Messianic Judaism: Questions and Answers are adapted from a booklet written by Rabbi David Chertoff with the same title (No 1-23) it answers some of the basic questions frequently asked about Messianic Judaism. From (No 24-37) By Rabbi William Levi – “We are not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God, Salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jews first and then to the gentiles. “~ Romans 1:16
Frequently asked questions
What Is Messianic Judaism?
Messianic Judaism is a movement of Jewish people throughout the world who believe that Yeshua (Jesus’ original name in Hebrew) is the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the world. Yeshua is the most Jewish of Jews. Yeshua was a descendant of both Abraham and King David, was raised in a Jewish home and went to synagogue. He perfectly kept the entire Torah (see Galatians 4:4). He taught that He came to fulfill, not set aside, the Torah (see Matthew 5:17-19). He was a rabbi who performed unparalleled miracles, bringing great blessing to the nation of Israel. All His early disciples also lived very Jewish lives. The Messianic movement was entirely Jewish at its inception, and continued to exist as an authentic Jewish movement for 700 years after Yeshua’s death and resurrection. Messianic Jews have not stopped being Jewish. On the contrary, we remain strongly Jewish in our identity and lifestyle! The Tenach (the Old Testament Scriptures) provides the foundation of our Jewish faith, and the New Covenant Scriptures (which were also written by Jews) the completion of our Jewish faith. In fact, the Hebrew Scriptures themselves affirm that they are not complete, but that God was going to make a New Covenant with the Jewish people (Jeremiah 31:31-34). We believe that the Sinai covenant, upon which much of traditional (Rabbinic) Judaism is based, is a broken covenant. There is no Temple and there are no sacrifices by which we can be brought near to God and experience genuine atonement. Non-Messianic Judaism is based on this broken covenant, which cannot save us. In contrast, we believe that God already established this New Covenant by means of Yeshua’s death and resurrection. He died and rose again to atone for our sins, so that we can enter into this New Covenant relationship with God. We believe that Yeshua ascended to the right hand of God the Father and is coming back to Earth to reign from Jerusalem over Israel and all the nations of the world. At that time the fullness of the New Covenant will be realized.
What Is The Difference Between Messianic Judaism And The Various Non-Messianic Judaism?
Is There A Difference Between Messianic Judaism And Christianity?
In one sense, Messianic Judaism and Christianity are the same thing. There is only one faith. Messianic Jews and Christians share the same core beliefs. Messianic Judaism is the same faith but it is expressed within the Jewish heritage.
THE ORIGINS OF MESSIANIC JUDAISM. When Did Messianic Judaism Begin?
Messianic Judaism is actually 2,000 years old, dating to the time of Yeshua Himself. Yeshua was (and is) Jewish. He was raised in a Jewish home and ministered to Jewish people in the Land of Israel. His disciples were Jewish. The apostles were Jewish. The writers of the Brit Chadashah (New Covenant or Testament) were Jewish (with the possible exception of Luke, and a good case can be made that he too was Jewish), and for a time, the faith was strictly Jewish. By the middle of the first century AD, tens of thousands of Jewish people believed that Yeshua was the Messiah (see Acts 2:37-42, 4:4, 21:20)
If, at first, Messianic Judaism was made up Entirely of Jewish People, how did gentiles (non-Jewish people) come into the Faith?
It was always God’s will for the Gentile nations to share in His salvation (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6). God told Abraham that through him all the nations of the Earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). The Lord set apart the Jewish people to bring the knowledge of God, the Word of God, and the Savior to the rest of the world. At first the early Messianic Jews did not understand that this was God’s will and they proclaimed the Good News only to other Jewish people. Ironically, the big controversy in the first century was not whether Jews could believe in Yeshua (naturally they could), but whether Gentiles could come into the faith without having to “become Jewish”! When Messianic Jews finally understood that salvation was also intended for the Gentiles, they began to share the Good News with non-Jews as well as with Jews. As a result, many Gentiles began to come into the faith.
How Did A Jewish Movement Come To Be Regarded As So Non-Jewish?
