Oneness, Twoness, and Three Converts

Let us use the famous story of Shammai, Hillel and the three converts (Shabbos 31) to demonstrate the fusion of Halacha and Aggadah,: A gentile once came to Shammai, and wanted to convert to Judaism. But he insisted on learning the whole Torah while standing on one foot. Shammai rejected him, so he went to Hillel, who taught him: “What you dislike, do not do to your friend. That is the basis of the Torah. The rest is commentary; go and learn!” Another gentile who accepted only the Written Torah, came to convert. Shammai refused, so he went to Hillel. The first day, Hillel taught him the correct order of the Hebrew Alphabet. The next day he reversed the letters. The convert was confused:”But yesterday you said the opposite!?” Said Hillel: “You now see that the Written Word alone is insufficient. We need the Oral Tradition to explain G-d’s Word.” A third gentile wanted to convert so he could become the High Priest, and wear the Priestly garments. Shammai said no, but Hillel accepted him. After studying, he realized that even David, the King of Israel, did not qualify as a cohen, not being a descendant of Aaron…

from “Hillel, Shammai and the Three Converts”
Saratoga Chabad

This is sort of the “B-side” to my earlier blog post Twoness and Oneness: From Sermons by David Rudolph which, in turn, was a response to a blog post written by Peter Vest called David Rudolph to Gentiles: Like Yeshua, Our Mission is to the Jews, not Gentiles

The basic allegation is that certain Messianic Jewish organizations, congregations, and leaders are being “exclusionist” and even “racist” by having a mission only or at least primarily to the Jewish people. This was based on a twenty-minute sermon delivered by Rabbi Rudolph called Our Mission. I listened to the sermon and, not finding anything disturbing or offensive in the content, looked for other sermons and materials to add some dimension to this discussion, and then I wrote “Twoness and Oneness.”

I knew that there would be some folks my response wouldn’t satisfy. There will always be someone who disagrees and there are people with whom I disagree. That’s the nature of human beings, especially in discussions of religion and politics.

The comparison of Messianic Jewish congregations to churches such as Chinese or Korean churches broke down, at least in one person’s eyes (see the comments on Peter’s blog post for details), because it was argued that if you were not Korean but attended a Korean church (let’s say you regularly attended with Korean family members or friends) your role would not be restricted because you weren’t Korean.

In certain Messianic Jewish congregations (and this is regularly debated and agonized over in many of those congregations), non-Jewish members are not allowed to fulfill certain roles or perform certain functions (be a Rabbi or be called up to an aliyah, for example) as those roles and activities are reserved for Jewish members only.

I have no idea how any of this works at Tikvat Israel, Rabbi Rudolph’s congregation, and I can hardly speak for his position, but even if it’s true, there is a foundation for making such distinctions.

Notice the quote I placed at the top of this blog post. It’s a rather famous story that would have taken place about a generation before the time of Jesus. Three Gentiles wanting to convert to Judaism for various reasons first approach the sage Shammai with their rather outrageous requests and are chased away. When they approach Rabbinic Master Hillel, he accepts all three as converts and students but he does so with a “twist.”

The relevant convert is the man who wanted to be Jewish so he could fulfill the role of High Priest and wear the priestly robes. Hillel didn’t explain that it would be a role forever denied him because, even converting to Judaism, he wasn’t a Levite and he wasn’t a direct descendent of Aaron. He let the convert find out for himself.

Hillel and ShammaiI remember reading a commentary that described a conversation between the three converts some years after these events. I can’t find where I read it and only sort of recall it (such is my middle-aged memory), but I think these three men realized finally that not only were they incredibly arrogant in their original motivations, but that Hillel, in his graciousness, enabled them to learn the truth for themselves and saved them from condemnation by Hashem.

If someone can point me to the actual commentary online so I can correct any errors in recall, I’d really appreciate it.

As applied to the latest allegations against Rudolph in specific and Messianic Judaism in general, frankly ladies and gentlemen…this isn’t “church”.

Potentially, in the Christian hierarchy, anyone can be anything provided they meet certain qualifications. You can be the Pastor of a church, regardless of lineage or background, as long as you satisfy the educational and experiential requirements.

But to be the High Priest, you must be a Levite and a descendant of Aaron. To be the rightful King of Israel, you must be from the tribe of Judah and be a descendant of David.

In the modern synagogue setting, Messianic or not, you must be Jewish to qualify for certain offices and activities (In a Reform synagogue, a Gentile can be on the board of directors, but still will never be Rabbi). As a Gentile, I would not be called up for an aliyah, to read the Torah on Shabbat, in any synagogue in the world. I certainly wouldn’t qualify as a Rabbi or Cantor, even if I had the proper equivalent education (and I would never be admitted into a Yeshiva for study as a non-Jew, though there have been rare exceptions).

