The Fullness of the Gentiles
Jun 28, 2008
One of the more confusing things that Bible translators have done is to use the term "gentile" in the Scriptures.
The word is used to translate the Old Testament Hebrew word goy (or its plural, goyim), as well as its New Testament Greek equivalent, ethnos. These words simply mean "nation" or "nations." We are totally dependent upon the context to know WHICH nation is being referenced. These words do not inherently mean "non-Jewish people," and for this reason the translators do a disservice by forcing their opinion upon us with the word "gentiles."
In Genesis 12:2, God told Abram, "And I will make you a great nation [goy]." Was Abram a great Gentile? To translate it in that manner would make no sense to anyone. Later, when the Israelites refused to enter the Promised Land, God proposed cutting them off and giving Moses the promise to Abram. Num. 14:12 says,
"I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them; and I will make you into a nation[goy] greater and mightier than they."
Was God proposing to turn Moses into a "gentile"?? Hardly.
Isaiah 1:4 laments about Israel, "Ah, sinful nation [goy]." Had Israel suddenly become "gentile"? Of course not. Yet Jeremiah 5:15 threatens sinful Israel, "Behold, I am bringing a nation [goy] against you from afar, O house of Israel." The context shows that this nation (goy) was Assyria. It is obvious that the word goy can mean either Israel or some other nation.
Look also at the New Testament word ethnos. We get our English word "ethnic" from this Greek word. An ethnic group can be anyone, Jew or otherwise. This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrewgoy. In Luke 7:5 some Jewish elders told Jesus about a Roman centurion who "loves our nation" (ethnos) and had built them a synagogue. Those Jewish elders thought nothing of applying the termethnos to the Jewish nation.
In John 11:48, as the Jewish leaders conspired against Jesus, they said,
"If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation" (ethnos).
These are just a few examples of how the term ethnos applies equally to whatever nation is being referenced. The use of the Latin term "gentile" is not an unbiased translation of either goy orethnos. It should be translated "nation," allowing the reader to decide which nation by the context of the passage.
So with this in mind, look again at Romans 11:25, "a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fulness of the ethnos has come in; and thus all Israel will be saved."
Which ethnos? The context shows that Paul was speaking of the fulness of the Israel nations. Their hearts would be hardened and their eyes blinded until the prophecy to Ephraim has been fulfilled--and thus (in this manner) all Israel will be saved.
Jacob-Israel had prophesied in Gen. 48:19 that Ephraim would become a multitude (abundance) of nations. This prophecy extends far beyond a single nation in the old land called Israel. The prophecy could only be fulfilled by their expulsion from the land. Hosea's son, Jezreel, actually explains this prophecy further. Jezreel is a homonym for Israel. His name means "God scatters" or "God sows."
Sowing seed in those days was a matter of scattering the seed in the field. Hosea named his son as a prophecy of God scattering Israel in the field, that is, the world (Matt. 13:38). But then in Hosea 2:23 God gives us the purpose of Israel's scattering: "And I will SOW her for Myself in the earth." In this way, the small amount of "seed" multiplies into a great harvest, fulfilling the promise of the Birthright given to Ephraim. So Hosea 1:10 says,
"Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and it will come about that, in the place where it is said to them, 'You are not My people,' it will be said to them, 'You are the sons of the living God'."
Here is the promise of Sonship. While it is true that those dispersed Israelites multiplied physically while in their Assyrian captivity and later as they migrated into Europe and around the world, this is also a prophecy of the manifestation of the sons of God. Obviously, not all physical Israelites are even believers. Even fewer are Pentecostal. Fewer yet are overcomers who will experience the Sonship promise of Tabernacles.
Though few in this present age will be the manifested sons of God, in the end ALL will attain this goal. But most of them must first become believers and be filled with the Spirit at the Great White Throne judgment. Then they must live in the "lake of fire" and go through the obedience training that qualifies them for full Sonship at the Creation Jubilee.
But we are straying from the topic at hand. Getting back to the promise to Ephraim in Rom. 11:32, "all Israel will be saved" when the fulness of the nations has come in. Who are those nations? They INCLUDE the multitude of nations of ex-Israelites, but we cannot forget that "others" are also gathered with them, as Isaiah 56 says.
The only way that an ex-Israelite of the dispersion can regain his legal status as an Israelite is to go through the three steps prophesied by the feasts of Israel. He must first become a believer by experiencing the feast of Passover. He must then be filled with the Spirit by experiencing Pentecost. He must learn obedience and divine discipline by embracing the "fiery law" as a way of life. Coming into agreement with God and His law is the attitude of the feast of Tabernacles. For this reason the law was read at the feast of Tabernacles in ancient times.
All the ethnos have opportunity to follow this same path, for it is open to all equally. Israel's advantage was only in the fact that the gospel went to them first, so their opportunity was greater. God gave certain physical blessings to the dispersed Israelites in Europe and America, but the real blessing of the Birthright is the promise of Sonship.
In essence, Paul was telling us that when the promise to Ephraim is completed, then the blindness will be removed from Israel, and "all Israel will be saved." In other words, God is working to fulfill His promises while Israel has a partial hardening of their hearts, resulting in blindness. He does this in order that no man can take credit for doing it.
Through the centuries, those ex-Israelites of the dispersion have become many nations. But this is only the beginning. These nations must "come in." Into what? They must come into the Stone Kingdom that Daniel says will grow and fill the whole earth (Dan. 2:35). So far, this has not happened. Briefly, in America, our founders attempted to establish a Christian nation, but the Christians soon put away the divine law, and so God brought us into captivity to a neo-Babylonian Empire. Hence, we were transformed into a nation that no longer recognized that all rights come from God, as the Declaration of Independence had previously established.
Even so, God is now bringing America to its knees through the Twin Towers disaster, Hurricane Katrina's destruction of New Orleans, and now the flooding in the Heartland that has brought the sewage to the surface. No doubt there will be more to come. But the divine purpose is to reveal our lawlessness so that we can repent. Only then will this nation (and others) "come in" by declaring once again that Jesus Christ is King, and His law the only law of the nation.
Dr. Stephen Jones