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The Jews, the Greeks and the Gentiles: Who are they?By Jeff A. Benner
As the gospel of Yeshua's message was spreading throughout the land, mostly documented in the book of Acts, three people groups are mentioned; the Jews, the Greeks and the Gentiles. Unfortunately due to misinterpretations and mistranslations of the text, there is a lot of misunderstanding over who these people are.
The Greek word ethnos (Strong's #1484) literally means "nation." This word is used in the 2,000 year old Greek Septuagint to translate the Hebrew word goy (Strong's #1471), which also means "nation." A nation is any group of people living and working under one rule. Many different nations are mentioned in the Bible including; the Canaanites, Egyptians, Moabites, Arameans, and others. But more importantly even Israel is called a "nation."
Translating the Greek word ethnos in the New Testament as "gentile" is problematic. While the word "gentile" does mean "one belongs to a tribe or clan," it has come universally mean a non-Jew. But as we have seen, the words goy and ethnos do not mean a non-Jew, they mean "one who belongs to a tribe or clan."
The tribe of Asher is one of the "ten lost tribes," but as we can see, Anna, from the tribe of Asher, is not "lost." The "lost" tribes are not "lost" in the sense of "missing," but in the sense of walking away from the teachings of Yahweh. Even Yeshua mentions that his mission was to reach the "lost" tribes and commissions his disciples to do the same.
Even James mentions that he is a servant to the "twelve tribes," which would include the "ten lost tribes."
When Paul preached to the "nations" in the Book of Acts, he was doing what Yeshua commanded, preaching to the "lost" tribes, the lost goy/ethnos of Israel.
The book of Maccabees, one of the books of the Apocrypha, tells the story of the Jewish Revolt about 150 years before the time of the New Testament. The Greeks, led by Antichus Epiphinus, conquered the land of Israel and forced the Jews to leave their national heritage and the Torah and begin following the Greek culture. Because of the Jews hatred for all things Hellenistic, including the culture and language, Judas Maccabee lead the revolt against Antichus Epiphinus destroying the Greeks and slaughtering those Jews that had adopted the Greek language and culture. This revolt demonstrates the Jewish hatred of the hellistic culture and the incorrect assumption that the Jews freely adopted the Greek language during the time of the New Testament.
The Jews, in contrast to the Hellenists, are those Jews that remained faithful to the Torah and rejected the Greek culture and language.
Only mentioned four times in the New Testament are the "proselytes" (Matthew 23:15, Acts 2:11, 6:5 and 13:43). The word proselytes is a transliteration of the Greek word proselutos, which means a "stranger" or "foreigner." These are non-Jews, what we would call today "gentiles," that have joined Israel and follow Yahweh and his teachings.
These foreigners were to be treated the same as the Israelites.
Even Paul in the New Testament understood this and recognized that anyone could join Israel, just as they did in ancient times.
We now have a clearer understanding of these four people groups;