Because a synagogue is Messianic, that is, because the members have come to faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah and as Israel’s King, doesn’t mean it is not a center of Jewish community and worship, and it doesn’t mean that Jewish and Gentile roles have stopped being Jewish and Gentile roles. I’ve written a great deal on the legal decision rendered by James and the Council of Apostles on the status of Gentiles within the ancient Jewish religious stream of “the Way,” and how Jewish and Gentile roles were to be managed.

Granted, after Acts 15, there would be a long period of application and adjustment as copies of the Jerusalem letter circulated in the Messianic communities in the Land and in the diaspora. We don’t have a complete record of how it was (or if it was) finally lived out, unless the Didache can give us some clues, but what we definitely don’t have is a “smoking gun” saying that Jewish and Gentile members of “the Way” were indistinguishable units in the body of Messiah (this is hotly debated in Christianity, of course, relative to Ephesians 2:15, which I addressed in my previous missive).

Again, the opinions I’m expressing are my own. I have no idea, based on the recorded sermons of David Rudolph I reviewed, how things are run at Tikvat Israel. For all I know, they may have a completely different conceptualization of these issues. This is only how I look at these matters.

I don’t say all this in the hopes of convincing anyone to change their minds and to look at Messianic Judaism in a different light. But the question was raised and I thought some people might want to read one possible answer. As I said on Peter’s blog, I’m not interested in toggling back and forth across two or more web-based venues trying to talk about all this. I just want to clarify my position on the issues at hand for the sake of anyone who might want to know.

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182 thoughts on “Oneness, Twoness, and Three Converts”

  1. With a ratio of 150 Gentiles to every Jew in the world, I don’t see how there will ever be enough Jewish leaders for any Messianic congregation, short of local population variations. I seriously doubt that you will ever have a Jewish minyan in virtually any Messianic congregation in the global aggregate.

  2. That presupposes that the demographics of a Messianic congregation are identical to the world-wide distribution of Gentiles and Jews. I have no idea of how this plays out in Tikvat Israel or any other Messianic group, either here, in Israel, or any place else. Anyone who attends such congregations, please chime in and give us the 411.

  3. @ James it could depend on the area. I’m Jewish and grew up in a heavily populated Jewish area in Philadelphia. In fact I also grew up literally around the corner from Beth Yeshua. It was no accident that Beth Yeshua open it’s doors in a heavy populated Jewish area.

    In forums and blogs like you said I see many non Jewish believers post topics like Jewish ethnocentric- ism and the like. I don’t see Messianic Judaism as a ‘denomination’ but more of a movement. Yes it’s evolved in a more congregational setting. With that being said Messianic Judaism in General wants to be part of the Jewish community in which they are present. Like Beth Yeshua serves the Jewish community in Philly metro, Tikvat Israel serves in their Jewish community(Richmond).

    Interesting I see a slight difference between the 2 main messianic Jewish organizations, MJAA and UMJC. I’m a member of an MJAA congregation which can be called their ‘flag ship congregation. So I’m only familiar with the ‘flag ship’ and not other MJAA congregations. I’m familiar with UMJC congregations from doing a lot of reading and research. The difference I see between MJAA and UMJC is(whether right or wrong) is that it seems that UMJC is taking a very active approach in promoting Onesness, Twoness and a more non Jews stay in the Church. From my experience it doesn’t seem to be on MJAA’s radar although they say Jews shouldn’t assimilate in the Church. I also have heard believers criticize some MJAA synagogues because they aren’t as Jewish as they could be, comparing to the UMJC. There can be some truth to that because my opinion(whether right or wrong) is that UMJC is more congregational based where MJAA is more Jewish movement based but both with the same goal, a place for Jewish believers to be Jewish. In both organizations the evangelistic aspect to the Jews isn’t active like standing on street corners and handing out tracks but having a presence in a area/community. Like I said in it’s infancy it wasn’t an accident that Messianic Synagogues opened their doors in or around the more heavily populated Jewish areas.

    The main issue with non Jews I’m seeing is the non Jewish obligation to Torah or not. I don’t think the issue is whether or not a non Jew can serve on leadership or not but I know one non Jewish believer who was once part of a UMJC congregation that he was very active in and left because of being a non Jew and wanted to serve on higher leadership role but couldn’t because he wasn’t Jewish. Then you have non Jews converting for whatever reason which I don’t agree with and serve as Rabbi’s. (On a side note, in your situation being married to a Jewish wife which means your kids are also Jewish, I would be more opened for a conversion because of your situation. In other words you converting in my opinion has validity. But we know that conversion situation, it’s dicey anyway). It’s my strong opinion that those non Jews who led Messianic Congregations and converted did great damage because they could serve as non Jewish leaders in such a better light, still having their congregations in the same Jewish context. And yes this has to do with the Oneness, Twoness discussion on a different level because Paul said to remain as you are. But if it were possible like your situation I believe conversion is valid but not necessary.

