Messianic Judaism and Christianity: Two Religions With The Same Messiah

ImageThere are many people who just don’t get Messianic Judaism.  To them, Messianic Judaism is simply Christianity with a yarmulke and tallis.  For Christians, they see it as an ethnic expression of the Church, no different from Black, Hispanic, or Asian churches.   For Jews, they only see belief in Yeshua, so any attending Jewish expression is interpreted as either deception or misuse of Jewish sacred objects.

The reality is that Messianic Judaism is really not Christianity in the ecclesiastical sense.  It doesn’t follow church customs or use the Christian religious calendar.  Messianic Judaism does not celebrate Christmas or Easter.  Rather, it celebrates Jewish holidays, observes shabbat and dietary laws, as our people have done since Sinai, and although we put our own understanding to them, its no different from other branches of Judaism that put their own modern interpretations to them.

The difference between Messianic Judaism and Christianity was driven home to me in the course of an internet discussion group with Christian leaders.   They were discussing Israel, and some were pro-Israel and expressed love and support for the Jewish people, while others were ready to “throw Israel under the bus” to support the Arabs, claiming the State of Israel is not Godly and rejecting of Yeshua.  Others still, said they believed Israel was loved by God, but “set aside,” for the sake of the Gentiles, until the return of Yeshua.  I had a big problem with these views, because, aside from finding them deeply offensive, they either replaced Israel with themselves as God’s people, treating Israel as just another country, and Jewish people as just another people.  That is not our belief.  I was disgusted by their arrogance and self aggrandizing re-interpretation of Scripture.

Messianic Judaism affirms that the Jewish people, believing in Yeshua or not, have been, are, and will always be the chosen people of God.  The only nation God ever linked His name to in Scripture is Israel, calling Himself, the God of Israel.  Scripture tells us His promises to Israel are eternal, and extend to the sons of Jacob, the House of Israel, known today as the Jewish People.  Those leaders of the church did not affirm this. To them, 2000 years of post-Yeshua Jewish history, a history of spirituality and suffering for being Jewish, was worthless.  In their view, 2000 years of Jewish unbelief in Yeshua means Twenty centuries of Jews went to hell.  I have to confess that the concept doesn’t sit well with me.  For Yeshua to be the Messiah of Israel, he would have to be good for the Jews.  If his coming resulted in twenty centuries of Jewish people going to hell, the bottom line is, he wasn’t very good for the Jews.  Either he wasn’t the Messiah, or the doctrinal understanding is wrong.  I believe the latter.  Yeshua brings salvation, but is that the only reason to believe in Him; for something we get?  I think we should believe in Him because he is the Messiah, and being in relationship to Him brings us closer to God, and increases our kavvanah, or spiritual connection with God.  

What they don’t grasp, is the idea put forth by R. Kendall Soulen in his book, The God Of Israel In Christian Theology, that after the first century, the Jewish Yeshua was virtually unrecognizable as a Jew, and therefore, as the Messiah.  Jewish rejection of Yeshua was not an act of infidelity towards Yeshua, as much as it was an act of fidelity towards His Father.  

Jewish faith has always been real.  Jews don’t pray to a false God, but to the God of Israel, the God of the Bible.  It is precisely in this sense that Jews are different from gentiles.  Without Yeshua, gentiles are pagan.  It is only by their faith in Yeshua that they come into relationship with the God of Israel.  Jewish people, without Yeshua, still have a valid covenant with God.  Their faith is real faith.  To explain this in Christian terms, they are believers in” the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor 11:31, Eph 1:3, I Peter 1:3, etc.).  This means, when Jews pray, they are not praying to false gods, but to the One True God, the God of our fathers, the God of the Bible.  Scripture says that God has NOT rejected His people whom he foreknew.  The relationship is still there.

My introduction to God did not come from Christian sources, but Jewish.  My mother, grandmother, and great grandmother believed in God and trusted in Him.  My mother was the first person who ever told me that God loves me, and watches over our people.  I do not believe God throws away anyone who loves him and trusts in Him.  The Psalms teach that God is near to those who love Him.  

When I became a follower of Yeshua, it was not a rejection of the God of Israel, but, on the contrary, a belief that Yeshua was a fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel.  I did not stop being a Jew, and did not stop living as a Jew.  On the contrary, believing Yeshua to be the Messiah made me want to be more observant of the Torah than before.  Believing in Yeshua enhanced my Jewishness rather than lessen it.  

Whatever my experience is, it is not a conversion to Christianity.  I do not criticize Christian practice, but simply state the fact, that their practices are not my practices, their form of worship is not mine.  Whenever I have visited a church, I have felt out of place, like I was in someone else’s living room.  Their culture was not my culture, their practices were not my practices.  Their understanding of Scripture is not mine.  The only conclusion is that their religion is not my religion.

I feel at home in the synagogue, any synagogue.  Their practices and beliefs are familiar to me.  Their understanding of God and of His love for our people resonate with mine.  While traditional synagogues don’t acknowledge Yeshua, nevertheless, He is there.  For me, He is the Messiah of Israel.

 As the brothers of Joseph did not recognize him when they stood before him, because all they saw was an Egyptian ruler, he remained their brother.  He fed them and took care of them, and would not take their money for the grain they bought, because he remained their brother.  When he revealed himself to them, he comforted them, and told them to come near, because they were his brothers.  Joseph is a picture of Yeshua.  As Joseph acted toward his brothers, so will Yeshua act toward his.  He loves them, and will comfort them, and take care of them, which, after all, is the job of the Messiah.  

I also believe Yeshua will bless those gentiles who truly love him.  We acknowledge that the gentiles in Yeshua have a place in God’s heart.  It makes them our brethren, just as our fellow Jews are our brethren.    We are related to other Yeshua followers, just as we are related to other Jews.  Nevertheless, Messianic Judaism and Christianity remain two separate religions, yet we have the same Messiah, Yeshua.  That being the case, rather than beating eachother up with statements of faith we require each other to affirm, it would be good if we just began by treating each other as brethren, loving and supporting one another.  I have always been more happy affirming people than doctrinal statements.  

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238 thoughts on “Messianic Judaism and Christianity: Two Religions With The Same Messiah

  1. Dr. Schiffman,

    It sounds like you’re saying that one can receive salvation apart from Yeshua. But hopefully I just misread your post.

    I feel comfortable in any synagogue too. But I also don’t hide the fact that I believe in Yeshua. I explain to people in conversation, usually in the oneg room, that Yeshua is the Messiah and salvation is not possible apart from accepting Yeshua. Is this what you tell them as well? Or can you recommend a better approach?

    Shalom,

    Peter

    • Peter, my words are chosen carefully and are nuanced. Your question comes right out of Christian theology. (i.e., who is saved and who is not). My blogpost did not even address the issue, but as I see it, you have to leave room for the grace of God. As I said in the post, Jews don’t pray to a false god, but to the God and Father of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah. If you truly believe that God is One, then in a sense, when they pray to the Father, they are praying to Yeshua, whether they realize it or not, just as they stood before Joseph their brother and didn’t realize it. At some point their eyes will be opened and they will see Yeshua for who he is. In the meantime, they are still His brethren, he still loves them and takes care of them and provides for them, just as Joseph did. Questions of salvation are things I leave to God. Its His call, not yours, not mine, but I do trust that the Judge of all the earth will do right. That may seem ambiguous, but thats how I see it. I leave it in God’s hands.

      • I understand you very well. However, Yes they are praying to Yeshua, BUT they have not accepted Him as Lord and Savior. He is the only way to the Kingdom of Heaven. You can pray to Him all you want but if you haven’t accepted Him as your Lord then on the day of judgement He Will say to the Father Depart from me I never knew you.

      • Funny thing, “ree”, that the verse you cited about “depart from me” (Mt.7:23) actually decries “lawless” praxis: “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'” He’s telling them that their problem was failure to pursue the Torah, just as in Mt.5:19-20 he said that greatness in the kingdom of heaven derived from performing and teaching the Torah (that in vs.18 was described as enduring as long as the heavens and earth), that doing otherwise would reduce someone’s stature therein to “least”, and that entering the kingdom of heaven required a “righteousness” or diligence exceeding the well-known standards of the scribes and Pharisees. Apparently, the way to the kingdom of heaven has no direct connection with accepting Rav Yeshua as “Lord and Savior” (as common Christian formulations would have it). Even the oft-cited Jn.14:6 about coming to the Father is actually referring to the Torah which Rav Yeshua piously embodied, emulated, and exemplified as the “way, truth, and life” by which phrase it was known. You might do well to reconsider the standard Christian interpretations you’ve absorbed.

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  3. “I had a big problem with these views, because, aside from finding them deeply offensive, they either replaced Israel with themselves as God’s people, treating Israel as just another country, and Jewish people as just another people. ”

    That’s right. G-d is so tightly wrapped up with Israel, He has made Himself so inseparable from the Jewish people, that He inscribed Israel on the palms of His hands. Not just one of His hands – BOTH hands. No, not the Church as “Israel”, not anyone else as ‘Israel”, but that very Zion that sighs “The L-rd hath forsaken me, and my L-d hath forgotten me.” (Isaiah 49:14-16)

  4. Whatever my experience is, it is not a conversion to Christianity. I do not criticize Christian practice, but simply state the fact, that their practices are not my practices, their form of worship is not mine. Whenever I have visited a church, I have felt out of place, like I was in someone else’s living room. Their culture was not my culture, their practices were not my practices. Their understanding of Scripture is not mine. The only conclusion is that their religion is not my religion.

    I feel at home in the synagogue, any synagogue. Their practices and beliefs are familiar to me. Their understanding of God and of His love for our people resonate with mine. While traditional synagogues don’t acknowledge Yeshua, nevertheless, He is there. For me, He is the Messiah of Israel.

    This is exactly what I’ve been trying to communicate for the past week or two regarding Jews and Jewish worship. It’s not just about religion, it’s about ethnicity, culture, identity, and being part of the overall fabric of Judaism. It’s not something that can simply be copied or replicated in another context by people who are not Jewish. That’s why, in my opinion, Messianic Judaism is a Judaism, not an extension of Christianity.

      • Tell me, Mae — What meaning are you attempting to interpret from Eph.2:11-22? What statements do you think apply as a response to what James wrote?

        For example, some folks like to focus on the phrase “one new man”, yet conveniently forget to ask whether that “man” is circumcised. Since Rav Shaul was addressing uncircumcised Ephesian gentiles, and trying to encourage them that they were not entirely excluded from the community of faith, we can see that he was telling them that they had been incorporated into a larger body of redeemed humanity that included both Jews and gentiles. In other words, he was referencing a “unified renewed humanity” and not a synthesis or fusion of cultures into an indistinct mass of sameness. Males are still males, and females are still females, and Jews and gentiles still have distinct roles and responsibilities, even though they all have equal access to HaShem, and all are redeemed by the same spiritual mechanisms even when expressed in different forms.

        So just what was it that you wanted to say to James when you cited that passage?

        Similarly, I might point out that Blair Warner, to whom you also responded, had made a similar mistake in downplaying Jewish and gentile distinctiveness and failing to recognize that the Torah and the Prophets, which define and prescribe that distinctiveness, remain in effect in all their finest details (viz:Mt.5:18) as long as heaven and earth endure — which includes even the thousand-year period of the messianic kingdom that is yet to be established after the messiah returns to rule it from Jerusalem. We see an example of the distinctiveness, as it operates during this period, in Zech.14, even though one requirement that is laid upon these particular gentile nations is that they (or at least some national representatives) must come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish festival of Sukkot. That does not mean that they must become Jews, nor that they must celebrate all Jewish holidays and customs in a Jewish manner; but it does suggest that they must honor the Jewish spiritual heritage even though they are still gentiles from surrounding nations that had formerly made the mistake of warring against the messiah.

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    • Good question. In my understanding, it doesn’t affect it at all. The Church as the body of Christ is a metaphor, and it makes a certain point, but I don’t see that point being that we are just another body part. Scripture still speaks of Israel being His special people, and all the other nations judged on how they relate to Israel (Matthew 25:31ff). How does that fit in with the body of Christ metaphor? Metaphors are good, but they can’t always walk on all fours.

      • Hello Dr Schiffman,
        Thank you very much for putting into words what many of us non-Jews who have been transformed and brought into the fold by Yeshua have felt in respect to excluding Israel and her place.

        I believe however, a distinction needs to be made in respect to the Nation of Israel being only called Jews. The Karaites who have completely cut off the Rabbis but still follow the written Torah and seem to believe in the Messiah of Israel, but do not name Him Jesus as the followers of Judaism do also. I believe we do a disservice to the Nation of Israel when we view it as only one Tribe or one belief system. Israel is as diverse as Christianity, and to say only one belief system gets the Promise of the Father is just as bad as what Christianity said about how they replaced Israels as God’s Chosen People.

        There also needs to be room for believing Gentiles in Yeshua who are not comfortable in Synagogues but Churches, Messianic Judaism is a nice thought for people like us but just does not fit unfortunately. I think we go back to the false Greek Elitist view of one Religion over another, when we try to fit every believer of Yeshua into the box of Messianic Judaism.

        In my simplistic view, I believe there is the Nation of Israel, made up of remnants from the 12 Tribes who are heirs to the Promise given to Jacob, and then there is the Body of Christ which is made up of people who were brought to Torah Belief by Yeshua, they are both separate in respect to Earthly standards, but will be one once we are revealed as who we truly are in the World to Come. Both groups of peoples believe in the Messiah of Israel, both will be in the World to Come because of this Belief, and both are diverse. One is a Nation and one is not.

        This is not a Theological stance I have taken, just an observation from a person who struggled in a Synagogue as a Gentile, and in a Church as a follower of Torah. Yeshua thankfully, is at the middle of this whole dynamic, and is bringing the two viewpoints, Gentiles following Torah, and the Nation of Israel believing in the Messiah (because they already follow Torah) to an end so we do not have to wonder where we belong any more.

        I thank you again for your huge insights and diligence to choose the proper words from your understanding heart.

        Cheers
        Tim

  6. I personally do not believe as Messianic Jews and Christians we should make as much of a distinction as you are. Yes, worship practices and cultural nuances, etc are different in many ways, but Jesus came to the Jew first, then to the Gentiles for the purpose of making Himself and his Father (the God of Israel) known to the world at large (Gentiles) instead of keeping it sequestered and “confined” within Israel and Israeli culture. He came to broaden and expand things, to the Jew first, then to the Gentiles. Israel was, and always will be God’s chosen nation, a special relationship and covenant, no doubt. However, the emphasis since Jesus, and forever more is on the joining all who believe as one people, one group, where their is no jew, or gentile or black or white, or rich or poor, etc. In Heaven and in the future kingdom of God do you think there will be a distinction? Outside of different practices and cultural ways of doing things, we should work at and towards there being NO distinction. Either one answers the question “yes” or “no” to “Do you know the Lord?” Jesus. I find your article well thought out and mostly correct, according to my humble opinion, but a little too divisive, and against one of the main messages of the Gospel of Yeshua a Messiah.

    • Blair, why is it that we have to downplay who we are, and in effect, downplay the blessings of God to our people to “not be devisive?” I don’t believe in denying the blessings God has give our people to make other people feel better about themselves. Its not divisive. Jealousy and feelings of inferiority of others is divisive. The reality is, much of Christian theology downplays the blessings we have and I don’t buy it. Christian theology is not the Scripture, and is a man made construction. Yeshua did not come to make being a Jew less important. He came to bless the Jewish people, and to bless the whole world, but in so doing, he did not diminish his blessings to the Jewish people.

    • I agree that Yeshua was born Jewish through his mother Miryam (מִרְיָם) HaNotzri where she was foretold of her birth of the Ben Ha Elyon (Son of the Most High G-d) through the messenger malakh (angel) Gavri’el in Luke chapter 1 vs 26-35.

    • I’m not sure you are asking the right question. I also know plenty of people who believe Yeshua is Lord, savior, etc, etc, who treat people badly and exhibit none of the marks of a true Yeshua follower. All they have is a verbal confession. I don’t necessarily think they will receive salvation. It is not a verbal confession that brings salvation, but a life lived in faith and the love of God. I do believe that people who genuinely love God (the God of Israel), pray to Him and trust him don’t go to hell because God doesn’t send people to hell who genuinely love Him. That may or may not answer your question, but in short, I think questions of who “receives salvation,” are best left to God, who is the one true judge.

      • Dr,
        The Apostle John differs from you:
        John 3:18
        He that believeth on him is not judged: he that believeth not hath been judged already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God.
        The Gospel is about the wrath of God and the love of God. Sandwiched in between is faith in the Son. It is faith that removes the wrath and bestows the SAVING love of God. He who has the Son, and only he, has life, that is, will be saved – the Jew first and then the Gentile. Not forgetting that he who wants to be first will be last.
        (And of course, faith without works is dead).

      • I disagree. The apostle does not differ with me, nor I with him. Your interpretation of the apostle is what differs. After the first century, Yeshua was so made over into a non-Jewish Jesus that he became unrecognizable to Jewish people. Their rejection of him was not infidelity to the Messiah, but fidelity to his Father. Check out “The God of Israel in Christian Theology” by R. Kendall Soulen for an elaboration of this view.

  7. Thank you, you did answer my question. First of all, I agree with you that a said faith is not real, and saves no one. However, I believe that Scripture is clear that the only way to the Father is through the Son (Jn 14:6), and that belief in Yeshua as Lord is necessary for salvation (Rom. 10:9-10). As a Jew, I understand your compassion for the Jewish people, but I think that, with the best will in the world, you are misleading them. I’m sure Sha’ul’s compassion was greater than ours, but that didn’t keep him from saying that his fellow Jews had zeal for God without knowledge, and then goes on to speak of Messiah as “the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Five verses later, he wrote, that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” He is speaking here of true faith, from which issues faithful works and attitudes. The witness of Scripture here and elsewhere is that faith in Yeshua is necessary for salvation. Yes, it’s hard, to put it mildly, to imagine that relatives and friends who did not have this faith are enduring eternal punishment. But we must be subject to God’s Word and have faith that all that He does is good, whether or not it lines up with our view of what is good.

