What does Paul mean by the phrase “He has made from one blood every nation”?

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Paul preached to the Athenians saying:

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their reappointed times and the boundaries of their dwelling” (Acts 17:26).

Physically

In this passage, Paul is stating the historical fact that all people, including all nations, originated from one shared ancestor which is Adam. Thus, all people are members of the same human family. This belief was one that most Greeks, and particularly no Athenian, were ready to admit. For many Athenians in Greece, the difference between Greek and barbarian was fundamental. They believed that one was by nature destined to be the servant of the other (Aristotle Politics i. 2. 6).

However, Paul did not teach of any as a “superior” race. Rather, He believed in the Genesis story of the creation of mankind. This belief is that the Creator made all people in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Mankind was to populate the whole earth and have ownership of the creation (Genesis 1:28). God did so without assigning superiority to any specific race.

Also, Paul taught the oneness of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12). This teaching prohibits any person, race or nation—Hebrew, Hellenic, Latin, Teutonic, or otherwise—to claim that it is better than another.

Spiritually

Beyond the physical existence, Paul taught that unity among the different races is gained through belief in Christ. He said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Also, he added, “where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:11), that is, Jew nor Gentile (Romans 1:16).

The verse following the key text goes on to say, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us” (Acts 17:27). Paul knew that all people could find God and that He desires a relationship with every single person on the earth.

Christianity subordinates the role of race and nationality, as God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). In Christ’s kingdom, the saved from all nations are dressed with the same garment of His righteousness, which they obtain by faith in their Redeemer (Revelation 7:9).

Conclusion

In the Christian life, all national and racial differences are taken away. “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him (Romans 10:12).

God has made only one way whereby men may be saved. This is through the gift of Jesus to the whole world (John 3:16, 14:6). Thus, He does not have one way for the Jew and another for the Gentile. Therefore, all national, class, race, social, and individual differences disappear.

Thus, the believer is especially obliged to identify the oneness of all people—through both creation and salvation.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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