    Anyway to hopefully get back on track with the level your speaking of, non Jews want equality in Torah observance which leads to One Law doctrine. There’s a newer organization CTMOC that promotes One Law YET distinguisheleadership roles. If you’re Jewish you are called I believe a Messianic Rabbi, if you’re not Jewish you’re called a Messianic Minister.

    But this discussion seems to be more about non Jews who are part of Messianic synagogues and where they stand. Steve made a point which the likes of Rudolph have to react to.

  4. In Israel, there is certainly a sufficient concentration of Jews to ensure that congregations are fully populated with Jews as the majority, if not even 100%. Here, of all places, non-Jews are the minority. However (and I say this with regret), that doesn’t prevent the existence of church-like Christian organizations and congregations populated with Jews. Nonetheless, I serve as cantor for a congregation whose practice is modeled on traditional Jewish synagogue worship, regardless of the many non-Jewish visitors (tourists) from all over the world who may attend any given Shabbat service. Simultaneous translation is usually provided from Hebrew into English and Russian, and other languages as occasion demands (e.g., Portuguese, Japanese), usually by a given tourist’s family member or friend who happens to be temporarily studying in the land. There are a few non-Jewish spouses in the congregation who are accorded honors such as reading a portion from the apostolic writings that is related to the Torah or haftarah reading, and there are other roles which they serve with honor and distinction.

    My indirect knowledge of some congregations in the USA indicates that it is not any more difficult to ensure a Jewish majority (or at least a minyan) in a messianic synagogue than it is to do so in any other synagogue. The synagogue must merely insist on being a synagogue, meaning that it serves Jews first and foremost, regardless of how many other peoples wish to participate in HaShem’s “house of prayer for all nations”. Synagogues do not represent a national or even local averaged demographic; they represent a deliberate concentration of the minority Jewish demographic. If there is an insufficient number of Jews to form a synagogue, then there is no synagogue and those Jews must seek a place where a sufficient number exist to support one.

    There also would be nothing wrong with forming a para-synagogue congregation for non-Jews in addition to the synagogue, with alternative services, much as the synagogue itself originated as a para-Temple center where prayers and readings mimicked the Temple sacrifices and songs. Such a para-synagogue would need to be careful with its publicity, however, to avoid conveying any mis-impression that it was trying to pretend to be an actual synagogue or to deceive anyone in the Jewish community, messianic or otherwise. The rules there could allow Torah reading by anyone at all, provided that no Jews were present, much as the first two aliyot in a synagogue Torah service must be reserved for a Cohen and a Levi unless none are present. Of course, such a policy would also require careful explanation to avoid being misperceived as anti-Jewish (when its actual purpose is to ensure that Jews remain Jews); and thus para-synagogue services would not be workable for a mixed congregation that included Jews. On the other hand, Jews who are members in good standing and who worship in some actual synagogue might assist a para-synagogue by participating in study sessions and other non-worship (community center) activities. A properly presented para-synagogue could become perceived as a real asset to bolster a Jewish community, once the fears based on common causes for distrust could be dispelled (e.g., missionizing, antithetical or supercessionistic views, assimilation) — though I’m not suggesting that it would be easy to convince any Jewish leader that such an organization could be trusted to support the actual welfare of a Jewish community without missionizing.

  5. Good insights PL and the most important thing is that a Messianic Jewish synagogue like a synagogue purpose is to service Jews. The problem is the non Jews who want equality and non Jews condemnation and disregard for ‘traditional’ Judaism. The likes of Rudolph have had sermons and papers on this issue as a result of needing to address non Jews.

  6. Thanks for the descriptions, guys. In response, the way I see it, at least in the ideal, is how any other synagogue would operate with a congregation of Jews and righteous Gentiles (which in most synagogue settings would include non-Jewish spouses and other family members). The difficult part is applying this to Messianic synagogues, since the argument would be that both Jews and Gentiles are under the New Covenant. From a Christian and “One Law” perspective, this would mean the New Covenant would overwrite the prior covenants. Christians would say the New Covenant replaces the Sinai covenant, while “One Law” groups would say the New Covenant requires both Jews and Gentiles to be identically subject to the Sinai covenant.

    But my belief is that the New Covenant applies differently to Jews and Gentiles, reaffirming and amplifying (rather than rewriting or replacing) the Sinai covenant for Jews while establishing and completing the element of the Abrahamic covenant that applies to Gentiles which, through the Messianic prophesy contained in the Abrahamic covenant, allows Gentiles to be reconciled to Hashem through faith and become co-participants in the body of Messiah, coming alongside Israel.

  7. James said ” Thanks for the descriptions, guys. In response, the way I see it, at least in the ideal, is how any other synagogue would operate with a congregation of Jews and righteous Gentiles (which in most synagogue settings would include non-Jewish spouses and other family members).”

