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Returning the “Old Testament” to the Jewish people

December 23, 2014

erase-crossIt is now historically clear that anti-Judaism did not begin only in the second century, when the theology of supersession first became explicit. Anti-Judaic hostility is unmistakably present in the later parts of the New Testament itself. The sacred Scriptures of the Christian Church are contaminated with the poison of anti-Jewish untruth. Ever since it has been a recognizable religion at all, Christianity has been anti-Jewish.

[The] theology of supersession entailed the take over by the Church of the Jewish Scriptures and a reinterpretation of their meaning so substantial that it is not an exaggeration to call the Old Testament a different book with the same text. Clearly, if the Old Covenant has been superseded, its book belongs to the people of the New Covenant. On the other hand, if Christians must now acknowledge the continuing validity of the covenant with the Jewish people, they must likewise acknowledge the right of the people of the Old Covenant to their own Scriptures and to their own interpretation of them. As we saw, Chrysostom thought such an acknowledgement would simply invalidate Christianity. He may have been right. This is the risk these theologians run in their attempt to right historical injustice.

If the changes these theologians call for are to be accomplished, Scripture itself will now have to be viewed very differently. If it is the vehicle of divine revelation, that revelation was given to the Jewish people. The New Testament itself can no longer be given absolute status, either as a vehicle of undisputed truth-in the light of this history, the proverbial phrase “gospel truth” takes on a new and ironical meaning-or as equally authoritative in all parts. It can no longer provide the authoritative principle of interpretation of the Jewish Scriptures. The new theologies effectively entail the return of the Old Testament to the Jewish people and the dismantling of much of the New as authoritative Scripture. (pp. 418-419, Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate, By William Nicholls)

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64 Comments leave one →
  1. December 23, 2014 3:55 pm

    The christians who say we are in the new covenant have greatly erred. We are still in the old covenant.

    Most in MJ are different in there scripture interpretation of the NT. [In this case I’m not equating MJ & Christianity as one].

  2. December 23, 2014 3:56 pm

    MJ doesn’t hold to these views btw.

  3. December 23, 2014 4:12 pm

    It actually does, Bruce – along with the rest of Christianity Messanics also view the Jewish people as blind to the supposed “true” meaning of their own scriptures, which is “Jesus”.

  4. December 23, 2014 4:23 pm

    “Most in MJ are different in there scripture interpretation of the NT.”

    Bruce, that’s not actually the case at all. The only differences for MJ is that the Torah is still valid, that is as they interpret it, but it’s actually quite superficial – Messianics agree with the rest of Christians that observing Torah it is today sort of optional. It’s a nice guide, but it is not really needed to be considered righteous in G-d’s eyes (since Jesus is now their righteousness). In my extensive experience, most messianic – especially their “rabbis” – have very loose practices (whatever feels right to them) and virtually ALL of them break Shabbat even in its most basics.

  5. December 23, 2014 6:19 pm

    Gene said “along with the rest of Christianity Messanics also view the Jewish people as blind to the supposed “true” meaning of their own scriptures, which is “Jesus”.”

    Gene me and you can probably agree that Christianity (setting aside MJ) has a hellenistic/Antiochus interpretation and understanding of the entire bible (I’m including the NT with this).

    In Matthew 23:15 The Pharisees were not shy about evangelizing. However, as Yeshua points out, many of them interpreted the Scriptures in their own (self-righteous) way, that was not in accordance to the truth of Torah. Not much has changed to this day, with countless christian church denominations (setting aside MJ) sending missionaries all around the world, teaching people to follow a Messiah who tells them that “they are not under the Law” – a message alien to the true gospel message.

    Those people who are calling my older jewish brothers and sisters “blind” are actually the blind ones. Judaism at least has the foundation of Torah [which is what Yeshua spoke about having]. Christianity (setting aside MJ) could careless about Torah unless it fits there agenda.

    Which brings up an optimistic thought….. If Messianic Jews and Gentiles in the MJ movement show the joy and passion for the Torah and traditional jewish way of practicing it and properly explaining passages from Yeshua like the one above, then those in Christianity may see the light of Torah and leave the foreign worship behind and embrace the G-d of Israel, His People Israel and their Messiah Yeshua.

    ………..

    Gene said “In my extensive experience, most messianic – especially their “rabbis” – have very loose practices (whatever feels right to them) and virtually ALL of them break Shabbat even in its most basics.”

    This is where MJ needs to put a foot down and show some tough love about what is expected as a community and unit. I haven’t been to all the MJ Synagogues but If what you say is accurate then, their should be a HUGE change to correct this.

  6. December 23, 2014 6:32 pm

    BG, the only change that will truly matter is them leaving behind the worship of Jesus and everything associated with him and other teachings of Christianity. Everything else, all their other violations of Torah, either great or small, pale in comparison to the sin of idolatry. It’s meaningless to claim that one observes Torah or insist that one seeks to be more observant while still continuing to bow down to a man-god placed in front of Hashem. It’s disgusting.

  7. December 23, 2014 6:41 pm

    Gene then how did you come to this “revelation” of Yeshua not being Messiah ben Yosef and then will return as Messiah ben David?

  8. December 23, 2014 8:35 pm

    “Gene then how did you come to this “revelation” of Yeshua not being Messiah ben Yosef and then will return as Messiah ben David?”

    BG, excellent question!

