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You’d have to be intentionally ignoring the world around you today to not notice that many people believe America has a problem with racism. The concept of race has existed for thousands of years, but its definition has been changed from what it was originally. Now, I don’t normally use Wikipedia as a reliable reference, but in this case I like how it defines race.

See if you can spot where the definition changes:

“A race is a categorization of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into groups generally viewed as distinct within a given society. The term was first used to refer to speakers of a common language, and then to denote national affiliations. By the 17th century, the term began to refer to physical (phenotypical) traits. Modern science regards race as a social construct, an identity which is assigned based on rules made by society. While partly based on physical similarities within groups, race does not have an inherent physical or biological meaning. The concept of race is foundational to racism, the belief that humans can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another.”

Originally, race was another way to categorize humans with shared physical or social qualities (things that made them unique) within a given society. This is how the Bible uses the concept of race. I think a good biblical example of this would be the Nephilim (i.e. giants) in Genesis 6 and Numbers 13. They were humans with unique physical qualities: they were tall, distinctly taller than other humans. There were also the descendants of Anak who dwelled in the Promised Land where Moses sent Joshua, Caleb, and the others to scout out:  “All the people we saw in [the land] were of great height” (Numbers 13:32b).

In the New Testament, there are two Greek words: ethnos (eth’-nos) and phule (foo-lay’) that can be translated as race. However, race is not the best translation of those words. Ethnos, from which we get our English word ethnic, is best translated as nations or people, whereas phule is best translated as clan or tribe. Now this is where it gets important: The word race can be used to describe nations, peoples, clans, or tribes, but it cannot be used to define nations, peoples, clans or tribes. Are there physical differences between a person from Norway and Kenya? Yes, race distinction can help us identify different people groups from different nations. But all nations and all tribes are men made in the image of God. I think we see this best in the books of Revelation and Acts:

“And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe (phule) and language and people and nation (ethnos), and you have made them a kingdom of priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’” (Revelation 5:9-10; emphasis added)

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation (ethnos) of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:24-26; emphasis added)

That is race according to God, but according to man, via Wikipedia, the definition of race was changed. And by the time modern science got its hands on it, race now has a completely new definition.

This is the true threat of any simplistic ideology because it can now twist and distort God’s Word and the gospel. We’ve already seen that the original definition of race fits in God’s Word, but does the modern definition? Modern racism suggests that there are certain races of men that are superior to others; therefore, we must conclude that not all people are equal. This poses an issue when looking at the gospel because “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Furthermore, if all men are not created in the image of God, as God’s Word says they are, then did Christ really die for the sins of all men, or just the sins of the race of men he was born into? God makes clear in Romans 5 that “for as by the one man’s disobedience (Adam) the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience (Jesus) the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).

By now we should understand that “modern science” really means “rejecting God’s truth of the world and how it works and trying to understand how it works based on man’s truth and ideas.” Simplistic ideologies twist and distort God’s truth and make it difficult for us to proclaim the gospel to the world. Once race was used as a way for humans to help describe or differentiate where they came from, but now it’s used to define who they are. And because our outward physical differences now define who we are, apart from God’s Word, they can now be used to separate and divide us.

I want to leave you with a simple yet profound thought. We as humans tend to overreact from time to time. When man twists the concept of race to fulfill the sinful desire of his heart, we tend to over correct to try and make up for it. Some people refer to this as the pendulum effect. I say this because the popular response to people who accuse you of being a racist is to proclaim that you don’t see skin color, you are actually “color blind”. Listen to what Voddie Baucham has to say about “color blindness”:

“Some [Christians] would want to argue for being color blind. And I say that dog won’t hunt. Number one because nobody is. And number two, because it is an affront to God. God didn’t give me all this rich, beautiful, melanin so that you can act like I don’t have it… and it is wrong for me to judge you for not having as much. God did this people, God did this, and it is a good and natural thing that God has done. For us to say that we want to be color blind is for us to say ‘I don’t care about the variety of colors that roses are, as far as I’m concerned God just made a rose. Why did he bother to make them all those different colors?’ If he did, praise him for it!”[1]

Do you have darker skin or lighter skin? Is your hair blond or black? Blue eyes or brown? Whatever outward physical features you have, praise God for them. You are beautiful the way you are because that is the way God has made you! And remember that it pleased God to make you the way you are. Let us give glory to God for the way he has created all of us. Do not let the lies of this world tarnish what God has made.


[1] “Ethnic Gnosticism” by Dr. Voddie Baucham. Founders Ministries channel on YouTube: