The term “Gentiles” is usually used in the Bible to refer to those who are not of God’s chosen people (i.e. the Israelites or the Jews). The term is first used in the Bible in Genesis 10:5 while listing Noah’s descendants, specifically the descendants of Japheth, but it is unclear if its use means Japheth’s children were considered Gentiles or if the “isles of the Gentiles” were so named at a later date and the phrase is included to clarify locations to the author’s contemporaries and audience. The word next occurs in Judges 4:2, describing a location as being in possession of the Gentiles. Next we see it in Isaiah and Jeremiah, where both prophets give several prophecies about the Gentiles, including that the Jews should be a light to the Gentiles. Further mentions exist throughout the books of the prophets. The term is used most in the New Testament. Most notably, in Matthew 10:5, Jesus makes a clear distinction, specifically directing his apostles when he sends them to preach, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Later, however, in Acts 10, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter is taught in vision that he must bring the gospel to the Gentiles, and many are baptized and receive the Holy Ghost. In Acts 11 Peter teaches the principle to his Jewish brethren. Teaching the Gentiles about Jesus Christ then becomes a large part of the ministry of the apostles. God sending his gospel to the Gentiles becomes a testimony, as Peter puts it, that “God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35).
Bible Central Team