    • Except, according to Paul, all if Israel will be saved:

      And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”

      Romans 11:26

      • James and Dr Schiffman, when Paul says “all Israel will be saved” what is the context of “all?” No need to tell you that it is not as simplistic as “if it says ‘all’ it means ‘all’ it means ‘all'”. Paul means all Israel “of the promise,” which are the ones who believe Jesus/Yeshus is the Christ/Messiah. Here is Paul:

        Paul says in Romans 9, which he reaffirms in Romans 11 that only a remnant of (ethnic) Israel will be saved, and the reason that they will be saved is not that they’re “ethic” and dedicated to repairing the world. The reason is that God has mercy on those he wants to have mercy irrespective of how much good they have done.

        Romans 9:27-29.

        “Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.” It is just as Isaiah said previously: “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.” 

        And in Romans 11, which is hard for a Jew  to bear, we read that the majority of Jews – as is the case with the majority of Gentiles – will be lost.

        “11 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”

        Jeff, you’re on the button.

      • Ok everyone, My post was about the relationship between Messianic Judaism and Christianity, a point proven by the types of responses exhibited here. The post was co-opted by people wanting to discuss salvation doctrines, which was not the point or within the scope of my post. If people want to discuss those issues, it would be good for them to do so on their own blogs. The level of nasty attitudes a NFC behavior by some bothers me. I am currently in the hospital awaiting surgery, and by then will probably have a different topic to write about.

    • Jeff, lets take the verse you used, John 14:6. “No one comes to the father but by me.” That can be understood in a very narrow sense, or in a broader sense. In the narrow sense, “by me.” means he is the door, in the broader sense, he is the door keeper. – to use the imagery of John 10. If you see Yeshua as involuntary and inanimate, then entering heaven is beyond Yeshua’s control, its out of His hands… you either prayed a prayer or didn’t. He has to let you in because you prayed that prayer. Understood the other way, Yeshua as the door keeper, so to speak, you must pass by way of him… and he has discretion to make the call, whether someone enters or not. The latter imagery fits with the scriptures that speak of Yeshua being the true judge, and Matthew 25. The whole world comes before Yeshua. He will separate the sheep and goats. Its not for us to make the call. Its for us to let our light shine before men that … to paraphrase they may see Yeshua in us and be drawn to Him.

    • Jeff, I as a Jewish believer agree totally with you. Unless you believe that Jesus/Yeshua is the Messiah, you’re condemned (John 3:18). And of course, Rom. 10:9-10 and many more. Only those who are in Christ can be saved. I suppose, one could argue about what “in” means. It means in. Innit?

      • Jeff, the flaw in most of Christian theology is its omission of Israel in its theological system. Since christianity for the most part has seen itself as having replaced Israel as God’s people/child, they had no place for Israel theologically except for the eternal scrap heap. The result of this action is a skewed view of Israel in their theology because they see no further relationship between God and the Jewish people. The skewed view affects the way they read and interpret scripture.

        If you believe that there is a continuing relationship between God and the Jewish people, and that when God had his second child, the church, he did not toss out his first son, Israel, then you will have an understanding that will vary from the traditional christian interpretations of scripture regarding Israel. Romans 11:1-2 says God did not replace them or reject them. What does that mean regarding eternal things? Whatever it means, it means, with all of scripture, that Israel is not just another nation among the nations, and that the Jews are not just another ethnic group. When the whole world came to Joseph to buy grain during the Egyptian famine, Joseph’s brothers also came for grain. They stood before him and didn’t recognize him, because he appeared to be an Egyptian king. The important thing was that Joseph recognized them, his brothers, not former brothers. He gave them the grain they needed, and did not take their money, as he did the other peoples, because they were his brothers. He took care of them, and put them in the best of the land. If you believe Joseph is a picture of Yeshua in the Torah, then Joseph’s relationship with his brothers must also be a picture of Yeshua’s relationship with His brothers, the Jewish people. This would also be supported by Matthew 25:31ff, the parable of the sheep and the goats. I understand the scriptures in light of these passages.

  8. Dr. Schiffman – Concerning John 14:6, I believe you set up a straw man when you wrote: “If you see Yeshua as involuntary and inanimate, then entering heaven is beyond Yeshua’s control, its out of His hands… you either prayed a prayer or didn’t. He has to let you in because you prayed that prayer.” I have never read or heard of anyone espousing that possibility. Yeshua knew who were His. Of the false professers, He said, “I never knew you.”

    Yes, most Christian theologies have a flawed view of Israel, and that’s serious. So is the erroneous belief that a Jew has to somehow stop being a Jew in order to be saved. But none of this changes the fact that belief in Yeshua is necessary for Jews as well as Gentiles. We should not react to their errors by making our own errors. I don’t know your views on dual-covenant theology, but it seems to me that you may hold to some variant of that.

    Finally, although Joseph is a type of Messiah, I think it is going too far to say that his treatment of his brothers means that Jews do not necessarily have to believe in Messiah. I don’t think we should devise doctrine from narratives unless Scripture itself explicitly does it.

    • Jeff, I know this is an older post, so you might not see my reply. However, I think what we Gentiles miss is that the Jews DO believe in Messiah. They have faith in the Father’s promise.

    • Jeff,

      I agree 100%. As a Christian gentile born in the United States, my view of Jesus Christ has always come from a Christian perspective. I grew up believing (and believe to this day) that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to eternal life. Romans 5 talks about how Jesus’ purpose on earth was to reattach the connection from humanity to God that was severed by Adam’s sin. Through one man came sin, but through one Man is there salvation.

      I think the NT is very clear on the doctrine of salvation. Christ’s sacrifice for the salvation of Jews and gentiles alike must be viewed as necessary in order to receive eternal life. I do not believe, as you stated, that we are entitled to cherry pick doctrines of salvation and hope that we are given eternal life. The path is very clear; Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life.

      This view does not, in my opinion, downplay Israel’s importance in any way. Jesus himself believed the Scriptures of the Old Testament to be vitally important in understanding true salvation. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s love for his people was crystal clear. Furthermore, many Christians I know fully support Israel, and would never downplay its importance throughout human history. In fact, we teach the stories of the Old Testament as not only examples of God’s power, but also as historical events in human history. The God we both worship has a deep love for Israel’s people throughout history, and true Christians must follow God’s example.

      I, and many Americans, cherish the allegiance between our two nations, and I can promise you as a United States Navy veteran, I and many of my brethren would take up arms to defend Israel’s people. If anything, we Christians owe a debt of gratitude for bringing us the Savior of the World. Please do not assume all gentiles are ignorant to the sanctity of Israel. May God bless you.

      Jonathon

  9. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Here is Dr Schiffman’s take on why Messianic Judaism is not Christianity in the ecclesiastical sense. Obviously anyone who has faith in Yeshua as Messiah of Israel and Saviour of the world, is bound by a common bond of faith, but often that is just about all that is in common.

  10. I believe Dr.Schiffman hinted at a theological concept that might be called “the hidden messiah” (or “the unseen/unrecognized Yeshua”), which is a means to view an implicit relationship between Jews who reject the “Jesus” of the Gentiles and this hidden messiah who is the salvation of HaShem (“Y’shu’at HaShem”). Thus, when they approach HaShem, they too are coming to the Father through the auspices of Yeshua. As for the “remnant” problem, Jewish history is also replete with Jews who chase after other values and do not approach HaShem with any kind of faith at all. The judgement that may fall upon these individuals in the end of days will be nuanced by all that they have done and by all that has been done to them. It remains to be seen how that will effect the definition of the term “all” in the reference that says all Israel will be saved. But it is not accurate to limit this remnant to only those Jews who explicitly and religiously acknowledge Rav Yeshua as the Messiah.

    Those who think it somehow unfair that Jews should be treated differently from non-Jews, including particularly possible means by which they may be viewed as being “in Messiah”, must plead their case with HaShem Who chose sovereignly to do so, not only in the biblical period but also throughout all subsequent history. There may be no distinction between Jew, Greek, male, female, bond or free as they all now may have equal access to HaShem through Yeshua, but there are most undeniably differences between male and female that remain unchanged, and likewise between Jew and non-Jew as defined in Torah and with respect to the Torah that remains valid as long as heaven and earth endure (viz: Matt.5:18, and also Jer.31, 33, & 34). The halakhic decision authorized by Yakov as the head of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 likewise re-iterates the continuing distinction between Jew and non-Jew, particularly among Rav Yeshua followers. And the vast majority of what Rav Shaul wrote to the Roman assembly was written to non-Jews and about non-Jews and their appropriate relationship with Jews and with HaShem, at a time when Jews had been expelled from Rome. This context alone creates a differentiation in the application of some verses that Christians mistakenly assume are all to be applied universally.

    • I have spoken before about keeping this blog on topic. If you or anyone else on here is going to ignore my wishes and are not going to stay on topic, I’m going to delete comments. Please abide by the rules.

      • With all my awe and respect for what G-d does through you and prayer for your well, would you mind a couple of my words on the topic, Michael?

        It is not two, actually, it is three religions with the same Messiah. Moslems state Yeshua as their Messiah in the Qoran. And it is pretty much about the Messiah – the L-rd wanted his name to be widely spread and recognized all around the world. This is just the way it is. And there’s no wonder that Christians and Moslems are so jealous about any views and practices around Yeshua’s name. And, of course, there’s nothing new about you being jealous about Jewish Messiah in the Jewish background of his and yours.

        But I think you idealize Jewish perspective of people’s obedience to G-d’s appointed ruler. Let’s remind king David. He was G-d’s Mashiach for Israel. But it took him many years of antagonism with the tribe of Ben’yamin to become the king. Even when the whole nation and many gentile kings recognized G-d’s gracious and merciful rule in king David, there always were some hostile moods against him even among his own family. And when it came to a point of decision about further king after David’s son Shlomo, Israel rejected Davidic line and prefered to alter Torah and holy worship. Doesn’t it speak about true spiritual situation of antagonism against th Messiah?

        I believe, the spiritual reality around true accepting of the true Jewish Mashiach is identic both for Jews and non-Jews. People accept the L-rd’s sonship through Yeshua only when they are ready spiritually regardless of nationality and tradition.

        Thank you, Michael! Be well!

      • Andrew, Thanks for your reply. It is always good to hear from you. I will need to disagree with you because I don’t accept your premise. Islam is not a Biblical religion, and the god of Islam is NOT the God of the Bible. Just because moslems claim it is, doesn’t make it so. Just because a religion is monotheistic, as is Judaism, doesn’t make it the same God. I consider Islam a false religion and its worshippers are not worshipping the God of Israel. So, no, Islam does not fit into the scope of this article.

        As for obedience, the important thing is not that they recognize Yeshua, but that He recognizes them.

        Be well Andrew,

        Michael

      • Michael, I think Drschiffman has said it well. One thing you said was
        “People accept the L-rd’s sonship through Yeshua only when they are ready spiritually regardless of nationality and tradition.”
        My understanding is that God would have to wait until hell freezes if he had to wait for someone to remove his own stony heart. You’re, of course, familiar with, as far as salvation of sinners are concerned, the “I will, I will, I will…..” of God.

      • Sure, we all wait untill these awesome days would come:

        On that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the Lord.” And the cooking pots in the house of the Lord shall be as holy as the bowls in front of the altar; and every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be sacred to the Lord of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and use them to boil the flesh of the sacrifice. (Zech. 14:20-21)

        It means only there still is much work to do as Yeshua’s desciples.

      • Dolbin

        Yes, we need to know the difference between what’s cooking and what’s cooked up.

        You may not understand these idioms so forgive me if I explan:

        what’s cooking – what’s really happening
        cooked up – not real/true.

      • Reminds me of German who approached a stranger.

        German – Sprechen Sie Deutsch?
        Stranger – Nein, lenkviches ekshept Chermann.

      • Thank you much for your warmth!

        I hardly believe the L-rd is giving 1,5 billion people to err that much within almost 1500 years, especially after reading the Qoran. Muhammad explicitely echoes a great number of Torah commands and follows the apostles in proclaiming Yeshua’s Messiahship. Besides, he directs and commands his followers to acknowledge and study the Tanakh and the Gospels. More than that, Islam gave the world the greatest examples of spiritual unity with the L-rd among sufis and dervishes. And spiritual devotion to the L-rd and brotherly love as revealed through Rumi and Shams, for instance, are the utmost spritual standards for all the saints among all the nations.

        I know, there so much misunderstanding on the West because of terrorist’s threats. Russia suffered much of those too. My native city was totaly destroyed and my family had to flee because of unhuman behaviour of some people who claim to be muslims. But on the other hand I did have very warm relations with muslims. We lived side by side, feeling each others needs and share same problems. Russia has 1000 years experience of cooperating and penetrating into each others cultures with muslims. I tell you, the L-rd is there. Yeshua is the Messiah of Islamic peoples and the One G-d of Israel is the L-rd of Muhammad, when a devoted Muslim reads, prays and studys to find the truth.

        As for non-muslim people, I hope studying and praying on this brings anybody who seeks the L-rd the true freedom from prejudice. Judaism and Christianity did have the same extremist movements as the Islamic world suffers from now. It means we have to have immunoprotection from biased judgements and be free to pray and seek the L-rd’s answers for our questions.

        As for recognizing on Yeshua’s part, he taught us that the L-rd

        …Makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Mt. 5:45-46)

        I believe, to be his children we need to accept things the way the L-rd accepts. Such acception doesn’t make Messiah’s antagonists in the Jewish people right though…

        Thank you!

      • Andrew,

        I am not saying Muslims can not be good people. I am saying their religion is not a biblical religion and I do not believe the god they worship to be the God of the Bible. I’m sorry if that doesn’t fit with your sensitivities, but thats honestly how I see it. I do not see all the nations of the world on equal footing with the Jewish people. This is because of God’s unique covenant and promises to the Jewish people, not because they somehow earned it. If numbers make their religion valid, why not hinduism or budhism? Surely they have sufficient numbers. Its not a question of how many adherents.

        I can not get into a lengthy discussion of this at this time. I am sorry but I am recovering from very serious surgery, and need my rest.

        be well

        Michael

      • Dolbin,

        The Issa that Muslims call the Messiah is not the Jesus of the scriptures who, as you say, Mohammed accepted. He couldn’t, though, have read theses scriptures himself, for many reasons. I mention one without which the Issa in the Quran cannot be the historical Jesus/Yeshua. The NT says the Son of God came down from heaven to suffer and die in place of sinners. Islam doesn’t even accept that Jesus died. To deny this central teaching, say Jesus and his apostles in the NT, which Mohammed says he accepted (but that Christians misunderstood), is to be under the wrath of God.

      • Quran is not into describing Jesus’ lifetime. But it explicitely points to the Gospels commanding the readers to study them. It doesn’t pretend to be wholesome and perfect. It just points to read the Torah and the Gospels. As for resurrection – the wrong teaching has nothing to deal with Quran. There is nothing about it there. Most sufis believed in Yeshua to be the resurrected Son of G-d.

      • Michael, just imagine. Muhammad rebukes Christians for Trinity, and he rebukes Jews for not accepting the Messiah in Quran. Doesn’t he resemble some of Messianic Jews nowadays? Yes, he does! The only “problem” with him is just that th L-rd made him very successful, spreading his teaching for billions.

      • Anyway, thank you much for tollerating this introduction of the topic with which the whole America is at odds! One day, I believe, you will pray about the soul of Muhammad, and the L-rd will give you an answer in a very intimate closeness with what He did through our brother Muhammad in the world. He is one of our brothers, Messianic believers, really close to Yeshua, the NT prophet, who brought the world closer to our Father.

        Michael, thank you! My prayer for you become well!

      • Mohammed WAS (not is) a liar, a thief, a whoremonger, an infidel (look it up if you are confused as to meaning), and an opportunist. Allah was nothing more than a dumb STATUE that Mohammed found in Mecca. Mohammed created islam out of whole cloth, and he was good enough at it to have attracted millions of people. Lies travel well, as we all should know.

        I will burn in the lake of fire before I will pray for Mohammed.

        Dave

      • Don’t forget the fact that he was also a murderer. He committed his first “thrill” killing at age 21 and then went on to have a few Jewish women murdered in front of their children for having written unflattering poems/ songs about him.

      • Dave stands for “David”, doesn’t it?
        Let me guess, you may be physically Jewish, may you not? Let me guess further. You may be trying to keep the Torah? Let me say a bit more. The Torah tells you not to hate your Jewish brother. This is it. Study about Mahummad, he is Jewish. Otherwise you may well receive what you ask for and go to Hell for hating your Jewish brother.

      • This needs reading and studying, quoting and commenting. Roumors and propaganda can’t help. Only breaking the command not to stir up hatred.

      • Hi, Michael! To just pin up the point: you were a preacher of love. You preached love to G-d. Then you make it clear to love Yeshua as a result of the first love. Then you came to loving Torah to be consistent with the previous loves. Then it came to love Jewish people.

        Now, Muhammad is a halakhic Jew. His mother is Jewish. Once upon a time he came to believe in Yeshua. Then he came up with believeing in Torah, for he stood up rebuking Christians lies against the First Commandment of the Torah.

        Neither Jews accepted him with his love of Messiah, nor Christians with his rejection of false doctrines. Why the L-rd accepted him with abundant blessing?

