Origination Someone once quipped that Abraham was a Gentile before He was a Jew! By that it was a reference to the literature that Abraham lived with his ancestors in Ur of the Chaldees. That was his native land. (Genesis 11:31, 15:7, Nehemiah 9:7)

Either because of economic necessity or looming military invasion by the Assyrians, the whole clan of Abraham's ancestors moved up north in the upper Fertile Crescent to Haran. This was in the land of the Hittites, and the city was an commercial center for caravans moving across the Tiger-Euphrates valleys. So it was said by one of the prophets, "Your mother was a Hittite." (Ezekiel 16:3-4)

Then Abraham moved down the western part of the Fertile Crescent into the land of the many Canaanite tribes, and became a traveling nomad there.

Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land I will show you...and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3)

Because of this origination, it would be proper to say that Abram (Abraham) was indeed a Gentile---according to the broad definition applied to non-Jews in the world. He was an ethnic as the Bible uses the term. And so there was no difference between the humanity of Abraham's family and any other people.

Promise to Man It was to this man that God spoke the promise of the Seed. And it was a promise that engulfed all of humanity, not just one race. Of course, Abraham needed a place to live, but the book of Hebrews explained that the real destination of living was a spiritual city, whose builder and maker was God.

By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange land...for he looked for a city which has foundations whose builder and maker is God.
...They that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:9-17)

Since This is So Since Abraham is of Gentile stock...since the promise of blessing was to the whole world...since the main goal is a "spiritual city" (spiritual realities)...would this not be sufficient reason, to not only interpret the Scriptures as a message for Equality of all Races, but be a basis to resolve the messy situation of Racism in the minds---and hearts---of people around the world? After all, is it not written:

For God so loved the world, that He gave... (John 3:16)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:28-29)

For He is our peace who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us. (Ephesians 2:14)

Could not the preaching and proclamation of the ancient promise to Abraham---without all the later Jewish legal trappings and rites and traditional customs---be a starting point, a rallying call, for racial reconciliation? For peace on earth and good will to men?

All Gentiles (ethnics), Abraham and everyone else, are the same flesh and blood people...whom God loves. (Acts 17:26)

  • 2
    Yes. We are all born of Adam, originally. This is a very common point of view. He made of one blood every nation of men Acts 17:26 (literal).
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 18 at 3:28
  • How can this realization help in eliminating the racist jealousy from the Jews? Unless u argue that whole history of creation of Israel and covenants are "legal traps" and are satanic, not from God, a Gnostic belief. The antisemites already know the background of Abraham. Knowing this cannot erase the history and privilege of the Jews. You must clarify the underlying reason how could it help reduce racist jealousy?
    – Michael16
    Commented Apr 18 at 4:58
  • @Michael16 - Notice the tactic of the Apostle Paul in his attempt to skirt back past the era of the Mosaic Law, to the promises given to Abraham "before the Law", and thereby include the "ethnics" of the world in the awesome plan of redemption! (Galatians 3:1-29) So now there are no "distinctions" between races, at all, in the eyes of God and his disciples. Just a community, in Christ, marked by peace and love for one another.
    – ray grant
    Commented Apr 18 at 19:36
  • That's a misinterpretation of that Galatians verse in the way of socialistic denial of gender and race differences. He says all are equal in Christ, there's no status in the church. At the same time his ministry was to the Gentiles, he ordered women to remain silent and submissive acc to the Jewish religion and repeatedly said all things of religion belong to "the jew first" and then to the Gentiles. Jewish primacy and supremacy remains the same. The Gospel was brought to the Gentiles only after some yrs when Jews rejected it.
    – Michael16
    Commented Apr 19 at 3:05
  • @Michael16 - Absolutely not! We do not have to argue that Jewish history was "satanic.," in order to make this point! Rather, we taken the teaching of a Hebrew of Hebrews, Paul, "The Law was a school-master to bring us to Christ." (Galatians 3:24) Also the Law served as a "dictionary" to reveal to us what sin is. We, in no way erase the history of anyone, but recognize the Providence of God in using nations to accomplish the awesome plan of Salvation needed because of the Fall.
    – ray grant
    Commented Apr 19 at 21:24

5 Answers 5


Abraham was a Gentile before He was a Jew!

The basic premise here is totally wrong; Abraham was never Jewish.