    First of all, I didn’t get any revelations about anything. What I found out is because I simply decided to study everything first hand instead of reading Christian distortions of Jewish ideas.

    How much do you know about the so called “Messiah ben Yosef” from the Jewish sources? Let me tell you a few things about him, and you will tell me if he still sounds like Jesus to you:

    1. First instance of “Messiah ben Yosef” in Jewish literature is found in rabbinical apocalyptic literature written 250 years after Jesus was born and Christianity was already around for almost as long. Details on this mystical figure are very sparse, but everything written by rabbis about him says that Jesus couldn’t have possibly been him. There are no references to “Messiah ben Yosef” prior to that. He’s not found in the Bible either. In fact, it’s not very well understood how this idea came about at all, apart from the fact that many messiahs were expected to arise. Then again, there are many ideas in apocalyptic Jewish literature, and hardly all of them are accepted by Jews as fact.

    2. He’s is called ben Yosef (and ben Ephraim) because he is said to be from the tribe of Yosef. Thus he was not a Davidic messiah descendant from David. Obviously it’s a major problem for Jesus, since the NT calls Jesus the “son of David”, traces his line to David, and says nothing of the tribe of Joseph.

    3. Messiah ben Yosef is to fall in battle (some say with Gog and Magog, which obviously has not happened yet). Jesus obviously fell in no battle but was executed by the Romans, like thousands of other Jews. But before dying, some claimed that Messiah ben Yosef was to gather all the children of Israel back to the land of Israel. Obviously, Jesus died and gathered nobody back to Israel before his death. And he gathered no Jews to Israel after his death either, but caused them to scatter farther.

    4. Messiah’s ben Yosef corpse was to lie unburied in the street of Jerusalem (according to some ancient rabbis). Obviously, that couldn’t have been Jesus, since NT claims that he was buried almost immediately after his death.

    5. Messiah ben David was to come and resurrect Messiah ben Yosef, and both of them will then be around after that. Obviously, it couldn’t have been Jesus since these are two different people, and Christians say that it is Jesus who is coming, not another person.

    As you can see, Messiah ben Yosef of Jewish mysticism has nothing to do with Jesus. This becomes clear ones the facts are examined, instead letting a Christian imagination run wild.

  9. December 23, 2014 9:38 pm

    Wow!

    So why do some specifically in MJ (and I know you’ve talked to them) try to claim that Yeshua is that?

    At best I heard the allegorical or drash explanation that Yeshua is called that because he is a “type” of Joseph [from genesis] and the battles he fought and won were in the spiritual realm.

  10. December 23, 2014 10:05 pm

    “So why do some specifically in MJ (and I know you’ve talked to them) try to claim that Yeshua is that?”

    BG, I know exactly why this is done in MJ because I was that sort of MJ myself – I was busy trying to find “proofs” to bolster my faith in Jesus. One must constantly do that (find proofs), especially if one is a thinking person who reads a lot. It is far easier for anti-intellectual Evangelicals and others who prefer “simple faith in Jesus”, but not for me. What better way to do this than to find something in Jewish literature that supports Christian claims!

    I even did a classic messianic post on Messiah ben Yosef when I was still a messianic! What I did is I just simply ignored everything that made him not look like Jesus and only used those details (which I elaborated on greatly) that beared some resemblance, however remote, to JC. I knew that I was being dishonest with my Jewish sources by avoiding mentioning things that totally blew away my theories, but at the time I felt that the end (greater faith in Jesus) justified the means, since “Yeshua was true”. One sees this in MJ all over the place.

  11. Remi permalink
    December 24, 2014 10:46 am

    Please let me clarify what most MJ believe. I came out of it, so I know. Most are evangelical with a Jewish icing. They are trinitarian, and believe everything that Christian believe, exept that they put a Jewish façade to attract jewish people. Nevertheless, there are minor groups that are more legalistic and have different views of who Jesus was. They do not follow the traditional Christian beliefs. For example, in Vancouver, Canada, the main Messianic congregation is Zion. Nevertheless, there are one Messianic congregation in Surrey (about 1 hours from Vancouver) called bond servant of Elohim. They are the one that do not follow the main “Christian” beliefs. This is really the minority of the minority…. So in general, the MS are Christian, the other are sects of Christianity.

  12. December 24, 2014 1:45 pm

    Remi,

    I hear you and I see the logic, if 95% of the Messianic Jewish community acts and thinks like Antiochus/Hellenistic Christianity, and sprinkle Judaism decor over themselves [i.e: Shabbat but with a relaxed adherence, the festivals] but don’t expound on the Torah and explain why all aspects of it the Torah are still relevant like Numbers 5:11-31 are still relevant today, but treat that passage as Jesus did away with it because of the “cross” then Judaism and I’m specifically referring to Orthodox Judaism will view there movement as disingenuous and idolatrous and label it Christianity…. I get it.

    I’m truly a minority of a minority then…. In defense of that minority… a gentleman named Boaz Michael one of the publishing heavy weights in this movement mentioned the following at the 2014 Caspari Center in Jerusalem where he currently lives….

    He said: “When I say that “Messianic Judaism is the practice of Judaism,” I mean to imply that we should regard ourselves more of a functional sect of Judaism rather than another Protestant Christian denomination.

