Messianic Judaism vs. Gentile Christianity

I just read a blog post from those pyro-whatever-they-call-themselves guys that was guest-written by a Jewish believer named Steven A. Kreloff in which he critiqued/criticized Messianic Judaism.  I suggest reading it for yourself, but I just want to comment on it briefly.  The main thrust of the argument was that Messianic Jews are somehow in danger of what Paul warned against in Galatians and Hebrews.  Going back to the law and making Christ of no use, yada, yada, yada.  But he said something that struck me as strange, he said:

The Apostle Paul told the Ephesians that Christ has reconciled both Jews and Gentiles in one body through the cross (2:16). Through His death on the cross Jesus Christ abolished all the Old Testament ceremonial laws that made Jews distinct and separated them from Gentiles (2:15). As a result He has “made both groups (Jews and Gentiles) into one” by removing all spiritual distinctions between believers (2:14, 15). While maintaining ethnic and social differences, the Bible declares that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). By encouraging messianic synagogues, Messianic Judaism promotes division in the Body of Christ that is contrary to the teachings of the New Testament.

I don’t know how many Messianic Jews this man knows or how many Messianic synagogues he’s been to, but I can tell you that from my experience, Gentiles are not only welcome in the Messianic synagogues, but in some (even many) areas, they comprise the majority of those who fellowship in them!  But he continues and says:

Rather than establish a distinct Jewish assembly, local churches should bring together both Jews and Gentiles in membership. To remove Jewish believers from Bible-believing churches is to essentially rob the Church of the richness of fellowship God intends Jews and Gentiles in Christ to enjoy. All spiritual fellowship should be based upon our relationship with Christ—not our former religious backgrounds.

Why not argue that to remove Gentile believers from Bible-believing synagogues is to essentially rob the Church of (fill in the blank)?  Historically speaking it was the Jews who let us in, not the other way around.  I wonder if he takes this positions with all of the various denominations within the body of Christ — did the reformers rob the Church of its richness of fellowship that God intended when they left the Roman communion?  How about the Wesleyans when they left the Methodist Episcopal Church?  The list could continue for quite some time, but I’m just curious as to how far Mr. Kreloff would push this argument.  I’m also curious as to whether or not he’s asserting that Messianic synagogues are somehow not Bible-believing congregations (churches/εκκλησιας)?

And I think the main point he’s missing in his last statement is that Messianic Jews don’t view their Jewishness as a ‘former religious background’ — rather they view their relationship with the Messiah as the natural evolution of their Jewishness — as Michael Brown often says: “what could be more Jewish than believing in the Jewish Messiah?” Imagine if Paul thought in the terms that Mr. Kreloff is suggesting!  Paul even after his conversion claimed to be a Pharisee (Acts 23:6), an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin (Rom. 11:1), circumcized the eighth day, a Hebrew of Hebrews (Phil. 3:5)!

Are we to imagine that regenerated Jews just left behind their heritage because they became believers in their Jewish Messiah?  I would venture a guess that the early Jewish Church continued to go to Jerusalem yearly for שׁבעות/Shavu’ot (Pentecost), בחג המצות/Chag HaMotzi (Unleavened Bread) and סכות/Sukkot (Tabernacles).  We certainly know that it Paul’s custom to go to the synagogues on the Sabbath in order to preach Jesus to both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 17:2; 18:4).

I just find it peculiar and a bit disingenuous that so many people think true Christianity somehow only resembles Reformation Protestantism — I submit that from its inception the body of Christ has taken various forms (which makes sense seeing as how it is composed of many members, 1Cor. 12:12, 20) and despite the differences, we’re still united in fellowship in Messiah/Christ.  I no more fault Messianic Jews for their style of worship and service and their decision to assemble with like-minded believers than I do Reformed Baptists for theirs or Charismatic Pentecostals for theirs.  We have liberty in Christ to do such!



42 thoughts on “Messianic Judaism vs. Gentile Christianity

  1. this is very interesting and enlightening. I just broke off a friendship with a lady who is messianic. she says she is not christian,but Messianic. I have read a lot about Messianic being related to atheism. but, my main problem with her ,is that she keeps critisizing my Catholicism, instead of concentrating on her own beliefs. this due to the fact that her boss is her mentor and she believes, blindly, everything he says. They do not believe in churches.They meet at some one’s home,for what they call bible study.and, they send me hate mail!!!!

  2. Janet,

    I think something that we need to remember is that Jewish believers didn’t originally refer to themselves or their sect as ‘Christians’ — They were first called ‘Christians’ in Antioch (Acts 11:26). I think a lot of Messianic believers wish to stay in touch with their Jewish roots, and since ‘Christian’ is a Greek term they prefer to be called ‘Messianics’ (from the Hebrew משׁיח/Mashiach).

