southern kingdom: Isa 9:1; to Israel in general: Isa 26:2; 49:7; Ps 33:12; Gen 12:2; 35:11).
There are numerous other instances in the Scriptures where the words goy or goyim (the plural of goy) are applied to the descendants of Abraham. The Scriptures’ use of the term is unbiased and lacks any of the pejorative implications that have been applied to the term subsequently (e.g., Gen 17:4,5,6,16; 18:18; 25:23; 46:3; Exod 19:6; 33:13; Deut 4:6,7,8,34; Ezek 37:22). As already noted, goy simply means “people or ethnic group.” The Greek word ethnos (Strong’s G1484) as found in the Testimony of Yeshua (New Testament) is equivalent in meaning to the Hebrew word goyim. Our English word ethnic derives from this Greek word.
The Apostle Paul on the Subject. Now consider this. The Apostle Paul says in a number of places that those who come to Yeshua are no longer Gentiles but are the children or seed (literally “sperm,” which is the meaning of the Greek word) of Abraham (Eph 2:11–19; Rom 4:16; 9:8–11; Gal 3:7,9,14,28–29). The word gentiles as used in the Scriptures simply means “ethnic groups or nations.” As already noted, there are many places in the Scriptures where Jews and Israelites are referred to as “Gentiles.” There is no class of people called “gentiles” in the spiritual body of Yeshua, however. Rather, the Scriptures use the such terms for the redeemed of YHVH as the saints, the called out ones, or the one new man. Any attempt by anyone to keep the Jew—Gentile division alive within the body of Yeshua is in effect keeping up the middle wall of partition that the Apostle Paul gave his ministry life and eventually his physical life to tearing down (see Eph 2:11–19).
There Is No Gentile Gate. We must also keep in mind that there are only twelve gates through which one can enter the New Jerusalem, and these gates are named after the twelve tribes of Israel (Rev 21:12). There is no gentile gate! The only way that one will be able to enter the New Jerusalem will be through spiritually identifying with the tribes of Israel. So which tribe are you?
No Covenants Made With the Gentile Nations . Finally, YHVH, the God of the Bible, never made any salvational covenants with non-Israelite nations, but only with the nation of Israel. To be in covenantal relationship with YHVH one has to accept the Jewish Messiah, and be grafted into the Israelite olive tree through the Messiah and become an Israelite—PERIOD! For example, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews clearly states that the New Covenant is made with the two houses of Israel—not, and the Gentile nations (see Heb 8:8 and Jer 31:31,33). This may come as a shock to some people reading this, but this is the truth of the Scriptures!
One New Man In Messiah Yeshua . The Scriptures reveals that there are only two classifications of people: Israelites and non-Israelites or Gentiles. Individuals in the former group can obtain eternal life by virtue of one’s individual spiritual relationship with the Elohim of Israel through the Messiah of Israel. The latter group, unless they repent of their sins (i.e., lawlessness or Torahlessness, see 1 John 3:4), will burn in the lake of fire (Rev 20:15).
Whenever Paul uses the term “gentile,” he is either referring to ethnicity, and not using the term as a spiritual designation, or he is using the term gentile to mean “worldly.” In this case, it is a moniker referring to those who are carnal in that they act like gentiles (heathens) who are “without God and without hope” (Eph 2:12). The term gentile is not a spiritual designation for a redeemed believer, for they have been called out of the world and have become a member of a special group called “the called out ones” or “church” (Greek: ecclesia meaning “the church or an assembly of people who have been called out of another group of people”). The Scriptures also call redeemed believers “saints,” a word simply meaning “holy” or “set-apart” as opposed to Gentiles who are without Elohim and without hope. The Scriptures teach that those who are redeemed or who are “in Messiah” are no longer Gentiles, for they have been grafted into and become part of the nation of Israel (Rom 11:13–24 and Eph 2:11–19). They have become the one new man which Paul speaks about in Ephesians 2:15.
What Do We Do Now? Now that we know that we are really part of a people-group called “Redeemed Israel” what does one do with this information? That is up to you. Pray and ask your Father in heaven to help you to live out your new identity as an Israelite.
Many believers in Yeshua the Messiah upon finding out that the Scriptures actually define them as Israelites and not as Gentiles, begin to sense a need to begin acting more like Israelites in their lifestyle and beliefs. They become interested in the biblical feasts of Israel and in the seventh day Sabbath resulting in their life takes on a more biblical or Hebraic flavor as they see themselves more in light of the Book of Acts believers instead of churchianity. This is a path that you will need to begin to explore. As you go down this journey, please keep in mind the words of Yeshua in Matthew 5:17–19; John 15:15 and the words of the apostles in 1 Corinthians 11:1 and 1 John 2:3–6 along with Romans 7:12,14 and 3:31.