  • Abraham was Semitic (the great7-grandson of Shem).
  • Abraham was the father of Ishmael (ancestor of Arabs).
  • Abraham was the father of Isaac, who was the father of Esau (ancestor of Edomites, Turks, et al.) and Jacob (AKA Israel).
  • None of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Esau, Israel, nor 11 of Israel's sons were Jewish.
  • Abraham's great-grandson, Judah, was the ancestor of the Jews.

Since Abraham is of Gentile stock … would this not be sufficient reason … be a basis to resolve the messy situation of Racism in the minds---and hearts---of people around the world?

(Have you had any personal success convincing the world not to hate (using any reason/basis at all)?)

Does … provide any Basis for the Solution to Racism (Antisemitism)?

No, there is nothing humans can do about it.

Racism isn't a problem, it is a symptom of a problem. Race is simply a convenient rationalization for hatred. People have an inherent need to hate, and some people know how to exploit that need for their own purposes (Hitler being the most well known example in recent history).

  • Problems in the USA are based usually based on race, but lately "gender" has become the underlying justification.
  • In Ireland, the "troubles" were based on religion, not race.
  • In Québec, there were issues based on language.
  • During 3 months in 1994, the Rwandan Genocide claimed nearly a million lives in a civil war that was based on an artificial division of the population into two arbitrary "races" assigned by the Belgian government.
  • Yugoslavia was kept peaceful for decades by a strong dictator. But after Tito, the nation broke up into small warring countries, each one having saved up its hatred for the others for several generations.

Gulliver's Travels was a satire on this same theme. The two groups of people hated each other because they disagreed about which end of an egg is the top. It's totally ridiculous, but not really any more so than using language, religion, race, etc. as a justification for hatred.

Rational arguments might occasionally work on individuals, but there's no way any of us are going to convince the world in general that it shouldn't hate.

All Gentiles (ethnics), Abraham and everyone else, are the same flesh and blood people … .

True, but it's a non-issue.
There is no reason to think the Bible says anything different.


It is an error to call Abraham as Gentile (a member of nations, i.e. non-Jews), when the term Gentile is strictly in relation with comparison with the Jews. Thus, when there was no Israel, there is no point in calling him a Gentile, and of course, he was not a Jew afterwards in time. Abraham is called the father of faith and nation, that is the Jewish nation and their faith.

Secondly, the point of Abraham and the gentile's spiritual ancestry to him through the Christian faith (Rom 4, Gal 3) is known to all, hence, the solution is too naive. I am sure Adolf Hitler, Kanye West, Martin Luther and Candace Owens had already known these basic facts, but it has no help in reducing their antisemitism. Racist hatred for the Jews has been motivated by personal jealousy, envy against a particular people to put the blame on a special group to solve their problems. It is a spiritual and social problem, cannot be solved by simple facts or teaching about humanity.

Moreover, the idea of removing history of Hebrews or Israelites from the picture, by simply ignoring and shunning them as a footnote in the bible seems counterproductive, because it itself has been inspired by anti-Jewish theology, (see Various forms of Replacement Theology by Michael Vlach) in subtle forms, such as economic & structural supersessionism. You cannot reduce racist antisemitism by revamping the same in soft forms of antisemitic theologies in socialistic and reductionist spiritual language which deny their national election, covenants, and theological primacy.

  • Two cases would help clarify what "Gentile" mean in the mind of Paul. Would the Samaritans be "Gentile"? How about Herod (an Edomite raised as Jew)? Commented Apr 18 at 16:43
  • Samaritans were treated as gentiles as they were also outcasts and hated by jews. Herod was controversial and was not a real Jew, but was a converted political jew, and he was also hated. His lineage was questionable.
    – Michael16
    Commented Apr 18 at 17:30
  • What's interesting is that Jesus treat the Samaritan Woman at the well (John 4:1-42) differently than the Gentile widow from Tyre (Mark 7:24-30), as though Jesus would include the Samaritan Woman under "the children be fed first" (Mark 7:27). Commented Apr 18 at 18:27
  • Those incidents shouldn't be understood as different treatments and Jesus didn't do any miracle for the Samaritan woman at the well. Samaritans were considered gentiles. (ESV) Matthew 10:5: “These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans,”
    – Michael16
    Commented Apr 19 at 3:01
  • 1
    Gentile or Ethnic? Of course, Abram was not a 'Gentile' in the Latin sense of the word (introduced by Jerome). He was a citizen of Chaldea who moved to the land of the Hittites, and was a generic ethnic, as the Question posed. The Promises of a Savior were made while he was an ethnic, without the modern Jewish connotations. So all nationalities are included and are welcome to the Father's House. Paul, a Hebrew made this same point: Those who are of faith are the same children of Abraham. (Galatians 3:7-9) There should be no racist attitudes... both ways. Peace upon all.
    – ray grant
    Commented Apr 19 at 21:58