    Also, I think you’ll find that a lot of non-Catholics have a problem with Catholicism, this isn’t limited to Messianic Jews alone — Her believing everything her boss/mentor says without question is definitely a problem if in fact true, I think we need to question everyone (I’m curious [and I don’t intend this to be taken as an attack], but as a Catholic do you question the teaching Magisterium of the Church in the same way you’d expect her to question her leader?)

    And I find it disturbing that anyone would send you hate mail — that certainly is not something that the Messiah would approve of. As far as meeting in homes goes, I don’t see such a big problem with that — that’s the way a lot of churches/synagogues start off and that was the common practice in early Christianity.

    In the end I’d say this… don’t judge all Messianics by this lady alone — they’re as diverse as the next group and are bound to have a few bad apples.

    Thanks for your comments! :-)

  3. There are lots of crazy Gentile ladies in the MJ movement. (No debate; that’s an empirical fact.) I could write a book on this.

  4. Most Messianics I have come across have actually been Gentiles which is what made the blog post I was responding to really scream inconsistency. This guy is claiming that Messianic synagogues are robbing the church of richness of fellowship… I know a pastor in Delaware who has an entirely Gentile Messianic congregation. Go figure :-|

  5. Shalom Nick,

    Nice website! You are right that most Messianics would cry “foul” and note the inconsistancies in the article. Sadly, many of the replies to the blog indicate that the post was the best assessment of the issue they have seen–and yet it article is superficial at best.

    To generalize about the issue in general, I think we gravitate toward seeing Christianity through our own eyes and anything different is inherently wrong. The problem with this approach is that it (a) doesn’t give a fair hearing to the body and (b) is devoid of a historical context. For example, would the author paint the same broad brush the Jerusalem Christians who had faith in Yeshua but were also zealous for the law (Acts 21:20; see also Rev. 12:17, 14:12)? The issue is quite complicated–hence the plurality of thought on the issue in Christendom–and goes beyond, “Gentiles only need observe the 4 issues in Acts 15” for even a surface reading of Paul shows his frequent appeal to the Hebrew Bible for instruction, correction, and teaching.

    Would we argue then that Paul is teaching some form of justification through our own merit? Of course not! Yet that is exactly the (il)logical leaps the author is making.

    The real issue is one of continuity and discontunity within the covenants and the implication for covenant members. This isn’t a “Messianic versus Christian” debate but a general issue in Christianity (a good introduction to the issue, if not on the shallow end, is Zondervan’s “Five Views on Law and Gospel”). It is impossible to pin Messianics to any one position (as it is a movement, not a denomination) but the general view is one of more continuity. This is a very difficult area for Christians to dialogue about because of the various gridworks imposed on the text (e.g. tripartate division of the commandments into Moral/Ceremonial/Civil, the “we only observe what is repeated” method, the “we observe everything not abolished” method, etc) that allow little interaction outside a philosophical framework.

    Yet no one taking a position that “life in the body of Christ” has a natural response to live a holy lifestyle (based on one of the above methods mentioned) is trying to use the law as a means of justification. Yet this is the simplistic, and unfair, criticism casted toward Messianics. Further, because we disagree on a number of interpretational points (e.g. Col. 2:14 appears to me to be the nailing of sins [document of indebtedness] to the cross; the implications of 4QMMT on “works of the law”; Tim Hegg’s ETS presentation on Eph. 2:14f argues that the wording is invoking the barriers of the oral law and not the Torah, and so forth) that relate to continuity and discontunuity doesn’t mean we are holding to “old rituals” as a means of justification or focus of our faith. Most Messianics would argue we see celebrations of the Torah as pointing directly to the person, life, and work of Yeshua the Messiah.

    Messianics have problems. They lack an abundance of quality teachers (most Seminaries won’t accept us anyhow) and the movement is divergent. It is dispised by Judaism and there has been an unfair criticism among Protestants that either charge us violating the neat and tidy “Jews & Christians” end time program or, worse, casting off faith in Yeshua for obediance to the law.

    The tension between grace and obedience is a central one Christian scholars continue to struggle with. There are those who will continue to view the law as antithetical to grace and those who take a more positive approach to some elements of the law (not just Messianics, but those with a Reformed background or positions like that of Walter Kaiser) will continue to be accused of diluting the gospel for a righteousness that comes through person works.

    My hope is that as time progresses and Messianics develop more quality teachers that there can be better clarity and communication on these issues. The reality is, though, we are part of a larger debate and struggle that is often terse and spiteful. Yet if Messianic Judaism serves one purpose, it is a reminder that the earliest believers were not your typical Protestant. We need to stop reading them as such and appreciate that, for what ever reason, that many continued to observe not only the law but many (but not all) of the traditions of the Judaisms of their time.

  6. Joshua: Thank you for your comment. I know that you are new to the blog, but in light of recent events, I have stated my desire for short and succint comments to my posts. I’m sure that you have not come across that post yet, so you couldn’t have known. I find your comment to be relevant to the topic of this post, well-reasoned, and well-informed. For those things, I thank you. I only ask that if you continue commenting here that you limit the length. Thanks. :)

  7. Sorry about that Nick! Now that I know the “law” I will be sure to abide by it ;) Thanks for the kind warning.

  8. Whose “church” is it? I am a messianic . What church can I attend that still believes the laws are good and holy and to be cherished? Which church wants to observe the feasts that the Father gave? They act like Jesus and angels were in some kind of disagreement when the Torah was given at Mt. Sinai. If people are tired of status-quo watered down sermons and ideologies, then so be it. But, don’t demonize messianics because they have something to offer that attracts people. Perhaps the fault lies within your church.
    So, the messianics at least try to do what is written. The apostles kept the sabbath and feasts.
    They didn’t do things against the Torah. Churches teach that the laws are not important anymore. Come, on–who’s fooling who? The Son did not do away with the laws the Father wrote! They must agree.
    A father makes rules for his house. A good son does not act like his Father didn’t make those rules just because he is the son. Would this be allowed in your earthly home? Then why think that Jesus would do that to the Father. Yet, most churches propagate this idea unchecked, and people swallow it hook, line, and sinker.


  9. William: I think your complaints are better suited for the post I was interacting with. I have no problems with Jewish believers in Jesus celebrating feasts, gathering in messianic synagogues, or observing whatever aspects of the law they’d like (provided that they don’t think that such observances merit their salvation). I won’t be keeping any feasts or worrying about any laws because I’m a Gentile and none of that stuff was ever for me anyway. :-)

  10. William – Forgive me, I am new to the idea of Messianic Judaism, very very new. I came here to learn a little. I couldn’t help but respond to what you said, I see it has already been responded to but what I was saying to you out loud that you couldn’t hear because this is a blog :D was that there is old covenant and new covenant. The old Covenant that God made with Abraham was (forgive me if I get some of this wrong… :/) that Israel needed to shed blood as a covering of their sin so that they could come before God yes? In the new covenant God used a lot of OT imagery and symbolism to make it fairly obvious Christ was fulfilling the promise (covenant) not doing away with it. He was the permanent covering of sins with his perfect blood that allows us to come before the Father. There for the laws of the Torah made necessary for Israel’s salvation became unnecessary when Christ sacrificed himself for our salvation. I do think you’re right though. There is value in honoring non salvation related teachings and practices, if they were important to God once they are now. And if you feel like the holy spirit is convicting you in that manner, to observe feasts and the sabbath then you most certainly should. I did Seder Supper this year for the first time, it was really beautiful…. I’m reformed Presbyterian :D

  11. “I do think you’re right though. There is value in honoring non salvation related teachings and practices, if they were important to God once they are now.”

    – To clarify… teachings and practices from the OT. Sorry.

  12. I am a Messianic Jew, not a ‘Christian’. Just to clear this up… salvation was ALWAYS by GRACE, even in what you refer to as OT times. Actually, biblically, there is no OT and NT. The only man-made page in the bible is the ONE that separates what you refer to as the OT and NT. Rip THAT page out of your Bible and you have ONE book with successive covenants. That’s the way God planned it.There IS the Messianic covenant which is the last and this what you refer to as the NT.

    Torah observance does not earn your salvation and never did – That is what Paul refers to as perversion of following the Law or what you refer to as Legalism. The Torah is still in effect, not to save us (God took care of that) but rather as God’s teaching to us as to how we are to live our lives in a way that honors Him.

    Clear now?

    Yes, in the Messianic covenant we can see that the blood of Messiah Y’shua is superior to that of the blood of goats and bulls. Just read Messianic Jews (Hebrews) in your Bible to see how that works. It is as clear as day!

    May God Bless you all and Keep You,
    In Messiah, Charles (Chaim)

  13. Charles: I’m not really following your objection about the Old and New Testaments/Covenants. Even if successive (which I don’t think anyone here has denied) one still comes after the other, right? So one is new and the other old, right? And they are biblical terms (see 2Cor. 3:14 where Paul refers to the reading of “the old covenant” [τῆς παλαιᾶς διαθήκης] or a few verses earlier in 3:6 where he refers to ministers of a “new covenant” [καινῆς διαθήκης cf. 1Cor. 11:25] and if one favors the Byzantine text then you can add Matthew 26:28 and Mark 14:24 as passages mentioning the “new covenant” along with all those from Hebrews). Jesus is the focal point of each covenant. The old anticipated and led up to him while the new exists in him and looks back to him—but he is the center that unites them both.

