HOW JEWISH ARE WE TO BE?
Only as Jewish as Jesus told us to be...
What did Jesus, and the New Testament Scriptures, say about us being Jewish, or embracing Judaism? And how did Jesus define being Jewish, or Judaism?
We have to understand that at Jesus' time there were a number of different types of Jews. The Pharisee are the most noted, since they were written about much in the Gospels for their encounters with Jesus. But the Pharisees were just one group, Jesus called them hypocrites, vipers, and lawless. We have to be careful not to lump all New Testament Jews in with Pharisee and religious leaders, who were mostly corrupt.
Yet there were other Jews, who the Scriptures refer to as 'righteous' which means they were not Pharisee, and they didn't not adhere to the teachings of the Pharisees.
Jesus, his Apostles and his disciples were also Jews who didn't follow the ways and the teachings of the Pharisees.
What do we know about the Judaism of Jesus, his disciples and Apostles? Unlike the Pharisees, who placed their 'oral law' in position of supreme authority, even over the Scriptures, they thereby violated God's commands, However, those practicing Jesus' type of Judaism (Jesus, his disciples, the apostles and others) made the Scriptures their supreme authority. If we are to be Jesus' disciples we too need to practice his type of faith, and we can get that by listening to the instructions and commands of Jesus and his apostles. Here is what we read;
“Salvation is of the Jews”. Jesus said, when talking to the women at the well, when the subject of worship came up, Jesus told her, ‘salvation is of the Jews’. The Jews worship Yahoveh alone in truth and spirit (John 4:22-23), and if you want salvation, you must do the same.
“Have the Faith of Jesus”. Those who God identifies as His saints (His redeemed holy ones) keep the Commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12) What is it to have the faith of Jesus? It is based on adherence to the Old Testament, ‘law and prophets’. Jesus was a Bible believing and commandment keeping Jews who set aside man made traditions and Jewish oral laws when they interfered with the keeping of God’s law.
“God is Yahoveh and Yahoveh is one”. Nobody can truly say that they are following Jesus and worship the Trinity. Jesus said in Mark 12:29, “Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: Yahoveh our God, Yahoveh is one.” In saying this, Jesus abolishes any idea of a Trinity, he said, Yahoveh and Yahoveh alone is God. Just as the Jews accept.
“Keep the Law and Prophets”. Jesus told us to keep the Old Testament ‘Law and Prophets” (Matthew 5:17-20) that would include God’s dietary laws, God’s feast days, worshiping Yahoveh alone, keeping the Sabbath day, and all of His commandments.
“Worship Yahoveh alone”. Jesus said that we are to worship and serve Yahoveh alone (Matthew 4:10). Jesus said he is the one true God (John 17:3).
“Hear his voice and follow him”. Jesus said his sheep hear his voice and follow him. (John 10:27). What does it mean to hear Jesus’ voice and follow him? It means that we will listen to his instructions and commands and obey them. He is our example which we are to emulate.
“Walk as Jesus walked”. John who lived, studied, and walked with Jesus for more than 3 years said that we are to walk as Jesus walked (1John 2:6). That means we are to be like him and believe as he believed and do as he did.
“Attend synagogues”. Jesus didn't tell his disciples to forsake Moses or the synagogues. Jesus told his disciples, when they a attend synagogues, listen to, and do the teachings of Moses, but don’t follow the teachings of the Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-3). Jesus didn’t tell the Apostles or his disciples to abandon Moses or the synagogues and go start the Christian churches which nearly all reject Moses.
Do forsake Judaism. 2 Corinthians 11:22, “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.” Paul is often considered the first ‘Christian’. If not first, certainly one the earliest leaders/founders. Yet he still considered himself to be a ‘Hebrew’, i.e., a Jew. As a Jewish ‘Christian’ what did he believe? We read that in the Book of Acts (see below).