    James in my opinion Messianic Judaism is close to Reform Judaism in that regard.

  8. Makes sense, Macher. In the actual Messianic Jewish context, all members would be linked via the New Covenant, but it wouldn’t prevent those covenant conditions being applied somewhat differently for Jewish and Gentile members. That said, the synagogue (until the rebuilding of the Temple) would be a “house of prayer for all nations,” as PL mentioned.

  9. @James I agree. What’s the issue today with non Jews who want to be part of a Messianic Jewish congregation?

    Speaking from my congregation. The majority is Jewish because of demographics/region. I’m very friendly with non Jews in fact VERY great relationships. In this setting not for a minute do non Jews think they have equal obligation like I see on the internet.

    My theory is what we see on the net is people who are disconnected with mainstream society and the Jewish community.

  10. At the risk of climbing out onto an unpopular theological limb, here (or, more precisely, an ecclesiological one), I’ll go so far as to suggest two notions: one, that the so-called “new” covenant, as described by Jeremiah, is not actually new except in the sense that it represents the successful internalization of Torah; two, that this renewal of the Torah covenant is technically only applied to Jews (which at the time included the “houses” of “Israel” and “Judah”, which since then have been reunified as the Jewish people). Of the only seven references to the “new covenant” appearing in the apostolic writings, five are addressed unambiguously to Jewish audiences; one, to the non-Jewish Corinthians, merely quotes one of Rav Yeshua’s Passover comments to his Jewish disciples for the purpose of shaming the Corinthians into a more orderly approach to their community fellowship meals; and the remaining one, also addressed to the Corinthian assembly, is an oblique reference to Rav Shaul himself as a “servant” of the new covenant (who was, not incidentally, Jewish).

    Hence, Christians and non-Jewish disciples in general do not actually participate in the “new” covenant itself any more than they did the “old” one. Their best approach to it might be as described in Isaiah 56, as “holding onto” His covenant, perhaps akin to the Zech.8:23 prophecy about ten members of the nations grasping hold of the tzitzit on a Jewish man’s garment (the Hebrew verb is identical). Now, is holding onto HaShem’s covenant with the Jewish people very different from being bound by that covenant? We might so interpret from Acts 15. Further, even Rav Yeshua’s Jewish disciples (including modern messianists) have not yet experienced the fullness of Jeremiah’s “new covenant” prophecy; and likely they will not do so until it is fulfilled in the millennial messianic kingdom.

    Therefore I would dismiss as incorrect the notion of Jews and non-Jews in a messianic synagogue as both being “under the new covenant”, along with various other misunderstandings of what that covenant means or comprises. The references in the Hebrews letter/drash to “new” and “old” are really discussing new and old approaches to the same Torah covenant, given an understanding of Jeremiah’s actual wording, and not to two different covenants, one considered old or obsolescent and the other being new, improved, and different.

    Now, practices that apply only to Jews in the synagogue environment, and not to non-Jews, may be viewed as a consequence of covenantal position (i.e., bound by, or holding onto); but they are not related to the notion of acceptance by or access to HaShem. Leadership or teaching roles for non-Jews in a synagogue environment have rarely been explored as an option in the traditional Jewish community, because the opportunity would rarely arise that appropriately-qualified individuals sought to do so. However, I have known non-Jewish spouses to participate in a Jewish Men’s Club or Women’s League in key roles. Messianic synagogues might need to blaze some new trails in this respect, without departing from traditional Jewish standards.

  11. PL said: Hence, Christians and non-Jewish disciples in general do not actually participate in the “new” covenant itself any more than they did the “old” one. Their best approach to it might be as described in Isaiah 56, as “holding onto” His covenant, perhaps akin to the Zech.8:23 prophecy about ten members of the nations grasping hold of the tzitzit on a Jewish man’s garment (the Hebrew verb is identical). Now, is holding onto HaShem’s covenant with the Jewish people very different from being bound by that covenant? We might so interpret from Acts 15. Further, even Rav Yeshua’s Jewish disciples (including modern messianists) have not yet experienced the fullness of Jeremiah’s “new covenant” prophecy; and likely they will not do so until it is fulfilled in the millennial messianic kingdom.

    That would certainly turn Christianity upside down and, if that perspective were accepted, place believing Gentiles in a very humbling experience after having thought they (we, me) were in the catbird’s seat for so many centuries. It’s an even less “significant” position than most Gentiles, including me, have imagined, if we are not “under” the New Covenant, even the beginning edges of it, but only “hanging on for dear life,” so to speak, by the tzitzit of a Jewish man (Yeshua, perhaps?). As you say PL, that would also mean Gentiles would only reap whatever benefits we may be granted by Hashem once Moshiach returns and establishes his Kingdom.