    As far as salvation always having been by grace—I agree!

  14. HI Nick: I agree with what your are saying but I see it as Tanakh and Messianic Writings all as God’s Word containing a series of successive covenants.

    Also, I agree with the word ‘covenant’ but not the word ‘testament’. If you will notice I specified OT and NT, not OC and NC. Quoting Dan Gruber (page 51, Copernicus and the Jews) “The use of ‘testament’ instead of ‘covenant also obscures the reality that the New Covenant is between God and Israel. The astronomers created the illusion of a two-sphere universe, where different laws prevail in each sphere. This simple, little error of the theologians goes a long way towards doing the same.”

    I think we have to get away from the idea of separation and interpreting differences between the OC and NC as if different laws prevail in each. Same story, same laws, same God, same Messiah, same destination as was always foretold from the beginning. That’s all.

    I am glad to have found this forum and look forward to hearing more and participating further. I am a lonely Messianic Jew living in a rural area right now in the Philippines. No one here knows much of anything apart from the Catholic Church. I am going to be spending more time soon in Manila again and hope to return to my former congregation. God Bless. Shalom!

  15. Add-on, By the way, the term “NEW TESTAMENT” does not exist anywhere in the Bible (or even “OLD TESTAMENT” for that matter). These terms come from an English transliteration of a Latin mistransliteration of a Greek Quotation of a Hebrew text for Theopolitical reasons under King James. This was all in an effort to create the illusion that the Old Covenant was REPLACED by the New, in an effort to create One King, One Bible and One Church. Testament infers something that is left from something that is DEAD (Last will and testament) A covenant, on the other hand is an Agreement and Commitment made between those who are living. The terms Old and New Testament are both inaccurate and misleading and they do nothing other than serve to obscure the truth and reality of the Scriptures in their Hebraic/Jewish context.

  16. Nick: to your comment of March 26, 2010 9:39 a.m…. What is your response to B’Midbar (Numbers) 15:16?

  17. Charles, Thanks so much for your responses. Like I said I am new to the Messianic thing and I have not yet learned the “red buttons”. I guess the word “testament” would be one and “Christian” would be the other :D I’m very sorry if I offended you. The word Christian comes from the Greek Christianos which means follower of Christ (I’m sure you already know that). Regardless of your country of origin or the culture with which you associate yourself, if you are a Christ or Messiah follower you would fall under that name. It is not an insult but even Paul the “Jew of Jews” considered it an honor. Your objection to being called a Christian is puzzling to me. I am very grateful for what you shared about the “testaments” that is very true that we physically separated them in the bible but I agree with Nick that it is biblical to separate the old and new covenants as old and new. The words OLD and NEW are short and easy to read fast but we should not miss their importance. Biblically the convents are separated and called OLD and NEW that is not something that we or the Theologians have done. Oh and I don’t know if I gave the impression in my post earlier that I thought that anything other than grace was saving?? I got the feeling from some of the responses that I did. My apologies. I do have a question for you. I have a friend that is not ethnically Jewish, not culturally Jewish, never knew anything about Jewishness or Messianic Jewishness until a few years ago, that converted to Messianic Judaism. How do you feel about that? I was thinking, why convert to a culturally based denomination or practice or whatever you prefer to call Messianic following if you are some guy from Texas? Why not be a regular old Christian that really loves and values and participates in Old Covenant teachings (I have many friends that are like that, I am starting to do that)? I understand if you are actually Jewish and you fall in Love with Jesus but what do you think about regular white American (or other) people converting to Messianic Judaism?

  18. To Real Matters: Wow! There are so many things said here. To keep it as short as possible, I will answer for now to just two of your points. 1) Why I am not a ‘Christian’ and 2) what do I think about your friend who converted to Messianic Judaism.

    1) Christian: It is not an ‘accident’ that Y’shua the Messiah was Jewish. Although much of the New (Messianic) covenant writings were written in Greek, the content and concepts are all Jewish. Not a single word is independent or apart from the pre-exsisting cultural, literary and spiritual heritage of Israel. It was in THAT world that these texts came alive. Although Messiah was translated in Christos, along with everything else, the intention was NOT to create a NEW world but rather bring the reader, and YOU, into the Jewish world, in which the foreigner (Gentile) has always been welcomed and invited by God. The word “Christian’ does not appear anywhere in the Scriptures. Y’shua was not a Christian, nor was Paul, nor were the disciples. The very word ‘Christian’ implies that the commonwealth of Israel, into which you are invited, has been obscured and missed. Salvation comes through the Jews to all nations and that includes you. You are invited into that world. Not the other way around. I appreciate that it will take some time for this to sink in but it it essential to your faith that it does. God promised to make the commonwealth of Israel a community of nations, “Kahal Goyim”. Humble yourself enough to agree with Y’shua that “Salvation is from the Jews.” God created Jews so there could be Gentiles like you for Y’shua (rather than “Good ‘ol Christians” as you say.) Jews aren’t better; nor worse. It is all just God’s plan.