    Boaz acknowledges:

    “I realize that this definition of the Messianic movement is not to everyone’s taste, and that many Messianic Jewish leaders would phrase it differently, but I believe that Messianic Judaism should be a real Judaism — not a Jewish flavored sect of Protestant Christianity.”

    He continues with “Messianic Judaism in Israel is faltering and fragile, and Messianic Jews here face enormous pressures. For the most part, Messianic Judaism in Israel has been raised up under the heavy influence of Missionary Messianic Jewish theology, and the Messianic congregations in Israel are sometimes more like Pentecostal churches than Messianic synagogues.”

    He sums it up by saying:[Taken from James Pyles blog]

    – Peace, particularly between believing brothers and sisters and between Jews and Gentiles.
    – Torah observance for the Jew in Messiah.
    – Observance of the traditions in Messianic Judaism.
    – Gentiles: I stated that, since the kingdom is represented by both Jews and Gentiles worshiping together, Messianic Judaism today should have a mechanism and broad enough self-definition to include Gentile disciples in positive and affirming ways. This is the message of Messianic Judaism for the nations.

  13. December 24, 2014 1:53 pm

    Gene,

    Its crazy how some in the Movement don’t share these details about the meaning of Messiah ben Yosef! Thanks for your honesty and information on these types of things….. The next time I speak with a MJ or see this referenced on a blog, I will definitely bring up these points you made in addition to the research I got myself from Non-Christian sources.

    Your blog post about the “numbers” in each sect of religion is truly telling…. Judaism barely holds a percentile yet Islam and Christianity (both historically bloody religions) have the whole pie chart absorbed.

    G-d was never about numbers as you pointed out (hence Noah and even Abraham in the beginning), He was/is about obedience to Torah in a passionate joyful manner.

    I love coming here to this blog because it challenges my thinking to see what is the truth. Meaning Just the Tanach or the Tanach and Brit Chadashah.

  14. December 24, 2014 1:56 pm

    BG, as I told you before, “Messianic Judaism” is idolatry and there’s little difference between them and the rest of Christianity since they worship Jesus as god. Worshiping Jesus as god and “being saved by Jesus” is THE main point of Christianity, and in that regard “Messianic Judaism” is very traditional (trinitarian). FFOZ is also classically trinitarian and advocates worshiping Jesus as god and having their sins forgiven by him / through him. Besides, they are not Jewish movement even if going strictly by demographics and ignoring that they are just Evangelicals who use Hebraic terms and search out Jewish works to support what is otherwise mainstream Christian teachings.

    This idolatry will never be kosher, no matter how many “mitzvot” they add to it.

  15. December 24, 2014 2:09 pm

    Gene G-d sent Yeshua and G-d was the savior, just like G-d sent Moses and G-d was still the savior. The NT text says this.

  16. December 24, 2014 2:18 pm

    Jesus commanded that we are to love him, that is man Jesus, above anyone, even our own spouses and children. G-d in Torah commanded us to love G-d with ALL of our hearts. Jesus doesn’t sound like Moses, but rather as someone who wantes to be worshiped on the level of G-d. Moses was never worshipped and was example of selfless humility. Jesus is a false god.

  17. December 24, 2014 2:36 pm

    Gene When understood in its proper Hebrew context, here is some of what the “New Testament” says about Torah:

    Faith does not abolish any part of the Torah as a whole (Matthew 5:17-20, James 2:10)

    Keeping the Torah is part of the faith that gets you to heaven (Matthew 19:17; Revelation 12:17; 14:12; 22:14)

    You will abide in Yeshua’s love, if you keep Torah (John 14:15-23) as He abided in the Father’s love by keeping Torah (John 15:10; Hebrews 2:17-18, 4:15)

    Faith in Yeshua does not cancel out what the Torah says, it establishes it (**Romans 3:31)

    Torah is itself “liberty” and the standard we are to judge ourselves by (James 1:22-25)

    It is those of the flesh who are not subject to the Torah (Romans 8:5-8)

    If you say you know Him, and ignore His Torah, you are a liar (1 John 2:3-7)

    It does not matter if you are a Jew or a gentile, what matters is keeping G-d’s Torah (1 Cor. 7:19)

    The “law of love” is that we keep his Torah – which is by no means a “burden” (1 John 5:3; 2 John 1:6; Matt. 11:29,30)

    In Romans 3:31 Paul’s careful arguments in explaining the essence of the Torah, there is still the possibility that some might come to the false conclusion that Torah was not for the believer in Yeshua. Paul therefore, makes it clear that trust in G-d is what the Torah is all about. Recognizing you are a sinner (which is done through knowing what the Torah calls sin), turning to G-d, and following His Torah as the guideline for your life, is the path for both Jews and gentiles.

    Unfortunately, the mystery of iniquity (violation of Torah) that Paul warned was creeping in to the Messianic community in his day, has today become the “norm” for most people claiming to follow the Messiah, who say they are “not subject to the Law of G-d.”

  18. Remi permalink
    December 24, 2014 2:41 pm

    Ok, I think that Gene and Bruce cannot be considered christian nor jewish. Jewish don’t believe in Jesus. Christian believe that Jesus is G-d. Now, the question I have to ask is: Who is Jesus according to you? Please don’t say the Messiah, because we know you believe he is. I don’t suppose you believe him to be an angel like the JW. He is not “human” as he does not have a father. And honestly, a human sacrificing himself for the sin of the world… That seems odd. I would not follow that. Saying that he is the word of G-d would also, at least for me, fall in the category of G-d having a form (or at least part of Him). Please explain, because I am lost on what you believe. It makes me think…

    For god so loved the world that he sent his son to die for only 2 or 3 people that could have understand properly who jesus really was….

