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Faith of A Mustard Seed

by Barbara Woods-Washington
Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

“And when they arrived, they gathered the church together and declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.”  (Acts 14:24-27).  Another look at the 7th occurrence of ‘Jesus Faith’ in the Acts of The Apostles.

‘Major overload’ in approaching the concept of ‘gentiles’ as it has been misrepresented by the Christian Church historically.  I have been told time and again in my now more than fifteen years of writing this weekly column that it is ‘deep’ and some say ‘too deep’ for understanding.  When the reality is that it continues as a ‘surface’ examination of biblical and theological concepts and issues of faith.  ‘Surface’ in that I find my training and theological studies pale in comparison to the ‘writing theologians’ who have given their ‘IQ’; their ‘knowledge’; their ‘understanding’; their heart, their economics— yea, most importantly, their life to the study, transmission and interpretation of scripture.  ‘Deep’ in that far to many ‘Sunday go to Church Christians’ in our times have little to no striving for; no thirst for the ‘living waters’; no hunger for the ‘righteousness’ which lay deep beneath layers of scriptural translation(s)— never to be seen with the ‘naked eye’ or dare I say the ‘Sunday best-dressed view’!  To see and not really see is how Jesus says it— even unto the disciples, those who take the pulpit each and every Sunday morning… “then are you too without understanding?”  To the end that: we have very successfully “gained the whole world!”  I did say how difficult the field of Church history is for me?  OK, Lord, I will go.  I shall go…

I have very carefully thus far, presented New Testament words in this course of study on faith with their usage and meanings before translation.  We have now reached a concept that too, must be talked about in it’s ‘language of origin’ in order to arrive at an understanding of the political ramifications of it’s purposeful presence here in translated scripture.  Gentile(s), then, is of Latin origin— a language that is nowhere found in any original texts of biblical scripture.

First identified in the Old Testament as ‘goy/goyim in the plural form’ it is always translated as ‘nation’.  To be sure, the translation is so pure and so simple, it is seen in the Genesis 12 narrative (Israel’s ‘real time’ telling of it’s ‘history of origin’; following upon the heels of Genesis 10’s infamous ‘TABLE OF NATIONS’)— God said to Abram “I will make of thee a great ‘goy’.”  And still again, with the promise given in Genesis 17, “and you shall be the father of many ‘goyim’”

The ‘political ramifications’ of ‘goyim’ in 2022 America is so difficult to know and understand in the light of what is ‘seen’.  Foreign faces are seen in mass in what is now the common places of our everyday lives.  Foreign labor used in mass in the ‘gentrified re-building of old familiar communities no longer recognizable.  We don’t know where it came from.  We don’t know what it means.

Our word used in this text of the New Testament is ‘ethnos’ which also has a very pure and simple concept meaning of ‘nation’.  Mark records Jesus using ‘ethnos’ on the occasion that he turned over the money tables in the Temple saying, “Is it not written, ‘My House shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And yet again, Matthew records Jesus using ‘ethnos’ as the final resurrected message saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

And when Barnabas and Paul arrived back in Antioch from going therefore and making disciples, “they gathered the church together and declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the…” nations

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