        Blinded by Christianity, some Jews believe, that serving G-d is about hating others, those, who are different. Some of them call themselves Messianic and ready to go to Hell for their hating others (to be frank, hatred deserves staying out there).

        The Torah speaks of a mitzvah, which prohibits any Jew to hate his Jewish brother. Michael, may be this will save you of hatred? May be your love for Jews would help you to find it worthy of studying before you teach hatred towards Muhammad? He is Jewish. Don’t hate him according to Torah. Love him according to Torah and Yeshua.

        Christian societies go wrong about Islam, fight, kill, murder. Any time one puts a word of hatred into the fire, it goes harder, brings death.

        If you do not love G-d, Torah, Yeshua to the extent when you first study and then judge, why wouldn’t you love Jewish people, of Muhammad is not the least, one of the greatest disciples of Yeshua?

      • Dolbin
        I hope you’re not using the “prophecy” in the Torah that Mohammed was Jewish; you know where Moses says that the Lord will raise up a prophet like him. Also Mohammed contradicted much of the Tanach (Torah, Prophets and Writings. A Muslim will say of course that Allah restored through Mohammed the original Tanach. Oh dear.

        Until you provide decent evidence that Mohammed was Jewish, I’ll stick with Mohammed was Jew Wish!

        II had to laugh at what the Stormfront Website said: With his brains and brawn (that was the gist of it), he probably was Jewish.

      • This is historical. Search the net on his mother’s geneology. Muslims keep it in secret. But on the earlier stages no one ever tried to make secret of it.

        Besides, there were Muslim times when followers of Muhammad would openely confess Yeshua there’s Messiah and the Muhammad’s Jewishness. Interfaith hatred is not what you think would build up billions into community. It is only love, that does it.

        Yeshua pointed out the prophets he would send. You do not need Moses to trace Muhammad’s calling. He was a devoted Unitarian Christian who draw the peoples of Middle East to fulfill the Torah in his explanations.

    • Oh?! How do you feel about intercessory prayer on behalf of someone who is entirely unaware that such prayers have been offered? Does HaShem respect and respond to such prayers? I believe we can find scriptural examples to show that He does. What, then, might we say about the effectiveness of such prayer offered by Rav Yeshua himself on behalf of his own people? If you wish to infer that there may be some distinction in HaShem’s response, between those who trust in Rav Yeshua explicitly and those who trust in HaShem’s Salvation implicitly, you may do so. But be very careful about what you presume to be the nature and results of that distinction, and how you yourself respond to modern Jews who operate within the implicit trust category (whose situation may differ somewhat from that of Rav Shaul’s contemporaries).

  11. Intercessory prayer? What does it mean to you? Mormons baptizing the dead, does it make it true? Should I be careful there too?

    Yeshua said: ” Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” How do reconcile this with Unrecognized Mediation?

    Paul said in Romans 8:9: ” …But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Messiah, he does not belong to him.” How do you reconcile this with Unrecognized Mediation?

    Romans 10:9. how do you reconcile this with Unrecognized Mediation?

    • You might want to comment on a blog of your own about unrecognized mediation. This was not the topic of my blog post, and I requested comments to be kept on topic. Please do so. Thanks

      • In an earlier response, you noted that comments submitted well demonstrated that at least two religious perspectives were being represented, which we may call Christianity and Messianic Judaism. It is perhaps less clear that they are addressing the same messiah, because their expectations of his operations likewise differ. Nonetheless, it does seem that in recognizing MJ as a Judaism, you did leave the door open to discussion of the scope of this messiah’s salvific role from either perspective and particularly from a Jewish one. Hence, it seems to me understandable that Dan Benzvi might pursue his question about what he calls “unrecognized mediation”. I think he is mistaken to think that a Jew’s approach to HaShem (Whom he does “recognize”) is invalid if he doesn’t know the name of the mediating high priest, and that he is neglecting the nature of the covenant that applies to Jews but not to non-Jews, and is favoring the universalistic application of Christian doctrines that over-broadly interpret the blessing and scope of explicit acknowledgement of Rav Yeshua’s metaphorical sacrifice. But this also illustrates the difference between these two religious perspectives and their views of Rav Yeshua’s messianic functions and the covenant that makes them possible, as well as the specific question of what may be necessary or sufficient to accomplish “salvation” (which is also affected by various definitions of that term). I do agree with you, though, that a blog like this cannot possibly offer sufficient space to develop theological analyses or position statements, even if they may be topically related to this post.

      • This is not a discussion of whether or not someone needs salvation through Yeshua, but how that salvation is appropriated. There is a spectrum of understanding, but vilifying people with differing places on that spectrum by accusing them of false doctrines is wrong. I don’t buy it.

    • Dan that’s your opinion but you state it as a fact. I wouldn’t deny you your right to your opinion but I must ask your forgiveness that I can’t continue the discussion at this time. I’m dealing with very serious health issues and and am just not up to it right now. I respect you and am sorry but this is how it’s got to be for now. Be well.

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  14. Very interesting. Rabbi Schiffman writes an exceptionally well thought out and well presented dissertation about the relationship between Messianic Jews and Christians. Then, immediately most of you pounce on it and pick it apart as if it were a dissertation about salvation, which it is NOT.

    The Messianic Jew sees himself first as a Jew, but the Christian first asks whether a person has made a personal confession of faith and “asked Jesus to come into his heart.” The Christian is fixated on salvation, while the Jew is fixated on his Jewish heritage and his relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I could go on, but I’m not going to get into a salvation discussion here, because that is not the subject.

    Rabbi, I think you and your fellow Rabbis did a marvelous job in training my wife and me for conversion to Judaism. For reasons of which you are aware, we do not attend a Messianic synagogue, even though we believe in Yeshua as Messiah just as much as we ever did. Yet, because we are now and forever Jewish, and we identify with the Jewish people as being our people, we have not gone back to church, but to a Jewish synagogue. We attend regularly, and are well accepted as Jews. We do NOT, however, go about evangelizing at oneg. If anyone wants to ask about Yeshua, we take him aside and explain. Just about all our friends now are Jewish, and frankly we feel more comfortable in our skins now than we ever have.

    My point here is, that we identify ourselves first as Jews, and secondly as believers in Yeshua as Messiah. Just as you said, for the most part, Christians are our brothers, but they are not us. It’s a distinction that, for some reason, came easily to me, but it does not come so easily to everyone. Not bragging here, just making a point.

    You stated the whole matter with the wisdom and gentleness which have become your trademark.

    Dave

  15. Bography, I think it’s time for you to give up and rethink your own position in the scheme of things. You are part of the problem about which Rabbi wrote. The Christian Church has taken what is probably the Gospel, and turned it into irrefutable fact, but that fact is construed according to Christian teaching.

    The church has, for a long time, recognized the innate, God-given difference between Jews and Gentiles, and has made every possible attempt to invalidate the unique status of the Jews in favor of an invented status of the Gentiles. Some say God has given up on the Jews and replaced them with the church (replacement theology, or supersessionism). Othere try to use the words of Paul, John and others to unite Jew and Gentile as one, thereby diluting the position and even the identity of Jews, so they can claim they are under the same covenant we are, which they are not.

    I don’t care what you think the New Testament says, it does NOT meld the Jews and the church into one. There are Jews and there are Gentiles, and they are different peoples. As I said earlier, those in the church who believe in “Jesus” as Messiah are our brothers, but they are not us. Note, brothers are, or at least should be, of equal value to their parents, but they are not one person. Gentiles are not inferior, they are just different.

    Having said all that, it seems to me that you, who say you are a Jew, have been tainted by church teaching. Yeshua was one of us, not a Christian. He never had anything to do with any church, because Jews always worshipped in synagogues. There did come to be groups of Jews who believed he was the Messiah, and there were Gentiles also, but the church didn’t come to be so identified until many years later.

    I am personally acquainted with many Rabbis, mostly Messianic, and I can easily say Rabbi Schiffman is as wise or wiser, and as knowledgeable or more so, than any Rabbi I know. Disagree with him at your own peril, but please stop trying to force Christian teaching down our throats here. Rabbi Schiffman is not anti-Christian, and he doesn’t bear any cross, despite your smart remark.

    Dave

    • David, first but least: if Drschiffman or you is not bearing his cross, you cannot be Yeshua’s disciple, for as you know He said, “take up your cross and follow me.”

      Second, I assume you’re basing your comment on something I said. It would be nice if you could tell me what it was.

      • Bography, I will not be questioned by you, and my salvation or lack thereof is none of your business. Also, I will not participate with you in continuing this discussion off the topic of Rabbi’s initial post. My last message to you (which was on topic) was clear as to your problem. Maybe you ought to read it again, and try being the learner instead of the mouth. You won’t hear from me again, so go ahead and have the last word unless, of course, Rabbi should delete it.

      • David ben Abraham, It is plain to me that you are not able to justify your outburst.
        As you will not be engaging me anymore, let me just say that nothing you said about what I believe (for example, the future of ”ethnic” Israel; shucks how wrong you are about that) can be deduced from any of my comments.

        I suppose you’ll never tell me, but are you a non-Jewish Messianic ”Jew” who has acquired the name of David ben Avraham – as is the wont of many non-Jewish ”Jews” – the name of at least two very illustrious Jews of many centuries ago?

        Owing to the fact that I have replied to you with gentleness and respect, I don’t think I’ve said anything that would prompt DrSchiffman to delete this reply.

  16. I find it amusing to see heretics disputing among themselves. Keept them off my back.

    I totally agree with Rabbi Schiffman as to islam. I hold that religion in such contempt that I will not even capitalize the first letter of its name. The false religion of islam is responsible for the loss of countless lives, American and otherwise. It puts people, and women especially, under such oppression, that it has stifled the social and economic development of most of the middle east and elsewhere. It is a filthy, hateful religion that deals in terrorism and retribution, with no sign of love and decency. To equate it with Judaism and Christianity is an insult to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    Get well, Rabbi

    • Well said! Let’s kick ass all these billions people, and let G-d burn them all in hell! Why not Him create a planet for americans only! Wouldn’t it be a true paradise!

  17. Dr. Great post. Great insight on what’s left-out on Christian theology about HaShem’s enduring love and covenant with Israel. This is a great discussion, somehow I believe it will lead to corrections or adjustments on doctrines and understanding of Scriptures…..a purification of His Body so to speak until he comes and reveals all things…….Get well soon Dr….

  18. I am not realy into hiding the true motives and playing games about the things I say. There is a big deal of prejudice all around the world about religions. Dr. Michael says, he doesn’t persive Islam as a Biblical religion. And I think, technically he is right. We would certainly put aside any topic like this if not the things happening in the world. Apostle states it pretty clear, that G-d is not G-d of the Jewish people only. This statement is not smth to be jealous about, you better feel proud that the L-rd have chosen His people to become a royal priesthood. The problem goes about the latter.

    If the Jewish people according to the prophecies is to become the royal priesthood, why even Jewish people in America expresses such measure of spiritual errogance in relation to other peoples? You say, you don’t think, Islam is of the Bible. But it is not only words, it is a great tension, which brings the whole world to the reality of the third world war. Thousands of people die every year. Any heart, which remebers the words of the Messiah about peace makers being the Sons of G-d whould pay much attention to spiritual dimension of the conflict between the North and the South, studying all the Prophets and the Qoran as well to be able to pray on what is going on. If you come to the L-rd in prayer to express how severely you hate Islam, you are wrong. Open the Qoran, read the Book. Find how the authors praise with great measure of repentance and awe the L-rd G-d of Israel. Pray about the deep words of Muhammad about confessing Jesus his Messiah. Pray about deep understanding of the words of Qoran on certain need to study Torah and Gospels. Mediate on this. If you are sensitive to the L-rd’s Spirit He will reveal you His grace, expressed by Him in Islam. And it does’nt you have to become muslim.

    It just mean’s that you have to become royal priesthood.

  19. Rabbi Schiffman,
    I sincerely appreciated the wisdom of this wonderful article with its abundance of sanctified seichel. How brilliantly and cogently you replied to the criticisms of the naysayers. Your words are affirming, reassuring and please G-d should resonnate deep within the neshama of every Jewish believer in Yeshua,
    I too am recovering from very serous surgery, (actually a series of cancer sugeries, harsh treatments & therapies over the the last few years). I “feel the pain” & empathaize deeply.
    REFUAH SHELAMA!
    Brachot, & Much Naches to you & your family always!

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  21. I don’t understand how anyone can equate islam to a similar status as Jews and believers in Yeshua. Islam has shown itself to be a religion of intolerance, hate, murder, and deception. They have spent the past 100 plus year revising history, especially so in the past 40-50 years. Also, why is islam even being brought into the discussion? The topic is about Jewish and non-Jewish believers, particularly those who believe in Yeshua as Messiah. I just recently (~a year) came to find myself in fellowship with those who follow Torah as non-Jewish believers. I have been a biblical believer for more than 40 years, but could never find any comfort in the assemblies of chrisitanity. For the first time in my life, I feel I am speaking closer to the Father than ever. A soon as I became obedient to Sabbath, a question that hovered over me for most of those 40 years, He began to reveal Truth to me that I never understood previously. I thank Him for giving me this True sense of belonging to His family now, such as I could never feel or experience in any way, while attending the churches of Babylon. Abundant blessings and His shalom on you and your house, Dr. Schiffman. I will also pray for your healing.

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  27. “2000 years of Jewish unbelief in Yeshua means Twenty centuries of Jews went to hell. I have to confess that the concept doesn’t sit well with me. For Yeshua to be the Messiah of Israel, he would have to be good for the Jews. If his coming resulted in twenty centuries of Jewish people going to hell, the bottom line is, he wasn’t very good for the Jews.”

    This thought also does not sit well with me, but I am not sure exactly what your words mean, like that he would have to be good for the Jews?
    I have read in the Bible that there is no forgiveness of sins without sacrifice, the shedding of blood (Hebrews ch 9) I know that Israel has loved the Father and they have always prayed to Him, but what about the blood sacrifice of Yeshua?
    Do you mind if I shared a few verses about this? (I would also really like to see any verses/parts of the Bible that prove that the Jewish people did not go to hell for 2000 years. I really have been wanting to find out such information (only from the Bible though because people’s general thoughts and reasonings about this subject are only as good as mine and that does not help).
    I have many Jewish friends and am always at least slightly worried and not sure if they are safe or not. Any time something bad happens in Israel I get really worried and hope no one will get hurt there.

    Here are some of the verses/parts of the Bible that I have read about this subject…
    (1 John 2:23) “Anyone who denies the Son doesn’t have the Father, either. But anyone who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”

    (Ephesians 1:5) He (God the Father) predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will,

    (Romans ch 11)
    I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

    What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written:

    “God gave them a spirit of stupor,
    eyes so that they could not see
    and ears so that they could not hear,
    to this very day.”

    And David says:
    “May their table become a snare and a trap,
    a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
    May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
    and their backs be bent forever.”

    Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!

    I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

    If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

    Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

    • @Kim – While it may be a bit depressing, you might wish to consider Ecclesiastes 9:5 “For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.” Couple this with the views in Yohanan’s Revelation about two periods of resurrection, the first one to life (when books of judgment are examined) and the other to condemnation into the metaphorical lake of fire that corresponds with the hellish visions of Gehinom, and you might conclude that the present period of time is irrelevant. From our perspective, rooted as we are in time, no one has yet gone anywhere. Those who have died are outside our time-space framework, on their way to one of those two resurrections, and they do not yet “know” anything about their final destination to which they travel directly via the “shortcut” that bypasses the passage of time that we experience. We may infer that Jews who have been seeking HaShem’s atonement each year, requesting that they be sealed in the book of life, are candidates for the first resurrection when the books are opened and the Justice and Mercy of HaShem will be applied both in severity and in graciousness. I believe we have nothing to worry about with respect to HaShem’s knowledge of the hearts of His people and His desire to redeem them from all that has inhibited them from approaching Him, whether fear or persecution or mere disinformation. This doesn’t relieve us of any responsibility to remove such stumbling blocks insofar as is possible, but it does compensate for much of our history when it has been impossible to do so.

      Rom.11:26 “… and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,
      ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion,
      He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.’ ”

    • ProclaimLiberty

      Your “all” Israel will be saved.

      “All” here, as in some other scriptures can’t mean everyone without exception. To wit:

      “And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob” – Romans 11:26.”

      Romans 9 explains who “Israel” is. Only a remnant of Jews, children of the promise. The Jew, Jacob, was loved, while Esau, his (Jewish) twin is hated. Only Jacob was saved.

      Dr Schiffman says:

      “Romans 11:1-2 says God did not replace them (the Jews) or reject them. What does that mean regarding eternal things? Whatever it means, it means, with all of scripture, that Israel is not just another nation among the nations, and that the Jews are not just another ethnic group.”

      More Christians than Dr Schiffman seems to think agree with him that Israel is not just another nation/ethnic group. These Christians are called “premillennialists.” However, Paul says in Romans 9, which he reaffirms in Romans 11 that only a remnant of (ethnic) Israel will be saved, and the reason that they will be saved is not that they’re “ethic” and dedicated to repairing the world. The reason is that God has mercy on those he wants to have mercy irrespective of how much good they have done.

      Romans 9:27-29.

      “Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.” It is just as Isaiah said previously: “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.”

      And in Romans 11, which is hard for a Jew to bear, we read that the majority of Jews – as is the case with the majority of Gentiles – will be lost.

      11 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

      • The drash I offered to Kim was a bit broader than Rav Shaul’s presentation to the Roman assemblies, because I was addressing an issue that was not of paramount importance to them (because they were not Christians of a later ilk who would exclusively spiritualize the concept of salvation). I distinguished the Rom.11 invocation of a limited physical rescue for the living Israeli remnant from the hope of a spiritual rescue for “all” Israel in the ‘Olam Ha-Ba (or in the Millennial Messianic Kingdom when Justice and Mercy are meted out). It seems to me that both of these concepts were in view on their different levels for Rav Shaul, allowing him to address both a “remnant” and “all israel” in the same passage.

