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Bible verses about Gentile Converts
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 12:37-38

Exodus 12:38 tells us the "mixed multitude went up with" the children of Israel. These folk fell in step with God's army as it marched out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. For how long? Their presence during the quail incident, cited above, indicates that these peoples were still with the Israelites at least one year after the first Passover. That means that the mixed multitude was present at Mount Sinai, some fifty days after the Red Sea crossing. This means they were present at the giving of the Law!

Whoever they were, the peoples of the mixed multitude were much more than just witnesses of God's strength. Even the unbelieving Egyptians witnessed that! The mixed multitude partook of God's grace, experienced it with the children of Israel. Whoever they were, these people were fellow-travelers with Israel for a time, experiencing with them the power of God as He pulled them "out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 4:20; see also I Kings 8:51; Jeremiah 11:4).

Both Israel and the mixed multitude experienced His might as He destroyed the most powerful nation on earth at that time. They both experienced deliverance from the Egyptians at the Red Sea. They both experienced the shaking of Sinai as God thundered the Ten Commandments. They both ate the manna and drank water from the Rock! They both were baptized in the Red Sea (see I Corinthians 10:1-4). The folk God calls the "mixed multitude" were partakers with Israel!

Charles Whitaker
The Mixed Multitude


 

Exodus 12:48

The Hebrew language lacks an exact equivalent to the Greek noun proselyte, which means a newcomer (Strong's #4339). However, in the Old Testament, God's law does allow the ger (Strong's #1616), usually rendered "stranger," to become a full-fledged citizen of Israel. To do this, he needed to become circumcised. Exodus 12:48 addresses this changing of belief system in reference to the Passover.

The stranger "wants to keep the Passover." There is no hint of God expecting Israel to seek converts among the heathen by actively preaching to—or, at—them. Here, there is no coercion, subtle or otherwise; the Gentile convert voluntarily gives himself to come under the Old Covenant. Deuteronomy 4:5-7 states the dynamics of this conversion.

Charles Whitaker
Proselytism Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Part One)


 

Leviticus 13:47-59

The clear implication of Leviticus 13:47-59 is that some, though not all, leprous garments became clean. Peter's vision of "all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air" (Acts 10:12) speaks to this point. God made it clear that He was capable of cleansing the Gentiles, but never said He had cleansed all of them at this time. Notice His admonition to Peter: "What God has cleansed you must not call common" (verse 15). Peter got the picture when he met Cornelius shortly after, telling the Roman centurion: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him" (verses 34, 35). While God calls from "every nation," only some, those who fear and obey, are acceptable to Him.

In verse 36, Peter interjects a vital idea: Christ "is Lord of all." Verse 45 records that the "Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also." The "apostles and brethren who were in Judea" (Acts 11:1) came to understand that "God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life" (verse 18).

Charles Whitaker
The Mixed Multitude


 

Deuteronomy 4:5-9

Gentiles' observing the results of Israel's obedience to God's law would be drawn to reject their pagan belief system in favor of God's true religion. There is no reference to God's calling these people. Rather, conversion is treated as a fully rational and voluntary choice made when thoughtful pagans recognize the superiority of God's way over their own satanic practices.

In other words, Israel's role was to be an example. God did not command missionary activity on the part of ancient Israel. Israel's proselytism was to be non-verbal, as distinct from the overt verbal action of preaching through the written or spoken word.

Not proselytism through words, but through works, is the God-sanctioned method for ancient Israel. Israel was not so much to preach as it was to obey and to teach. Obeying God's law was an individual responsibility; teaching that law was a parental duty. Notice verse 9, which stresses both roles.

The Old Testament is replete with examples of Gentiles who were won over to Israel by witnessing the unquestioned superiority of God's way of life, and subsequently becoming convinced that His way was for them. One early example may be "Eliezer of Damascus" in Abraham's day, the chief servant in his household. Other examples, certainly, are Ruth in the period of the judges, Uriah the Hittite in David's day and Ebed-Melech in Jeremiah's time. All these quickly come to mind as Gentile converts.

Later on, however, Hellenized Jews caught missionary fever and discarded the approach sanctioned by God. Active—and far-flung—evangelism became the order of the day. Indeed, the first New Testament occurrence of the word proselyte appears in Matthew 23:15 where Christ chastises the scribes' and Pharisees' for their hypocritical approach to spreading their corrupt religion.

Charles Whitaker
Proselytism Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Part One)


 

Luke 15:25-31

The older brother represents the Pharisaical attitude that resents God's interest in sinners—the same attitude in the early church that looked suspiciously at the inclusion of Gentiles. His self-righteousness manifests itself in jealousy and envy. Today, the elder son is like those who, in self-righteousness, shun brethren who do not live up to their standard of righteousness (Proverbs 20:6; Galatians 6:3; Titus 3:5). Such people do not realize that their self-righteousness is as the filthy rags of the prodigal son (Isaiah 64:6).

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Luke 15 (Part Three)


 

Acts 10:9-16

Three times Peter refused to eat the unclean animals shown to him within the great sheet, and God did not rebuke him. The meaning of the vision is clearly defined in verse 28: "But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean." Nowhere in the ensuing dispute (Acts 11:1-18) is any mention made of clean or unclean foods.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Clean and Unclean Meats


 

Acts 13:13-16

First, notice that Paul does this on the Sabbath day in a synagogue. He speaks to "brethren." In this context, brethren does not mean fellow church members but "fellow Israelites"—Jews, Levites, Benjamites, or whatever tribes they were from. They were brethren in terms of their ethnic relationship.

