When Paul says ‘when you were Gentiles’, he is expecting these Corinthian Christians to have undergone a significant process of linguistic re-learning. As Christians they needed now to recognise that they had once been ‘Gentiles’, in the sense of ‘outsiders to God’s people’. This is to re-envision their past, and to Judaise their language. But now they are ‘no longer Gentiles’ because they have been transferred from outsiders to insiders, from outsiders to God’s people (‘Gentiles’) to insiders.
See also Paul Trebilco, Outsider Designations and Boundary Construction in the New Testament: Early Christian Communities and the Formation of Group Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017)
By Paul Trebilco
Department of Theology and Religion
University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
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