  19. December 24, 2014 2:50 pm

    BG, I don’t know why you listed things above. I can demonstrate from the NT that it also clearlt teaches against Torah and the covenant G-d made with Israel. NT speaks from both sides of its mouth – it needs Judaism to give itself the credibility of being a continuity of an established faith, and it also tries to do away with Judaism in order to build the new religion based on a demigod and without Jewish laws getting in the way.

    The only issue that should worry you is idolatry of worshiping a man as god. MJ talking points will not help with this grievous sin.

  20. December 24, 2014 3:31 pm

    Jesus is a prophet who came into the world through a miraculous birth by G-ds Spirit, and He Jesus carried out what the Torah should look like and taught and reminded the people of his day the essential meaning of the torah and that is too have Love of G-d and Fellow Jew

  21. December 24, 2014 3:40 pm

    Prophets of the true G-d don’t get deified and worshiped, BG – that is idolatry. They don’t accept people worshiping them, they don’t demand people love them above everything, they don’t say that if you saw them you saw G-d, or claim that G-d gave them His own glory (in contradiction to G-d’s own words), or that angels worship them, or that they are a lord and savior. Idolatry, Bruce, sin after sin.

  22. December 24, 2014 5:55 pm

    you should do a blog posting explaining the difference between Chasidism and Messianic Judaism (the version you left) …. Still waiting on those good titles you said you were going to blog about some time ago :-)….

    This discussion has left me asking more questions about how the MJ movement will correct itself and really lay a hard line showing itself more like Chabad

  23. December 24, 2014 7:15 pm

    There is no comparison of Christian ideas of “christ” to even those in Chabad who saw or still see the Rebbe as a classical Jewish messiah, simply because who and what “messiah” is in Judaism is so inherently different than the Christianity’s image of Christ as a man-god who saves from sins and hell (including for “messianics”). The two world views can’t be equated – Christianity perverted the Jewish messianic hopes.

  24. December 25, 2014 8:09 am

    Gene… Romans 9:1-5 :-).

  25. December 25, 2014 8:20 am

    BG, those verses by Paul are duplicitous, self-serving, and condescending, supposedly upholding Israel but then denying them at the same time (e.g. not all Israel is Israel, by which he means that Jews who refuse to worship Jesus are excluded) . They also exude grotesque idolatry (“Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised!”). I should do a post on those verses – there is so much in them that defines Pauline Christianity.

  26. December 25, 2014 9:46 am

    Gene,

    Have you ever re-considered Paul’s approach in his entire Romans Letter?

    It appears Paul calls unbelieving Jews his “brethren” as he did not see faith in Yeshua as a break with Israel and his fellow Jews of the Diaspora. Paul had not left the Jewish faith (i.e., Romans 3:31). Jews were/are the historical community of God whether they believed in Yeshua or not. Coming to faith in Yeshua would make a gentile a brother to all Jews. Paul illustrates this in chapter 11.

    Gentile salvation has come at great expense to Israel. Their salvation flows out and back to Israel to bring her to her promised salvation.

    As a Pharasiee Paul had a different outlook about salvation then what non Jews and some Jews had held.

  27. December 25, 2014 9:53 am

    Also food for consideration gene, is that Paul still considers the Jews who do not yet accept Yeshua as Messiah to be his brethren, and also the chosen people of G-d (regardless of their continued unbelief). He goes on to list several aspects of their advantage (re: Romans 2:17-20 and 3:1-9). The Torah (“law”) is mentioned in a positive light as a gift to Israel. Paul also reiterates that Yeshua the Messiah is a Jew, promised to the Jews.

    Paul’s comments in this section appear to be rooted in 1st Samuel, which make clear that Israel will always remain G-d’s chosen people:

    1st Samuel 12:20-23 -And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the L-RD, but serve the L-RD with all your heart; And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For the L-RD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the L-RD to make you his people. Moreover as for me, G-d forbid that I should sin against the L-RD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:

    Paul’s words about himself, “being accursed,” can possible be compared to those of Moses’, when the latter prayed for Israel after they had grievously sinned against G-d:

    Exodus 32:31-32 – And Moses returned unto the L-RD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

    Maybe you should really re-consider what Paul from a contextual and historical side is trying to say…. Christians don’t have the goods on interpretation of any aspect of the bible… The Jewish people do and always will.

    Bruce

  28. December 25, 2014 10:59 am

    Reading Paul closely was one of the main factors that lead to my repentance from Christian idolatry. He was truly the chief architect of Christianity.

  29. December 25, 2014 11:22 am

    BG, what is “salvation” according to Paul (Christianity) and can you find support for it in the Hebrew Bible?

  30. December 25, 2014 11:33 am

    Gene let’s be honesty to start Due to centuries of non-Jewish domination and interpretation of the book of Romans (and the entire “New Testament”) modern readers (like me and you) do not have a proper understanding of the situation with the Roman congregation, along with Paul’s concerns, so people like me and you (during your MJ days) have to work extra hard to really capture what’s the intent compared to what xtians have been slinging through the mud for so long . People incorrectly view Paul as someone that taught something other than Judaism and the Torah – often calling him the “founder of Christianity” like you mention… In reality, Paul was a Torah-observant rabbi and Pharisee, who diligently worked to bring gentiles into the faith of Israel in the way prescribed by the Jerusalem council (Acts 15), and his (correct) understanding of the Shema and Torah……..

