What do you think about this subject, is it even on your radar?
by Tov Rose
Because of what God has been doing in raising up significant numbers of Jewish believers in Jesus for the last 40 years, especially for the last 20 in Israel. There is now a growing and significant number of Jewish believers in Jesus who have felt that in order for their perspective to be heard and understood, have pursued advanced degrees from traditionally Christian Bible Colleges and Seminaries. Some have banded together in order to start their own works, such as the Israel College of the Bible and The Messianic Jewish Theological Institute. Others have teamed up with established schools like Talbot, Denver Seminary and Kings University to start Jewish Studies Master of Divinity tracks. Still others have gone out on their own starting their own Theological Institutes.
Here is what is happening:
For the first time since the 1st Century, there are significant numbers of Jewish people believing in Jesus these are working hard to get their side of the “Christian Story” out to the benefit the Body of Messiah. After 1700 years of being persecuted from the Gentile “Church” in Europe especially, we are standing up and saying, “We have something to say! The Gentile Church has ignored for too long the Jewish side of the Story!”
One thing we’re standing up to say that is that there are significant issues with traditional Bible Scholarship, specifically, because Jewish believers in Jesus have NOT been included at your table, and because of this you’ve missed important spiritual messages within the “Greek” New Testament. This is about scholarship and contributions of Jewish believers to the Body of Messiah, and that scholarship is far from unimportant.
For example, the form of Greek that the New Testament is written with has been recognized by the Gentile Christian community as language that existed for a short period of time. What you’ve missed is that Koine Greek of the new Testament is a distinctly Jewish dialect of Greek, in the same way that in modern times, Ladino is a Jewish dialect of Spanish and Yiddish is a Jewish dialect of German. The Koine Greek in the New Testament is a uniquely Jewish language, which means it cannot be divorced the Jewish culture that brought it to life! This has significant implications for New Testament Bible scholarship. Implications that have not been noticed by most Gentile Christian scholars before now, except by a minority of Gentile Christians who took time to dig into Jewish culture of the time the New Testament was written.
Another example, is the how the dominant Gentile Christian West have ignored the significance Authoritative Jewish Aramaic translations of the Bible on the dominant Jewish influenced Church that existed until Emperor Constantine essentially killed that expression of Christianity around 350 A.D. In ignoring the witness of these Bible Translations, the Western Church has lost out on understanding what was in the minds of 1st Century Jewish believers in Jesus. Missed out on how they read their Hebrew Bibles, and what was in their minds when they wrote the New Testament.
For instance, these Targums were read alongside Hebrew scrolls in the synagogues of the time, all over the known ancient world! During the 1st Century, especially, this meant that Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus were significantly influenced by the Targum translations. You can plainly see this influence all over the New Testament, but if you have decided the Tagums hold no value to Christian scholarship, then of course you’re going to miss their importance!
This has also means that there was an historical refusal by most of the Gentile Church to study important Jewish apocalyptic works such as the Book of Enoch 1, which is quoted or referred to at least 126 time by the New Testament authors. Honestly, you can’t understand apocalyptic statements in the New Testament unless you read other similar Jewish writings of the 1st Century and prior.
Even the Apostle John was referring specifically to a Targum understanding of the Bible when he wrote the Gospel of John, Chapter 1 (and throughout).
Yet another example, is the LXX (Septuagint), which is also an authoritative Jewish translation in the Koine Greek. It was translated from what is known as the Egyptian Hebrew Text of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Numerous examples of this foundational Hebrew Text were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS), adding strength to the position that the LXX is an Authoritative Bible translation, and not something to be ignored in Bible scholarship, yet for many years it was downplayed as not important. There now is enough evidence to show that the Egyptian Text was the dominant Hebrew Text prior to the Rabbi’s choosing the Pro-Masoretic Text (P-MT), which they did in the years 70-90 AD. They chose the P-MT in response to about 1-Million Jews coming to know Jesus through the witness of other believers AND the LXX/Egyptian Text. The P-MT in many ways undermines the message of Jesus, in that MANY of the quotes of Jesus are from the Egyptian Text/LXX, not the P-MT/MT. The LXX was the primary text of believers outside of 1st Century Israel.
Additionally, the LXX is quoted word-for-word 269 times in the New Testament. This shows beyond a doubt that the New Testament writers relied upon the LXX as a primary text for their writing the New Testament. In fact, you could say that the heavy usage of the LXX by the New Testament writers makes the New Testament a continuation of the LXX.
Also, scholarship being done by a non-Jewish individual named Dr. John David Pitcher Jr, shows clearly that those 6 letters of Paul that quote the LXX contain a complete Midrash (Jewish interpretational method), of the first 6 books of the Bible in the LXX, again, showing that the LXX was specifically used by the Apostle Paul when writing his letters. This also conclusively shows that the Koine Greek LXX and New Testament are part of 1st Century Jewish Culture, which point should not be ignored by modern Bible scholarship.
Historic Responses by the Western Gentile Church:
1) The most encouraging response has been that of a strong minority who receive our presence and contributions with Joy.