When the early Messianic Jews took the Good News to the Gentiles, many became Believers. By the end of the first century, Gentile Believers outnumbered the Jewish Believers. This occurred primarily because there are far more Gentiles than Jewish people. However, as more and more Gentiles came into the Messianic faith, some had little understanding or regard for its Jewish roots and God’s eternal covenant with Israel. A “de-Judaizing” process (a separation from the Jewish roots of the faith and from the Jewish people) set in. As the number of Gentile Believers increased, they began to dominate the faith until the Gentile expression of Christianity emerged as the dominant expression of the faith. Then, in what can only be regarded as one of the greatest paradoxes of history, Christianity made it seem alien for a Jewish person to be loyal to the King of the Jews!
When Did the Early Messianic Jews Disappear and Why?
In spite of the many pressures put upon Jewish Believers to give up their faith, it seems that Messianic Judaism continued into the seventh century AD. First, non-Messianic rabbis pressured Messianic Jews to relinquish their faith in Yeshua as the Messiah. In addition, the dominant Gentile expression of Christianity pressured Messianic Jews to abandon their Jewishness. Finally, in the seventh century AD, the rise of Islam caused distress for Messianic Jews. Despite all this, the real reason for the disappearance of early Messianic Judaism was that Messianic Jews lost their “vision” – no longer regarding it as important to remain Jewish after accepting Yeshua. Consequently, they assimilated into the Gentile expression of Christianity.
When Did The Modern Messianic Jewish Movement Begin?
Though Messianic Judaism as a distinct movement faded in the seventh century, there have always been individual Jewish Believers in Yeshua. Beginning in the early 1800s increasing numbers of Jewish people began believing in Yeshua. The modern Messianic Jewish movement came to fruition in the 1960s and 1970s. We believe that this could be part of the salvation of the Jewish people predicted to occur in the Last Days (see Hosea 3:4-5, Joel 2:28-29, Deuteronomy 30:1-5, Romans 11:25-27).
How Many Messianic Jews Are There?
While there are no concrete figures, it has been estimated by those involved in the movement (and even by those outside the movement) that there are approximately 40,000 to 50,000 Jewish Believers in the Messiah in the United States. Even though there are approximately 300 Messianic synagogues in the U.S., the majority of Messianic Jews join evangelical churches and do not attend Messianic congregations. The Messianic congregational movement is still relatively small, but it is growing. In 1948, when Israel was reestablished as an independent nation, there were fewer than 100 Messianic Jews living in Israel. Today, there are approximately 8,000 Messianic Jews in Israel in 50 congregations! The Messianic Jewish movement is also growing in other countries such as Ethiopia, Zambia, South Sudan and etc. If you are interested in getting involved in a Messianic synagogue, discernment is required, since not all are theologically sound.
MESSIANIC TERMINOLOGY: Why Do We Use The Name “Yeshua” As Well As “Jesus”?
Yeshua never heard the name “Jesus” in His lifetime! Yeshua is His given Hebrew name! It means “salvation” or “the Lord is salvation” (see Matthew 1:21). He was always called “Yeshua”, a common Hebrew name at that time. When Latin-speaking missionaries, who called the Messiah “Yesu”, brought the Good News to the British people, “Yesu” became “Jesus” in English.
What Does “Christ” Mean?
Some people mistakenly believe that “Christ” is Yeshua’s last name! Rather, “Christ” is His title in much the same way as we might refer to a “President” or “King”. This title is taken from the Hebrew word “Mashiach” or “Anointed One”, which was translated into the Greek “Christos” and later anglicized to “Christ”. The actual English translation of Mashiach is “Messiah” and means an anointed, God-appointed leader. Prophets, priests and kings were anointed. The Messiah is the ultimate Prophet, Priest and King! Examples of this title in the Tenach are found in Daniel 9:25 and Psalm 2:2. In the New Covenant, Yeshua claimed the title of Messiah (see Mark 14:61-62 and John 4:25-26).
Why Do Many Messianic Jews Prefer To Identify As Messianic Jews?