  31. December 25, 2014 11:43 am

    BG, you are attempting to whitewash Paul. He was neither a rabbi, he certainly wasn’t Torah observant according to his own words (not the nonsense Acts says about him) , and there is even evidence from ancient sources that he wasn’t even born a Jew (although he may have been a convert or a failed convert) .

  32. December 25, 2014 11:43 am

    The congregation at Rome, unlike the others read about in the “New Testament,” was not founded by Paul or one of the other apostles. The Roman assembly developed following the events of Acts, chapter 2. At that time, Jews from around the empire came to Jerusalem for Shavuot. Many had the “tongues of fire” descend upon them. Contrary to certain opinions, this was not a unique event, nor the start of some new religion. Rather, this was a sign from G-d further confirming the validity of the Messiahship of Yeshua and a continuation of the Sinai covenant and faith of Israel. This will be discussed in the textual analysis of Romans.

    Among the Jews receiving the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) in Acts 2 were some from the city of Rome, who then returned home to begin a congregation and “spread the faith.” As discussed in the background articles to this study, this new group existed within the framework of the synagogue system in Rome. This was true of all congregations in the empire until the destruction of the Temple in 70AD, after which a definite split began to occur between Jews who believed in Yeshua, and those who did not. Paul’s letter to “the Romans,” is addressed to such a synagogue-based “sub-community,” that believed Yeshua was the Messiah.

    With Rome being far from Jerusalem, and the center of the pagan Roman empire, there was an early influx of gentiles into this congregation. As mentioned, the Roman congregation lacked the apostolic foundation of the others. If we examine the pattern seen in the “New Testament,” Paul always followed the same pattern for establishing all new congregations. He began with the restoration of Israel in each location first, by preaching to the Jews in the synagogue. Only after doing this, would the message be extended to the gentiles.

    His pattern was always, “to the Jew first” (Romans 1:16).

    This had not happened in Rome however. As we will see, Paul in his letter, planned to implement this pattern upon his arrival. This is why we see him telling the believers there that he is coming to bring them the gospel so that they will be properly established (Romans 1:11-15). Although the Roman congregation had some truth about Messiah, certain incorrect teachings and practices were creeping in, due to the lack of this authoritative foundation…… And we have to consider this Gene if we examine Paul from purely a historical and contextual aspect……. Now let me give some more context to this delicate situation regarding Paul before diving into His Torah based view of Salvation …. Again Paul had a delicate task presented to him Gene… So let’s look carefully at this………….

  33. December 25, 2014 11:49 am

    Once you realize that Christianity’s attitude toward Jesus idolatry, desecration of Torah and disdain for Judaism is not a later corruption but squarely rests with the teachings of Paul, then you can start freeing yourself from the falsehood and idolatry in which you have found yourself entangled.

  34. December 25, 2014 12:04 pm

    Gene hear me out before you claim I’m whitewashing Paul, we have to look at this in its historical and contextual aspect…..Paul’s roman letter was no doubt read aloud to the congregation. It would seem that the leadership of this group may have been mostly in the hands of Jewish believers (or established gentile converts to Judaism that had then accepted Yeshua as Messiah).

    The body of congregants however, was no doubt a “mixed bag,” including:

    Jews who accepted Yeshua.

    Gentiles who had fully converted to Judaism, then accepted Yeshua.

    Gentiles who had been in the process of converting, then accepted Yeshua.

    Gentiles who essentially had been pagans until hearing about Yeshua.

    If this weren’t complex enough, it is important to remember that this group was meeting within the framework of the synagogue system, therefore they were in regular contact and discussion with non-believing Jews. This point is overlooked in almost all studies, yet is critical to understanding where Paul is coming from.

    Whether they met on the Sabbath in the synagogue(s) along with these non-believing Jews, or privately in homes, this was all done under the authority of the Synagogue. As mentioned in the background material to this study, there were no “new religions” formed, as this was not allowed by Rome. Only the Jews had the right to assemble and worship their own G-d. Historically, all Roman writers of the time referred to this “Yeshua movement” as a sub-group within Judaism (as does the “New Testament.”)

    Therefore, although the letter was to be shared by the entire congregation (and all could learn from it), a key to comprehending Romans is to understand who the intended audience is. And as you read the entire letter from a contextual and historical perspective Paul is mainly addressing gentile believers who do not understand their role in the faith of Israel, or G-d’s eternal salvation plan for the world……….

  35. December 25, 2014 12:13 pm

    Paul is writing primarily to establish proper behavior for the gentiles coming into the faith of Israel. As mentioned, many of these gentiles were coming into their Messianic faith directly from a pagan background, which had little regard, if not even contempt, for anything “Jewish.”

    The greater purpose of Paul’s letter to the Romans was to explain (to the gentiles in the congregation):

    1.) The role of Israel regarding the salvation of the gentiles.
    2.) The Torah commandments regarding food and purity, and Jewish expectations of gentile behavior.
    3.) The Gentile’s responsibility regarding the above as “righteous gentiles” associating in the Jewish community.
    4.) That any ideas of their having “replaced” Israel were grievously in error.
    5.) That any ideas of non-believing Jews being “their enemies” were also in error.