2) As a threat. Yes, there have been quite a number of pastors and other leaders who feel threatened by the resurgence of Jewish believers in Jesus in the Body of Messiah. These talk about how “those Jews need to stop Judaizing” (We’re not doing that by-the-way). A number talk about how “Those arrogant Jews” are introducing dangerous teachings that are not accepted by traditional Christians interpretations. The obvious response being, “Of course it isn’t part of tradition Christian interpretations, because you’ve ignored the Jewish half of the Body of Messiah! And Half a body isn’t capable of surviving on its own.
3) There are other responses, such as ignoring us and hoping we go away, and warning congregants away from Jewish/Messianic “heretical” teachings.
What’s Happening Now and What is Coming:
With the significant number of Jewish believers in Jesus coming up in the Church now, there are many who are refusing to be silent any longer, especially those who are being raised up in Israel, it is very important for the Gentile Church to pay attention and make right choices when it comes to the issue of Honor. One complaint from Jewish believers in Jesus is that the Non-Jewish members of the Body of Messiah act like they’ve taken over the entire Olive Tree on their own, while ignoring the Native-Born members of that Tree and relegating the “Natural Branches” to a second class standing.
Non-Jewish Christians say often, but their actions often show that they forget, that they are Adopted children.
Adopted children don’t run the household they are grafted into. They are to learn the ways of the new family they are grafted into. Making this point is the message and reason for Paul’s writing the entire Book of Romans, yet somehow, most of the Western Church seems to have missed this message!
Is there a solution? Yes, the Gentile Church needs to stop ignoring and instead research and study the Remnant Theology of Paul, which is found in Romans chapters 9-11. There might be the need for some repentance for not acknowledging and/or disparaging ½ of the Body of Messiah (Jewish believers in Jesus). There are some who have done this (praise God for you embracing your Jewish believing brethren!).
We are coming to the end of the age of the Gentile Church. The large number of Jewish people coming to know Messiah has grown significantly, especially in Israel. This means that the “natural born children of Abraham” (the Jewish believers) are beginning to stand up to the “adopted children of Abraham” (the Gentile Church), declaring that the Natural Branches (who actually are Redeemed Israel, Paul also calls us “True Israel” in Romans 9:6, and “Remnant Israel” in Romans 9:27), are rising up at long last now, in these last days, to take their place AMONG you! They want to sit at the table with you as equals, sharing insights the Lord has given each of us, thus contributing to the strengthening of the entire mosaic that is the Body of the Messiah of Israel.
Jewish believers in Jesus have significant things to say and do. Will you join again with us as you began in the 1st Century, or will you stand against the plan of God that is now being played out which will lead to one of the greatest revivals in history?
How will you respond when thousands of Jewish believers in Jesus, Missionaries from Israel, start streaming in to the world to fulfill their mission of raising up Gentiles into the Kingdom?
That is their Biblical job, by the way, to witness to Non-Jewish people.
How will you respond when their cry goes forth, begging the Gentile Church to repent of past wrongs done to our unbelieving brethren over 1700 centuries, in order to pave the way for an even greater harvest among our Jewish people?
Will you turn a deaf ear and harden your hearts as has happened so often in previous generations?
What will you do when you realize that the Gospel preached by Jewish believers in Jesus is more Jewish than yours–and that God wants it that way–because that is how the Gospel began 2000 years ago?
Are you going to embrace the Jewishness of Jesus and the Jewishness of the New Testament, or are you going to stand up against the Messianic Church that is arising? Where both sides of the Body of Messiah work and live together, accepting each other as equals and important parts in need of each other’s uniqueness?
Then again, there is the issue of Honor.
At least in the USA, there has been a much needed movement toward reconciliation and Honor, between the Gentile Church of the West and Native Americans (and other native peoples), and also with the African-American population, but haven’t you forgotten 1700 years of refusing to honor those of the Jewish nation who brought you the Gospel of the JEWISH MESSIAH/Christ in the first place?
With Jewish scholars and pastors now rising up and asking for a seat at the Lord’s Table, are you going to choose to be offended, or choose to honor the people and culture that brought you the Bible — the culture of a Jewish guy named Jesus/Yeshua, The Messiah of ISRAEL?
Believe me, there is a LOT of room opened for the Gospel, reconciliation and propagation of the Kingdom of God when you come humbly in love to build, rebuild and restore relationships with your Jewish believing brethren.
So, consider this an invitation, by your Jewish brothers and sisters who love Jesus. There has truly been a lot of hurt felt by Jewish believers in Jesus in your Congregations, Bible Colleges and Seminaries.
If none of this makes any sense to you, or you think it isn’t important, then I’d like to challenge you to prayerfully read Romans 9, 10 and 11, and then ask God how you should respond.
And I have one final question:
The Apostle Paul said that his witness to Non-Jewish people was for one purpose: To make Israel (Jewish people who do NOT believe in Jesus), Jealous for what God has given you in Jesus. In other words, your primary job as non-Jewish followers of Jesus is to be Jewish Evangelism.
So, what are YOU and your Congregation doing to make unbelieving Jewish people Jealous for the relationship you have with the God of Israel?