by: Bill Bratt


Did the law of God insist on separation of Jew and Gentile? Did God make a distinction in the law for Jews and Gentiles?
Did first century Jews separate themselves from Gentiles?
Through out Old Testament times the ancient Israelites (the tribe of Judah was one of the 12 tribes of Israel), wanted to be like their Gentile neighbors.
The following is a quote from "The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible" article: Gentiles.
"So pervasive were Gentile customs that the Hebrews utimately succumbed to their allurements, and with the disavowal of the covenant relationship came threats of punishment for Israel. Between 722 and 525 B.C., the Hebrew people shared the curse of the nations by being scattered in captivity among them. From then on, the only hope of realizing the ancient ideal of the Torah lay in the survival of a faithful minority of Israelites who would return to their homeland and try to revive the historic spiritual mission of Israel to the world.
The threat of contamination by paganism in the Greek period led the Jews to adopt a rigorous, exclusive attitude toward non-Jewish peoples, so that by the time of Chirst the term "Gentile" had become one of scorn."

Let's notice that Peter was affected by this Jewish culture. Let's look at Gal. 2:11-14 (KJV) "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed." {12} "For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision." {13} "And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation." {14} "But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?"

Did the law of God insist on separation of Jew and Gentile?
Let's look at Num 15:13-16 (NKJV): "All who are native-born shall do these things in this manner, in presenting an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD." {14} "And if a stranger dwells with you, or whoever is among you throughout your generations, and would present an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD, just as you do, so shall he do." {15}"One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the stranger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the LORD." {16} 'One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you.'"
The law made certain requirements for strangers, but they were not kept away.
Deu 10:18 (NKJV) says: "He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing."
More detailed information concerning widows, orphans, and strangers is given in 24:17-22. They are mentioned in this verse to illustrate the loving character of God, who is particularly concerned for the one who needs Him most, even the stranger.
Eph 2:19 (NKJV) says: "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,"
God loves the stranger and we are admonished to love the stranger also.

The following is a quote from "The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible" article: Stranger:
1. The O.T. The words most often found in the O.T. are Ger and Nokri
a. Ger. This term referred to a person who lived in a country or town of which he was not a full native citizen. It is used particularly of free aliens living more or less permanently among the Israelites. The word was, however, also used of Israelites-for example, the patriarchs in Palestine and the Israelites in Egypt (Gen 15:13; Exodus 22:21; 23:9; Lev 19:34; Deut. 10: 19; 18:6; etc.).
There were strangers among the Israelites from the first. A "mixed multitude" went up from Egypt with Israel; after the conquest, Israelites and Caananites dwelt side by side. The latter were never exterminated. The historical books frequently make mention of resident aliens, e.g., Uriah the Hittite. There were many strangers (aliens) in Palestine in the days of Solomon (2 Chron 2:17).
Although the stranger in Palestine did not enjoy all the religious and civil rights of the Israelites, they were not abused and were expected to be treated hospitably. Moses said that God loved the gerim, (strangers) providing them both food and raiment (Deut 10:18). It was the duty of Israelites to defend, help, and even love the stranger, for they too at one time were strangers in Egypt (Deut 10:18; 14:29; 24:14, 19). The ger (stranger) was protected against injustice and violence (Exod 21:20; 23:9), and he was given his rights (Deut 24:14). He was classed with the widow and the orphan as needing special consideration (Deut 10:18; 14:29). Marriage of Israelites with gerim was forbidden by the law of Moses (Gen 34:14; Deut 7:1ff.).
Gerim (strangers) were expected to keep the Sabbath (Exod. 20:10; 23:12), to observe the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:29), to use no leaven during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exod. 12:19), and they could keep the Passover if circumcised (Exod. 12:48; Num. 9:14). Sacrifices could be offered by them (Lev 17:8; Num. 15:14, 26, 29; 35:15).
A free Israelite who became a slave of a ger (stranger) could be redeemed by a relative at any time on payment of a fair price (Lev 25:47ff.). Gerim (strangers) who became slaves were not released during the year of Jubilee, as Israelites were (Lev 25:46).
After the Babylonian captivity, many of the gerim (strangers) became proselytes to Judaism, and their identity was absorbed in the Jewish nation.
b. Nokri. The gerim (strangers) were non-Israelites who made their home in Israel; the Nokri (strangers) came into temporary contact with Israel as travelers or as traders. In the matter of rights and privileges in Palestine, their position was no different from that of the gerim (strangers) . A temporary resident would naturally not have the same interest, at least normally, in the religion of the land. They were treated hospitably, but they were expected, while in the land, to conform to Jewish laws about sabbath keeping. They could not eat of the Passover unless they were circumcised (Exod. 12:43) or eat of a holy thing (Lev 22:10). Israelites could lend money to them for interest (Deut. 23:20). Israelites were forbidden to buy for sacrifice, defective animals purchased from a foreigner (Lev 22:25).
2. The NT. The word "stranger" is sometimes used in the literal sense of a person not known or familiar, as when Jesus said, "A stranger they will not follow" (John 10:5), and "I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Matt 25:35). Sometimes where the KJV uses "strangers," the RSV uses other expressions: ..others" (Matt 17:25; Acts 7:6), "foreign" (Acts 17:18; Heb 11:9), "foreigners" (Acts 17:21), "exile" (7:29; 1 Pet 1:1), "visitors" (Acts 2:10; Luke 24:18), "alien" (I Pet 2:11), '.sojourner" (Eph. 2:19). In Ephesians 2:12, Paul said that Gentiles were "strangers to the covenants of promise," the word "strangers" (Gr. xenoi is used in the O.T. sense of resident aliens, or foreigners, who were excluded from the covenants God made with Israel."

In Conclusion:

God's law did not insist on separation of Jews and Gentiles.
God loves the stranger and we are admonished to love the stranger also.

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