    Now, practices that apply only to Jews in the synagogue environment, and not to non-Jews, may be viewed as a consequence of covenantal position (i.e., bound by, or holding onto); but they are not related to the notion of acceptance by or access to HaShem. Leadership or teaching roles for non-Jews in a synagogue environment have rarely been explored as an option in the traditional Jewish community, because the opportunity would rarely arise that appropriately-qualified individuals sought to do so. However, I have known non-Jewish spouses to participate in a Jewish Men’s Club or Women’s League in key roles. Messianic synagogues might need to blaze some new trails in this respect, without departing from traditional Jewish standards.

    In reading Rudolph’s and Willitts’ book Introduction to Messianic Judaism, I know one contributor (can’t remember who) said that the issues of how to include Gentiles in the Messianic Jewish synagogue is a hotly debated topic. There is no desire to make Gentiles feel like second class citizens but how do you do that while still protecting the distinctiveness of Jewish identity and roles in synagogue life?

    One thing that critics of this form of Messianic Jewish worship don’t consider is that the Gentiles who self-select to be part of this life (and no one is forcing Gentiles to enter the Messianic synagogue) understand and accept the roles and lifestyle involved and are not only willing but honored to be granted the privilege of supporting the Jewish people and Israel in the role that Hashem has assigned to them (us, me).

    We don’t really have a complete, working model of what a Messianic synagogue might have looked like with a mixed Jewish/Gentile population in the time of Paul, so as you say PL, modern MJ synagogues will indeed have to do a bit of “trailblazing” to carve out the template (and variations on that template) that describes Gentile participation in a Jewish religious space.

  12. @ PL I really like your very Jewish insight. Ok I can see comments from non Jews/Christians about the new covenant. “What do you mean non Jews aren’t included in the New Covenant!” Or “are you telling me the only way to get a piece of the new covenant is Isaiah 56 or Zech 8:23?!”

    The argument with one law opponents is yes the new covenant wasn’t given to the nations(Gentiles) and since Paul said we are grafted in, we are Israel too which means we are able to have access(if you will) to the New Covenant.

  13. Yes Macher, I had Romans in mind when I made my comment above. Mark Nanos’ book The Mystery of Romans provides many interesting insights into how Nanos sees the relationship between Gentiles and Jews (both believing and otherwise) in a single synagogue setting. Trouble in paradise, so to speak, even way back then.

  14. PL said “Jews in the synagogue environment, and not to non-Jews, may be viewed as a consequence of covenantal position (i.e., bound by, or holding onto); but they are not related to the notion of acceptance by or access to HaShem”

    Can you elaborate PL?

  15. James,

    You nailed it when you said this: As applied to the latest allegations against Rudolph in specific and Messianic Judaism in general, frankly ladies and gentlemen…this isn’t “church”.

    I completely agree, which renders Rudolph’s argument invalid, instead, this should be Rudolph’s argument, , “we are not church” and “we are not Christianity”, this would eliminate not only the confusing argument that he offers, but this argument would make his argument more legitimate and be truthful to what he actually believes.

  16. Greetings, Zion.

    I said “this isn’t church” in the sense that we don’t have a body of identically functioning individuals, at least in potential, in this particular body. It isn’t “church” it’s a synagogue, a center of Jewish worship and learning.

    I don’t think my analogy invalidates Rudolph’s analogy. He’s trying (in my opinion) to use a metaphor that will help his audience understand that it is acceptable for a house of worship to have a particular emphasis and mission, just as certain churches have a mission to a particular population, and just as the Chabad as a mission to secular Jews to return them to the Torah.

    My two blogs in this issue should be self-explanatory, and I don’t want to repeat here what I’ve already written elsewhere. It’s OK for a Christian church or a Jewish synagogue to have a mission to a specific population. If you’ve read the comments on this and my other blog post, you’ll see how the roles of Jews and Gentiles, at least somewhat, are conceptualized and operationalized in actual practice. It’s still a work in progress but the non-Jews who self-select to be part of that world accept that there is a diversity of roles based on covenant and identity. As I’ve previously mentioned, I don’t expect you to agree, but I believe it is a valid perspective.

  17. While I have no ‘official’ understanding on the matter…I do believe that any newly formed Congregation which wants to be part of the UMJC must have a minyan (of Jews) ..

  18. @ James the reason for the start of messianic Judaism was to create a ‘place’ for Jewish believers. Rabbi Chernoff in an interview said unquote ‘he would have never imagined that there would be so many Gentiles worshipping in Messianic synagogues’.

    The question or comment it seems from the opposition is…. “Ok we know what the purpose of Messianic Judaism was but now it has evolved. Some organizations are even offering conversion to Messianic Judaism. ”

    Does a large influx of non Jews wanting to be part of Messianic Judaism change the primary purpose?