    Broken down into greater detail, we will see that Paul’s message to the gentiles includes understanding:

    A.) That their faith is in Israel’s Messiah
    that their Gospel was declared to Israel first.
    B.) That they are now equals through faith in Yeshua without having to become Jews, but …
    their salvation is at Israel’s present expense, and …
    they have an obligation to help the stumbling of Israel stand.

    Furthermore, Paul teaches that the “Yes” response of believing Israel AND the “No” response of non-believing Israel, both precede the “Yes” of those grafted in. The believing “root” and the grafted in “branches,” must now recognize their responsibility to those of Israel who initially said “No.”………

  36. December 25, 2014 12:19 pm

    Now gene What is often lost and overlooked, and is a key to discerning Paul’s teachings, is his own understanding of the “Shema:”

    Hear O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One
    Blessed be His Name, whose glorious Kingdom is forever and ever

    The first verse of the Shema comes from Deuteronomy 6:4. The second verse comes from Oral Torah, that accounts these as words spoken by Jacob to his sons (as we both know), shortly before his death. “Hear O Israel,” corresponds to “Hear O Jacob,” words spoken to Jacob by his sons, to reassure him that G-d’s kingdom would indeed come one day and his decendents were to play an important role.

    The Shema is sung/said as a prayer anticipating the establishment of the Kingdom of G-d (we agree on that right?). The essential theme to the Shema is that of harmony and unification. It is a time when the Name of G-d will be one, G-d and creation are brought back together, the lost tribes (Ephraim) are reunited to Judah, righteous gentiles come together with faithful Israel into the faith of Israel, and the Messiah (bridegroom) and the Shekinah (bride) are joined together.

    Paul is teaching the election of Israel, along with the inclusion of gentiles into the faith of Israel, as “G-d is One” (i.e., the Shema). The basis of his teaching is that Jews and gentiles will honor G-d together as one “body” or “building.” For the gentiles this is to be done through obedience to a specific teaching (the obedience of faith, mentioned at the beginning of the letter)……….

  37. December 25, 2014 12:24 pm

    BG, you are basically repeating FFOZ materials to me, their own whitewashing of Paul, no offense. Caught up in defending that wicked fork-tounged man, you seem to be willfuly ignoring the only thing that should be truly bothering you yet doesn’t seem to concern you – idolatry of worshiping a man as god.

  38. December 25, 2014 12:29 pm

    Paul gives a similar message to gentile followers of Yeshua in another one of his letters, where he pictures them as being equal to Jewish believers. Paul considers them both to be the “building materials” of a spiritual Holy Temple. (My Comments are interjected within the chapter text to show who it’s addressing):

    Ephesians 2:1-22 – And you [gentiles] hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we [Jews] all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

    [Having established both gentile and Jewish condemnation before G-d (in a similar fashion to Romans 1:8 to 2:29), Paul goes on to show how G-d’s mercy extend to both the gentiles and the Jews through faith and not self-righteous legalistic observance of any works.]

    “But G-d, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of G-d: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

    [Having demostrated that Jew and gentile have been saved by a merciful G-d, and not of anything either did or deserved, Paul makes clear to the gentiles (“ye,” below) that before their salvation they had no relationship to Torah (the “commonwealth” and “covenants of promise.” Now, as believers in the G-d and Messiah of Israel, they are brought into the faith of Israel. Paul’s intention for gentiles is that they would begin to learn and take on more of Torah, as the Jerusalem council in Acts 15:21 stated.]

    “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without G-d in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

    [Paul now shows that Yeshua has taken down the “wall of partition” between Jew and gentile. Torah, instead of differentiating Jew from gentile, is now, through faith, the lamp unto the path of both groups, as G-d is One (the teaching of the Shema). Note that the “enmity” between Jew and gentile, “caused” by the Torah, is abolished through faith in Yeshua. However, the Torah itself is not abolished in any way, as Yeshua Himself said (Matthew 5:17-21). The Torah is not “enmity,” as it is “holy, just and good.” (Romans 7:12 – See also comments on Romans, chapter 3.]

    For he is our peace, who hath made both [Jew and gentile] one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto G-d in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

    [Paul concludes the Ephesians chapter by repeating the reminder to gentiles that they are now part of the faith of Israel with its Torah.]

    Now therefore ye [gentiles] are no more strangers and foreigners [to the faith of Israel], but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of G-d; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the L-rd: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of G-d through the Spirit………

  39. December 25, 2014 12:35 pm

    I’m not familiar with FFOZ’s position on Romans…. And I doubt they would agree to this view. I end with this..

    The problem Paul is facing in writing the Romans letter, is that he has to balance the teaching of the gentile’s obedience of faith while maintaining the truth of their equal standing through faith alone. (i.e., Gentiles do not have to become Jews to be saved, because, “G-d is One,” yet as new (gentile) members of the faith of Israel, they do have a relationship with G-d’s Torah that they did not have before.)

    As mentioned in the background material to this study there are heresies on “both sides of the aisle,” for Paul to combat. The early problem was that some Jews were teaching that gentiles had to take on all the Torah first (become Jews) before being considered as true believers. Later, certain gentiles were entertaining the idea that they had no need for the Torah (or anything “Jewish.”) This latter falsehood is the one Paul faces in Rome.

