Articles on: Roles of Gentiles in Messianic Judaism
Articles on: Roles of Gentiles in Messianic Judaism
Messianic gentiles Are biblically and prophetically part of Israel. The term Gentile is used here to refer to those not of Jewish descendancy, because that is what non-Jews are called in popular speech. In actuality, Messianic Believers who are not Jewish, but are part of Israel by faith, cannot also be Gentile, for one cannot historically be Gentile and a part of Israel
At the same time. In scripture, the Gentiles were pagans or heathens. Messianic Believers, in our view, should no longer think of themselves as Gentiles.
I completely reject the idea of British Israelism, and the use of Biblical concepts in a secular context, which causes confusion. The following should be understood as theological truth, which is obtained by faith alone, and which is only useful for communication of God's promises within the Messianic community....
There is a very important community teaching contained in this week's parasha, a teaching that has been neglected by Israel since the Babylonian captivity, a teaching that caused no small controversy when preached by the early Messianic Community, a teaching that to this day results in division among those who have in any way sought to combine Torah and Messiah in the community of Israel. This essential part of the Torah is as follows:
Numbers 15:14 "An alien who lives with you, or who takes up permanent residence among you, and wishes to offer an offering by fire, a pleasing odor to the LORD, shall do as you do. 15 As for the assembly, there shall be for both you and the resident alien a single statute, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you and the alien shall be alike before the LORD. 16 You and the alien who resides with you shall have the same law and the same ordinance."
Exodus 12:43-51 offers several stipulations regarding who may eat of the Passover and who may not. Strangers to the covenant, transients and uncircumcised non-Jews among Israel are forbidden to eat the Passover lamb.
A certain Syrian Gentile used to pretend to be a Jew and go up and partake of the Passover sacrifices in Jerusalem, boasting, "Your Torah says, 'No alien is to eat it. . . no uncircumcised person shall eat of it.' Yet I eat of the very best of the Passover lamb." Back in Babylon, Rabbi Yehudah bar Batyra asked him, "Did they let you have the fatty tail of the lamb?" "No," the Gentile replied. "Then when you next go up to Jerusalem for Passover, demand the fatty tail of the lamb from them," Rabbi Yehudah said. When the Gentile went up for the next Passover, he said to them, "Give me with the fatty tail of the lamb." The others at the Seder (Hebrew) literally, "order"; an ordered event, especially the meal eaten on Passover exclaimed, "But the fatty tail belongs to the Most High! Who told you to ask for the fatty tail?" "Rabbi Yehudah bar Batyra told me to ask for it," he answered. "What is this meaning of this?" they wondered. They investigated the man and discovered that he was Syrian and had him executed. Then they sent a message to Rabbi Yehudah bar Batyra, saying, "Peace unto you Rabbi Yehudah bar Batyra, for even though you live in Nisibis of Babylon, your net is spread in Jerusalem." (b. Pesachim 3b)
Oftentimes non-Jewish believers within the Torah movement misunderstand these laws to indicate that they are banned from keeping a Seder. Others construe that an uncircumcised person cannot keep a Seder.
To be sure, this passage and Genesis 17 would have been the two primary texts which Paul's opponents used to argue for Gentile exclusion from Israel. It would appear that the Torah is saying that unless a person is circumcised and has made a conversion to Judaism, they cannot celebrate Passover. But a careful reading of the text will demonstrate otherwise.
A bris in the heart!" Sounds strange. Maybe even a bit ridiculous to modern ears, doesn't it? Yet God Himself speaks of circumcision of the heart in the Jewish Scriptures. And strange as it may seem, it holds as deep a meaning for us today as it did when God first gave circumcision in Abraham's time.
To understand circumcision of the heart, we first must look at the rite of circumcision of the flesh.
The record begins in the 12th and 15th chapters of Genesis. God made unconditional promises to Abraham that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars in the sky; that through his descendants all the nations would be blessed; that Abraham's people would be given a great land to occupy and that all who blessed them would in turn be blessed.
Then, in the 17th chapter of Genesis, we read:
"This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.
And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.
A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant."-Genesis 17:10-13
This short essay looks at the unity of the Torah and particularly how many times in the Tanach and Apostolic Scriptures, "commandment" or "word" is used in the singular to represent the whole Torah, emphasizing that the Torah is indivisible. Given this fact, the essay goes on to refute the teaching of some, that certain commandments of the Torah may be for people with Jewish lineage and not for non-Jews.
Acts 15:19-22 "Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren."
Acts 15:21 "For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day."
Even the Apostles admitted the Torah was a burden no one could bear! Such a statement characterizes a common setiment about the Torah - one based upon an equally common interpretation of Acts 15 and the Jerusalem Council.