The term “Christian” originally meant “follower of the Christ” or “follower of the Messiah”. By itself “Christian” is a good term. Theologically, Messianic Jews are Christians and many of us do identify as Christians and call ourselves Christians. But sadly, over time the term “Christian” came to be used over-broadly and inaccurately. Many people today have a false dichotomy in their minds that on the one hand there are Jews and Judaism, and on the other hand there are Gentiles and Christianity; and supposedly one must choose between the two. Accordingly, when a Jewish person accepts Yeshua he is thought to have “switched over” from the Jew-Judaism side to the Gentile-Christianity side; and is therefore no longer regarded as a Jew, but as a Gentile-Christian. For all intents and purposes the term “Christian” has become synonymous with “non-Jew” or “Gentile”. We believe the opposite to be true. Nothing could be more Jewish than to follow Israel’s Messiah! Consequently we also choose to call ourselves “Messianic Jews”, which identifies us as Jewish people who follow Messiah Yeshua.
If I’m Jewish and Believe in Jesus, Will I Stop Being Jewish?
Yeshua is the Messiah and believing in Him is the most Jewish thing that you could do! How could a Jewish person who acknowledges the Jewish Messiah become a non-Jew? Contrary to certain claims, the Jewish identity of many Messianic Jews has been strengthened by their faith in the King of the Jews. Many of us can claim that Jesus made us kosher! Faith in Yeshua is Jewish, no matter what men (even a majority of men) may say, because truth is determined by God – not by a majority vote! In fact, in every generation it has always been the remnant minority of Jewish people who had true faith in God. The majority almost always went astray (as examples, see Numbers 14:1-10, Exodus 32:25-26, Romans 11:2-10). If you are Jewish, it is because God made you a Jew and no one can ever change that.
MESSIANIC JEWISH LIFESTYLE. What Is The Importance Of Messianic Congregations?
Just as Messianic Judaism is not new, neither are Messianic synagogues new. Biblical and historical records demonstrate that there were Messianic synagogues throughout the Roman Empire and beyond as early as 50 AD (James 1:1, 2:2, Hebrews 10:27). Messianic congregations help foster community life. They enable Messianic Jews to worship the God of Israel within the Jewish heritage. Assimilation is a problem for Messianic Jews (as well as for other Jews), and Messianic congregations help combat the forces of assimilation. Historically, Messianic Jewish families that make no effort to live a Jewish lifestyle or to be involved in Jewish evangelism almost always assimilate within a couple of generations. Messianic congregations can help us maintain our Jewish identity and pass it on to the following generations.
Do Messianic Jews Believe They Should Keep The Law of Moses?
Do Messianic Jews Celebrate The Jewish Holidays And, If So, Why?
Most Messianic Jews celebrate the Biblical holidays such as Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost), Rosh HaShanah (the traditional Jewish New Year, but actually the Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles), Chanukkah (the Feast of Dedication) and Purim. We celebrate the holidays because it is written in the Torah for Israel to observe these festivals forever (Leviticus 23:21, 31, 41; Exodus 12:14). Yeshua observed these festivals, as did the early Messianic Jews and apostles such as Rabbi Paul (Acts 20:16, 27:9; 1 Corinthians 16:8). We also believe that when Messiah Yeshua returns to Earth, some of these holidays will be reestablished worldwide (Zechariah 14:11-21). As Messianic Jews celebrate the holidays, we do so with the understanding that Yeshua is the fulfillment of each of them. For example, He is our Passover Lamb, who died on Passover. He is the First fruits of the resurrection, who came back to life on the holiday of First fruits. He is our Atonement on Yom Kippur, etc.
What Is The Relationship Of Gentile Christians To The Laws Of The Torah?
Messiah’s Holy Community of Jews and Gentiles (the Church), while having much in common with Israel, is not identical to Israel. The New Covenant is not the same as the Old Covenant. Jews who enter the New Covenant remain Jews, and Gentiles who enter the New Covenant remain Gentiles. Gentile Believers are not the same as the Gentile foreigners who lived in the nation of Israel under the Old Covenant. Gentile Christians have an elevated status compared to the aliens who lived in the nation of Israel under the Old Covenant. They are fully co-heirs of the Kingdom with the Jewish saints. Being grafted into Israel doesn’t mean that Gentile Believers become Israel or are required to live the same way as the Jewish people. Jews and Gentiles are one because of our one God and Father of all: “one Lord, one faith and one Baptism”. We share equally in the Spirit of God, who lives in all of us, and have the same hope of living forever in the New Jerusalem. Being one doesn’t negate the differences in roles and calling and lifestyle between Jews and Gentiles. Keep in mind that most of the laws of the Torah were directed specifically to the Jewish people and not to the other nations. The laws formed Israel’s constitution. The laws were meant to keep Israel distinct from the other nations.
