You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led.—1 Cor. 12:2
I submit that most Christians today, by their own admission, are still pagan in the biblical sense of the word.
Please read on to see if you are in fact a “pagan Christian.” Once again, we are plowing through unfamiliar waters, so please take your time and read carefully. Please, jot down any questions and post them below.
In my last several posts I have presented a view which has been lost in great measure for almost 1,700 years—that our citizenship is in heaven. Those who are familiar with this idea almost inevitably take it as a metaphorical or “spiritual” truth, with limited application. It is so foreign that I suspect most of you still do not realize its full significance, or realize the pun intended in the use of foreign.
Pause for a moment and think—What does the word pagan mean? Seriously—stop reading and say out loud what you think pagan means in the verse above.
If you are like I was several years ago, you just said, “unbeliever,” “non-Christian,” “idol worshiper,” or something like that. A quick glance at the above verse at biblehub.com. should make you feel good, because unbeliever is exactly how at least two modern translations render the Greek word used here.
Pagan, is by far the most common translation, followed by Gentile. If fact Gentile is the word commonly used for this Greek word, and pagan is rarely used at all. The reason Gentile is not normally used here is clear; Gentile means non-Jew, and that clearly does not fit the context.
What does ethnos mean?
In this case the Greek word is ethnos (ἔθνος). Strong’s Concordance gives the definition as “a race, a nation, pl. the nations (as distinct from Isr.).” It is interesting to note that this definition states that the plural form is used to indicate nations distinct from Israel. John on the other hand uses this word in both his Gospel and epistles in the singular form to refer only to the nation of Israel.