    2) What do I think of your friend? I think he is onto something but if you’re a Gentile seeking to become a Jew, or a Jew seeking to become a Gentile, then you’ve missed God’s purpose and plan for your life. God created you to be what you are and God doesn’t make mistakes. Having said that, take a look at Numbers 15:16: “The same Torah (Law) and standard of Judgement will apply to both you and the foreigner (Gentiles) living with you.” Christmas and Easter (which the Good ‘ol Christians in Texas celebrate) don’t appear in the Bible but all the Jewish feasts do In both the OLD and NEW Covenants. Doesn’t that give you something to chew on for awhile? When the 12 tribes were counted in Numbers there wasn’t a 13th tribe with all the Gentile/Foreigners in it. There were counted within the 12 tribes WITH the Jews.

    The only objection I have to the use of the word “OLD” Covenant is the implication/impression that somehow the NEW replaces the OLD. I reject REPLACEMENT theology as the Scriptures do as well. That’s all but I see what you are trying to say.

    God Bless, In Messiah, Charles (Chaim)

  19. Just found a great quote on Page 51 “Copernicus and the Jews – Dan Gruber” (A book I suggest you peruse). Edith Shaeffer wrote a book called “Christianity is Jewish.” The title of her book is not true.

    “Christianity is NOT Jewish. Christianity is primarily a religious system birthed in the fourth century, one that has defined itself in opposition to the Jewish people for seventeen hundred years. All Jewishness has been removed from the major Church creeds. God’s primary, and ongoing. commitment to the Jewish people has been removed from the Church creeds and theologies. They do not mention that the New Covenant is made with the Jewish people and that Gentiles must be grafted into Israel’s Olive Tree (Romans 11). They do not acknowledge that Gentiles must be brought into the commonwealth of Israel or remain forever “foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” (Eph. 2:12b)

  20. Charles: I think it’s semantics when talking of “covenant” vs. “testament.” I don’t think it’s quite as nefarious as you’re suggesting. There were many English Bibles before the KJV to use “testament” (e.g., the Wyclif Bible; the Tyndale Bible; the Coverdale Bible; and the Geneva Bible). “Testament” is simply an Old English word that meant “covenant.”

    Concerning Numbers 15:16, as I understand it, the “resident foreigner” was a proselyte, i.e., one who had converted or was in the process of converting, hence the same laws and regulations were only for the “resident foreigner” (the one living among them as one of them) and not for all foreigners. But the NT (mainly in Acts and Paul’s letters) is clear that Gentiles don’t have to become converts to Judaism in order to be saved a point with which you agree (or so it seems).

    Also, I’d point out that the word “Christian” is found in Scripture in both Acts 26:28 and 1Pet. 4:16 (and the plural in Acts 11:26). The word simply identifies one as a believer in and follower of Christ = Messiah. I won’t comment on the quotation you just provided (although I do have some strong thoughts about it) because it’s not pertinent to this post which brings me to my final point.

    I appreciate that you’re looking for an outlet to discuss Messianic Judaism but I’m afraid that my blog isn’t the place to do so in any detail. This post is very specific and while I realize that the comments have deviated a bit I’d ask that the we move the conversation back toward the topic of this post which is the right of Jewish believers in Jesus to worship in Messianic synagogues. I’m all for that. If you and Realmatters would like to correspond privately about broader topics related to Messianic Judaism then I encourage it.

  21. Sorry Nick. I really appreciate that you are so straight forward and no nonsense. And thank you for your leadership here, it is much appreciated. God bless you friend!

  22. Realmatters: No need to apologize. Blog comments go off topic all the time; it’s the nature of the medium. I just like to keep things as focused as possible. Charles has presented some views that I’m sure I’ll post about in the future so the conversation on those things can resume when those posts appear. But like I said, I fully encourage you guys to continue this in emails or IM, I’m sure you’ll both benefit from the interaction.

  23. Hi Nick and Real: Hey! Your blog – you’re the leader. I respect that as well.

    Is the issue of whether I am permitted to worship in a Messianic congregation REALLY up for any debate?? That’s hilarious!

    I welcome further discussion with regards to any of the issues that have been raised in whatever forum you choose at any time!

