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Dictionaries :: Gentiles

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Easton's Bible Dictionary


(Heb., usually in plural, goyim), meaning in general all nations except the Jews. In course of time, as the Jews began more and more to pride themselves on their peculiar privileges, it acquired unpleasant associations, and was used as a term of contempt.

In the New Testament the Greek word Hellenes, meaning literally Greek (as in Act 16:1,3; 18:17; Rom 1:14), generally denotes any non-Jewish nation.

International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia


jen'-tilz (goy, plural goyim; ethnos, "people," "nation"): Goy (or Goi) is rendered "Gentiles" in the King James Version in some 30 passages, but much more frequently "heathen," and oftener still, "nation," which latter is the usual rendering in the Revised Version (British and American), but it, is commonly used for a non-Israelitish people, and thus corresponds to the meaning of Gentiles." It occurs, however, in passages referring to the Israelites, as in Ge 12:2; De 32:28; Jos 3:17; 4:1; 10:13; 2Sa 7:23; Isa 1:4; Ze 2:9, but the word (?am) is the term commonly used for the people of God. In the New Testament ethnos is the word corresponding to goy in the Old Testament and is rendered "Gentiles" by both VSS, while (laos) is the word which corresponds to ?am. The King James Version also renders Hellenes, "Gentiles" in six passages (Joh 7:35; Ro 2:9,10; 3:9; 1Co 10:32; 12:13), but the Revised Version (British and American) renders "Greeks."

The Gentiles were far less sharply differentiated from the Israelites in Old Testament than in New Testament times. Under Old Testament regulations they were simply non-Israelites, not from the stock of Abraham, but they were not hated or despised for that reason, and were to be treated almost on a plane of equality, except certain tribes in Canaan with regard to whom there were special regulations of non-intercourse. The Gentile stranger enjoyed the hospitality of the Israelite who was commanded to love him (De 10:19), to sympathize with him, "For ye know the heart of the stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Ex 23:9 the King James Version). The Kenites were treated almost as brethren, especially the children of Rechab (Jud 1:16; 5:24; Jer 35). Uriah the Hittite was a trusted warrior of David (2Sa 11); Ittai the Gittite was captain of David's guard (2Sa 18:2); Araunah the Jebusite was a respected resident of Jerusalem. The Gentiles had the right of asylum in the cities of refuge, the same as the Israelites (Nu 35:15). They might even possess Israelite slaves (Le 25:47), and a Gentileservant must not be defrauded of his wage (De 24:15). They could inherit in Israel even as late as the exile (Eze 47:22,23). They were allowed to offer sacrifices in the temple at Jerusalem, as is distinctly affirmed by Josephus (BJ, II, xvii, 2- 4; Ant, XI, viii, 5; XIII, viii, 2; XVI, ii, 1; XVIII, v, 3; CAp, II, 5), and it is implied in the Levitical law (Le 22:25). Prayers and sacrifices were to be offered for Gentilerulers (Jer 29:7; Baruch 1:10,11; Ezr 6:10; 1 Macc 7:33; Josephus, BJ, II, x, 4). Gifts might be received from them (2 Macc 5:16; Josephus, Ant, XIII, iii, 4; XVI, vi, 4; BJ, V, xiii, 6; CAp, II, 5). But as we approach the Christian era the attitude of the Jews toward the Gentiles changes, until we find, in New Testament times, the most extreme aversion, scorn and hatred. They were regarded as unclean, with whom it was unlawful to have any friendly intercourse. They were the enemies of God and His people, to whom the knowledge of God was denied unless they became proselytes, and even then they could not, as in ancient times, be admitted to full fellowship. Jews were forbidden to counsel them, and if they asked about Divine things they were to be cursed. All children born of mixed marriages were bastards. That is what caused the Jews to be so hated by Greeks and Romans, as we have abundant evidence in the writings of Cicero, Seneca and Tacitus. Something of this is reflected in the New Testament (Joh 18:28; Ac 10:28; 11:3).

If we inquire what the reason of this change was we shall find it in the conditions of the exiled Jews, who suffered the bitterest treatment at the hands of their Gentile captors and who, after their return and establishment in Judea, were in constant conflict with neighboring tribes and especially with the Greek rulers of Syria. The fierce persecution of Antiochus IV, who attempted to blot out their religion and Hellenize the Jews, and the desperate struggle for independence, created in them a burning patriotism and zeal for their faith which culminated in the rigid exclusiveness we see in later times.

Written by H. Porter

King James Dictionary

Gentiles: A People; Nations Other than Israel.