    I see this more on the net than real life. In my congregation there’s no what some would call a middle wall of separation. Yes there are many non Jews but there isn’t any issues like I see on the internet.

  19. Macher, my commentary on the Tent Builders conferences includes what Boaz Michael may consider the primary purpose of the Church, which is to partner with Israel, establish an interdependence between Jewish and Gentile believers, and prepare the way for the return of Messiah and the inauguration of an era of total peace.

    I see the attraction of Gentiles to Messianic Judaism as the first fruits of fulfilling multiple prophesies in the Tanakh about ten men from the nations taking hold of the tzitzit of a Jew, of Gentiles from all nations streaming up to the Mountain of God to worship at the House of Jacob, the House of Prayer for all peoples.

    This is just the beginning.

  20. @ James, my opinion as of right now is that I don’t believe in it’s infancy that there was intention to have a separate church and synagogue for believers. I would say it would depend on ‘demographics’ in a particular region. With that being said what we have today, the Church and Messianic Synagogue we have to deal with the reality of the current situation.

    There are lots of non Jewish believers who are attracted to Messianic Judaism that condemn the church of paganism and the like. In most cases these non Jewish believers promote what my belief is of not intending to have a separate Church for non Jews and a synagogue for Jewish believers. I would agree however like I said we have to deal with the reality of the situation and circumstances. I for one don’t go around promoting such because I hopefully understand ‘it is what it is’. As we agreed in another post there isn’t much evidence of NOT having separate congregations except what we read in Romans. So I suspect it depends on the region and who accepted the Good News. It’s pretty evident however that there were Jews in the Diaspora that accepted the Good News and also evident that there were non Jews who also accepted the Good News in the Diaspora. Let’s take Antioch as an example. Antioch had a Jewish population who accepted the Good News and also a non Jewish population who accepted the Good News. Did the Jews and non Jews of Antioch form their own congregation of followers and believers of the crucified and risen Messiah together? To take an educated guess I would suppose they did. Or did the believing Jews still stay in the ‘regular’ synagogue and the non Jews had their own congregation and maybe they met together outside their said congregations? That could make sense too. But it is evident that non Jews were present in the synagogues even prior to Yeshua.

    If the intention was to have both Jew and non Jew together(depending on demographics)…. Paul’s commission was to take the Gospel to the Gentiles however Paul always went to the synagogues FIRST to his brethren. Did Paul do this in a city then went to the Gentiles in the same city outside of the synagogue setting? Like I said it’s evident there were Gentiles in the synagogues where Paul preached. Gentiles like Cornelius. These Gentiles heard the Law, whether or not they followed it isn’t the discussion. Then you had totally pagan Gentiles that Paul preached too who didn’t know the One True God like on Mars Hill and the pagan temple Paul and Barnabas went into where Paul(if I remember correctly) commented about the stench of perfume on the prostitutes etc. I highly doubt that Gentiles like Cornelius would practice such.

    Just thinking out loud.

  21. In Acts 15:21 when it says, “For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath,” I believe the intent was for the very first non-Jewish believers to learn about their faith in the synagogue setting. The God-fearing Gentiles were already found in synagogues, so it would make sense for the believing Jews and Gentiles to continue to attend the synagogues they had originally been worshiping at, rather than split off and create new congregations. Mark Nanos in his Romans and Galatians books says that he believes synagogues visited by Paul (and the Roman synagogues where he had not visited but who had members who came to faith) had believing Jewish and Gentile populations worshiping alongside non-believing Jews, which is certainly an interesting paradigm.

    On the other hand, we see in Acts 18:1-8 that there was a split in the synagogue at Corinth and the believing Jews and Gentiles left that synagogue and congregated next door in the house of Titius Justus. Congregants included Crispus, the (former) leader of the synagogue next door. So here, you have a group of Jews and Gentiles worshiping together in one place with non-believing Jews having a separate place of worship.

    In Acts 16:11-15, Paul and his traveling companions encounter the Gentile merchant Lydia and her group of women who were Gentile God-fearers. All of the Jews had been evicted from that area, but the authorities did not consider the Gentiles who had worshiped with them “Jews,” and so they were allowed to stay. In the abscense of a synagogue in that place, Lydia and the women worshiped on Shabbat at the river, which was a Jewis custom. It’s also why Paul and his party went to that location.

    When Lydia and her household came to faith in Yeshua, they would have formed an all-Gentile assembly (a rather small one at first) since there were no Jews, believing or otherwise, with whom to worship and study.

    Based on all this, I agree that the original intent was for believing Gentiles and Jews to worship and study together in a single community, even within the larger Jewish commmunity in their towns and cities in the diaspora. The Messianic movement was still a Judaism which existed alongside all of the other Judaisms of that day, and so when Gentiles came to faith, they did so within a Jewish educational and religious context, without the need to go through the proselyte ritual and convert to Judaism in any formal manner. Using Acts 10 as a template, we see that they would have received the Holy Spirit and then been baptized in water, but the males would not be circumcised, as would Gentile males who had become Jewish converts.