    Please allow me to say just this… as you point out “CHRIST” means” MESSIAH”. But what is translated from what? I’m pretty sure that MESSIAH is Jewish concept – not a Greek or Gentile one. I think Christos was translated from Mashiakh, a thoroughly Jewish word and concept, not the other way around.

    Secondly, if God wanted to say ‘Proselyte’ in Numbers as you claim, He would have said it. He is familiar with the word ‘proselyte’ I am sure! But he said Foreigner, meaning non-Jew (Gentile).

    I suggest you re-read the Book of Ruth and perhaps, one day, you and Real, will come to realize and say as Ruth did, “Your God is my God; Your people are my people.” (Ruth 1:16b) and accept your Messiah’s invitations and rightful places as the Righteous Goyim (Gentiles) in the commonwealth of Israel. God Bless, Shalom in Messiah, Charles (Chaim)

  24. Nick: This is related to the topic but please answer the question at the end of my comment before I deliver my main assertion.

    After much research and thought I concede that you are right about Numbers 15:14-16 with respect to the term “Foreigner” living among them also being a proselyte. But the fact remains that God invited the foreigner/proselyte out of Egypt with the Jews to choose between Him, the God of Israel or other gods. For the foreigner/proselyte who wished to come under the saving Grace of the God of Israel, I assert as the scriptures specify that there was only one path to follow, and that was straight into the desert behind Moses and his people out of Egypt. Are you saying that had you been alive in that day – you would have stayed in Egypt? I don’t mean to be confrontational – I am simply trying to understand your point. In this comment I am simply trying to establish whether you agree, or not, that God had One Law, One Statute and One Ordinance for Jews and Non-Jews alike that chose to worship Him in those times? After this, I will address your question of whether Jews can worship in Messianic Synagogues or not (if I understand your the question correctly – if not, please clarify).

  25. NIck: To get semantics straight, when I claimed the word ‘Christian’ appears nowhere in the Bible, I was not referring to the translations you mentioned, but rather the Original texts pre-translation. I am well-aware of what the translations contain. :-)

  26. Charles: Gentiles had to convert to Judaism to worship with Jews under the old covenant. That’s my point with regard to the “foreigner among them,” i.e., they were either converts or those in the process of converting. Converts had to follow the same laws. Under the new covenant Gentiles don’t have to convert to Judaism before coming into saving relationship with God.

    The untranslated Greek text says: Χριστιανον (Acts 26:28); Χριστιανος (1Pet. 4:16); and Χριστιανους (Acts 11:26). These are all the equivalent to “Christian(s)” as simply transliterating them shows: Christianon; Christianos, Christianous. But this is all really a side issue.

  27. Nick: Now we are getting somewhere. I will answer to your last paragraph first as it is the easiest and I only have time for that now. I will address the first issue later. These words, Χριστιανον, Χριστιανος are based on the notion of ‘Cristou’ which is an attempt to place into the Greek Language a reference to, or marker for, the Hebrew Biblical concept of ‘Maskiakh’ i.e. the ‘Anointed One’ which did not exist in Greek prior. Christos was formed from Greek word, chrioo, that meant to smear, as in smearing oil on a leather shield to keep it from drying out and cracking, This is the closest they could come, but this word only described a physical action and condition. It carried no MEANING in Greek beyond that. ‘Christos; didn’t refer to a person or Divine Office. Only in this physical meaning did it carry any semblance to the Jewish meaning. The Hebrew word for ‘annointed’ is ‘yimshakh’ which the Septuagint translates as ‘echrisen’. The Septuagint uses and adapts chrioo for this different meaning and purpose. The word is used often, for example, in 1 Kings 19:16, (3 Kings 19:16 in LXX), the Lord (Adonai) speaks to Elijah and tells him,”Anoint/chriseis Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint/chriseis Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah, to succeed you as Prophet.”

    The New Covenant texts you are quoting from were written in Jewish/Greek based on the wording from the Septuagint, which again, is merely a best-attmept translation into a foreign language and culture from the original Hebraic texts.

    I think you’d be hard-pressd to argue that Mashiakh is a Gentile or Greek concept. It is clearly a Jewish concept. There’s nothing wrong with the idea of trying to translate something into another language, as long as it serves to bring the reader into the original world and context within which it was written. The actual meaning ALWAYS lies in the original, not in the translation. To treat the New Testament or New Covenant, whatever you choose to call it, as a Christian Greek document is to guarantee inaccuracy and distortion in the translation, in understanding, and the teaching that is built upon them.

