Race in the New Testament: The Holy Spirit’s Role in Unity

In the Bible you will find a few racially diverse groups:

Jews
Gentiles
Samaritans

Not all Jews were Jewish by race but most were. Some were Gentiles who converted but by and large the Jewish people were pretty homogeneous, racially speaking.

The Gentiles are those who were not Jewish – everyone else. The nations. Among the Gentiles you also had the God-fearers. God-fearers were people like Cornelius who hadn’t converted to Judaism but would stay at the back of the synagogue, help the Jewish community financially, etc.

The Samaritans came about through intermarrying during the time of exile in the 700s-500s B.C. – The Assyrians and Babylonians conquered Israel and put the leaders and the affluent in exile. Many Jews remained in Israel. The Assyrians and Babylonians also brought people from other places that they had conquered and settled them in Israel. Samaritans were the children and descendants of the intermarriage between the Jews left in Israel and the Gentiles who were brought in. That made the Jewish people feel like they had compromised. More info on that in the video below.

In the book of Acts we see the gospel first reach the Jewish people (Acts 2-6), the the Samarians (Acts 7), and finally the nations (Acts 10+) just as Jesus said would happen in Acts 1:8. In each instance the Holy Spirit went first. The Holy Spirit showed the apostles they were justified in going against long standing rules that kept the groups apart. This is further clarified in Acts 15 when they come up with rules for the Gentiles who were coming to Christ. They didn’t have to first become Jewish to become Christian.

If we are going to have any hope of things getting better in the racial situation in our nation, we are Christians, are going to have to rely on the work of the Spirit to see us through it.

We need to pray for the Spirit’s intervention. Read Ephesians 1-2, how divided groups (Jews and Gentiles) were brought into one family by the unifying work of the Spirit. Paul says this is the mystery of the Gospel – how God could take irreconcilable groups and bring them into one big family.

We need it now more than ever.

If you prefer to listen than watch, here is the link to the podcast.

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