The Three Ethnic Groups

An ethnic group is a community or population made up of people who share a common cultural background or descent. Although, the definition of ethnicity is academically complex, based on the basic definition, there are thousands of ethnic groups in the world. A common attribute of an ethnic group is that people from the same ethnic group tend to possess similarities in physical type and to some extent behavioral traits. Someone once remarked that people from my ethnic group are always short. I recently read an alleged report that people from a particular ethnic group in Rwanda are always gluttonous. In fact, Paul the Apostle spoke about a witness from a prophet against the Cretians, “Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies”. Apostle Paul affirmed that the witness was true. Fascinatingly, the sacred scripture divides the human race into only three ethnic divisions: the Jews, the Greeks, and the Church of God – “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God” (1Cor. 10:32). You may ask yourself, what about my ethnic group, I am asking the same question. I presume you will like to know the rationale behind this division. I will like you to join me as we dig a little deeper into the subject.  

Who are the Jews?

Broadly, the name ‘a Jew’ refers to a descent of the ancient Jewish people who were original descendants of the Hebrews of the Bible. More accurately, it refers to those who are the descendants of Judah, one of the twelve sons of Jacob. Although, the name is tribal in nature, the New Testament typifies it as a sect who were determined to keep the tenets of Judaism. This is seen in several passages of the Holy Scriptures, such as “For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders”. They practice the letters of the law, but omit what is not comfortable to them (Matthew 23:23). They hold onto the physical aspects of the laws, but neglect the spiritual implications (Matthew 23:23). They are mostly concerned with outward purity, such as outward dressing (John 2:6) and not internal righteousness. They observe ceremonies, including Easter (John 2:13), Christmas and New Year (Colossians 2:16) and are interested in religious history (John 2:20,) but ignore their purposes. They have exemplary self-righteousness and even disdain those who are not outwardly righteous (John 4:9). They display outstanding sympathy towards people, but lack genuine love. For instance, they cried sympathetically at the death of Lazarus, but contemplated killing him afterward to preserve their traditions. They are very vast in religious knowledge (John 8:5) and love discussing them, but deny the substance therein by their actions. They love to pray (Matthew 6:5) and work in the temple (Church gathering) (Matthew 21:12), especially in the presence of others. In essence, they are outwardly righteous, but lack internal change, thus they are ‘Religious’. They claim to know God more than every other person (Romans 2:17) and even persecute those who do not follow their way of life (Galatians 1:13). I am sure you will find many around you who partially or totally display these attributes.

Who are the Gentiles?

In the Old Testament, the name Gentile was used to describe all other ethnic groups besides the Jews. This implies that anyone who is not a Jew is a Gentile. They were the heathen nations who knew not God, though they have other gods whom they worship. This description is carried into the New Testament, but with a deeper meaning. The Gentiles are described as those who are overly concerned about natural subsistence (Matthew 6:32). They are also described as oppressors of the poor (Matthew 20:25), an attribute common to those who are not connected to the compassionate God. Spiritually, they are symbolised as “being in the dark” and therefore require lightening (Luke 2:32). Typically, they do not follow righteousness (Romans 9:30) in any way, as do the Jews. They are associated with a high level of immorality (1 Corinthians 5:1) and are closely linked to the devil by their sacrifices (1 Corinthians 10:20). They are expressly termed idolaters (1 Corinthians 12:2) and walk in the vanity of their minds (Ephesians 4:17), suggesting that they lack internal restrain. Contrary to the Jews, they do not have the law of God, signifying they never had contact with God. By implication, they know not God (1 Thessalonians 4:5) and are termed sinners (Galatians 2:15). They cover up their depravity with science and philosophy (Acts 17:21), some even profess that there is no God, but deep within they dread every mention of the name of God. If you look closely, I am sure you will find people around who display a set of these attributes.

"Both the Jews and the Gentiles can simply receive salvation through faith in the sacrificial work of Christ"

Who is the Church of God?

To some, the profile of the Jews looks a lot more appealing than that of the Gentile. I also know of people who prefer the profile of the Gentiles. Surprisingly, both the Jews and the Gentiles are declared to be under sin (Romans 3:9), despite the interesting profile of the Jews. They are affirmed to be in danger of tribulation and anguish (Romans 2:9) with no exceptions. I presume this is what underscores the need for the third ethnic group, the Church of God. The Church, also called the body of Christ, or the new creation refers to someone that has been redeemed by Christ. Since the law, self-righteousness and works of the Jews could not make them right before God, and the Gentiles are too far away from God in their thoughts, there was need for a means (a way) where both groups can get to God. The law could not justify the Jews nor science the Gentiles, hence God sent His Son Jesus to die for and redeem them (1 Peter 3:18). Unlike in the Jewish culture, there is no need for the law, self-righteousness or penance. Both the Jews and the Gentiles can simply receive salvation through faith in the sacrificial work of Christ (Ephesians 2:8). You may find yourself displaying the attributes of a Jew or of a Gentile. Simply come out of it, receive and believe in Jesus Christ (John 1:12) and you will become the Church of the living God.