But let us look again at Acts 15 and the decision of the Apostolic Council convened in Jerusalem. What was the issue at hand? What had brought about the need for the Council in the first place? And how should the decision of the Apostles be interpreted? What does all of this tell us about the place of the Torah among the early followers of Yeshua?The Core Issue at the Jerusalem Council
The opening verses of Acts 15 give us a clear picture of the core issue around which the Jerusalem Council convened:
And some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And when Paul and Barnabas hadgreat dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and certainothers of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue.
The “issue” at hand was whether or not someone who was not a Jew could be saved. To put it another way, how could a Gentile become a covenant member with Israel and share in the blessings of the covenant? The prevailing belief of the Judaisms in Paul’s day was that only Jews had a place in the world to come since God had made the covenant of blessing with Israel and no other nation.
Acts 15 is one of the most misunderstood chapters in the Bible. This passage of Scripture describes the decision of the Jerusalem Council regarding the admittance of Gentiles into the Messianic congregation (Heb. qahal, Gr. ekklesia) of Israel. Many scholars use this chapter to claim that the Law given to Moses at Mount Sinai was nullified and no longer applicable to "New Covenant" Gentile believers.
The Encyclopædia Britannica reflects this erroneous conclusion, saying that the Jerusalem Council was "a conference of the Christian Apostles in Jerusalem in about AD 50 which decreed that Gentile Christians did not have to observe the Mosaic Law of the Jews" ("Jerusalem, Council of").
In this article we are going to thoroughly examine the actual question brought before the Jerusalem Council by Paul and Barnabas, and the solution that James and the Jerusalem elders arrived at to resolve this issue. Along the way, we'll look closely at what the text of Acts 15 really says.
The 15th chapter of Acts starts by immediately identifying the problem:
Acts 15:1 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom [ethei] of Moses, you cannot be saved."
What harm we may do sometimes with careless words. Before I give any scripture from the Tanakh, I would like to say that you are not constrained from Torah study, if fact just the opposite. We are to study, to obey, and to make Torah a part of us. We are to look to His Torah continuously.
When Avraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldees, there were no ‘Jews’, there were no ‘Rabbis’, there was only a man who listened to the Almighty when He spoke and a man who obeyed. When Moshe led the people put of Mitzrayim (Egypt), there came out with him a ‘mixed multitude’. When he came down from the mountain and began to share the ‘LAW’ with the people, he did not send away the ‘mixed multitude’ so they might not hear. Moshe’s wife Zipporah was a Midianite. When Yoseph lived in, born to him from a, wife were Efrayim and Mannasheh who were given tribes within the nation of Israel. Though half Mitzrayim (Egyptian) they were given equal status with the sons of Israel.
Shemot 12:38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them, flocks, herds, and very many cattle.
The ‘stranger’ who dwelled among those who were by blood Israel were to be treated no differently, in fact they were to learn and obey the Law (Torah)
Shemot 12:48-49. And when a stranger shall dwell with you, and will keep the Pesach to YHWH, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. One law shall be to him that is homeborn and to the stranger that dwells among you.
Bereshith 17:12-14 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of your seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with your money, must be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child, whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.
Shemot 12:19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eats that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.You cannot be cut off if you were not a part of the congregation.
Recently a new teaching has emerged in Messianic Judaism. “Divine Invitation Theology” has been defined as “other than” the so-called “One Law” position in Messianic Judaism. While we do not define ourselves by “One Law,” “Divine Invitation,” or any such name; here at Bereans Online, we will always question theologies that:
This series will address some of the questions that “Divine Invitation Theology” raises.
Our goal in this series is not to single out any person, or organization. We cannot know motives, and to pretend that we can would be to engage in lashon hara [evil speech]. We will we not engage in questioning the scholarship of those promoting differing views. We will not accuse others of being pro-Rabbinic, nor are we anti-Rabbinic (on the contrary, we find great value in extra-biblical Jewish texts and practice). We will not we place ourselves in the position of seeming to have a superior revelation.
We are simple students of the Bible. We are Bereans.
We will not “name names” because our goal is only to answer some of the issues this new teaching raises. To that goal we are guided by:
Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of HaShem your God which I command you.
Our bottom line is:
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.
Issue #1: This new teaching claims that Jews and Gentiles have different covenant obligations and different standards of righteousness.
This new teaching claims that Acts 15:20; 29; and 21:25 are the only standard of righteousness for Gentile believers (plus what they call the “moral and ethical” imperatives of the Torah). Using Acts 15 and 21 as proof-texts, this new teaching expresses a desire “not to go beyond the teaching of the Apostles” regarding Gentile covenant obligations. It teaches that when the issue of circumcision and full Torah observance were proposed by some Pharisees in Acts 15, the Apostles explicitly removed those (the commandment of circumcision and full Torah observance) as requirements for Gentile believers, but instead only imposed four dictates for Gentile believers. It teaches that the Apostles refused to lay any “greater burden” (ie. Torah observance) on believing Gentiles.