    However, the greatest “offense” Paul delivered to many Jewish communities was not the good news of Messiah, for that was also a very Jewish concept. Jewish history is replete with men claiming to be Messiah, so the worst reception Paul could have expected from Jewish synagogues was that they simply believed Paul was mistaken. However, the reason there was so much violence from Jews in reponse to Paul’s message was that it required the influx of large numbers of Gentiles, not just God-fearing Gentiles, but Gentiles coming in straight from paganism, into the Jewish religious, educational, and cultural space. Naturally, the Jewish synagogue leaders had fears of losing control of their own communities and there were also probably prejudaces about having close contact with Gentiles who may also have been continuing to engage (whether it was actually true or not) in worship at pagan temples.

    That may be why we see mixed synagogues which included believing Jews and Gentiles and non-believing Jews (citing Nanos) such as the one in Rome as relatively rare. For the sake of peace, it may have been easier or simply necessasry for believing Jews and non-Jews to develop their own religous space. Also, as you said, the demographics of places such as Corinth would have resulted in Gentile-only worship centers (homes) of worship in Yeshua.

    History tells us of the schism that eventually formed between Jewish Messianic worship and all of the other Judaisms, resulting in the Messianic movement becoming an entirely Gentile religion we call Christianity. Today we have wholly separate Jewish and Gentile worship venues. But now we also have a resurgence of Messianic Judaism. We can’t treat the modern Messianic movement in the manner it existed nearly twenty centuries ago for abundantly obvious reasons. Few Jews currently have come to faith in Messiah within a wholly Jewish framework (and who knows how many “Jewish Christians” there are in churches today) but the attraction to Messianic Judaism has spread among many Gentile Christians.

    Demographics here in America vs. Israel are quite different. Most Messianic groups in the U.S. are largely Gentile with a Jewish core, while in Israel these congregations are mostly Jewish, simply because Israel is a Jewish nation.

    Ultimately there won’t be the Church and the Messianic synagogue. When Messiah returns and establishes his Kingdom, there will only be one body of Messiah, which will be comprised of Jewish and Gentile members, with Israel being the object of restoration and revival. Jews and Gentiles will worship alongside each other in a House of Prayer for all peoples, but they shall remain Jewish and Gentile. Until then, we can only imperfectly attempt to obey the Master and to pursue a life of faith, devotion, and service.

  22. @ James good comments. The problem I see with the Tent of David venue is I don’t see education that would teach that ultimately as you and I agree that there won’t be Church and Messianic synagogue. It’s like it’s saying that the intention is have the Church and Messianic Synagogue. Then you have people saying non Jews should stay in the church to teach the churches relationship to Israel and end times. Maybe I’d like to see a more hard line approach that is truth instead of accepting the fact that there is the church and the messianic synagogue with an emphasis and ‘yes it is what is it today’ but also it’s not what was really intended, depending on demographics of course. Yes sometimes the truth can appear like it offends.

  23. @ James I have the Tent of David book and audio and will listen and read it again. It just seems like the venue is 1/2 truth. If the venue took on the entire big picture I believe it would offend the church in general.

  24. James here’s another thought about God Fearers and Acts 15. There was 2 different types of Gentiles; God Fearers(Like Cornelius, Lydia) and bonafied pagans. Acts 15 I’m thinking wasn’t directed to the God Fearers but to the bonafied pagans. Why because the likes of Cornelius would have known these things from hearing the Torah being read every Sabbath. Lancaster makes a good explanation that the non Jews were considered by the Apostle’s ‘strangers that dwell among us’ even though they weren’t living in the Land. However nowhere in the Torah does it say it’s prohibited to mingle with those of the nations. Scripture does say don’t mingle with the nations because of paganism but Cornelius wasn’t in this class. But the Torah talks about the stranger among you. A stranger among you wouldn’t be a pagan even though he/she wasn’t Jewish.

    My stance is there is One Torah for all, the Torah is the Law of the Kingdom and body

  25. (Ooops hit post comment by accident)

    My stance is there is One Torah for all, the Torah is the Law of the Kingdom and body of believers but same obligation depending; man, woman, priest, Jew, non Jew.