    I will address your first paragraph about Gentiles not having to follow the Law a little later. I think that’s what you call Judaism which is not something I ever proclaimed Gentiles had to do either. I talked about the Gentile/Foreigner falling under the same Law, Statues and Ordinances (and Protection) as the Jew under Old Covenant time, which you now seem to agree with. Hallelujah! We ARE getting somewhere. I presume I would have enjoyed your company in the desert of Egypt had we been alive back then! Baruch Ha Shem! (God Bless)

  28. My next posting will deal with whether Jews and Gentiles are treated equally in the New Covenant by God just as in the Old. Then, I propose we begin to circle back to your core issue of this Blog which is whether Jews may worship God in a Messianic Synagogue. I suspect this question will be turned on it’s heels by the time we’re done! LOL

  29. Nick: My personal journey in Biblical faith began on October 26, 2000 when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. The salvation, forgiveness, and the instant sure-fired feeling of being in compete reconciled loving harmony and relationship with God in that moment meant more to me than anything – and certainly more than my Jewish identity. But then began the arduous journey of faith and working out my salvation in fear and trembling. What does God expect of me now? Where am I to worship? What is the Bible really saying? How am I to live? In the beginning, I thought a ‘Messianic Jew’ was the same as a Jewish Christian. 10 years later I know how wrong that conclusion was. It means much more than that.

    You know, previously I quoted Dan Gruber’s book (Copernicus and the Jews). His book came at just the right time in my life. I had to be ready for it, because the paradigm shift one must undergo to understand these things is as profound as what happened in the time of Copernicus. If what we are saying is right about a different center of our faith then it changes everything.

    “In the time of Nicholas Copernicus, the heavens and all that was in them revolved around the Earth. This was not a belief that needed to be argued; it was a well known and observable fact. People could see it with their own eyes. Scientists, mathematicians and philosophers affirmed and religious doctrine did too. There was one small problem through; the planets moved in continuous defiance of the enshrined system. By challenging the system and finding the true center, Copernicus began a revolution that changed life on Earth.”

    The real issue is that we have differing centers. I purport that the Biblical center of our faith is centered on the Rich Fertile Olive Tree of Israel to which Gentile Believers are grafted in. There is no Jesus without Israel. There is no Messiah without Israel. He lived in Israel and he will return in Israel. By definition, Y’shua is the King of the Jews, King of Israel defending and ruling over his own people and the Righteous Gentiles grafted in with them.

    The Gentile Christian Church created a new faith with a new center, which essentially replaces the Jews as God’s people with the Church. Christianity is a strong system – a stronghold I would even say. The theologians have you convinced that God’s Law and Sabbath and Feasts no longer apply, even though I can’t find one Bible verse from Matthew to Revelation that sanctifies Sunday as the New Sabbath, no mention of Christmas or Easter and on and on. Y’shua (Jesus) lived a sinless life. What defined it as sinless? Torah/Law observance! He was the only one who lived a Torah-perfect life! His disciples observed the Torah/Law. Paul observed the Torah/Law.

    Gentiles most often quote Acts 15:20 as proof they don’t have to follow the Law to be saved. Of course not! We are all saved by Grace for sure, Jews AND Gentiles, but how are we to live before God? What kind of lives honor God? Lives of lawlessness? NO! See 1John 3:4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”

    Acts 15:20 says that all Gentiles must do is “abstain from things polluted by idols, from fornication, from what is strangled and from blood.”But even this wasn’t to be saved’. It was simply a prerequisite to them having fellowship with the Messianic Jewish believers in the Synagogue.

    [Most Gentiles stop here as if that is the end of the instruction and that is ALL they are required to do. Funny enough, the ones who proclaim this actually don’t even follow this instruction for all practical purposes.]

    In fact, this instruction was only meant to be the beginning. It was the simply MINIMUM requirement for all Gentiles to enter the Messianic Synagogues and enjoy fellowship with believers in Messiah Y’shua (Jesus). The next verse clearly implies that once they enter, they will learn about the rest of what God requires of Gentile believers in the Jewish Messiah…

    Acts 15:21 – “For from the earliest times, Moshe (Moses) has had in every city those who proclaim him, with his words being read in the synagogues every Shabbat (Sabbath).

    Of course the Law applies to Jews and Gentiles. Can you really be a disciple of Y’shua and murder, lie, fornicate, cheat and steal and claim that you are not under any obligation to not do these things? In fact, even most non-believers recognize the Law of Moses in the 10 commandments (commandments in Hebrew is ‘Mitzvah’ which is synonymous with Law) and society at large runs in great part on the principles of God’s Law of Moses. Even today’s insurance policies are based on the biblical principles of restitution.