      • ProclaimLiberty, re: your “The drash I offered to Kim was a bit broader than Rav Shaul’s presentation to the Roman assemblies….”

        Let me explain to some readers the meaning of “drash” (midrash).DRASH (search)

        “Drash in rabbinical theology is the third level of understanding the Scriptures. It tries to dig deep within the historical grammatical surface meaning (peshat) or uses other Bible passages, non-biblical literature, or life to arrive at either an allegorical, typological or homiletical interpretation. Very important: whatever Interpretation it arrives at, it can never annul the surface (peshat) level.

        To return to “all” Israel, I understand you to mean that it means both “all” in the sense of “all the remnant of Israel” AND “all ethnic/racial Israel.”

        I can’t see how both can be logically true,
        Also, it doesn’t make sense in the light of Paul’s clear enunciation: “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel” (Romans 9:6). The true Israel is the believing-in-Yeshua/Jesus-Israel, “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16), the remnant Paul is writing to in Romans 11:5-7.

        Besides, Jesus’s words are clear: those who do not believe in him “are condemned already” (john 3:17-18). A “drash” or deeper still level (SOD “secret”) merely meddles with and muddles the text (peshat). So, maybe, it the best thing is to “stop” our mouths – in surface English, peshat up.

        In passing, for the majority of Christians (who are Arminians – those who believe God is pleading to come into their unregenerate hearts), the term “world” in the NT has occasioned an analogous confusion (stubbornness?) in such passages as “God so loved the world (John 3:16) and Jesus’s prayer in John 17 “I don’t pray for the world.”

      • Shalom, bography – The terms “drash” and “midrash” are related but not the same; and drash is not merely a matter of deeper “search” but is also a matter of demanding more from the text than appears on its surface. In colloqial English, we speak of “teasing out” a hidden implication from a passage. Midrash is allegorical or homiletical interpretation derived from the process and conceptual framework of drash. It does not need to annul the superficial literal meaning of pshat; it may merely address another context. Hence two superficially different aspects of a passage may appear to be logically incompatible, if they were both on the same level as pshat, yet each may be valid in its respective context.

        To use your example of descendants of Israel who are not Israel. Logically, “A” is not “non-A”. We cannot deny the biological heritage of the sons and daughters of Israel on the physical level. So in what context can we read that children of Israel are somehow not part of Israel? Clearly both cannot be so on a superficial or literal level, and one of them is undeniably so on the physical level, therefore the other must apply to a different level — a metaphorical context. An analogy that Americans may appreciate would describe it thus: A Thanksgiving dinner may be served in a greasy-spoon diner, where the turkey is dried out and the vegetables are soggy and the mashed potatoes taste like cardboard (no offence intended to greasy-spoon diners, but fine restaurants they are not). The customer is probably far from his or her home and has no better choice than this meager excuse for a Thanksgiving dinner. Alternatively, we can consider the home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, in a setting surrounded by the warmth of extended family. We would have no difficulty understanding someone who described the latter as a “real Thanksgiving dinner” and the former as “no Thanksgiving at all”. We understand that something above and beyond the physical food is being addressed.

        On the metaphorical or “midrashic” level, individual Jews who fail to live up to the standards demanded of Israel may be deemed not really sons of Israel at all. But unlike the physical level which cannot change, and where “the gifts and calling of [HaShem] are irrevocable”, a sinful Jew may repent and return to a status of being part of metaphorical Israel (in addition to still being a physical son of Israel).

        I leave it to the discerning reader to identify which contexts apply to the texts that have been cited here.

      • PL

        Your analysis implies that the Apostle Paul’s letters, often to new believers, contains not only p’shat (surface level) but also drash. It surely follows that Paul would expect his readers/hearers to dig below p’shat for the drash, and thus arrive at your description of the different meanings of all in the same passage. Not so?

      • @bography – At present we are dealing only with those in the Roman assemblies, who were not necessarily entirely brand-new believers, but to whom Rav Shaul was effectively introducing himself for the first time, at a time when Jews been expelled from Rome. Nonetheless, these believers were influenced by Roman stereotypes about Jews, who in Roman experience had always been obstreperous and disdained. Regardless of the Roman believers’ ability to recognize multiple layers of simple and metaphorical references, such layers were characteristic of Rav Shaul’s manner of thinking and self-expression as a well-educated Pharisee. Romans were not entirely clueless about such expression, as the Greeks whose civilization had been absorbed by Rome were also fond of metaphor in their literature. However, even if the recipients of the letter were not immediately able to grasp all the nuances expressed by Rav Shaul, they are present and may be analysed (especially by modern Jews who have been educated in the traditions derived from the Pharisees). Part of Rav Shaul’s purpose, especially in chapter 11, was to undermine native Roman disdain of their Jewish older brothers. This purpose may be achieved even if not all the deepest aspects of Rav Shaul’s expression were fully grasped. After all, as Shimon-Kefa (Peter) commented in his letter (2Pet.3:16), Rav Shaul was noted for writing some things that were hard to understand.

      • You might think it seems rather unlikely, mightn’t you? Thankfully, I have no personal “words of the Spirit” telling me that I should expect to receive any assignment in the millennial kingdom to participate in their trials before the throne, though I have occasionally encountered believers who seem to think such things. Nonetheless, if these accused malefactors should be found repentant, and if Rav Yeshua as HaShem’s representative should decide graciously to pardon them, do you think I should complain?

      • PL

        What you said here means that you think it is possible that all Israel of the flesh will be saved because every Jew might end up after death trusting in Jesus/Yeshua. Or do you think, say, the Rebbe (Schneerson) might have repented of his rejection of Yeshua before he died and believed in Him?

        It seems that you believe that not all Israel of the flesh will necessarily be saved either because they did not 1. repent of their sins before or after death or did not 2. both repent of their sins AND believe in Yeshua as the Messiah before or after their death. I’m not sure whether you mean 1 or 2.

        Salvation after death in the NT

        Assume that Judas repented AND believed in (trusted in) Jesus before he died, then, of course, according to the NT, he would have been saved. You seem to mean that he could have repented and believed after death and still have been saved. But the latter is impossible as we read in Luke 16:19-31:

        There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

      • @bography – I can see that you’re not comfortable strolling into the “sodot” sector of the pardes, which is where our previous exchange was taking us. You cite Rav Yeshua’s parable, which is clearly “drash”, and yet you try to apply to it the logical rules of “pshat”. But when dealing with parabolical material, one must be prepared to walk in a metaphorical realm, armed with the SURD of the Spirit, because there one is frequently faced with the ABSURD. There one may both find the nonsensical that is true and the apparently sensical that is not at all true. Maintaining sanity in such a realm requires a multi-level analytical approach, and the soul of a poet would not be amiss. [:)]

      • PL

        your

        “@bography – I can see that you’re not comfortable strolling into the “sodot” sector of the pardes, which is where our previous exchange was taking us. You cite Rav Yeshua’s parable, which is clearly “drash”, and yet you try to apply to it the logical rules of “pshat”. But when dealing with parabolical material, one must be prepared to walk in a metaphorical realm, armed with the SURD of the Spirit, because there one is frequently faced with the ABSURD. There one may both find the nonsensical that is true and the apparently sensical that is not at all true. Maintaining sanity in such a realm requires a multi-level analytical approach, and the soul of a poet would not be amiss.”

        I wonder whether Jesus explained the “drash” of this parable to his listeners – part of the many things Jesus said that were not written down in the NT. There is also no record of his (Jewish) Apostles doing so either. Instead they must have left it to the pharisees (talmuds) to do, whom Jesus had mentioned to his disciples two verses before he told them our Parable of the Rich Man:

        Luke 16
        15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.

        There’s no way out of it; there are Gentiles AND Jews in hell. Is there a drash for the p’shat “hell?”

        Sorry for being a bit horrible.

      • It seems to me that you’re just a bit overanxious to condemn. Yohanan’s revelation seems to place such ultimate condemnation at a much later point in the flow that we perceive as time. I stand by my interpretation of “not yet, but on the way” via a shortcut outside time, and my views are conditioned by the value that is characteristic of HaShem and expressed by Rav Shaul to Timothy in 1Tim.2:4 “… who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” How HaShem ultimately pursues such a desire is likely much more complex than some folks seem to think.

      • PL

        Re “1Tim.2:4 “… who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

        Do you think that God could fail to save “all men?”

      • There you go again. I cite a value representing kindness and mercy, and you insist upon seeking worst-case scenarios. I am a modern-day Pharisee and descendant of Pharisees (cif: Acts 23:6), but which of us do you think is failing to lift a finger (cif:Matt:23:4) to help others with our interpretations?

      • PL

        Re “I cite a value representing kindness and mercy, and you insist upon seeking worst-case scenarios.”

        The Gospel is about the bad news – first, and the good news – second. Romans 1,2 and half of 3 is about how rotten the natural man is. Among other horrors, his throat is an open coffin full of stinking dead bones.

        About “worst-case scenarios,” do you mean the prospect of someone going to hell or God failing to save the person? Which, I suppose, amounts to the same thing?

        God is not only good and kind. In fact, as far as Jewish history goes, he is mostly full of wrath – mayhem and destruction. And so shall it be at the end of the world as we know it. Well that’s the p’shat, if not the drash, of it.

  28. A great topic. As a Gentile who lives and increasingly Jewish lifestyle as much in imitation of Yeshua as a goy of good strong Irish-Italian stock can muster without ‘desecrating it,” so to speak… and who raises his sons in an increasingly more Jewish than Christian way out of love and devotion to Yeshua and fear of God… I see Messianic Judaism as the form of Judaism that Yeshua and the disciples and Paul, et al, intended before it was co-opted and gentilized by what ultimately became the Church. I love the idea that “oneness” doesn’t mean “sameness” and that distinctions are preservative and clarifying at times, not divisive. Thanks Dr. Schiffman, for a great talking … and thinking… point.

  29. Jacob Fronzcack’s work on the subject of ‘sola scriptura’ has opened my eyes to the notion that Christian systematic theology has gradually somehow achieved “near-divine” status over time. Could there be a false wall of systematic theology between Christianity and Messianic Judaism? Certainly the early manufacture and distribution of Replacement Theology precludes any consideration of Christian tradition as ever being considered “infallible.”

  30. Pauls epistle to the Ephesians in Chapter 2.Jew and Gentile. Ephesian Ch 2 (2:11-22)(2:15-16)
    So Yeshua reconciled the two in one body by his death on the cross..This is what is in verse 16.
    The book of James
    (Jas 1:1 From: Ya`akov, a slave of God and of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah To: The Twelve Tribes in the Diaspora: Shalom!) So I notice the greetings were to the 12 tribes of Israel the Diaspora.

    • However, these are believers seeing the first believers in the Messiah were Jewish so in the book of Acts the gentiles didn’t come to believe in Yeshua until Acts 10 and this event in acts 10 is mention in Acts 15. so then this is mention in Galatians 2:7. Paul was sent unto the gentiles to preach. . Also, it doesn’t matter what a man thinks only what God thinks. (Acts 10:34-35) God does not play favorites. Romans 3 (3:9, 22-31) also I know this, but I have come across Jews that are now Christian. So they don’t have to be Christian so regardless of the fact not all Jewish people remain in a form of Judaism, but they could be in Messianic Judaism. So there may be a countless number of jews who don’t have faith in Jesus(Yeshua) but not all stay in unbelief some maybe in Messianic Judaism and some may just be Christian.

  31. “Jewish rejection of Yeshua was not an act of infidelity towards Yeshua, as much as it was an act of fidelity towards His Father.”

    Rabbi Michael… This one statement meant the world to me. It is what was “in” my heart and “in” mind for a long, long time but avoided definition, was untranslatable up until I read it. An “ah-ha” moment of great satisfaction for me. Blessings to you and yours…

    • Dan

      If you’re Jewish or not, a professing (Jewish or Gentile) believer in Jesus/Yeshua are not, according to Jesus, your ah-ha moment is a delusion and deserving of eternal damnation. The Jewish excuse is even worse than Adam and Eve’s “the devil told me you didn’t say that” – not their actual words, of course. Here are Jesus’s actual words:

      John 8
      21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”

      22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”

      23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”

      25 “Who are you?” they asked.

      “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”

      27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

      31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

      33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

      34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.

      Jesus said it more strongly to his Jewish antagonists elsewhere: “you are of your father, Satan.”

      • It seems to me, my dear biography, that you wield a very broad brush to tar the wrong people in reference to the above “ah-ha” moment for Dan Hennesey. First you take Rav Yeshua’s words to a specific subgroup of Judeans and misapply it across all Jews throughout many centuries, and then you ignore the specifics of what was actually being rejected in the Jewish response to Christian presentation of a non-Jewish fiction in place of the teachings of the real rabbi from the Galil. Dr. Kinzer was absolutely correct in his representation of the Jewish rejection of Christianity as a continuation of obedience to HaShem. But tens of thousands of Jews in the Jerusalem are alone (viz.Acts 21) were not only Rav Yeshua’s disciples but also were zealous for Torah. Jewish antagonists are not the only people who may be accused of being spawned by “the archetypical adversary”, and his child the spirit of Amelek is all too well represented among some Christians.

      • PL
        I never said that all the Jews who had contact with Jesus had rejected him, which, of course, is a silly thing to say.

        With regard to Michael Schiffman’s article, I said elsewhere:

        Regarding his (Schiffman’s) “after the first century, the Jewish Yeshua was virtually unrecognizable as a Jew, and therefore, as the Messiah.  Jewish rejection of Yeshua was not an act of infidelity towards Yeshua, as much as it was an act of fidelity towards His Father,” the confrontation between Jesus and Jews shows that to many of the Jews of his time, the Jewish Yeshua was also virtually unrecognisable. Having said that, no one is justified in rejecting Jesus – the Way the Truth and the Life – on the excuse that “if that is what Christians have done to Jesus, I’m done with hi.” (Schiffman). That attitude leads to one’s undoing; of both Jew and Gentile. 

        Jesus called the Jews who “believed in” him (what they wanted to believe) sons of the father of lies (John 8). Here is my view in context http://onedaringjew.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/i-wont-accept-a-virtually-unrecognizable-jesus-a-jewish-view/

      • I’m not sure who first formulated the phrase “if that is what Christians have done to Jesus, I’m done with him.”, but it does not adequately express the reason for the rejection. The rejection is directed against a false fictional messiah caricature who appeared to be a Greek demigod rather than any sort of Jewish messiah. The rejection is not because Christians presented it; anyone presenting an inadequate candidate claiming him as the messiah would find him similarly rejected. Even Bar-Kochva, who was initially acclaimed by the very well-respected Rabbi Akiva as a very Jewish sort of Messiah, was later rejected when his credentials were recognized to be false and insufficient. Failing to overthrow the Roman oppression was an indication that was rather hard to ignore. The later Jewish rejection of the “Jesus Christ” caricature is not the same sort of rejection as occurred among some Judeans in the first century whom Rav Yeshua criticized. Hence applying the same critical language against them is unjust and inaccurate. Even those of us modern Jewish messianists who are Rav Yeshua’s disciples must reject the caricature, just as those Jews who are not yet his disciples reject it. What is worse is the responsibility to be shouldered by those who still promote the caricature, who are by doing so hindering positive Jewish response to the real Rav Yeshua. Better that a millstone be placed around their necks and they be thrown into the sea than that they be found guilty of placing stumbling blocks in front of the children of Israel.

      • Here is the Bible’s reason why Jews – in the time of Jesus and onwards – reject Jesus, and whom Jesus calls children of the devil, the father of lies.

        John 8

        21 So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” 25 So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that the had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

        The Truth Will Set You Free

        31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, f“We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

        34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, geveryone who practices sin is a slave2 to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

        You Are of Your Father the Devil

        39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have rone Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

      • Once again, bography, your brush is far too broad. Rav Yeshua’s conversation that you cite here was not with the entire population of Jews across all time and space, nor even with all Jews in Israel of his own era, nor even with all Jews located only in Judea at that time, but rather he was speaking with only with one relatively small group. It is not in any degree an explanation for any broader negative response. Other Jews of the time had other disagreements with the fully acceptable views that Rav Yeshua taught, and they were not all condemned with the same language or such an accusation. You create a false antagonism that you apply indiscriminately against all Jews when you cite this passage in this manner. You are damnably wrong to claim this as “the Bible’s reason why Jews … reject Jesus”. You have much to learn about accurately handling the word of truth” (cif: 2Tim.2:15).

      • PL

        Jesus said (John 8 above)
        “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”
        This statement extends, obviously, to all Jews (and Gentiles) without exception). No one comes to the Father but by the Son, because Jesus is the (only) way, the truth and the life.

        You speak of “too broad.” On the contrary, “broad” is too restrictive; “universal” is more apt. Jewish unbelievers in Jesus/Yeshua reject him as THE way, and thus the truth and the life cannot, as Jesus said, be in them, only the opposite – lies and death. Jews – especially pious ones – would consider this kind of talk from Jesus and his followers about the damnation of those who reject him damnable, naturally. Such is the condition of the “natural man” who, says (Rav) Paul, cannot and refuses to understand “spiritual things,” that is, who Yeshua is and what he has done and does expressed through his words and deeds.

      • You do not know what spirit you are reflecting. Your approach and attitude drive directly to the Holocaust (though historically there were numerous pauses to perpetrate crusades, inquisitions, pogroms, and other oppressions and persecutions). And all of it stemmed from eisegesis such as yours.