The earliest ‘Christians’, including Paul, kept the Old Testament ‘law and prophets’ and worship Yahoveh, God of Jews, alone. Acts 24:14, “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.” He believed and practiced what the Jews believed and practiced.
The early ‘Christians’, including Paul, were zealous for God’s law, Acts 20:21, that is, they kept God’s law with zeal, even the Feast days (Acts 20:16, 27:9; 1 Corinthians 16:8). Apparently no one told them that they were free from the law and could discard it.
The early Christians were totally Jewish, but they differed from the Judaism of the Pharisee in two ways; they believed that Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 2:37-42, 4:4, 21:20), and they follow Jesus’ instruction to not hold the Pharisees’ Oral Laws (today’s Talmud) to be sacred (Matthew 15:2-9, Mark 7:2-7).
Jesus didn’t come to set up a new religion, and he didn’t invent ‘Christianity’. Jesus didn’t come to start a new ‘church’. Jesus told us to follow his teachings, his Jewish practices, his Jewish faith, and to worship his God, for eternal life. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, restoring them to the Jewish faith which he was reforming. Jesus brought the lost back into adherence to Biblical Judaism, never away from it. Adhering to Biblical Judaism was the way of salvation.
"Biblical Judaism" means keeping the precepts, commandments, and laws of the Bible, and setting aside any man made law(s) which would interfere with that.
What are the teachings that Jesus told us to keep for salvation? Those are the twelve points I listed above. They are primarily; to keep God's laws and the Commandments of God, and to love, serve, and worship Yahoveh alone.
Christianity as we know it today isn’t based on the teachings of Jesus or his Apostles. Today’s type of Christianity didn’t develop until the 4th century, it relied heavily on a lawless understanding of Paul’s writings and then continued to evolve, with the addition of Greek Philosophies, Pagan concepts and human reasoning, into what we see today, a lawless church which worships the wrong god. (Lawless means they rejected some, or all, of God’s laws).
‘Christian’ means to be a believer and follower of Christ. Today's Christian church doesn’t follow Jesus by keeping his teachings, and while they believe in Jesus, they don’t ‘believe’ him, or they would obey him – thus they are not true Christians. Jesus told us to keep the Old Testament ‘Law and prophets’, but ‘Christians’ don’t do that. Jesus told us to worship Yahoveh alone, but ‘Christians’ don’t do that. Jesus told us to repent of our sins and go to the Father for forgiveness, but ‘Christians’ don’t do that. A true ‘Christian’ is a follower of Jesus, who believes him, and in him, and their obedience is proof of that. The true ‘Christians’ are those who practicing Biblical Judaism and believing Jesus to be the messiah.
The faith you practice is far more important than the title you give yourself. You are a 'truth seeker' and that is most important. To call yourself a 'Christian', 'Jew' or 'Messianic Jew' is simply a label. Many people call themselves 'Messianic Jews', and that is descriptive of what I described above. But you are also a true 'Christian' if you are a follower of Christ.
Unfortunately, Jews who believe Jesus to be the Messiah aren’t welcome to profess that be belief in Jewish Synagogues and they don’t fit well into Christian churches which practice lawlessness, and worships the Trinity. There are a few Messianic synagogues today, but they vary in theology and I wouldn’t consider all of them to be kosher. Some Messianic Churches are simply ‘Christian’ church with some Jewish feel to them. Whatever church or synagogue you belong to, make sure that it teaches and practices what Jesus taught; to keep the Old Testament ‘Law and Prophets’, and worship Yahoveh alone, that's what Jesus (Yahshua) commanded.
Also we are not to worship Jesus, but to honor him. and the best way to honor him is to obey his word. and his word was to worship YHVH alone, and keep the commandments of God. He also told his followers to attend the synagogue, but not to allow Jewish traditions and the oral laws, to replace of negate God's laws. Rather than an Orthodox synagogue, I prefer a reformed Jewish synagogue, since I'm not fluent in Hebrew and want to study the Scriptures more than the Talmud.