Throughout the Bible anyone who wasn’t a Jew was called a Gentile; in the OT this had the connotation of being heathen or pagan, and outside the scope of God’s purposes (Eph 2:11-13). The male Jews were required to be circumcised and so the Gentiles were also termed ‘the un-circumcised’. Although Jesus ministered predominately to the Jews, His work of atonement was for all people and in the great commission instruction was given for His followers to go to all nations with the gospel (Mt 28:19,20; Rom 1:16). Paul became the apostle to the Gentiles, Peter the apostle to the Jews (Gal 2:7,8).

Paul clearly taught that Jesus broke down the barrier between the Jews and Gentiles, stating we are ‘all one’ and blessed in Christ; ethnic background and social status would be irrelevant – what mattered would be a person’s faith in Christ (Rom 10:12; Gal 3:28; Eph 2:11-22, 3:6). The non-Jewish believers were instructed not to live as other Gentiles outside of Christ but to walk in newness of life

Thank God salvation is available for all peoples

as new creations (Rom 6:4; 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 4:17). The Jews had, as a whole rejected Christ and so the Gentiles were granted the privilege of being ‘grafted in’ to what had been initially a single nation’s privilege (Rom 11:11-25).

Throughout history, there has been continual conflict between the Gentiles and Jews, with much damage done to the cause of God by both sides who each claim to serve Him. Prejudice and hatred against the Jews is termed anti-Semitism. Such an attitude is wrong for a believer.    

See also: anti-Semitism, circumcision, heathen, Jews.