      • How can it be eisegesis to say that “I am the way, the truth and the life” means “Non-I isn’t the way, but is lies and death?”

      • @bography — It is said that a text without its context is a pretext for someone to promote their own viewpoint. Let me extract a few pertinent phrases from Wikipedia’s definition of eisegesis by way of illustration:
        —————
        Eisegesis (from Greek εἰς “into” as opposed to exegesis from ἐξηγεῖσθαι “to lead out”) is the process of interpreting a text or portion of text in such a way that it introduces one’s own presuppositions, agendas, and/or biases into and onto the text. The act is often used to “prove” a pre-held point of concern to the reader and to provide him or her with confirmation bias in accordance with his or her pre-held agenda. Eisegesis is best understood when contrasted with exegesis. While exegesis draws out the meaning from a text in accordance with the context and discover-able meaning of its author, eisegesis occurs when a reader imposes his or her interpretation into and onto the text. As a result, exegesis tends to be objective when employed effectively while eisegesis is regarded as highly subjective.

        … While some denominations and scholars denounce Biblical eisegesis, many Christians are known to employ it – albeit inadvertently – as part of their own experiential theology. … Exactly what constitutes eisegesis remains a source of debate among theologians, but most scholars agree about the importance of determining the authorial intentions.
        —————

        You have extracted passages, including the verse about Rav Yeshua and “the way, the truth, and the life” in order to formulate a condemnation, particularly of Jews (though admittedly you’re willing to condemn non-Jews also). Let’s extract a few more, to consider Rav Yeshua’s own words and attitude in:

        Jn.10:10
        “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

        Jn.12:47
        “If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.

        Yohanan’s own observation was presented earlier in his besorah:
        Jn.3:17
        “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

        Incidentally, where NASB used the word “judge”, KJV used “condemn” to indicate “krino” rather than “diakrino”. I wouldn’t want you to miss the specific denial of condemnation, which is certainly in keeping with “the author’s intention”.

        As I indicated in a previous post, you have overgeneralized specific statements to a specific group in order to support a destructive viewpoint that is not inherent in the text itself or in the body of the literature. I don’t charge you with inventing it yourself; such mistaken and uncharitable views have been common in Christianity for many centuries. But some folks have learned from these mistakes and re-examined the passages in proper context after learning more about what constitutes that context. I hope you may become one of them.

      • To what context (groups, individuals) would “I am the way the truth and the life” not apply, where “the” means “the only way,” not so?

      • You seem still to be missing the point about faulty interpretation and failed understanding, “bo”.

      • It seems then that the exegesis for both of us of the verse means that if Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, this applies to every individual on the planet. Not so? Could you give reasons why you think I eisegeted any of the other verses I quoted. One example will help.

      • @bography — Let me see if I can give you the example you’re requesting, to show how the context is critical to understanding. You’ve been treating this verse as if it were some universal set of lemmas, as if Rav Yeshua had said four statements:
        1. I am the way.
        2. I am the truth.
        3. I am the life.
        4. No one gets to the Father except through me.

        And from these you derive negative consequences for anyone who disbelieves any one of these lemmas.

        Now let me paint for you an entirely different picture. Despite the Judeo-Greek manuscripts in which we find the narrative of Rav Yeshua’s conversation, which were compiled for wide distribution throughout a Greek-speaking world, the original conversation was conducted somewhere in Judea, in Hebrew, among a small group of Pharisees of which Rav Yeshua himself was one. The discussion employed some familiar idiomatic phrases, including the one about the way, the truth, and the life. However, this phrase was already a common reference to the Torah. Hence, when Rav Yeshua said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”, he was understood to be saying: “I am the living embodiment of the Torah, and I tell you, speaking as the Torah, that no one approaches the heavenly Father HaShem except by means of me (i.e., the Torah).” Incidentally, this is true even for non-Jews who, while not obligated to perform the enire set of Torah mitzvot as Jews are obligated, still must approach Hashem by means of the Torah via the example of pre-circumcised Avraham’s trust in HaShem and by means of trusting Rav Yeshua as a living Torah (i.e., teacher/interpreter). Consequently, Jews who truly approach HaShem via the Torah are approaching also via Rav Yeshua, whether or not they recognize it. Thus the statement fits more into a “believe it or not” informational category rather than an either/or response-demand category. It was not repeated to multiple audiences, hence it may not be generalized as if everyone were to be held accountable for knowing it and responding to it.

        Do you see the difference in approach, and how it is derived from the context? This is only one verse; just imagine how so many others appear altogether diferent when contextualized in this manner.

      • Before I give a fuller reply, I ‘d like to know whether you understand the “Word” in John 1 to be Jesus/Yeshua or the Torah, as presented below:

        1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by IT (him); and without IT (him) was not any thing made that was made. 4 In IT (him) was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
        6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through IT(him) might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 IT (He) was in the world, and the world was made by IT (him), and the world knew IT (him) not. 11 IT (He) came unto ITS (his) own, and ITS (his) own received IT (him) not. 12 But as many as received IT (him), to them gave IT (he) power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on ITS (his) name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld ITS (his) glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

      • OK, “bo”, but I dunno if you’ll find my formulation satisfying.

        Let me set some background for my description. First I want to remind you that Hebrew literature often uses anthropomorphism to illustrate characteristics. For example the characteristics of “Wisdom” and “Prudence” are cited in Solomon’s Proverbs as if they were real entities who could speak for themselves. This is a literary technique that allows the reader (or hearer) to identify with them and envision how they might affect a given situation as if they were characters rather than merely characteristics within a human actor. Similarly, Torah itself is described at times as an entity to speak with and relate to; and, of course, it also is described as the “Word” of HaShem. Likewise the characteristic of speech is represented by a single word name such as “Word”, “Memra”, or “Logos” (depending on the language of address). It is this characteristic of HaShem that is an active agent in the creation as HaShem says repeatedly: “Let there be …” (and so it was).

        Let me also remind you of Rav Shaul’s description of Rav Yeshua in the form of a “neshamah” (a “soul”, if you will), in Phil.2:5-11.

        5 τοῦτο φρονεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ,
        5 In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind [the Messiah Yeshua] had:
        [Lit.: this same attitude/opinion/understanding in you the one also in Messiah Yeshua,]
        6 ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ,
        6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
        [Lit.: which in form of God being already, not grasping to hold onto authority/influence/power equal with (or like unto) God,]
        7 ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος: καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος
        7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
        [Lit.: nevertheless himself emptied/deprived, form of servant taking on, in likeness human came-into-existence/appeared-in-history, acting to be found as like human,]
        8 ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου, θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ.
        8 And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
        [Lit.: humbling/abasing himself, becoming obedient as far as death, [even] death by a “stake” (i.e., crucifixion),]
        9 διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα,
        9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
        [Lit.: wherefore also the God himself exalted to highest position and favored/granted him this name above all names,]
        10 ἵνα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων,
        10 that at the name of [Yeshua] every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
        [Lit.: in order that in the name Yeshua every knee bend/honor, in heavens (i.e., metaphorically angelic) and in earth (i.e., living) and under the earth (i.e., metaphorically the deceased),]
        11 καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός.
        11 and every tongue acknowledge that [Yeshua the Messiah] is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
        [Lit.: and each tongue/language confess/proclaim/acknowledge that master/sovereign Yeshua the Messiah, towards the high opinion/honor/splendor/(etc.) of God the Father.]

        We must avoid any tendency to conflate the Messiah and “the Father” (or “God”, for that matter), because this passage clearly distinguishes between them. This passage clearly asserts several statements about the Messiah:
        (1) He has cause to claim Divine nature (outside of an earthly framework) on a par with the Eternal Father who created the heavens.
        (2) This nature was not carried into the earthly human framework.
        (3) His character includes the attributes of humility and obedience (presumably toward “God”).
        (4) “God” (presumably the Eternal Father) elevated this obedient Messiah to the highest of positions (i.e., highest rank or job assignment) and assigned him the most exalted purpose (i.e., “name”).

        The purpose or consequence of these characteristics and events is then described with 3 characteristics:
        (1) His purpose (and, presumably, the reports of his activity) would be acknowledged and honored universally (i.e., at some time after his death and exaltation).
        (2) His authority would likewise be acknowledged universally.
        (3) “God”, the Eternal Father, would be honored (i.e., glorified, praised).
        The distinctions maintained in verses 6, 9, and 11 must inhibit any interpretation of “equality with God” as if it meant “identically the same being as God”.

        There is a further implication here, worthy of some consideration. The above statements begin with a presupposition that the Messiah already existed in some form (on a par with HaShem) prior to his entry into history as a living human. Without entering into any speculation about a connection with Melchi-tzedek or the “son of the gods” in Daniel’s fiery furnace, we may wonder if the Messiah is viewed as unique in this characteristic of pre-existence. I am reminded of another Jewish viewpoint, purveyed by Pharisees like Rav Shaul, that every living soul was present at Mount Sinai to hear HaShem proclaim the ’Aseret HaDibrot (a.k.a. “the Ten Commandments”). Another story reflecting such an idea about human pre-existence is the one that views each child about to be born as being taken on a year-long tour by his guardian angel and shown all manner of wisdom and knowledge, only to be made to forget that knowledge immediately before entering the birth canal of his mother. Both of these indicate that Jewish thought (apparently based on Oral Torah) held the view that the existence of a human soul extends outside of the years during which it lives on earth in a human body. We see another example of this in the idea that the wicked could suffer interminably in a “lake of fire” without being destroyed utterly. If this view includes some starting point during the creation of heavens and earth when all souls were created (i.e., when the human family “Adam” was created), merely awaiting their turn to become living humans, then the Messiah’s pre-existence does not make him a unique “son of God”, but one “of many brethren” (cif: Rom.8:29), which is not unlike the relationship of the anointed king (i.e., lowercase “messiah”) to those he was sworn to protect and defend. While this may seem a bit more egalitarian than modern Western views of kingship, it does seem more in line with the role of king as a derivation of the Middle Eastern paternal tribal chieftain who was expected to resolve disputes and to lead military defense actions as the head of his extended family. The above considerations are at play in discussion about whether Rav Yeshua is to be viewed as having the characteristic of “divinity” or of “deity” among his other characteristics.

        Now that I’ve possibly confused the matter with these background notions, let me suggest that the “Word” cited in the opening lines of Yohanan’s besorah is a reference to HaShem’s characteristic of speech that He employed as His agency of creation. This characteristic was not a person, though sometimes referenced using the literary technique of anthropomorphism. It is this characteristic that HaShem incorporated also into the neshamah that would enter into the fetus in Miriam’s womb to be born as Yeshua ben Yosef. This is what Yohanan describes in verse 14: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of one uniquely made by the Father, full of grace and truth.” [For the interested student, that is: “Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας.”]

        So we have Torah expressing HaShem’s characteristics, and somewhat later on we have Rav Yeshua incorporating and expressing HaShem’s characteristics. That does not make them one and the same being; and Rav Yeshua’s statement in Jn.14:6 is figurative and representative, not that he is literally identical with a Torah scroll.

        Incidentally, the opening lines of Yohanan’s besorah are a translation of a Hebrew word-play on the opening lines of Bereshit: “Bereishit bara Elohim …”, wherein Elohim is also synonymous with “HaShem”, which can mean “the Name” or “the Purpose”, which is comparable to some meanings of “the Logos”. Hence Yohanan’s original thought might have been phrased: “Bereishit hayah HaShem, v-im HaShem hayah Ha-Elohim, v-et HaShem Elohim hayah”. All of this wordplay on the phrase “HaShem Elohim” (i.e., the Name or Purpose of G-d) and the interaction with the characteristic of speech or expression by which the creation itself was accomplished, is an exploration of possible implications and meanings, in this case relative to the representative He had sent to enlighten humankind in lovingkindness and truth. The purpose of this sort of “conversation starter” is to open up a mind’s conceptual framework to recognize and consider otherwise non-obvious notions.

      • Here are two of your statements (my CAPITALS):

        “1) He has cause to claim Divine NATURE (outside of an earthly framework) on a par with the Eternal Father who created the heavens.”

        And

        “The distinctions maintained in verses 6, 9, and 11 must inhibit any interpretation of “equality with God” as if it meant “identically the same BEING as God”.

        Question: you say Jesus has the “divine nature” of God but is not the “same being” as God. How do you define these terms?

        Another excerpt:

        “So we have Torah expressing HaShem’s characteristics, and somewhat later on we have Rav Yeshua incorporating and expressing HaShem’s characteristics. That does not make them one and the same being; and Rav Yeshua’s statement in Jn.14:6 is figurative and representative, not that he is literally identical with a Torah scroll.”

        Here is John 14:6

        John 14:6
        JESUS said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by ME.

        It is absolutely clear, of course, that the Proper (personal) noun “Jesus” and the personal pronoun “me” cannot be an impersonal it – the Torah. It is also absolutely clear, unless one ignores the words on the page, that a person, Jesus, distinct from the person, the father, is saying no one comes to the father by (the person) “me.” The Greek says exactly the same thing, of course.

        To say the verse doesn’t mean the very obvious simple words on the page is to flout the rules of language. But then a rabbi might retort as Rabbi AkivaTatz, a teacher of Kabbalah, said in one of his lectures, “any six-year-old can understand” the Written Torah. One, says the Kabbalist, has to enter the pardes (the deeper levels) of Torah to derive any lasting good. These deeper levels are not found in the Written Torah, but in the Oral Torah, which for some Jewish movements is not found deep in the Written Torah but above and beyond it. So, it is not always, or perhaps not even often, the case that the Oral Torah and the Written Torah complement each other. Often it is rather that the Written Torah implements what the Oral Torah dictates it to mean.

        It seems your interpretations of the biblical is done in a similar vein.

        One other question: Do you consult the Kabbalistic literature (part of Oral Torah) in your thinking about God and/or scripture?

      • As a point of information, Kabbalah does not address what is, but only explores metaphors and insights. Kabbalah is also quite specifically NOT the Oral Torah from which halakhah is determined. though the concept of “pardes” is featured in both. So, no, I do not consult Kabbalistic literature in the development of scriptural interpretation, nor do I dismiss its insights where applicable.

        I previously explained about anthropomorphic representations, and about Rav Yeshua’s representation of what the Torah would say if it were standing there talking to the group he addressed with the way/truth/life comment. Such literary devices are not flouting any linguistic rules, though they do demand of the reader or listener a deeper level of language appreciation than some superficial literal rendition.

        For an illustration of divine nature, I refer you to Ps.82:6-7 for HaShem’s view of the humans He created, each with a divine nature akin to His own and reflective of the “Image of G-d” in which He created them. I assert that it is this nature in Rav Yeshua that is in view in Phil.2:6 (i.e., a “form of G-d”) and my comment about it and the manner in which it is like G-d without being a part of G-d.

  32. To PL: As usual, I appreciate your input: “As I indicated in a previous post, you have overgeneralized specific statements to a specific group in order to support a destructive viewpoint that is not inherent in the text itself or in the body of the literature. I don’t charge you with inventing it yourself; such mistaken and uncharitable views have been common in Christianity for many centuries.”

    As a “young born again believer,” I would never have been able to digest the point you make here re: Christian conception and legislation of a “destructive viewpoint” targeting the Jewish people. One trip to the Simon Wiesenthal Center l, which led to a serious study of history, cured me of my blindness. As a dedicated Christian, the eyes of my heart needed to be opened to the epic pain and sorrow caused by the Adversus Judaeous tradition and its vitriolic anti-Jewishess.

    To Bography: Perhaps if you were to also take up study the dark theological teachings of the Christian past and their devastating impact upon the Jewish people – to include the creation of the socio-spiritual climate that allowed for the Holocaust to take place in the heart of Christian Europe – you would better be able to understand what Proclaim Liberty is trying to explain about the “destructive viewpoint” that is still extant within modern Christianity (though therapeutic teaching is becoming more widespread, if too slowly…).

    • Dan, shouldn’t we distinguish between what the Bible teaches and what “religious” man does with it? Sure, professing Chrstians have much to answer for by distorting the NT. Having said that, would you agree that Jesus said that ithose who do not “believe that I am he,” whether Jew or Gentile – no matter how badly they are treated by others – are condemned; to eternal damnation.

      I wonder what you would have thought if you had visited an imaginary holocaust memorial constructed after the destruction of the Northern Kingdom (“Israel”) and Jerusalem (first time, second tine, take your pick). As you are aware it was the Holy One of Israel who decreed their downfall, and yet – go figure – held the human destroyers accountable.

      Not all grief leads to life. Indeed, much of it to death – as the Bible says. In my book and the book, it is noble, indeed it is encouraged to tell a Jew that unless he repents and believes the Gospel (as Jesus and the Apostles admonished) he will be damned forever, no matter how kind and loving he is on the human level.

      Tritely, no one should hate Jews, but neither must they chase after them ss if they are spokesman for God. According to Jesus, unless they believe that he is the only way, the only truth, the only life, they will die in the sins.

  33. @Bography: “Dan, shouldn’t we distinguish between what the Bible teaches and what “religious” man does with it?”

    That’s exactly what I understand PL to be trying to do with your own handed-down Christian interpretations of Yeshua’s words by “religious men” from the first century, on. I find it ironic that you would say to me in a negative, condemnatory way what is being said to you in a positive way by PL that would breathe life into your static interpretations. This is a major distinctive, as I see it, between Christian attitudes vs. Messianic attitudes: the former proudly focused on its theologically contrived answers, the latter, humbly admitting overwhelming majesty by way of focusing on the questions… a position appropriate to proper acknowledgment of such a King.

    “Sure, professing Chrstians have much to answer for by distorting the NT.”

