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by David Brickner
Executive Director, Jews for Jesus
August 1, 2006
The special appreciation and respect that some feel for Jewish people is
sometimes called "philo-Semitism," philo being derived from the Greek word
phileo, to love. Philo-Semites have a great interest in Jewish history as
well as admiration for Jewish culture. And while some people's idea of
respect and admiration of the Jewish people misinforms them on the
critical issue of the Jewish people's need for Christ, true love for
Jewish people produces in Christians a willingness to risk personal
friendships in order to share Jesus as best they can with their Jewish
That kind of philo-Semitism may be rare in some corners of the world, yet
I've witnessed it time and time again through many of you, and I thank God
But what about philo-Gentilism? There's a phrase you don't hear every day. I suppose I may have coined the phrase, but the concept behind it is
God's. And it bears some reflection in response to an attitude that often
puzzles me: a peculiar aversion that some Christians have to being
identified as Gentiles.
Some have objected to the use of the term "Gentile" in our newsletter
articles, pointing out that, "…in Christ there is neither Jew nor
Gentile…" (Galatians 3:28). To which we usually respond that the same
passage also says in Christ there is neither male nor female yet we still
maintain separate lavatories among other things. Others find the word
Gentile (or its Hebrew equivalent, goy) offensive because they have heard
it used as a pejorative term.
I am sorry to say that Jews are not immune from the same kinds of
prejudice that afflict other people, including those who use the term
"Jew" in a derogatory manner. While, the terms "Jew" and "Gentile" are not
negative, the tone and attitude of the people using them can be. After
all, Jew (yehudi in Hebrew) means "a praise to God."
Gentile (goy in
Hebrew) simply means "nation." It is sad that some Gentiles and Jews have
injected hostility into these terms, but the words themselves are still
In fact, from God's perspective, being a Gentile is a very good thing. God
uses the terms Jews and Gentiles in the Bible to describe His love for all
people. And since God loves Gentiles as much as He does, I think it is
altogether appropriate for me to be a philo-Gentile. And when I describe
myself as a philo-Gentile I can smile at the "proof" of the matter, since
I happened to have married a Gentile.
But all personal issues aside, God's love for Gentiles deserves far more
emphasis. Just as it may be more appropriate for Gentile Christians to
speak passionately of God's love for Jews, perhaps it is time for Jews who
love Jesus to speak passionately of God's love for Gentiles. It was
because God loves Gentiles that he called a man named Abraham and promised
…in you all the families
of the earth will be blessed… (Genesis 12:3).
It was that very same love which provided impetus for the coming of
Israel's Messiah. It would never have been enough for God to send a
Messiah for Jews only. He spoke of the Messiah through Isaiah saying,
|It is too small a thing
that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, And
to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a
light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends
of the earth (Isaiah 49:6).
Recently I had an opportunity to speak about the gospel to an Orthodox
rabbi in Paris, France. As we sat in his office I pointed out that because
of Y'shua (Jesus), millions of people from among the goyim (Gentiles) now
worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Whereas the Scriptures
foretold that Messiah would be rejected by His own people (Isaiah 53:3,
Psalm 118:22), the Gentiles would welcome Him:
And in that day there
shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be
glorious (Isaiah 11:10).
I told the rabbi, "This is a very strong and, I think, persuasive argument
for Jesus as Israel's Messiah, since He has clearly been received by so
many from the nations as the Savior of the world." It gave that rabbi
something to think about because he paused, and nodded his head silently.
As you read this August newsletter, our Jews for Jesus missionaries are
following up on many contacts we received as a result of our Behold Your
God New York campaign in July. We hope that Christian friends from local
churches will be doing the same with the many contacts we entrust to them.
If the past pattern continues, we will see five to ten times as much fruit
through our efforts among Gentiles as we see among Jews. Is that such a
bad thing? Certainly not! Yet many fail to see the significance of it.
A rabbi once debated our founder Moishe Rosen on a radio show in New York
City. The rabbi leveled an interesting "charge" at Moishe: "I know that
you Jews for Jesus convert five times as many Gentiles as you do Jews."
Moishe replied, "What do you want us to do, throw them back?" The Bible
tells us that all the angels in heaven rejoice when one sinner repents and
we are thrilled to join in the rejoicing over the salvation of Gentiles
and Jews. What an honor to follow in the footsteps of the psalmist who
Therefore I will give
thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles,
And sing praises to Your
name (Psalm 18:49).
Being a philo-Gentile is not new. Testifying of God's great love among
Gentiles is as ancient a task as it is sacred. We aren't merely
reciprocating the love shown us. We are entering into the holy calling and
purpose of the Lord to love those whom He loves. So if you, like most of
our readers, are Gentiles, and if you have thought that being a Gentile
is not all that special, think again. God prizes diversity, as you can see
throughout His creation. And Gentiles, as a variety of nations, make for
great and wonderful diversity within the body of Christ. You, with your
heritage and your unique individuality, are deeply loved by your heavenly
Father through His Son Jesus Christ. His purpose in bestowing His love on
us Jews was so that you might fully know His love and grace in your own
life. And because we in Jews for Jesus love our Messiah as you do, we all
want to be philo-Gentiles, just as He is. We love you too.
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This article first appeared in the
August 1, 2006 edition
of The Jews for Jesus Newsletter, and is reprinted by permission.
original article may be viewed at:
Copyright 2007 Jews for Jesus. All Rights Reserved