Monday, October 17, 2011
“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” (Ephesians 2:12 KJV).
The Greek word translated “without God” is “atheos,” from which we get “atheism.” God exists, so how can today’s Scripture teach that some individuals (the Gentiles of verse 11) were “without God?”
After the Great Flood of Noah’s day, Noah’s descendants did not scatter as God commanded (Genesis 9:1,7). In fact, they gathered for pagan worship at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-7)! God in righteous judgment scattered them, resulting in the world’s nations and languages (verses 8,9). In Genesis chapter 12, God selected one Syrian, Abram (Abraham), to create the nation Israel. Anyone not a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be a Gentile (non-Jew).
What happened to Gentiles after Genesis chapter 12? “God gave them up” (Romans 1:21-32). “[God] who in time past suffered [allowed] all nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16). “At the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent;” (Acts 17:30). The Gentiles were “without God” indeed.
God dealt almost exclusively with Israel in the Old Testament (Nineveh, Rahab, and Ruth were some Gentile exceptions). The covenants belonged to Israel’s patriarchs, not the Gentiles. “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” (Romans 15:8). Whenever a Gentile woman approached Jesus in His earthly ministry, He said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). He also said, “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).
Thankfully, when we come to Paul’s ministry, God ministers to Gentiles apart from Israel. Today, Israel has temporarily lost her privileged position of Romans 9:4,5 (Romans 11:11,12). We Gentiles enjoy God’s salvation through the Gospel of Grace, which can save both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1:16). God commissioned Paul as “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), so Ephesians 2:13 says we Gentiles can bid “adios” (farewell) to being “atheos!” 😉