    I mention only most respectfully that I think you minimize the distortion, hence, “damage,” done to the interpretation of the Tanakh and New Covenant writings by non-Jewish Christian theologians from the late first century, on. The road to Auschwitz was paved from such anti-Jewish polemics and their corresponding supersessionistic theological principles. Having “much to answer for” is not, perhaps, as critical an issue as the constant spreading of the same ultimate, end-game condemnatory attitudes today. The Hebraic contour of theological thought inherent to the Messianic Jewish movement has much to offer we non-Jewish believers in terms of breathing new life into the old, stiff, fundamentalist-Hellenistic framework of theological certainty that has caused as much pain down through the ages as one can imagine, especially when considering its heretical teachings of being the “New Israel” while condemning the Judaism of Jesus to a position of obsolescence and ridicule… actually, perhaps, lowering the respect for the God of Israel before the eyes of the watching world in the process, almost in a manner akin to the Amalekites in Exodus 17, who had the irrational audacity to attack Jacob in the immediate wake of HaShem’s display of power over Pharoah, emboldening the rest of Israel’s enemies to take up the cause of attacking Israel after they were formerly in awe of its God due to His awesome display of power over Egypt. To minimize the negative impact on traditional Christian theology on the history of the Israel of God is not something I am willing to do. I see it as a manifestation of the spirit of Amalek that causes doubt in the primary nature of Israel as the sole redemptive vehicle of God, a case of irrational doubt that is the exact effect which Replacement Theology has had upon the world’s consciousness for centuries. Substituting the Church as a replacement for the Israel of God? A very dangerous business, that.

  34. And, dear bography, I do not see myself as one who “chases after Jews” as “spokespersons for God.” As a matter of fact, I’m not sure there isn’t something quite wrong lurking just beneath the surface what you just said to me. I’ll leave it at that for now.

    • Dan
      I’m trying to understand the foundations of your position, hence my questions. Do you think that Jews who reject Jesus/Yeshua as Messiah can be saved? And do you believe that when Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the father but by me” (John 14:6), he was talking about himself?

  35. bography…

    Quite honestly, I’d rather you addressed the statements I’ve made to you concerning historic Christian anti-Jewish theology as your questions emerge from that paradigm; a paradigm I find to be seriously flawed and, as a result, contemptuous to one degree or another of the Jewish people, both within and outside the realm of salvation theology. This, as I see it, addresses Dr. Schiffman’s topic having to do with the fact that Christianity and Messianic Judaism are two different religions worshiping the same Messiah; a very significant distinction that I completely agree with, especially from the point of view as a Holocaust educator-activist. When one has delved deeply enough into the subject, one becomes steadily convinced at the differences between the Christian portrayal of Yeshua as some kind of willing expatriate of the Jewish people and the Messianic Jewish portrayal of Yeshua as a faithful Torah-observant Jew loyal to His Father in Heaven.

    And, I would honor Rabbi Michael’s request to stay on topic by also stating that I find Messianic Jewish theology not only more in keeping with what Yeshua had in mind when He taught and discipled His Jewish followers, but also, much more respectful and honoring of Him today, in the sense of Messianic Judaism’s loyalty to His contour of spiritual, Torah-centric thought as opposed to the often anti-Jewish contour of spiritual, non-Torah-centric thought of the Church Fathers; a group of Gentiles who subordinated the teaching of Moses, the Prophets, and Yeshua to the whims of their own non-Jewish, Gentile-Hellenistic religious preconceptions.

    Otherwise, we will go on dialoguing, to no good affect, in disrespect of Dr. Schiffman’s constant requests to stay on topic.

    • Dan, your

      “When one has delved deeply enough into the subject, one becomes steadily convinced at the differences between the Christian portrayal of Yeshua as some kind of willing expatriate of the Jewish people and the Messianic Jewish portrayal of Yeshua as a faithful Torah-observant Jew loyal to His Father in Heaven.”

      “I find Messianic Jewish theology not only more in keeping with what Yeshua had in mind when He taught and discipled His Jewish followers…”

      Dan there are various streams of Messianic Judaism. The “United Messianic Jewish Concregations” (UMJC) believes in the Trinity AND believes it must stick close to its Jewish roots.. Do you think the Trinity is a product of (in your words) “non-Torah-centric thought of the Church Fathers; a group of Gentiles who subordinated the teaching of Moses, the Prophets, and Yeshua to the whims of their own non-Jewish, Gentile-Hellenistic religious preconceptions?”

      Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations.
      “We believe that there is one G-d, eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
2. We believe in the deity of the L-RD Yeshua, the Messiah, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.”

      • Yes, there is still too large a contingent of Hebrew-Christian thinkers in UMJC, whose votes had a great deal to do with the formulation of that statement. Look for change before long, however, as MJ theologians continue to develop alternative formulations and become increasingly respected acadenically.

      • @”bo” — A few names come to mind, in no particular order, including Kinzer, Nanos, Flusser. Hertz, Soulen, Roth, Bivens, Shulam, Friedman, Rosner, Pattai, Boteach …. They are not at all of an ilk, nor all currently living, but each has contributed something of significance to my own thinking. There are certainly more names I can think of who have offered me such contributions, and they are not all at the same level of scholarship even as these I’ve listed are very mixed in the levels they address. I have not chosen these names as an exercise in identifying a panel of peers to review papers in biblical scholarship, and I’m not sure I could do so adequately, nor do I think that doing so would be particularly germane to the present conversation. Those who will review developmental MJ scholarship will identify themselves in due course.

  36. Bography… No, I do not see the concept of the Trinity as a product of the body of “non-Torah-centric thought of the Church Fathers.” My understanding is that the Jewish sages wrote about the Messiah one day explaining Torah in full long before the Church Fathers arrived on the scene. With the coming of Messiah Yeshua, the teaching of the Trinity was, as the sages properly foretold, brought into full view. Therefore, I see the concept of the Trinity as being embodied in Torah, brought into fullest expression through the teaching of the Living Torah, the long-awaited Jewish Messiah, Yeshua minetzaret ben Yosef, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

    • Sorry to disagree, Dan, but the concept of HaShem as anything other than One is not to be found in the Tenakh, and any view of HaShem in any form other than oneness is thoroughly denied in all Jewish thought. HaShem’s multifaceted complexity is justification for the Shm’a to invoke the word echad rather than yachid as Rambam rendered it, but Rambam wasn’t wrong to attempt to combat Christian polytheistic Trinitarian formulations. It has been traditional in Christianity to attempt to read Trinitarian interpretations into various scriptures, particularly the apostolic writings, but they were in error to do so. The Divine Messiah is the Divinely-appointed representative of the One-and-Only Deity HaShem, but the Messiah is not himself Deity alongside HaShem. The Messiah’s exalted position, higher than any other in creation, has been misinterpreted by many as if he were some sort of ancillary appendage of HaShem, but that is not how Rav Shaul described him to the Philippians and that is not a proper reading of Yohanan’s besorah.

      • The notion and definition of Messiah before creation was a proverbial “gleam in the eye of his Father”, and the person of Messiah didn’t become a reality in our timestream until the birth of Yeshua ben Yosef when the neshamah that had been prepared for him from of old was incorporated into the body prepared for him at the appointed time. Before creation, as now and unto eternity, HaShem was, and is, and will be, One, without any second or any other like unto Himself. It is in this context that we may then ponder the meaning of the descriptions in Yohanan’s revelation about one identified as first, last, beginning, end, dead and come to life. We can only begin to extrapolate the meaning of HaShem as existing without beginning and without end, and we can envision what it might mean for the one who was dead and raised to life to be first and to have a beginning (not necessarily the same characteristic or relating to the same notions), but I don’t think a great deal of thought has been applied yet to the notions of characteristics such as “last-ness” or “ending”. But as with many things cited in prophetic literature, perhaps these may become clearer only as we approach closer to their fulfillment or realization.

      • PL

        Your “The notion and definition of Messiah before creation was a proverbial “gleam in the eye of his Father”, and the person of Messiah didn’t become a reality in our timestream until the birth of Yeshua ben Yosef when the neshamah that had been prepared for him from of old was incorporated into the body prepared for him at the appointed time.”

        Is this based on an exegesis of scripture? If so, which passages?

      • @”bo” — Regrettably, this involves more than exegesis, but also inference and a midrashic approach to tease out something that is never stated explicitly. It is at least as problematical as the attempts by Christians to read an appearance of a pre-existent Messiah into visitations such as the angels or “sons of the gods” in Daniel’s furnace and, of course, Melchitzedek. Some inferences derive from what is never said, and some from oblique comments like the one about the future Bethlehemite ruler in Micah 5:1 that “his goings forth have been of old, from ancient days”. However, the Messiah, as the specific object of reference, is merely inferred and the interpretation of the Hebrew includes possibilities that we might render in amplified English as: “his goings forth are [as foreseen] of old”, without inferring pre-existence to explain what is intended. Certainly, and beyond any historical question, Rav Yeshua was born as an ordinary human baby with a body that did not exist except as the result of the normal processes of cellular multiplcation and differentiation in a womb. So even the idea of a pre-existent visitation of the Messiah would require yet some other temporary form of body that had to be dispensed with when the normal physical one was developed. Given other scriptures that descibe a transformation of a resurrected or raptured body from a mortal to an immortal incorruptable form, it seem unlikely that Rav Yeshua had some other body in storage for him to put on at his resurrection instead of having his mortal body undergo a “first-fruits from the dead” experience that would become typical of the future resurrection. So, it would appear that the birth accounts in the besorot, Rav Shaul’s Philippian comments, the Heb.10:5 citation of Ps.40, and a variety of other scriptures contribute to my notions of when the Messiah’s body was formed and what activities have (or have not) occupied his immortal divine neshamah, although my view of the nature of neshamot is perhaps derived from rabbinical analyses of hints embedded in the Tenakh which is admittedly a rather indirect form of “exegesis”. Some of the compilation I’ve described is also based on rejection of alternative views that conflict with sound exegesis.

        Here are a couple of the references I pulled up on the subject of the Messiah’s physical “body, merly as a matter of interest and not to make any particular point:

        Hebrews 10:5
        Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,
        “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired,
        But a body You have prepared for Me;

        (somewhat midrashically quoted from Ps.40:6+)
        6 Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
        My ears You have opened;
        [Note: Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus codices of the Septuagint render it: σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι (a body you have “prepared” for me) instead of ὠτία δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι (ears you have “restored” for me). See web reference at: http://www.godward.org/biblical%20monotheism/but_a_body_hast_thou_prepared_me.htm%5D
        Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.
        7 Then I said, “Behold, I come;
        In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
        8 I delight to do Your will, O my God;
        Your Law is within my heart.”
        9 I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation;
        Behold, I will not restrain my lips,
        O Lord, You know.
        10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
        I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
        I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.

        Isaiah 49:1
        Listen to Me, O islands,
        And pay attention, you peoples from afar.
        The Lord called Me from the womb;
        From the body of My mother He named Me.

        [This one would seem to suggest a point of origin, but it is merely a single datum for consideration.]

        Meanwhile, I’m out of time — Shabbat Shalom

      • PL
        What verses apply to “The notion and definition of Messiah before creation was a proverbial “gleam in the eye of his Father?”

      • @”bo” — I’m afraid you’ll have to allow me a bit of poetic license for logically extrapolating from the verses that identify the Messiah as having a beginning, whether it be with the neshamot of all the other sons of Adam or with the company of those angels who are poetically described as when the morning stars sang together. I personally put less stock in the idea of a company of angels being created with the stars than I do in the timing of the creation of the family of human souls collectively known as “Adam”. Certainly the notion of Messiah was conceived by HaShem as soon as He knew that His creation would exercise its free will wrongly and need to be redeemed. Some have projected that HaShem knew this even before starting to create, but decided that it was worth creating nonetheless, despite this knowledge. However, HaShem knowing everything about the Messiah, including the plan to incorporate into him some characteristics that predate the creation along with HaShem Himself, are not the same thing as the Messiah also already existing before the creation. It is such characteristics that account for many references to the antiquity of the Messiah, even though he would actually only begin to exist truly at a much later point in time. Thus he certainly did not exist as such before the creation, and I rendered HaShem’s prior knowledge of him as the proverbial “gleam in the eye of his Father”.

      • PL

        Re: the First and the Last. Who do maintain is described in this verse?

        Revelation 1:8
        I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

      • You seem to have conflated Rev.22:13 into your quotation of Rev.1:8, which does not include the “beginning and ending” phrase. Rev.22:13 includes Alpha, Omega, beginning, ending, first, and last, but not “was, is, and is to come”. Yohanan’s Revelation presents a particular difficulty, because its vision of Rav Yeshua is a post-resurrection glorified form that is fully active in its role of representing HaShem. Hence various statements may be virtually impossible to parse in a manner that separates between them in the way that Rav Shaul does in Phil.2:5-11. Nonetheless, in Rev.1:4-5, Rav Yeshua and the “seven spirits before the throne” are itemized separately from the one who was, is, and is to come, to whom that throne belongs. So it appears that Rav Yeshua may be the Alpha, Omega, beginning, ending, first, and last, but not the One Who “was, is, and is to come”. This leaves us with a question about verse 8, and whether the initial phrase about Alpha and Omega is referring to Rav Yeshua, and the remainder of the phrase refers to “the Lord G-d” Who “was, is, and is to come” to whom belongs that throne in verse 4. Thus it might be fair to parse verse 8 as saying that “the Lord G-d” authorizes Rav Yeshua’s Alpha/Omega identity. Does this answer your question adequately?

        Also interesting is the phrase that is usually rendered into English as “was, is, and is to come”. The Greek text for it is: “… ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος…”. The first word, “ὢν”, rendered “was”, actually could be rendered “existing”. So rather than merely having a past, as implied by the word “was”, “ὁ ὢν” implies that He is the The One Who exists. The next descriptor, following the word “καὶ” (“and”), is “ὁ ἦν”. Now, “ἦν” usually means “in” or “with”, which would suggest that this second descriptor is not so much an “is” as an “in”, perhaps implying the characteristic of being found internally and intimately rather than remotely or externally. The third descriptor is less ambiguous in its sense of coming afterward. It is related to the term that is used for the “dessert” matzah in a Passover Seder that is called the “afikomen”, which is rediscovered after the meal and distributed to the participants. “Afikomen” is not identical to “o erchomenos”, but it is based on the same “appearing afterward” concept. We have already some idea about how Rav Yeshua is yet to reappear within the framework of the events described in Yohanan’s Revelation; we have less clarity on HaShem’s later appearance, though it may have something to do with that long-awaited new heavens and earth of Rev.22 that will replace the obsolescent ones we have currently.

      • PL your “You seem to have conflated Rev.22:13 into your quotation of Rev.1:8, which does not include the “beginning and ending” phrase.”

        I used the KJV which added “beginning and ending.” Most other translations exclude this phrase. All the KJV is doing, however, is adding the English translation of “Alpha and Omega.”

        Here is john 1:8 ff. (My capitals) I don’t see any exegetical justification for separating, on the one hand, the being “I am the Alpha and Omega” from, on the other hand, the being ““who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” – “I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA SAYS THE LORD GOD.” If, however, one comes to the text with the presupposition that Monotheism can only mean Unitarianism, then, obviously, “I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA SAYS THE LORD GOD” means God (not THE father of the Son, but rather the father of mankind/Israel) whereas “I AM THE FIRST AND THE LAST, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades” cannot be God (deity). You will say that Jesus (the latter Alpha and Omega) is merely the vicar/ambassador of God. This separation cannot be gotten from the text.

        8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

        9 I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, 11 saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

        12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; 13 and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a SON OF MAN, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. 14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

        17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I AM THE FIRST AND THE LAST, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. 19 Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
        I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA SAYS THE LORD GOD , who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

        Revelation 22:12-13 describes the “Son of man” (in Revelation 2 and Daniel) in whom all creation has its beginning and end (culmination), it’s “I am the Alpha and the Omega says the Lord God (Rev 1:20 above)

        Rev 22:12-13
        12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

        Lastly, there is no clash between Philippians 2 ( Paul/Saul is describing the suffering servant) and Revelation (John is describing the Messiah in his role as Judge and Conqueror), indeed as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

      • Shalom, “bo” — You seem to have missed the distinction indicated in Rev.1:4-5, which I then applied to 1:8. I was working from a Greek text compiled from four others, which support a variety of English translations, including UBS, RSV, NRSV, ESV, NASB, TNIV, NET, and even TR/KJV (see Mounce & Mounce). The minority representation appearing in the KJV of Rev.1:8 thus carries little weight and is likely assuming an addition that does not belong in this passage. I was also consulting NASB and NIV in English.

        It is true that I do not approach this passage expecting to find any particular Trinitarian presentation or implication, because the Trinitarian perspective is a result of mistaken interpretation of more than sufficient other scriptures, and attempts to stretch the “echad” of Deut.6:4 into allowing multiple personalities are interpolations of an external presupposition rather than any implication from the language itself. Hence the most simple and reasonable rendition is as I presented it.

      • As it happens, a number of people in the bible are identified with a title such as “king of kings”, “lord of lords”, “king above kings”, “lord above lords”, or some combination thereof. It is applied in Deut.10:17 (and also in 1Tim.6:15) to HaShem, it appears several times in the Psalms, it is applied to Rav Yeshua as the ultimate Messiah in Yohanan’s Revelation (17:14 & 19:16), and it is applied to Nebuchadnezzer in Ez.26:7 & Dan.2:37, although Nebuchadnezzer replies in Dan.2:47 that the title applies to HaShem. My point is that the title is not entirely unique throughout the scriptures; and while it is most applicable to HaShem, certainly it is validly applied to HaShem’s special representative the Messiah.

      • PL

        Do you maintain that a “representative” of a ruler of nations (your description of the Messiah) is himself a ruler of those nations.