At the risk of oversimplification, one reading of Genesis and the Gospels regarding God's plan for the nations is as follows:

  1. Adam (and later, Noah) is the Father of all human beings, divided into Nations (Gen 10) by the Genesis author who tried to include all human beings to trace all ethnicities back to Adam / Noah. I think the message is clear here: that the people of all nations are brothers & sisters. If there is a solution for secular racial reconciliation, Gen 10 is the basis, even though it's far fetched and misguided to try to find every ethnicity in this table (including all Canadian First Nations, Native American tribes, Chinese, the Indonesian ethnic groups, etc.)

  2. But since those nations are scattered (Gen 11:1-9, which implicitly develop enmity and rivalry), God wants to bring them back through appointing Abraham as peacemaker by God's designating him to be "Father of many nations" (Gen 17:4-5) and prepares Israel (whose Father is Jacob) as the "Light unto the nations" (Isa 42:6).

  3. But that plan failed (or God knew that it would fail to show humans the hardness of their hearts), so God sends Jesus who is the true Israel as the "Light of the world" (John 8:12). Thus, all Christians by virtue of being united with Jesus become Abraham's children by faith and becoming tasked with the job that Israel failed to do under the law (i.e. the job to become light unto the nations) to also be "light of the world" (Matt 5:14-16) through the Church, since Jesus is the new head of humanity as "Prince of peace" (Isa 9:6) rather than Adam the fallen head of humanity who brought enmity.

  4. What's debatable I think is whether God intends Ishmael's descendants (the Moslems) to participate in becoming "Light unto the Nations" as well, since both Christians and Moslems look to Abraham as their common Father (i.e. Abrahamic faith). If the answer is "yes", then there is another reason for reconciliation.

  5. As other answers pointed out, today's designation of "Jew" and "Gentile" is anachronistic. As Paul understood it, "Jew" was larger than the tribe of Judah, but consisted of the whole Israel (descendants of Jacob). Similarly, "Gentile" was simply the rest of humanity. Those who believe in Jesus would be part of the Church whether "Jews" or "Gentile" (Gal 3:28, Col 3:11) and the rest (outside the Church) is now called the "World" (Romans 12:2, 1 John 2:15).

  • Back to the Future The intent of the exercise of this Questioning seems to be that the farther back we go in time (human history) we see a commonality that should give us pause to not highlight our differences, but instead emphasize, not only our common origin, but our common needs, aspirations, hopes, and desire for peaceful and civil societies!
    – ray grant
    Commented Apr 18 at 19:25
  • Hopeful Results After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude which no man could number of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palms in their hands, and cried with a loud voice, "Salvation to our God who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb!" (Revelation 7:6-10)
    – ray grant
    Commented Apr 25 at 19:45
  • @raygrant Thanks for the bounty. I didn't even realize there was a bounty offered. You said "Authoritative reference needed", what aspect of my answer can I add the authoritative reference? I think I can find them, since the interpretation is quite common. Commented Apr 26 at 0:20
  • @ GratefulDisciple - How about we just stick with the Holy Bible! The Author is quite knowledgeable. Thanks again for your input. (And with other questions.)
    – ray grant
    Commented Apr 26 at 19:22

Father of the Jews

There is at least a little bit of anachronism in the use of the term "Jew" here -- by the term "Jew" pre-Judah, we naturally mean to refer to Israel himself, and his father Isaac, and his father Abraham. This is the covenant line documented throughout Genesis, and Abraham himself would be accounted "the father of the faithful", the ancestor of all Israel and the Jews.

As such it would would be impossible for any person to be more centered on the lineage that begat the people we call the "Jews" than Abraham. It is true nonetheless that the posterity of Abraham spent considerable time in foreign lands, and without a place to call home -- Abraham divided from Lot near the cities of the plain, Jacob wandered, Joseph sojourned in Egypt, and nearly all of the Lord's people have been strangers, captives, wanderers, dwelling in tents or booths and without a land of inheritance for considerable lengths of time. Abraham's own father was an idolater in the land where they sojourned.