So what relationship does the Gentile Christian have to the 613 laws of the Torah
Can Gentiles Be Members Of A Messianic Synagogue?
Most Messianic congregations have non-Jewish members. To be a member of a Messianic synagogue, a Gentile Believer should have a love for the Jewish people, an understanding of what God is doing with the Jewish people, and have a “Ruth-like” calling to the Chosen People. That does not mean Gentile Believers need to live exactly like Jewish people.
Are Messianic Jews Zionists?
Most Messianic Jews support Israel, not only because we believe the Jewish people need a national homeland, but also because we believe the reestablishment of Israel is a direct fulfillment of ancient Biblical prophecies (Ezekiel 36:24, 37:1-14, Zechariah 12). We believe the reestablishment of the nation of Israel is part of the divine plan and not a historical accident. We reject Replacement Theology, the false teaching that God has replaced Israel with the Church and God’s promises of restoration to our God-given land are not to be taken literally. Therefore everyone, especially Christians, should support Israel’s right to our ancient land because God’s promise to Abraham is still in effect: “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you” (Genesis 12:3).
HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT YESHUA IS THE MESSIAH?
What is the significance of Yeshua’s resurrection from the death for Jews and Gentiles?
What do you tell Jews who don't believe in Yeshua and will disqualify us from being Jewish because we believe in Jewish Messiah, Yeshua HaMashiach which made us a Christian as if Christianity has nothing to do with Israel?
There is nothing called Christianity before Yeshua Hamasciach, a Jewish Messiah who was God in the flesh born by Jewish earthly mother in Bethlehem, Judea by the power of Holy Spirit, 2000 years ago. He came from Above unto his people to fulfill the Torah and prophets. If as a Jew you don't believe that, it is okay. We Messianic Jews are not God nor are the Jews who don’t believe in Him. We are here only to bear witness of the Messiah who fulfilled all the Biblical prophecies. No man has the power to convert anyone to believe in Yeshua. It is the power of God (Holy Spirit) that stirs anyone's heart to believe in Yeshua. We can't hide our identities to because we believe in Yeshua on that we don’t offend Jews who don’t believe in Him yet. One should be out of his/her mind at a time where Jews have been persecuted worldwide to call himself/herself an Israelite or Jewish or a Hebrew if he /she has nothing to do with the Jewish heritage
Can someone be considered a Jew only through His mother?
First all, of all my parents, both father and were South Sudanese Hebrews. As Messianic Jews of the South Sudan, we suffered the same persecution in the hand of Islamic regime in the Sudan. We Jews are to be light to the world and shine everywhere we go. That is what we are doing through our ministry in South Sudan. We have a Messianic Congregation which serves both Messianic Jews and gentile Christians alike. This should not come to you as a surprise because unlike the rabbinical Judaism, that grew out of Jewish Diaspora in Europe , we who have gone into African Diaspora are Biblical Hebrews and according to the Bible our Jewishness is defined by the father's bloodline. If not so, Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph's children would have been considered Egyptians. This is not to mention Boaz the son of Rehab the Harlot, or Obed the son of Ruth the Moabite, the grandfather of King David. This tells us something about the faith of those gentile women who married Hebrew men. It is evident that since they too become part of the Jewish heritage by conversion and marriage, we considered them Jewish too. But as we stated in our statement of faith, if indeed you believe that you are a Messianic Hebrew because both your parents are Jewish, or one of your parents, your father or mother is Jewish, by marriage and/or by conversion we consider you Messianic Jew too. But the biggest picture is this. We are here to bear witness that Yeshua is a Jewish Messiah and it is a Jewish thing to believe in him but if you don't believe, we don't set that against you. We love you and pray for you. The Bible commands us t