        Revelation 19:15-16
        Out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND Lord OF LORDS.

      • The answer to that question would depend on the authority delegated to the representative. Some representatives or agents operate with very limited authority; others are authorized to speak or authorize actions directly on behalf of the one who sent them as a fully-authorized representative. A messiah is by definition a heavenly-authorized Jewish king; and the ultimate king of that class is the Messiah ben-David. We see several examples in the apostolic writings of Rav Yeshua performing actions on behalf of his Father in heaven that ordinarily would be considered the province of G-d alone. Clearly the Messiah is an exceptional case from any perspective, and this one has been assigned an exalted position so high that his authority is virtually indistinguishable from that of his heavenly Father (which is why it is so vitally important that the son does only what he is shown to do by the Father).

      • PL do you maintain that when Jesus says he is Lord of the Sabbath that he means that God has delegated this Lordship to him?
        Why do you think The Pharisees plotted to kill him?

        Matthew 12
        1. At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

        3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread–which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

        9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked Him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

        11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

        13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as the other.

        14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

      • Oh, my — you’re going to need a lot of explaining, here. First of all, I hope you are already aware that the reference to “the Pharisees” plotting to kill him does not refer to all Pharisees, but rather a small antagonistic group seeking to discredit him by challenging various of his Torah interpretations. Second, the apparent challenge to the Shabbat involved actions that Pharisaic and later rabbinic opinion has discussed; and there are halakhic justifications for all of these actions to be permitted on the Shabbat and not deemed a violation. Third, the title “Son of Man” is not always a title, but is the Hebrew phrase designating human beings in general. It bears no capitals in the Greek text to indicate it as a proper noun or title. The rationale invoked by Rav Yeshua in Mark 2:27 is that the sequence of creation placed the Sabbath after the creation of humanity, implying that it was created for the benefit of humanity and not the other way ’round. Therefore, humans in general are masters over the Sabbath and are therefore responsible for “making” the Sabbath as special as it is intended to be as well as for guarding its emergency provisions that authorize exceptions for practices that might ordinarily be avoided. Of course, in that period there existed also a notion of a “Son of Man” as a special divine representative. Either way, not only did the authority exist to address special circumstances on Shabbat, but also the circumstances cited were already recognizable as halakhically permissible. The particular gang of antagonistic anti-Yeshua Pharisees were, of course, not looking at the whole of halakhah to consider whether it contained provisions that permit the actions cited, but rather they were seeking superficial excuses to bring accusations against him.

      • PL
        Your “the title “Son of Man” is not always a title, but is the Hebrew phrase designating human beings in general.” So for you “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath,” means that every Jew, indeed, every Gentile as well, is “lord” of the Sabbath.

      • Since the Shabbat was given to the Jewish people to celebrate and administer, and non-Jews are exempted from that responsibility, the natural implication is that all Jews bear the responsibility to be masters of the Shabbat. Please note my emphasis on responsibility as the key meaning of being a “lord” in this matter. And with that responsibility in mind, as the time has arrived in my part of the world, I am shutting down my computer for the duration of the Shabbat and wishing you Shabbat Shalom.

      • PL (for when you return from your shabbat)

        Your definition of “lord” as a responsible person is idiosyncratic. Surely, “Lord” denotes power, domination (dominus). If, though, the lord were responsible (do what God commands?) to boot, that would be a bonus.

        Are you implying that every time Jesus is referred to as “lord” it means nothing more than being a responsible person, which everyone should be. So, in your book, we’re all lords (kyrios) if we remain responsible.

        What do you think the reason was for Jesus saying he is lord of the sabbath, if he he considered all those he was addressing as lords of the sabbath as well?

      • Shavua Tov, “bo” — It seems that you’ve misinterpreted by turning my definition its head. I wasn’t saying responsible people are lords; I was saying lords (or more meaningfully, “masters”) have responsibilities. Just as Britain’s House of Lords comprises leaders who have a set of defined responsibilities, other humans also may be lords or masters over varying responsibilities with some degree of authority or control or “dominion”. It is not only kings and gods (or demigods) who may exercise “lordship” in accordance with the common linguistic usages of the English word “lord”, the Greek word “kyrios” or the Hebrew word “adonai”. Therefore, yes, you understood me somewhat correctly to discern my assertion to mean that Rav Yeshua was saying to his interlocutors that virtually anybody should have been able to “master” the principles of Shabbat as he had done in applying exceptional halakhic principles in the cases under discussion.

      • PL

        In a previous comment you said:

        “Divine Messiah is the Divinely-appointed representative of the One-and-Only Deity HaShem, but the Messiah is not himself Deity alongside HaShem. The Messiah’s exalted position, higher than any other in creation, has been misinterpreted by many as if he were some sort of ancillary appendage of HaShem, but that is not how Rav Shaul described him to the Philippians and that is not a proper reading of Yohanan’s besorah.”
        The above relates to your most recent reply.

        You say that Jesus is merely God’s ambassador. Do you think it right that when you leave this world you will be kneeling before God’s ambassador.

        Philippians 2:9-10
        Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

        You say that you also are “lord.” So why shouldn’t every tongue confess to you (and to one another (in heaven, at least) that you are “lord?”

        Philippians 2:11
        And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

      • PL
        your “that Rav Yeshua was saying to his interlocutors that virtually anybody should have been able to “master” the principles of Shabbat as he had done in applying exceptional halakhic principles in the cases under discussion.”

        Do you hold that the heart of Jesus’ message is to reinforce the importance of halachic principles? If not, what do you think the heart of the Gospel is?

      • @bography — The heart of Rav Yeshua’s teaching and its good news was (and is) that the kingdom of heaven is so close at hand that it is to be reached out for and embraced wholeheartedly for all the benefits that result from doing so. Yohanan the Immerser had already clarified publically via his own ministry that repentance is a precursor for doing so. Note that, in Judaism, repentance is not a one-time event but is rather something to be repeated as often as needed. Most of Rav Yeshua’s teaching provided similes to illustrate characteristics or aspects of the attitudes that support everyday living under the model of this ephemeral kingdom. His Jewish audience already had the background to understand that the study of Torah is foundational to doing so. Rav Yeshua emphasized this explicitly in Matt.5:17-20. Halakhah is behavioral guidance to support the internalization of Torah principles by means of regular reinforcement in common practice. Other portions of Rav Yeshua’s teaching explicitly identified attitudes and behaviors that demonstrate the principles of the kingdom, or fail to do so. Various arguments he engaged with various groups of Pharisees (and a few Sadducees) illustrated his approach to Torah on issues that were under consideration at that time about how best to develop or apply halakhah in support of the learning/teaching and performance of the Torah that are recommended in Matt.5:19. The Greek tenses in verse 20 indicate that entering into the kingdom of heaven is also not a one-time event but rather a continual activity. The goal in all of this is right attitudes for right living; all of which flows from a right relationship with HaShem. Note also that repentance, atonement, and forgiveness of sins are only the merest beginning of the “good news of the kingdom”, though we see all of them effectively cited in Acts 8:12.

      • PL

        Do you believe in the Virgin birth, the (literal) resurrection, substitutionary atonement, and how do you believe that those who do not believe that Jesus came to save sinners are condemned by Hashem?

      • @”bo” — I’m not sure why, at this stage, you’re posing a test for fundamentalist doctrine, but I do accept Miriam’s testimony that she had never known a man (in the biblical sense), as did her husband Yosef (though he undoubtedly appreciated the angelic confirmation of it). Likewise the event of the resurrection and Rav Yeshua’s subsequent appearances were well-confirmed. The mechanism of substitutionary atonement has been unchallenged since the first Mishkan was overseen by Moshe Rabbeinu, and the letter to the Hebrews clarifies midrashically how Rav Yeshua’s martyrdom conforms with that pattern to present a heavenly sacrifice in the corresponding archetypical Mishkan from which the earthly one draws its authority. As for how I believe — I believe with complete/perfect faith, of course. But of course belief carries no benefit whatsoever, because the demons also believe and tremble (and it does them no good). Perhaps I should ask you whether you give any credence to C.S. Lewis’ apparent views that HaShem is a Just Judge Who applies His own standards and understanding to the state of each individual that He created, regardless of standard Christian black-and-white-certainty doctrines. I am certain about how to guarantee HaShem’s acceptance and forgiveness. I am less certain about anyone being sure about any given case that they can guarantee His condemnation, merely because they cannot see the evidence they wish about meeting known criteria for acceptance.

      • PL
        I asked these questions because I was wondering whether someone who believes that Jesus is one among many sons of God but given the exalted position as God’s representative also believes the following:
        Hebrews 3
        5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

        John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only (monogenis) Son because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

        Romans 10
        10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

        You mentioned Hebrews. How do you reconcile your view of Jesus as God’s representative with:
        Hebrews 1
        1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

        You mentioned Jesus/Yeshua as the atoning sacrifice. Do you believe that a halachic Jew can be saved without “faith in his blood?”

        “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” (Romans 3:23-25).

        With regard to your “the devils also believe,” tritely, but very truly “faith without works is dead.”

      • @bo — OK, let’s consider your verses.

        Heb.3:5
        Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

        So what’s not to believe, here? Moshe’s humility of service and stewardship doesn’t make him less a son of Israel or a son of the covenant and thus an inheritor as a son of the Most High, merely because he doesn’t rate the same position as the one assigned the right of the “firstborn”, who can exercise rights of sonship in a manner that others cannot.

        John 3:18
        Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only (monogenous) Son because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

        Of course, everyone on earth has sinned (except Rav Yeshua) and thus stands condemned. The only recourse for those who stand thus is to seek atonement which lifts the condemnation. Those who rely on the metaphorical sacrifice inherent in Rav Yeshua’s martyrdom as the seal of their repentance achieve that atonement and release from condemnation, and can experience the rescue of their lives. Those who refuse to seek atonement remain condemned. Yohanan does not address in this passage any other mechanism of atonement that HaShem has provided in Torah, because he is focused on the assertion of Rav Yeshua as a singularly special case that provides an acceptable sacrifice of atonement.

        Rom.10:10-13
        10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

        Rav Shaul offers here to the Roman believers a succinct summary of the redemption mechanism, emphasizing especially that it is not limited to Jews. There is a minor element of confusion possible here because of the use of the term “lord” in verse 9, in reference to the master rabbi Rav Yeshua, and use of the same Greek “kurios” in verses 12 and 13 with reference to the Is.28:16 and Joel 2:32 passages that refer to HaShem. This dual usage is similar to Ps.110:1 in the Judeo-Greek of the Septuagint, where “the Lord said to my lord…”.

        Heb.1:1
        Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through [?] whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

        We have in verse 2 one of those Greek words which is here rendered “through”, but may be better rendered as “on account of”; “because of”; “for the sake of”; or “with a view to” (i.e., “on account of whom also He [HaShem] created the world”). Verse 3 also suffers from the translators’ choices. It is actually not a separate sentence from verse 2, but it may be rendered so for easier reading in English, and it may be rendered: “This [son], who is the radiance of G-d’s glory and the exact representation of the nature of the One who is sustaining everything by the word of His power and has yet provided purification for sin, sat down at the right hand of the exalted Majesty on high, (4) having been exalted as far above the angels as his inherited purpose (name) is higher than theirs”. A great deal of translational quality may hinge on the theology that influences the translators, because it is this that affects how English punctuation will be placed to collect phrases and indicate referents. The letter to the Hebrews contains many elements that have been misunderstood by non-Jewish translators, but that is not entirely unexpected when reading someone else’s mail. It is only with recent reconsideration by traditionally Jewish readers that some of this has come to light.

        [You mentioned Jesus/Yeshua as the atoning sacrifice. Do you believe that a halachic Jew can be saved without “faith in his blood?”]

        Have you ever wondered how HaShem intends to accomplish the implications of Rom.11:26, that “all Israel will be saved”, or how He intends to compensate for the partial hardening that He Himself has caused in order to facilitate non-Jewish redemption?

        I’m going to indulge in a small exercise of fiction as a literary device, in order to ask you how you would feel if HaShem chose to do something like the following: Let us suppose that HaShem recognizes how Christians in particular have driven Jews away from any thought of Rav Yeshua as ever possibly representing any sort of good news for Jews. What then if HaShem chose to intercept all these Jews upon their deaths in order to enter them into a training curriculum that reviews all of Jewish history and His Torah instructions from an entirely different perspective from the one that they experienced? What if they then could choose to ally themselves with the long-awaited Messiah ben-David whom they then had learned to see was the real Rav Yeshua and not the fictional Jesus in whose name they had been so long and so cruelly persecuted? Now, modern Messianic Judaism has tried in some degree to offer a similar shift in perspective to the present generation, though the movement itself is still struggling to formulate a suitable curriculum; but even so it cannot address prior generations of Jews and HaShem’s sense of Justice would require that all of them be given an opportunity to know the truth that had been hidden from them. Now, would you agree with HaShem’s choice to redeem these in such a fashion? Or would you wish to say that they already had their chance and rejected it? Would you find yourself in a position similar to those in Rav Yeshua’s parable of the workers who complained that they had worked all day and yet received only the same wage as some who worked only the last hour? Or would you rejoice in HaShem’s graciousness?

        Now I’m not insisting on any particular mechanism or process by which I believe HaShem will compensate and redeem in fulfillment of His faithfulness to His promises despite the shortcomings of my Jewish people. But I think it about time that Christians disengage themselves from their notions of universal Jewish condemnation.

        In concluding, you cited as a truism that “faith without works is dead”. So we are, after all, in agreement. Yakov’s assertion was that he would demonstrate his faith by his works, which is a traditionally Jewish position.

      • PL
        Before I try and do justice to your last reply, one question. The NT is addressed to many Gentiles – slaves, servants, tradesmen and the like. You say the NT requires a midrashic approach. Do you think that Gentiles had to take lessons in midrash before they could understand the Gospels and the epistles?

      • If the non-Jewish disciples seriously followed the implications of Acts 15:21 to learn Torah in synagogues each Shabbat, they would incidentally be learning midrashic methodology also. In addition, those who learned directly from apostles like Rav Shaul would also learn such an approach to understanding both his teachings and Rav Yeshua’s. Regrettably, it is later generations of non-Jews who distanced themselves from such knowledge and began trying to read the scriptures through a foreign lens linguistically, culturally, and theologically.

      • PL
        Your “non-Jewish disciples seriously followed the implications of Acts 15:21 to learn Torah in synagogues each Shabbat, they would incidentally be learning midrashic methodology also. In addition, those who learned directly from apostles like Rav Shaul would also learn such an approach to understanding both his teachings and Rav Yeshua’s.”

        As you hold that all followers of Yeshua should “learn” Torah, am I right in inferring that they must keep Torah, that is, they are obligated to practice Halacha? If so, would the content of Halacha be the same as that practised by frum Jews?

      • If you read the preceding verses of Acts 15, you’ll find that they address in verse 1 a controversy about non-Jews having to convert to Judaism (i.e., become circumcised) and thus become obligated to full Torah observance in order to be considered “saved”. This chapter documents the halakhic decision of the Jerusalem Council that non-Jews are specifically not thus obligated, but are rather obligated to only four basic principles. These may be found also in Torah, and they also bear implications to other Torah principles which thus may be deemed binding. These implications are among the aspects of Torah that non-Jews would undoubtedly learn during the pursuit of the Acts 15:21 recommendation. Rav Shaul was also quite explicit in his letter to the Galatian assemblies that while Torah observance was incumbent upon Jews and circumcised proselytes (viz: Gal.5:3), it was not so upon non-Jews and that non-Jews should resist pressures that had been brought to bear upon them to become circumcised.

        Your inference was mistaken, but if non-Jews were to adopt any halakhic practices voluntarily, for their educational value, they might be expected to take a cue or two from Jewish practice. I suspect this sort of behavior was in view in Is.56, wherein HaShem strongly commends the “b’nei nechar” (non-Jewish foreigners) who keep His Shabbat and cling to the covenant. The only caveat I offer is a concern to protect distinctive Jewish identity, which may occasionally demand distinctive Jewish praxis.

      • PL

        Does “every man” in Galatians 5:3 exclude Jewish converts? Is it your thinking that Paul is teaching that children of Jewish converts have to be circumcised to be true converts.

        5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

        2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

      • Actually, Gal.5:3 would be directed specifically toward potential Jewish converts. Adult Jews are already circumcised and are obligated by Torah to circumcise their infant males. In neither case (adults or infants) were they given a choice about it, so they really weren’t in a position to “allow themselves” to be circumcised. However, the Greek “peritemnomeno” does not explicitly say “allows” or “agrees” to become circumcised; it is more literally “is circumcised” or “becomes circumcised”. Thus it would only incidentally include Jews who already are circumcised as well as converts who had been already circumcised; and it would project forward, as intended here, to those non-Jews who might yet become circumcised whom Rav Shaul was discouraging from doing so because they also would then be obligated to full Torah observance.

        The Galatians letter was written to (adult) non-Jews exclusively, who were under social pressure to convert to Judaism (for details, see Nanos: “The Irony of Galatians”), which is why it is presented thus. Jewish converts, who by definition have been already circumcised, are just as obligated as any other Jews to circumcise their infant sons. Those circumcised infants would not be converts, but rather Jewish sons, irrespective of any former parental status that was superseded by their later status as Jews. Secondary conversion of existing children in the family of a convert probably would not have been discouraged by Rav Shaul, for reasons similar to those for which he himself circumcised Timothy (e.g., children of Jewish parents should have Jewish status). Nonetheless, Rav Shaul’s general position, as exhibited in this letter, was that non-Jews should not convert. In the Galatian case, the pressure for conversion was for the wrong reasons, with wrong understandings, resulting in wrong consequences even to the extent of cutting them off from the Messiah’s benefits.