    Paul’s desire in Romans is that the faithfulness of G-d to Israel would be followed by mercy of G-d to the gentiles. He knows that great numbers of gentiles coming to faith in the G-d of Israel would be proof to those Jews still “stumbling” over Yeshua, of the validity of His Messiahship (and of Paul’s ministry!) The unbelieving Jews would then see that faith in Yeshua establishes Torah (Romans 3:31) and does not conflict with it. Paul hopes that by this process, all Israel would be saved.

    If we were to outline Paul’s view of salvation history (past and future), it would look like this:

    1.) Abraham
    2.) Israel (Jacob’s sons – Moses – Sinai)
    3.) Yeshua (Israel’s Messiah)
    4.) Israel (… to the Jew first)
    5.) gentiles (… then to the gentile)
    6.) Israel/gentiles (together, for the benefit of non-believing Israel)
    Israel again (“all Israel will be saved”)
    the world (“if their [the Jews] rejection of the Gospel brings blessings to the world, how much more will their acceptance?”)

    What’s your thought on this gene? or anyone who reads this and is curious about Paul’s intent

  40. December 25, 2014 12:37 pm

    Never in my explanations do you see Paul promoting Yeshua as idolatry or saying the focus is off of G-d

  41. December 25, 2014 12:42 pm

    BG, again what is “salvation” according to Paul (and you, and Christianity) and can you find support for such a salvation in the Hebrew Bible?

  42. December 25, 2014 1:16 pm

    Why would Paul himseld call Jesus an idol? Jesus was his demigod and his chief focus! Idolaters didn’t call their own gods “idols”, obviously, but we certainly can and should, including the object of Paul’s own idolatry.

  43. December 25, 2014 1:17 pm

    If you read FFOZ’s Tent of David, then you are very familiar with their take on Romans.

  44. marko permalink
    December 25, 2014 1:25 pm

    .מתפלל בשבילך

  45. December 25, 2014 1:29 pm

    Marko, you may comment in English – I am not an Israeli and neither are most of my readers.

  46. December 25, 2014 2:01 pm

    Salvation is adherence to Torah by faith in G-d …. And G-d is the one who gives it, we can’t be self righteous and expect to automatically be accepted into the world to come…. We have to be passionate and joyful in our observance Gene

    You know this

  47. December 25, 2014 2:03 pm

    Marko is praying for you again gene :-)

  48. December 25, 2014 2:05 pm

    I haven’t read the book Tent of David yet, but have heard the jist of what it’s about and have heard people on the Internet explain the results of what the book encourages.

  49. December 25, 2014 2:14 pm

    Wrong, BG, that is not the Hebrew Bible or Jewish definition of salvation at all. It has nothing to do with “adherence to Torah by faith” in any god much less Jesus. That’s a classic Christian definition with a messiantic and your own twist tacked on.

    Salvation in the Hebrew Bible is G-d rescuing people from physical destruction and from their real (not imagined or spiritual) enemies. Look up all instances of salvation in the Hebrew Bible and see for yourself. Christianity replaced that obvious and classic biblical definition with a whole new meaning of being “saved” from hell by Jesus, getting to heaven and being made acceptable for afterlife by participating in a mystical cult. In that regard it shared much in common with other salvific religions of the Roman empire.

  50. December 25, 2014 2:25 pm

    Your right gene I did err in my conveying if what salvation is…. The Israelites were saved in Egypt before the giving of the Torah…. G-d acted and deemed them ready for salvation. Once they were “saved” meaning left the foreign place of other gods and were alone in the desert G-d was able to give them His Torah as a covenantal promise etc…

    Did I get that right?

  51. December 25, 2014 2:34 pm

    Bruce, the salvation is G-d physically rescuing Israelites from being afflicted by or destroyed through slavery and murder at the hand of the Egyptians. It has nothing to do with the later giving of Torah, which is a separate event, just as coming in the Land was a whole other event than the salvation from the hand of the Egyptians.

    Noah was saved from flood. Jacob was saved from Esau, David was saved from Saul and his other enemies, Israelites were saved numerous times from those wishing to destroy them, etc. G-d will later save Jews from collective attack of nations. That’s the true meaning of Biblical salvation, and not the spiritualized Christian (and Paul’s) definition of being saved from one’s sins and hell through believing in Jesus and his death.

  52. December 25, 2014 2:49 pm

    That’s true that’s the salvation we see, so why does this change in the NT? Why is it more spiritual instead of physical …. Even though those physical events in the Tanach were also spiritual battles too.

  53. December 25, 2014 3:05 pm

    It has changed because Christianity imagined Satan not as the Jews do (as G-d’s servant in the role of a heavenly prosecutor, as we see in Job), but as a “god of this world” and an evil force that is trying to unseat G-d Himself and send people to hell. This role for Satan was borrowed from other pre-Christian religions. Thus Christianity, especially since Paul, reimagined Jesus (a failed messianic candidate, one among many) as a demigod and son of G-d sent to defeat an evil god Satan and rescue people from hell by them believing in Jesus’ death, later reimagined as a voluntary “sacrifice” on the cross. Once that myth was firmly in place, a new religion based on veneration and worship of a demigod sprung forth. It had no place for Judaism and Jews, whose understanding of G-d, Torah, salvation and life and death was a direct opposite in many regards. Jews had to be either converted, replaced or eliminated, either spiritually or physically.

