Ask Your Preacher
“Pre-Christian World”Categories: GOD, RELATIONSHIPS, SALVATION, WITH MANKIND
Thousands of years ago, in many countries, continents, islands, etc., far away from Israel, how could inhabitants hear messages like Jhn 3:16? Were they just out of luck because they didn't live in the area to hear it and died and went to hell?
Dear Logistically Implausible,
The Bible doesn’t tell us much about the Gentiles (a ‘Gentile’ is anybody that isn’t Jewish) that lived before Jesus or before Jesus' message covered the globe as it has now, but what little we do know tells us that God didn’t forsake them. When God called Abraham out from amongst his people (Gen 12:1-2), everyone that wasn’t descended from Abraham became a ‘Gentile’. The Old Testament follows the descendants of Abraham and God’s covenant with them; that is why there isn’t much said about the other nations that lived on this planet. Here is what we know:
- God praised and blessed honest Gentiles. Melchizedek is called a ‘priest of God’ (Gen 14:18), and Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was the priest of Midian (Ex 3:1) and worshipped God. We don’t know exactly what arrangement God had with these men, but we know that they were pleasing to God and not a part of the Jewish nation. Another great example of a godly Gentile was Cornelius. God blessed and heard Cornelius’ prayers (Acts 10:1-4).
- Some Gentiles were blessed by God through conversion to Judaism. Rahab and Ruth were both Gentile women that turned to God by becoming Jews. Both of these women are mentioned in the lineage of Christ (Matt 1:5).
- We have a single statement in the book of Romans that hints at what kind of law the Gentiles were under. Rom 1:14-15 says that the Gentiles had a law of conscience written by God on their hearts. This doesn’t tell us much, but it does point out that God had a system for judging the Gentiles… it was just different than the system He used for judging the Jews.
All of this just gives a glimpse at the pre-Christian Gentile world, but it is enough to paint a picture that God had a plan to save those who lived far from Israel; we just don’t know exactly how it worked.