        The Messiah’s benefits to non-Jews include a “cleansed” status as non-Jews who are thus suited to participate in fellowship with Jews and to approach HaShem with the same confidence as Jews under the covenant. Further, non-Jews, who are not legally obligated by Torah, could merit an even greater commendation from HaShem than obligated Jews could merit, such as described in Is.56 (and perhaps hinted in Rom.2:14-16).

        Incidentally, it is not solely or specifically the Torah or halakhah that is in view in the Gal.5:1 “yoke of slavery”. Non-Jews who had not yet taken up the “yoke of the kingdom of heaven” represented by Torah observance could never be considered in danger of being “burdened again” by it, because they had never been so burdened previously. Their prior burden had to have been related to the minutia of rules that were demanded by pagan religions before they became followers of Rav Yeshua, because one can never really be sure how to appease such capricious gods. Given the Galatians’ unfamiliarity with, and their apparent misunderstanding of, the details of halakhic Torah observance, it is understandable that Rav Shaul would warn them against taking on an unnecessary new “burden” or obligation, despite the influence of those who were pressuring them to convert and receive the full benefits of acceptance within the Jewish community to which they were not entitled as non-Jews whose purity was thus in doubt.

      • PL

        First l want to say how grateful I am for your thoughtful responses.
        What do you think is the central teaching of Galatians?

      • @”bo” — I suppose I would summarize Rav Shaul’s message as including the following:

        Don’t let anyone cajole or coerce you non-Jews into full Jewish conversion and legal Torah responsibility as if you were some sort of second-class citizens who need the specific benefits that come with the Jewish covenant. Others also have been confused about this, including spiritually mature Jewish apostles. Not only has HaShem accepted you, but you possess a special kind of freedom that enables you to present yourselves as a freewill offering to Him under the auspices of the Messiah, and in accordance with the faithful example of Avraham that he demonstrated before the Torah was presented in its codified Jewish form. If he could be accepted outside of the Torah’s framework, so can you.

        Obviously there is more to glean from this letter, but I think the above would qualify as a “central” theme.

      • A person is justified in Galatians and Romans in the same way he or she is justified anywhere else or at any time. Justification is not a legal process, and legal definitions exist to confirm standards that are required by some sort of law or contract, and shortfalls from those standards. Hence justification is a supra-legal process. In these particular cases, we are discussing how justification depends on trust in HaShem’s promises, in Avraham’s case, and trust in HaShem’s promise to accept a validly-defined “bloodshed-sacrifice”, either physically or metaphorically, in others. The focus in Rav Shaul’s letters to the Galatians and the Romans is, of course, on trusting the symbolic sacrifice represented by Rav Yeshua’s physical martyrdom, with a similar purity of trust as exemplified by Avraham.

        However, outlining this process is not the “central message” of either letter (since you asked in your prior post about the “central message” of Galatians). Why do you ask?

      • Oh, I did neglect to address one more point from your last post: that when Rav Yeshua was addressed as “Lord” by his disciples, or by someone else posing a request, we would understand it more accurately if we were to recognize in it its meaning of “Master”, which is to say in more modern terms: “Teacher” (with a corresponding Jewish equivalence to the very respectful term of address: “Rabbi”). We are not seeing here a term of religious worship, nor any specific relationship with the Lord of Lords HaShem (regardless of whether the speaker might have recognized the existence of such a relationship).

      • And apparently you managed to insert another response while I was formulating my addendum about the usage of the title “Lord” toward Rav Yeshua. As you might glean from my prior post, not all lords are given equal assignments or honor. I have no problem subordinating any lordship I might be assigned to Rav Yeshua’s lordship, since he has been granted a “name above every name” — which is to say, a purpose above all others — as the most exalted assignment. As the faithful centurion put it: “I also am a man under authority …” (ref:Matt.8:9).

      • PL
        If I understand you, you are saying you and I, and Jossl blogs, are lords but Jesus is lord of lords. Where in the NT is a believer referred to as a (little) “lord?”

      • No problem, of course, PL. Really? This is my first exposure to that thinking. Realizing the enormity of the subject, do you recommend any sources to explore this point of view? I am interested only in truth, whatever the truth may be.

  37. PL your “Kabbalah does not address what is, but only explores metaphors and insights.”

    What do you mean by “what is” – texts (oral or written)? If not on texts, metaphors and insights of what?

    “Kabbalah is also quite specifically NOT the Oral Torah from which halakhah is determined.”

    As Chomsky would say “below the surface structure lurks two deep structures”:

    1, Kabbalah and Halakha are definitely not determined from the same part of Oral Torah.
    2. Kabbalah is not determined from the Oral Torah but Halakha is (determined from the Oral Torah)

    • I meant that Kabbalah does not explore ontological reality; it is an exercise in unconstrained visionary imagination. It uses biblical text and other Jewish literature as a springboard. You might find in it a minor degree of comparison with some Christian fictional literature that manages to express by means of its characters and settings various biblical viewpoints and notions. But Christian fiction, like any other fiction, generally constrains itself to the reality framework of human storytelling. Kabbalah does not. It goes beyond even science fiction and well into the realms of fantasy as it explores what might be implied in phrases derived from Jewish literature that at its base is rooted in Torah. However, kabbalistic distance from the root may be quite extreme and its connection tenuous at best. It represents a very different approach from that of Torah to illustrating both good and bad characteristics in human spirituality, though its purpose is also to pursue enlightenment and understanding.

  38. Pingback: Christian slave learns Midrash magic | OneDaringJew

  39. I believe Messianic Judaism and Christianity are different religions. Religion has to do with practice and ritual. We have many different practices.

    I also believe Messianic Judaism and Christianity are the same faith. We, Gentile Christians, are grafted into God’s people, the Jews. This is by the grace of God. Those who have truly followed Jesus have shared in both the blessings and the sufferings of the rest of God’s people. I am with the Mennonite branch of Christianity, and our people have been persecuted heavily for our relationship with Christ and our desire to do God’s will.

    As a Bible teacher, I enjoy showing my predominantly gentile high school students how the Old Testament points to Christ and the presence of Judaism in the life of Jesus and the New Testament. The faith appears to be fractured and almost schizophrenic without this understanding.

    Thank you for your article.

  40. I enjoyed the article. However I have trouble with accepting the Jewish people of Europe as descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Israel (Jacob). The bible seems to indicate that the Ashkenazi are descendants of Ashkenaz, son of Gomer. Genesis chapters 10-11. The Ashkenazim went to Israel after its creation in 1948. They were unwanted by the Americans and the British. I think that they are Jewish by religion much like others chousing to become catholic or protestant.

    • Misty, there is NOTHING in the bible that suggests the Ashkenazi Jews are decended from Ashkenaz, son of Gomer. The name Ashkenazi means they were Jews who settled in the region of Ashkenaz, just as you would have American Jews, Russian Jews, etc. It does NOT indicate Descent, only where they had settled. Genetic testing has demonstrated strong connections between the Ashkenazi Jews and the Sephardic Jews. You really need to do more research before you draw conclusions based on superficial ideas.

  41. hi i dont know much and am just been led to do so much research its like a hunger in me but what i wanted to know if anyone could help is which came first Christianity or messianic judaism? i am not a jew but have a love for Yeshua and im just seeking truth because there are alot of things that just dont make no sense to me . thanks oh and the correct name for Jesus in hebrew is it Yeshua or YAHUSHUA.

  42. Salvation, redemption, pardon, forgiveness, atonement for sin, cleansing is only through HaMassiah,Yesuah of Nazareth, the whole concept of Jews rejecting him is not today ,read your new Testament carefully and he never promise heaven for any ,except those that believe on him only, it doesn’t matter whom you pray to, let’s face the facts.

    • You need to read you New Testament carefully, and reexamine your hermeneutical principles based on anti-Jewish presuppositions. You have done nothing more than repeat tired interpretations ignoring scriptural context, as well as other scriptures that say otherwise.

  43. John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
    Yesuah of Nazareth was talking to Jews John 8:32 not Gentiles.

    • He was talking to individuals. You have failed to consider the context, and relied on old interpretations based on an anti-semitic theological grid of historic Christianity. He did not say this was a universal concept for all time.

  44. I am a Messianic, and just wanted to thank you for your post. Your writing truly accomplished differentiating between the two related religions.

    The one thing that I would add would be the most confusing and controversial topics amongst believers: faith versus works (following the Law). Paul discusses the topic in depth in Romans. In a nutshell, he is telling us that we should be striving to be like Jeshua by following Torah, but that His Grace covers us whenever we fall short. If we love God and want to please Him, then we follow His Laws. Besides, they are designed not merely to mark obedience, but for our own good. Jeshua is the living, breathing Torah.

    If we have doubts about Paul, we can look upon what Jeshua, Himself, said: “Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). Jeshua expressly and overtly warns against anyone adding or taking away the smallest detail of the Law. Following the Law is hugely important. God sent His Son to live, die, and rise because the burden is heavy, but Jeshua made it light. Jeshua fills in when we fall short. His blood purified us so that we can be accepted by the Father.

  45. I am a Christian by faith but I do think that both religions are two sides of the same coin.We should not concentrate on the differenceses but on the thing that really matters and that’s belief in Jesus as the Messiah. We are brothers in faith.I do however believe the when Jesus is accepted in our life we all become Messianic Jews in faith no matter how differently we worship Him.

      • If I may, I would like to contribute a bit of further clarity to this notion of being grafted in, specifically in reference to Rav Shaul’s analogy in Rom.11:17-24. The key characteristic that grafts branches onto this tree is faith, and only faith keeps them on the tree. Unbelief, lack of faith, is what breaks a branch off the tree, and restoration of faith grafts a broken branch back onto the tree. Hence the tree is not the covenant of Israel; it is the community of faithful ones (i.e., those who trust in HaShem). At one time, only Jews of the covenant inhabited this tree of faith, hence they are deemed to be its natural branches. Gentiles who come to trust in Rav Yeshua also learn to exercise faith, hence they become grafted onto this metaphorical tree as “unnatural” branches. They do not become members of the Torah covenant that is made only with the Jewish people. Even the “new” covenant described in Jer.31 and later cited by Rav Yeshua was made only with Jews (as the political entities of the house of Israel and the house of Judah were then known). Gentiles do not enter into membership in this covenant, but rather they “embrace” it and “cling” to it as described by Isaiah in Is.56. The faith that grafts them onto the tree of faith is the means by which they hold onto the covenant and the conduit by which they may be nourished with its blessings. But only the natural branches are members of the covenant who bear its legal covenantal responsibilities. Gentile disciples are therefore exempt from all but a few of its requirements, as described in Acts 15:28-29. Thus we can see the distinction that HaShem has defined and preserved, and why there continue to be both natural and wild kinds of branches on that metaphorical olive tree of faith.

  46. As a christian it is my most sincere belief that because of faith in Jesus Christ we have been included in the covenant that God has with the Jews.This not about a replacement theology,I don,t buy it.It is about God’s blessing to all mankind.I believe that being a christian makes me a spiritual Jew(one of God’s chosen people).So lets stop focusing on how we are different and focus on Yeshua.

    • Its wonderful that you have been grafted into the covenant, but you need to grasp the importance that God Himself has placed upon the Jewish people. He created us, not simply “spiritually” but in the flesh as a unique people that He calls His own. He is called in Scripture as the God of Israel, not by any other people. The uniqueness of being a Jew is a good thing, reiterated over and over in scripture. Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel. That is a good thing. When gentiles are grafted in, they are still gentiles. I saw an orange tree that had grapefruit and lemon branches grafted into it. The tree produced Oranges, Lemons and Grapefruits. Being grafted in did not change what they were. It simply meant that they partook of the same sap of the tree. It means we are brothers in Yeshua, but but Israel is still Israel, and the nations are still the nations. The important thing is to love one another, being who God created us to be.

  47. It is my sincere belief that as christian I became grafted into the covenant of the God of Israel because of my belief in Jesus Christ.That belief makes me a spiritual jew.In the word it says God will bless those who bless Israel.With that being said,lets stop focusing on the differences and focus on Yeshua the Messiah so that God will bless us so that we can be a blessing to all.

    • Its wonderful that you have been grafted into the covenant, but you need to grasp the importance that God Himself has placed upon the Jewish people. He created us, not simply “spiritually” but in the flesh as a unique people that He calls His own. He is called in Scripture as the God of Israel, not by any other people. The uniqueness of being a Jew is a good thing, reiterated over and over in scripture. Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel. That is a good thing. When gentiles are grafted in, they are still gentiles. I saw an orange tree that had grapefruit and lemon branches grafted into it. The tree produced Oranges, Lemons and Grapefruits. Being grafted in did not change what they were. It simply meant that they partook of the same sap of the tree. It means we are brothers in Yeshua, but but Israel is still Israel, and the nations are still the nations. The important thing is to love one another, being who God created us to be.

      • Sir;I can sincerely repect how you feel and that being said,I yield to you by divine authority in this matter being that you are more knowledgeable but I do believe that we we still should focus more on being like Yeshua.

  48. This post has significantly expanded my knowledge and understanding of Messianic Judaism and Judaism as a whole. Your reference to Joseph and his brothers representing Yeshua (I find the variations in terminology and names to be fascinating!) and the the Jews is something I have never considered, and it really does make sense. As a teenage Christian, my faith is growing every day. It’s new knowledge like this that helps me on my journey and gives me a better perspective on what exactly it is that I claim to believe and Who it is that I claim to follow. In this day and age, there’s a severe lack of understanding between faiths, in both Christianity and Judaism. I know that Israel still has an important role to play, and G-d loves Jews like yourself and Gentiles like me. Synagogue or church, you’re a man of G-d!

  49. I have always been a Christian and grew up in the Christian church. But I have become increasingly aware of the pagan mixture within our holidays and traditions. This is my main concern with remaining a Christian. I am at the point where I am contemplating whether or not by faith I am actually a Messianic Jew. I do think that regular Jews are the chosen people and they worship the one true God and God’s covenant remains with them. The more I think about it it becomes increasingly clear…that it was a necessity for some of the higher ranking Jews to reject the Messiah in order for the ultimate sacrifice to occur. If all of the Jews accepted Jesus as the Messiah, then the prophecy would have never been fulfilled because the Roman Officials did not want Jesus blood on their hands. I do believe the new covenant did not do away with the old covenant holidays though and the true Sabbath. I dont necessarily want to start attending a Jewish church regularly, but would like start resting and worshipping on the true Sabbath..as well as join the celebrations and festivals as described in the old testament and embrace their calander instead of participating in Christmas and Easter and Sunday worship. Does this make any sense?

    • Definitely the Constantinian shift took the church down a road that was not helpful. Also, definitely there is no problem following the Jewish celebrations as long as it does not become a legalism (see Galatians). We were, after all, grafted into that root. The Constantinian shift was more damaging than just importing some pagan days and celebrations, however. If I may suggest the book “The Upside Down Kingdom” by Donald Kraybill as a reference, I think you would find it helpful.

      • @Donald Fry & @Ronelle — If we take Is.56 as a guide, we see that HaShem commends “b’nei nechar” (foreigners) for observing the Shabbat and clinging to His covenant. That does not mean for the foreigners to convert to Judaism to become legally-obligated members of that covenant, but only for them to embrace its principles, we might say. Even their observance of the Shabbat is described only as not profaning it as an ordinary day, which is not as extensive or stringent an expectation as is the command given only to Jews to actively sanctify it. It might seem overly obvious to state this, but if G-d is to be recognized as G-d over all nations (and not just the covenanted Jewish one), then gentile foreigners of this sort are absolutely needed and valuable to the demonstration of HaShem’s all-encompassing love and His concern for all of humanity. If I extrapolate one of the implications of what Rav Shaul wrote to the Galatians (i.e., in Gal.5:2), gentiles who convert and become fully responsible for full Torah observance miss out on the full benefits of the messiah which include the possibility of gentiles going above and beyond what is required of them and embracing HaShem’s covenantal principles and symbols *voluntarily* rather than by requirement as it is demanded of converts (and, of course, of Jews [viz:Gal.5:3]).

        This is not the sole meaning of Gal.5:2, because there were additional social and political pressures on the Galatians that interfered with their proper understanding of Judaism and of the messiah, and even of the nature of faith itself; hence for them specifically to convert to Judaism presented the most severe spiritual problems. However, I have extracted from Rav Shaul’s warnings to them a meaning that is particularly applicable to gentile disciples in our own era. We may, then, extrapolate from the recognition of Shabbat by such gentile disciples to a further embrace of other Jewish celebrations in some appropriate manner that does not impose upon them the legal requirements and specific behaviors that pertain to Jewish praxis. Thus gentile disciples may express themselves in accordance with their nature as “wild” olive branches grafted artificially onto the cultivated tree of faith that is characterized by the Jewish covenant, thus to demonstrate how they too have been nourished by the Torah’s teachings of faith supplied from its root.

  50. First I just want to say this article was beautiful. I am a Christian woman with still so much to learn, but I enjoyed reading this because it gave me a happy perspective about the Jewish people. I’ve already known they will forever be Gods chosen people, but I wasn’t sure what was to be of them after Jesus. Our religions may be separate, but there’s definitely no denying when you can see the Messiah’s spirit of love in people. It is so sad for even in Christianity they are so many different denominations and everyone fighting to be right, but I agree with your statement, we could be loving each other as a family! And I for one am so grateful that the God of Israel gave us horrible gentiles a chance to love Him and His people! And just hearing you speak of how He will never brake His covenant with Abraham just makes me more in love with Him! Because of His Son we get to share in that covenant with an everlasting promise :)! It really blows my mind to think there are people who wouldn’t want to love God 😦 He is amazing! God is Love what more could you want! Thank you for writing this article! God bless

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