  54. Concerned Reader permalink
    December 28, 2014 1:04 pm

    This role for Satan was borrowed from other pre-Christian religions.

    No Gene, no, it comes from the Appocrypha, not other religions. The books of Enoch talk about fallen angels, as does the Qumran literature.

  55. Concerned Reader permalink
    December 28, 2014 1:36 pm

    I want to make this as clear as I can. Analogies between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam on the one hand, and various polytheistic traditions on the other, are only similar on a superficial level as all religions have some similarity. Polytheists do not however have an analogue to our conceptions about G-d.

    BG if you are interested in this question, may I recommend http://www.avesta.org/mp/shkand.html#chap1 and a google search for polytheistic people’s views about monotheism. The key is to talk to them, and not to a monotheist about them.

    This site is a Zoroastrian polemic against the monotheists. The problem that the zeitgeist movie and most monotheists generally have, is that they never actually talk to polytheists, to know their beliefs directly, so their knowledge of what it is, and how to refute it, etc. is mostly based on a theoretical understanding, based on a scriptural polemic from the Bible. As a result, many monotheists often see parallels with other faiths, where in fact, few exist at all.

    Take for instance, monotheism itself. Monotheism, or belief in one divinity antedates the writing of scripture. The ancient Egyptians, and even one of the Roman emperors (Elagabalus) believed in “one god.” Belief in one god can be henotheistic, (there are other divine beings but one is supremely in charge) pantheistic (everything somehow is god)

    Israel is different. The blessed gift that Israel gifted to us all, was not just one god, but G-d, the creator, who created the world from nothing, (as opposed to a preexisting substance) and created the world with an intent for humans to make a dwelling for him here by doing commandments.

    You will find very little analogy to anything truly like that in scripture in any religion other than Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The reason for this is, because Judaism is what created the other two monotheistic faiths ( without intending to off course.) The point though is this. When you hear a person say “Christianity got this from polytheism.” Please, learn what these others actually teach, and the substance of it, before you draw parallels. I know of no other culture that views the moral paradigm as one governed by commands from a source beyond space and time. Other religions have relativistic moral ideologies because they do not believe in the notions about G-d found in the Bible. As I’ve explained to Gene and others, just because you believe in one G- d does not mean you believe in the G- d taught in Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.

  56. December 28, 2014 2:45 pm

    You would be wrong about that, CR. The classic role of the Devil as an evil entity counterpart to good dieties can be traced far earlier than that, to dualism, a concept that makes its appearance in various religions. Persian dualism is one notable example.

  57. December 28, 2014 2:51 pm

    Christianity is not a monotheism, CR. Rather, by deifying a man into god that became object of worship and by replacing Jewish messianic expectations with a spiritualized demigod savior it became a corruption of both Jewish monotheism and Jewish messianism.

  58. marko permalink
    December 28, 2014 3:00 pm

    Praying for you, Gene. :)

  59. December 28, 2014 3:35 pm

    Marko, what are you praying for? I hope that it’s for G-d to get more Jews out of idolatry of worshiping Jesus, to return to their spiritual ancestral home.

  60. Concerned Reader permalink
    December 28, 2014 4:40 pm

    Gene, Christianity is not dualistic. The devil is under G-d’s control. We have Job in our bible’s too you know.

  61. December 28, 2014 5:59 pm

    CR, Christianity would like to imagine itself as “not dualistic”, but it is in fact permeated with dualism top to bottom, starting with the New Testament itself. The Christian bible, as even a casual observer will quickly notice, spends an inordinate amount of ink on the devil who is fighting the Christian god (Jesus) and trying to kill him, on the Christian god (Jesus) fighting the devil and resisting his temptations and attempts to do away with him before his time, ending with the last fight between the devil and the Christian god in the book of Revelation. Top to bottom, CR!

  62. December 28, 2014 9:32 pm

    Thanks CR for the link I will check it out.

  63. December 31, 2014 12:29 pm

    Chasidism always seemed to me to be very similar in its ideas to Christianity. They seem to be playing with fire being so close to idolatry. It is easy to speak of the errors of te messianics, but chassidics seem untouchable, even with their images of their ‘holy rabbis’, their prayers at the tombs of tzadikim whom they believe will make their prayers more acceptable to G.d.
    No wonder messianics rely so much on chassidic theology to base their beliefs.

  64. December 31, 2014 12:45 pm

    @ensayosde1vagabundo

    I come from a solidly Chasidic background, both sides of my family, but especially my mother’s, who were a very prominent Chasidic rabbinical dynasty in Poland. At the same time, I’ve criticized some Chasidic practices that appear to border on avodah zarah, both here and elsewhere. Although when closely investigated, many of their practices merely raise suspicions of avodah zarah (which is bad enough on its own, which, as you said, is “playing with fire”), without actually being one. One example is the ubiquitous pictures of rebbes – I’ve never ever seen a Chasidic Jew pray to or toward a picture of any rabbi, bow before a picture of any rabbi, kiss a picture of any rabbi, or claim that a picture of any rebbe or rabbi works any miracles.

    “No wonder messianics rely so much on chassidic theology to base their beliefs.”

    This is unfortunately is quite true, especially lately. Although as with most other Jewish things they do so in a very distorted form and in the way goes against the original intent of the Chasidic masters.

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