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Messianic Judaism

Beliefs, terminology & pracicves

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Beliefs of Messianic Judaism

bullet Most believers would probably accept the definition of a Messianic Jew as "a person who was born Jewish or converted to Judaism, who is a 'genuine believer' in Yeshua [Jesus], and who acknowledges his Jewishness." 1

bullet "A tenet of Messianic Judaism asserts that when a Jew accepts a Jewish Messiah, born in a Jewish land, who was foretold by Jewish prophets in the Jewish Scriptures, such a Jew does not become a Gentile. In fact, he becomes a completed Jew -- a Jew who believes Jesus is the Messiah." 2

bullet The vast majority of Messianic Jews are in the "evangelic" wing of Messianic Judaism hold theological beliefs which are essentially identical to those of evangelical Christianity, including: G-d as a Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the virgin birth; sinless life; resurrection; ascension and future second coming, salvation , inerrancy of the Bible, etc. 3,4

bullet They believe that their religious practices and beliefs are very similar to that experienced by a 1st century CE Jewish Christian movement (also known as The Way or the Nazarenes). This was one of about two dozen religious movements which were active at the time, including the Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, followers of John the Baptist, Essenes, Gnostics, Herodians, Pauline Christians, etc.  The Jewish Christian movement was composed of Jewish reformers; their group was founded by Jesus' disciples, lead by James the Just -- the brother of Jesus, -- with Peter as another leader, and largely concentrated in Jerusalem. Historians and theologians differ in their beliefs about the 1st century Jewish Christians:

bullet Many religious liberals believe that the Jewish Christians of the 1st century considered themselves to be a reform movement within Judaism. They sacrificed in the Temple, observed all of the Jewish holy days and dietary restrictions, and circumcised their male children. They worshiped G-d as a unity, and viewed Jesus as a human prophet and teacher, not a deity or part of a deity.

bullet Evangelical Christians generally believe that the Christian movement centered in Jerusalem differed little from the Pauline Christians, except that the former circumcised their male children, observed Jewish dietary laws, and worshiped in the Temple. They viewed Jesus as the Son of God, as one personality within the Trinity, as the Messiah, and as their savior.

Messianic Jews generally pattern their beliefs after the Evangelical Christian view of the 1st century Jewish Christians. For this reason, they are generally considered to be Christians by the larger Jewish community.

bullet Some believe that Yeshua will return to earth in the "Second Coming" only when a sufficient number of Jews accept him as their Messiah and Savior. Others believe that Jesus may come at any time.
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Terminology of Messianic Jews:

Messianic Jews differ from Christians in their use of terminology:

Christian usage
Messianic Judaism usage
Jesus Yeshua, Y'shua *
Jesus Christ Yeshua HaMashiach
Trinity Shilush
God, the Father Abba, G-d, L-rd
God, the Son HaBen
Holy Spirit Ruach HaKodesh
John Yochanan
Mary Miriam
Paul Sha'ul
Old Testament; Hebrew Scriptures Tanakh or Tenakh
New Testament; Christian Scriptures B'rit Hadasha
Baptism Mikveh
Church, cathedral Synagogue
Minister, pastor, priest Rabbi

* These are the probably the names that he, his family and followers used.

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Practices of Messianic Judaism:

bullet Most Messianic Jews belong to Messianic Jewish congregations or synagogues. However, some follow a Messianic Jewish lifestyle, while attending regular evangelical Christian churches.

bullet "Over ninety percent of the Messianic congregations in the United States are "charismatic" in their theological orientation (believing in the gifts [charisms] of the Holy Spirit: tongues, healing, etc.)." 5

bullet Their synagogues are similar in design to other Jewish houses of worship.

bullet Congregations typically call their leader a Rabbi, hold at least part of their service in Hebrew and display the Torah.

bullet A typical congregation will be composed of:

bullet Some Christians who are not Jewish.

bullet Some Messianic Jews who do not practice Jewish customs.

bullet Torah observant Messianic Jews who follow strict orthodox practices such as Kosher methods of food preparation and eating.

bullet Jewish members who follow a lifestyle between the previous two extremes.

bullet They generally observe the weekly Shabbat (Sabbath), starting at sundown on Friday night.

bullet Many continue the practice of circumcision of male newborns.

bullet Many Messianic Jews keep the strict rabbinical kosher dietary laws.

bullet They observe all of the traditional Jewish holidays, such as Passover, Succoth, Shavuot, etc. A few observe Yom Yeshua (the day of Yeshua) on DEC-25. However, most celebrate neither Christmas nor Easter because neither holy day is mentioned in the Christian Scriptures (a.k.a. New Testament and New Covenant)

bullet The Hebrew Scriptures are referred to as the Tanach (Old Covenant Scriptures). The Christian Scriptures are called the B'rit Chadasha (New Covenant Scriptures).

bullet They enthusiastically support the nation of Israel.

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References used:

  1. David H. Stern, "Messianic Jewish Manifesto," Jewish New Testament Publications, (1988), Page 20.
  2. Paul Liberman, "The Fig Tree Blossoms: Messianic Judaism Emerges," Fountain, (1976), Page 2. Cited in Reference 5.
  3. The Christian Jew Foundation has a web page at: http://www.cjf.org/ Their doctrinal statement at http://www.cjf.org/ discusses Biblical inspiration, the Trinity, original sin, salvation and pre-millennialism
  4. The Jews for Jesus' Statement of Faith, which describes the Trinity, salvation, second coming, etc., is at: http://www.jfjonline.org/
  5. William Greene, "A history of the 20th century movement in America of 'Jewish believers' in 'Yeshua Ha Mashiach' (Jesus Christ)," at: http://jf.org/

Copyright 1998 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-AUG-23
Author: B.. Robinson

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