    I will write more later because this is getting way too long. But I am sure you are seeing the point. We have different ‘centers’ at the core of our faith and my center is strictly by-the-book. I have o ‘theology’ to justify changing or modifying and interpreting Scriptures to fit my personal preference. Saturday, not Sunday. Passover, not Easter, etc. etc. etc. Have you ever celebrated the Passover (our Messiah’s last supper)? Every time I have celebrated Christmas I hear the same story, but when I celebrate Passover, I marvel over what I learn of God and His Messiah. Ad every year brings new teaching and biblical insight and revelation. Every biblical feast represents a different facet of our Messiah. The day of Atonement, The feast Trumpets, Chanukah (the feast of lights/dedication) etc. That’s all for now – God Bless you, Thanks for reading all this. My deepest prayer is that God speaks into your heart about these things. The commonwealth of Israel needs you. When the fullness of the Gentiles comes into and under the commonwealth of Israel, the non-beleieving Jew’s eyes will be opened. Israel will accept Y’shua in the corporate sense and then, the Messiah will return to Jerusalem! Hallelujah!! Ah-Mayn! (Another little word that takes on meaning when we see it in the Hebraic sense! – it means AGREED!) I thought Amen was about ALL MEN at one time. Oh how misled we can be!

  30. Rea Matters and Nick: Whoops, nearly forgot my last point about you three mentions of the word “Christian” in the bible addressed one-by-one. This is not a side issue.

    1) Acts 11:26 “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” The disciples didn’t call themselves that. God didn’t call them that, The people at Antioch did. Meanwhile, the disciples were Messianic Jews living Torah observant lives.

    2) Acts 26:28 “Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think is such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul did not call himself or anyone else by that name. Agrippa did.

    3) 1 Peter 4:16 “Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or thief or evil-doer… but if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; and let him glorify God in this respect.” The Messianic followers of Y’shua were being made to suffer under this name. They were put to death under this name. This name was not a name they gave themselves but a name under which they were made to suffer.

    Point is, I can’t find any Christians in the Bible. Y’shua wasn’t one, His disciples weren’t- they were Messianic Torah/Law observant followers of the Messiah. Paul (Rabbi Sha’ul) wasn’t. Can you find any? Anyone?

  31. Charles; With all due respect, this is not your blog, and long posts (which is what your comments above are) should be written on your new blog. If you want to do that and provide a link here then fine but please do not use my comments box as your own blog. I really have no interest in this conversation so I won’t be indulging you. The point of this post was that the author I was responding to seemed to have adopted an attitude that Jews who come to faith in the Messiah should somehow lose their Judaism lest they be separatists. I disagree. Thank you for sharing your testimony, but again, this isn’t the post to do so. So I’m going to simply end this conversation now. Thanks and God bless.

  32. That’s fine Nick! I figured as much would happen if you lost the debate fair and square. God Bless. Please just remove my posts and I’ll just shake the dust off my sandals and move on. God Bless!

  33. Nick: I found your blog while searching for some answers to the question of how Christianity and Messianic Judaism fit together or if they even do. I have a friend who has recently converted to Messianic Judaism and like “Charles” he seems to be very passionate and knowledgeable at first but when his comments are questioned, again like “Charles” needs to have the upper hand and gets upset. This makes it very hard to discern whether or not the most important thing to them is just simply to be right rather than actually find the truth. I would simply say to Charles that it appears his heart is in the right place but as an outside party trying to research and find the truth it’s very off-putting to think that feeling as though following Jesus with an open heart for many years as a “Christian” is wrong and it’s a bad word. This does not encourage “Christians” never exposed to Messianic Judaism to seek out what could be important facts for them to have. Debates can be very enriching if they don’t turn to stubborn pride. I also wanted to say to you Nick that how you handled the potential conflict was right on and it encouraged me to seek out more information and not judge all Messianic Jews by how Charles and my friend who converted tend to react to potential questions of their faith. Thank you and God Bless.

  34. Erin: Thanks for the words of encouragement! I’m happy that this post and the conversation that followed have you wanting to search for more information and answers. I only wish I had more to offer.

  35. Nick: I want to say thank you as well! I found this while looking for encouragement. I’m going to meet a friend today that believes the same as Charles. I just don’t agree with him on these topics and today he wanted “debate”. I’d appreciate your prayers. Thanks again!

  36. Shalom all!

    the Messiah’s Peace upon you all….
    Just wanted to thank you for posting the article up- as I am beginning my walk from the Born – Again Christianity I was initially saved under- to a deeper walk with Messiah known as Messianic Judaism… I can say that I enjoy going to both church on sundays and synagogue on saturdays… one day I’m learning the next day i wear my shawl and answer questions about the hebrew roots which I feel Yahweh is showing me… Just wanted to say thank you to Charles Shefler: I encourage you to publish these notes…have you considered writing a book?

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