Messianic Judaism and Gentile Believers
Table of Contents:
Part 1: Definitions
Part 2: The Origins of Messianic
Part 4: Messianic Jewish Lifestyle
Part 5: Messianic Judaism and
Part 6: Messianic Terminology
Written by Rabbi David Chernoff, MMI Publishing Co., Havertown, PA.
1. Who is a Jew?
Obviously, this is a question that has been debated for centuries. One cannot be considered Jewish strictly on the basis of religion, because most Jewish people today are not religious. The same applies to any definition of a Jew based upon culture. According to Rabbinic Judaism, to be considered a Jew, one must have Jewish parents (in particular a Jewish mother).
This rabbinic definition is not Biblically correct. The Scriptural definition of a Jew is three-fold. First of all, we are a nation of people. To be considered Jewish, one must be a physical descendent of Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 12:1-3). Secondly, the Biblical lineage is patrilineal, i.e. carried through the father, not matrilineal or carried through the mother. For example, Moses had a Gentile wife and King David's great grandmother was Ruth, the Moabitess, yet their children were all considered Jewish.
Finally, the Scriptures indicate that if either parent is Jewish or if a grandparent is Jewish, one can identify himself or herself as being Jewish and can claim himself as part of God's Chosen people.
2. What is God's will regarding intermarriage between Jew and Gentile?
When a Jew marries a Gentile there is an inherent danger of assimilation into Gentile society, and therefore a serious risk of being permanently lost to the nation of Israel. Rather than assimilating, we believe that it is God's will for the intermarried couple to be Jewish, to live a Jewish lifestyle, and to raise their children as Jews in much the same way that Ruth the Moabitess made her choice to become part of the Jewish nation (Ruth 1:16-17). Even in the New Covenant, Rabbi Shaul (Paul) had Timothy circumcised into the nation of Israel because his mother was Jewish and his father was not (Acts 16:3).
3. What is the relationship of Jewish believers to Gentile believers?
In Temple days a "middle wall of partition" existed in the Temple that physically separated Jews and Gentiles. Gentiles could not enter past that point and were delegated to what was sometimes called the "Court of the Gentiles".
According to the New Covenant Scriptures, this "middle wall of partition", spiritually speaking, has been broken down (Ephesians 2:14). We are all one in Him. In fact, according to Rabbi Shaul, Gentile believers have entered a Jewish faith (Romans 11:24), and have become spiritually circumcised and spiritually Jewish as they have accepted the Jewish Messiah.
Gentile believers are one with us because the Spirit of God dwelling within a Jewish believer is the same Spirit as within a Gentile believer. Our ethnicity, heritage and background may be different, but God has made us one in the Spirit (John 10:16).
4. Can Gentile believers be members of a Messianic synagogue?
Yes, and most Messianic congregations do have non-Jewish members. To be a member of a Messianic congregation as a Gentile believer, one must have a burden and love for the Jewish people, understand what God is doing among the Jewish people, and have a "Ruth-like" calling to God's Chosen People. Praise God for the many wonderful Gentile believers who have such a love for Israel!
5. Should all Jewish believers join a Messianic synagogue?
Generally speaking, Jewish believers in the Messiah Yeshua should be members of a Messianic synagogue. The reason? Because we have an eternal covenant with God that goes back to Abraham. Our history is unique in that we were not just chosen out of many nations, but were formed by God through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to be a special blessing to this world. God has a purpose and a calling for the nation of Israel and this covenant relationship is eternal (Genesis 17:1-8)
If God has made an eternal covenant with us as Jewish people, then it is incumbent upon us to keep our covenant relationship with Him. It is God's desire for Jewish people not to assimilate but to continue to be Jewish. That desire and our eternal relationship with God is evidenced by the preservation of the Jewish people for the past 2000 years, and the fact that God has supernaturally restored the State of Israel today.
The primary way a Jewish believer can continue to live a life as a Jew and not assimilate away from his Jewish people, is to be a member of a Messianic synagogue. In a Messianic synagogue, a Jewish believer can continue to worship the Lord in a Jewish way, celebrate the Jewish festivals, raise his children as Jews and be a testimony to his family and people.