Second, he also speaks to those described as "you who fear God." This term was used of Gentiles who were proselytes of Judaism, Gentiles who had converted to Judaism. Here is a congregation in a synagogue, consisting of Jews and Gentiles already converted to Judaism—keeping the Sabbath. By the way, this took place in the environs of Galatia.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 24)


 

Acts 15:1

In Acts 10:44-48, God did not require circumcision of the Gentile converts, and so a dispute arose in the church regarding circumcision and all it represented.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

Acts 15:13-15

All James does is add his two cents, as it were, confirming that he could see in the Scriptures that what had happened to Peter in his first meeting with the Gentiles, with Cornelius, God had previously shown that He was going to do it. James then gives a practical application of the decision that had been made by Peter, and the rest confirm that this indeed is what was to be done.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

Acts 15:21

Notice, the Gentile converts to the Christian church would attend services from time to time in the Jewish synagogues. Maybe they were the only places they could attend services, and they would hear the law of Moses preached there. The council at Jerusalem had no problem at all with that!

By the time of Galatians, the Gentiles there were being deceived into accepting a strange mixture of Gnosticism and Judaism as the religion of the New Covenant. These Gnostic Jews defined their relationship with God through the law—but law to them was not the same thing as law to a true, God-fearing Christian. When we think of "law," we immediately think of God's law, perhaps specifically the Ten Commandments or generally the Pentateuch. Maybe some of us would think of all the instruction of God, which is really what Torah includes. But "law" to the people deceiving the Galatian Christians was Halakha.

This should not seem strange to us because hundreds of millions of people today call themselves "Christian" yet believe that the law is done away. This happens as a result of hearing something said often enough until it is assumed to be true. In the same way, the Jews honestly and sincerely believed that Halakha was the law of Moses.

Just as important to them, however, is that law was their means of election with God—that is, they believed that the very fact that they possessed the law (Halakha), combined with the quality of their law-keeping, motivated God to choose them. This idea, of course, circumvents God's exercise of His sovereignty over His creation, and is thus false.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 25)


 

Ephesians 2:11-12

This makes this principle regarding Gentiles very specific. Not only were they "without Christ" before conversion, they were also aliens from Israel. Tying this together with Romans 9:4-5, they were also separated from the Covenant, were they not? Now, because of their conversion, they were near to the additional blessings that would come from being near to Israel. The inference is that they were no longer aliens.

Gentiles must become a part of Israel because that is with whom the New Covenant is being made (Hebrews 8:8)! Conversion, then, having access to God, putting on Christ, entering into the Covenant, having promises and hope, and being part of Israel, all go together in one package. God does not disrupt the patterns that He Himself established.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

Ephesians 2:12

Notice two important factors he links to hope in Ephesians 2:12. First, in the time before God called the Ephesian Gentiles into a relationship with Him, they were "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise."

The commonwealth of Israel could be either the nation or the church because under the Old Covenant ancient Israel established a relationship with God, received a small measure of His promises, and possessed the hope of the Messiah. However, the primary meaning here is the church; those who have made the New Covenant with God are the Israel of God and a holy nation (Galatians 6:16; I Peter 2:9). The New Covenant contains God's confirmed promises—confirmed in the life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, Christ Jesus.

Being part of ancient Israel under the Old Covenant did not give a person access to many promises that would have given him reason to hope. The Old Covenant promised no forgiveness of sin, no access to God, no promise of the Holy Spirit, and no promise of eternal and everlasting life, all of which we have. We have continuing, never-ending hopes because the New Covenant ensures a continuous relationship. Our relationship necessarily involves the other part of Ephesians 2:12: Before our calling, we were also without God in the world. Our hope is not merely in the fact that we have made a covenant, but more importantly, with whom we made it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Three): Hope


 

Ephesians 2:19-22

In Ephesians 2:19-22, in the Phillips translation, the apostle Paul writes:

So you are no longer outsiders or aliens, but fellow-citizens with every other Christian [the saints, NKJV] - you belong now to the household of God. Firmly beneath you is the foundation, God's messengers and prophets, the corner-stone being Christ Jesus himself. In him each separate piece of building, properly fitting into its neighbor, grows together into a temple consecrated to the Lord. You are all part of this building in which God himself lives by his Spirit.

We stand on the Christian lives of those who have gone before us. Those who have died in the faith, the saints who await their resurrection from the dead, form the foundation on which we stand, along with Christ, the Cornerstone. If we live our lives with integrity, then we too become an integral piece of the Temple.

Paul's main intention in Ephesians 2 is to let Gentile converts know that they have equal privileges with Israelite converts. Whatever his origins, each individual forms a separate piece of the "building," and all fitted together provide a habitation for God. The building metaphor is equally appropriate for us. Each of us comes from a different social and ethnic background, education, life experience, and so on. In order for us to become part of the Temple, a place where God dwells, integrity must reside in our characters.

Continuing the metaphor, each of us is fitted into the proper place. If a building is constructed of solid pieces - no rotted or bowed wood, no rusted metal, no inferior materials of any type - and if it is erected on a solid foundation, the result is a structure with integrity. The apostle Peter also uses the building metaphor in I Peter 2:1-5:

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

A building block or stone, used to construct a spiritual house or a temple, must be sound. It must itself have integrity. If the stone is weak, it will crumble or crack easily, endangering the whole building.

Mike Ford
Building With Integrity


 

Hebrews 8:8

The New Covenant will be made with Israel and with Judah—without any mention of the Gentiles. Yet, other areas of the Bible contains a great deal about the Gentiles—so much that Jesus Himself says that we were entering into the "times of the Gentiles." Paul's ministry was to the Gentiles, so the Gentiles are certainly a part of the New Covenant. But in the discussion of the New Covenant in Hebrews 8, the New Covenant is made with Israel and Judah.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

 




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