For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the GENTILES; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 1:11)

Torrey's New Topical Textbook

Gentiles: Comprehend All Nations except the Jews

Rom 2:9; 3:9; 9:24

Gentiles: Called


Psa 2:1; Gal 3:8


Psa 9:20; 22:28; Isa 9:1


Isa 14:6; 52:1


Rom 2:26


Rom 1:16; 10:12


Isa 14:1; 60:10

Gentiles: Ruled by God

2Ch 20:6; Psa 47:8

Gentiles: Chastised by God

Psa 9:5; 94:10

Gentiles: Counsel Of, Brought to Nought

Psa 33:10

Gentiles: Characterised As

Ignorant of God

Rom 1:21; 1Th 4:5

Refusing to know God

Rom 1:28

Without the law

Rom 2:14


Rom 1:23,25; 1Cr 12:2


Deu 18:14

Depraved and wicked

Rom 1:28-32; Eph 4:19

Blasphemous and reproachful

Neh 5:9

Constant to their false gods

Jer 2:11

Gentiles: Hated and Despised the Jews

Est 9:1,5; Psa 44:13,14; 123:3

Gentiles: Often ravaged and defiled the holy land and sanctuary

Psa 79:1; Lam 1:10

Gentiles: The Jews

Not to follow the ways of

Lev 18:3; Jer 10:2

Not to intermarry with

Deu 7:3

Permitted to have, as servants

Lev 25:44

Despised, as if dogs

Mat 15:26

Never associated with

Act 10:28; 11:2,3

Often corrupted by

2Ki 17:7,8

Dispersed amongst

Jhn 7:35

Gentiles: Excluded from Israel's Privileges

Eph 2:11,12

Gentiles: Not Allowed to Enter the Temple

Act 21:28,29

Gentiles: Outer Court of Temple For

Eph 2:14; Rev 11:2

Gentiles: Given to Christ as His Inheritance

Psa 2:8

Gentiles: Christ Given as a Light To

Isa 42:6; Luk 2:32

Gentiles: Conversion Of, Predicted

Isa 2:2; 11:10

Gentiles: United with the Jews against Christ

Act 4:27

Gentiles: The gospel not to be preached to, till preached to the Jews

Mat 10:5; Luk 24:47; Act 13:46

Gentiles: First Special Introduction of the Gospel To

Act 10:34-45; 15:14

Gentiles: First General Introduction of the Gospel To

Act 13:48,49,52; 15:12

Gentiles: Paul the Apostle Of

Act 9:15; Gal 2:7,8

Gentiles: Jerusalem Trodden down By, &c

Luk 21:24

Gentiles: Israel Rejected Till the Fulness Of

Rom 11:25

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
A-1 Noun Strong's Number: g1484 Greek: ethnos


whence Eng., "heathen," denotes, firstly, "a multitude or company;" then, "a multitude of people of the same nature or genus, a nation, people;" it is used in the singular, of the Jews, e.g., Luk 7:5; 23:2; Jhn 11:48, 50-52; in the plural, of nations (Heb., goiim) other than Israel, e.g., Mat 4:15; Rom 3:29; 11:11; 15:10; Gal 2:8; occasionally it is used of gentile converts in distinction from Jews, e.g., Rom 11:13; 16:4; Gal 2:12, 14; Eph 3:1.

A-2 Noun Strong's Number: g1672 Greek: hellen


originally denoted the early descendants of Thessalian Hellas; then, Greeks as opposed to barbarians, Rom 1:14. It became applied to such Gentiles as spoke the Greek language, e.g., Gal 2:3; 3:28. Since that was the common medium of intercourse in the Roman Empire, Greek and Gentile became more or less interchangeable terms. For this term the RV always adheres to the word "Greeks," e.g., Jhn 7:35; Rom 2:9, 10; 3:9; 1Cr 10:32, where the local church is distinguished from Jews and Gentiles; 1Cr 12:13.

B-1 Adjective Strong's Number: g1482 Greek: ethnikos


is used as noun, and translated "Gentiles" in the RV of Mat 5:47; 6:7; "the Gentile" in Mat 18:17 (AV, "an heathen man"); "the Gentiles" in 3Jo 1:7, AV and RV.

C-1 Adverb Strong's Number: g1482 Greek: ethnikos


"in Gentile fashion, in the manner of Gentiles," is used in Gal 2:14, "as do the Gentiles," RV.


(1) For the synonymous word laos, "a people," see PEOPLE.

(2) When, under the new order of things introduced by the Gospel the mystery of the Church was made known, the word ethnos was often used in contrast to the local church, 1Cr 5:1; 10:20; 12:2; 1Th 4:5; 1Pe 2:12.

Smith's Bible Dictionary


(nations.) All the people who were not Jews were so called by them, being aliens from the worship, rites and privileges of Israel. The word was used contemptuously by them. In the New Testament it is used as equivalent to Greek. This use of the word seems to have arisen from the almost universal adaption of the Greek language.


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