"Semite" means "Shemite", and Abraham is identified as a descendant of Shem. Genetically, Abraham was certainly Semitic. Geographically, he tarried here and there and was certainly acquainted enough in his travels with the ancient of the world to make it possible for him to be considered a father even to nations he did not personally beget.

Jews not the only favored people

It is true that many of the Jews anciently fell for the temptation to consider themselves "already saved" or exempt from further requirements because of their heritage. The Savior rebuked such faulty thinking, showing they were no better than any other lineage:

And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (Matthew 3:9)

So it is not that the literal offspring of Abraham or of Judah are predestined to be saved, or that Gentiles are predestined to be disfavored -- that is not the case at all.

Gentiles to be Grafted In

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is actually precisely such a call to abandon racism and other prejudicial attitudes. It was written by a remnant of the house of Israel, and given through a Gentile, Joseph Smith Jr., to complement the Bible, which was written and delivered by the Jews, and prove to all the world that God is no respecter of persons, and that His Gospel is available to all who will live it and unite with His church -- whether Jew or Gentile, of every nation.

The Book of Mormon speaks extensively about and directly to the Gentiles in the last days, speaking directly of them as part of the long-promised gathering of Israel:

And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father. Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them. (3 Nephi 16:6-7)

He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. (2 Nephi 26:33)

Paul spoke of the Gentiles who repent being grafted in:

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. (Romans 11:13-21)

Which is again affirmed in the Book of Mormon, including by showing how the testimonies of an extinct remnant of Israel would come to light through the Gentiles and thereby bless all the nations of the Earth:

In the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed (1 Nephi 15:13)

As many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel. (2 Nephi 30:2)

The subject is far too exhaustive to treat comprehensively here, but there are many additional references in the study guides and indexes to these works:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/gs/gentiles?lang=eng https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/triple-index/gentile?lang=eng


God made out of one blood every nation of men. (Acts 17:26) The intent of the exercise in asking this pointed Question seems to be how far interpreters are to take the Apostle Paul's method of going back to the future. In his epistle to the Galatians, Paul attempted to skirt backward past the Mosaic Era to the Promises given by God to Abraham "before the Law", and thereby bring dignity and peace to all the "ethnics" of the world by including them in the awesome plan of redemption. (Galatians 3:1-29) Such that:

You are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus...There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male or female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
And if you be Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to Promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)

Pause to Consider Meditating on the commonality of nations, as we go farther back in time (human history), should give us pause to not highlight our traditional--and modern--differences, but instead emphasize, not only our common origin, but our common needs, common aspirations, common hopes, and common desire for peaceful and civil societies.

Is Paul's method of going back in time a practical exercise for producing harmony among nations? Or is there a catch? Can we extrapolate this only so far? Can these verses be interpreted as applicable to the world...or just to the worldwide Church? Time will tell...hopefully, before time runs out! Dum vivo, spiro.

Push Back The revelation of Paul (Galatians 3) received a lot of push back. Not just from the orthodox Jews, but from the believing Pharisees, and even from Peter! That the unclean Gentiles (ethnics, Gk.) should be on equal footing with the religious Israelites of long-standing tradition, was too much to take. (Acts 15, Galatians 2:11-14)

A council of the elders and Apostles had to be convened to come to a just conclusion in this matter. (Acts 15) This issue was resolved by appealing to a prophecy in the Bible.

I will set it up (tent of David with the ark) so that the residue of men might seek after the LORD, and all the ethnics (Gentiles) upon whom my Name is called. (Acts 15:16-17)

Notice that this ended with Known to God are all His works from the beginning of the world. (15:18) The redemptive plan of Salvation existed even before Abraham ever lived! (Compare 1 Peter 1:18-20, You were redeemed...with the precious blood of the Lamb...Who was foreordained before the foundation of the world...)

Not just the learned Hebrew Paul, but the Apostles who had traveled with Jesus daily for 3 1/2 years, recognized the ethnicity of the Gospel...which was decided way before Isaiah, Moses, and Abraham even. God sent Jesus because God so loved the world. (John 3:16) Not just one race: Apache, Italian, Jewish, Nigerian, Inuit, etc., but all races, without favoritism.

This seems to be the grand solution for tribal, national, world peace. This was the "Gospel preached to Abraham" while he was an ethnic:

And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, evangelized (preached the Gospel, KJV) Abraham, saying, "In thee shall all nations be blessed." (Galatians 3:8)

Announce the word. Announce the Gospel. Announce "peace to those who are near, to those who are afar".

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