  26. Ultimately, there will only be one body of Messiah, but not until the return of Messiah. Right now, Boaz is saying that “Messianic Gentiles,” at least some of us, need to be in the church providing (gently and slowly) the information we are discussing so that finally, the Church will realize it’s true role in redemptive future history. Frankly, with “the Church” exalting itself as the only true body of Messiah, I don’t see many Christians embracing that vision, but that’s the plan. The Tent Builders conferences were the training arm of the Tent of David mission, equipping the “missionaries” to go into the Church with “the message.” In the meantime, it would be difficult for Jews who are Messianic and observant Jews to function in a church setting (Boaz described some of the difficulties he and his wife encountered since they are observant), so it makes more sense for Jewish people to worship in a Jewish environment such as a synagogue setting. Any Gentiles who feel led to this vision are welcome, of course. On the other hand, we can’t simply abandon the Christian church. We need to provide them the opportunity to understand what the Bible is saying with all of the Church interpretive traditions removed from their vision. I suspect few will want to see that vision because it requires an enormous change in how they view themselves, Jewish people, Judaism, Messiah, and God.

    I agree that the legal ruling issued in Acts 15 was meant to apply to all Gentiles, God-fearers and pagans alike. I also agree, and so does Boaz, that there is only one Torah, but that it’s applied differently to different populations. That’s why I’ve been interested in investigating the Didache, because I believe it provides vital clues as to how Torah was intended to be applied to the first century Gentile believers within a Jewish worship context.

  27. James I meant to say NOT the same obligation. Thinking out loud again :). Look at the similarities between Solomon’s dedication prayer and Isaiah 56 pertaining to the nations. The disconnect if you will is the Court of the Gentiles.

    IF as Nanos puts it ‘the beginning of the dawning of the age…’ Which would be Amos 9, Isaiah 56, Solomon’s prayer etc then the Torah is the Law of all human kind. This I think is what Paul means when he says to the Gentiles ‘you’re part of the commonwealth of Israel’. This doesn’t mean that non Jews are Israelites but it could mean ‘strangers that dwell among us’.

    Now dispensationaly speaking some would say that this is Kingdom Law that is a different dispensation from the Law of Moses. Some would even say quote “The Torah which a man learns in this world is but vanity compared to the Torah of Messiah” eluding that the Torah of Messiah is the likes of Isaiah 56 distinguishing the Law of Moses, a different Torah that includes the Nations but not the same obligation as Israelites.

  28. Can we put these pieces together to come to a reasonable conclusion? Some will say that the Sabbath is a sign between Israel and God and that the Sabbath is for Israel only yet the prophets such as Isaiah say the nations will keep the Sabbath. Same with the sacrifices, sacrifices are for Isralites only yet Isaiah refers to sacrifices of non Jews in the later days.

    One age versus another age.

    Ok if the nations will be keeping the Sabbath in the later days as an example… Should the nations wait for the later days? Or it OK for non Jews to keep the Sabbath because XYZ? In other words should we be living the later day Kingdom law life now?

  29. I agree with your assessment of Gentiles as “strangers who dwell among us (Israel)”. I also agree that while in Messianic Days the whole world will keep Shabbat and that Gentiles will be allowed to make Temple sacrifices (Gentiles were also allowed to make sacrifices in Herod’s Temple and possibly in Solomon’s), there’s nothing stopping Gentiles from keeping a proper Shabbat in the present age.

  30. @Macher — Shavua Tov! —

    My how the conversation has progressed while I’ve been away for Shabbat! Some of what I’ve written here may seem almost outdated, though it addresses questions raised in previous posts. In the most recent posts you raised a notion distinguishing between G-d-Fearers and outright (former) pagans. Acts 15 made no such distinction, but only addressed non-Jews as distinct from Jews and clarified that non-Jews are not required to convert or take on the full “yoke of the kingdom of heaven” obligation for Torah observance. And all of them would benefit nonetheless from learning Torah, which is the basis for any godly lifestyle they might develop. It might be said that those who were already G-d-Fearers had a head-start over those only recently separated from paganism, but all of them would effectively have become G-d-Fearers at that point.

    It is true that there is only one Torah; but Torah contains distinctive requirements for different categories of societal roles. Requirements for Cohanim were a bit more restrictive than for general Levi-im, which were in turn stricter than for the average Israelite. Special considerations applied only to Nazirites, whether ordinary temporary ones or rare lifelong ones. Distinctive requirements are presented in some cases for women, such as whether they would be held responsible for making a vow and depending also on whether it was allowed to stand by a financially-responsible adult male such as a husband or father. Similarly, not every aspect of Torah applied either to the ger-tzedek or to the ger-toshav who also were distinct from each other. Since we see in Matt.5:18 that not even the finest details of Torah will become invalid until the present heavens and earth pass away; and by comparing Matt.23:3 & 23:23 we see that Rav Yeshua instructed his disciples to obey Pharisaic definitions of Torah, including Oral Torah (which is where herb tithing is defined); we must recognize that such fine distinctions are also part of what we must come to understand in order to progress to greatness in the kingdom of heaven as described in Matt.5:19-20.

    Therefore we see the particular distinction between requirements for Jews and non-Jews reflected in the Acts 15 halakhah. This may result in a continuing need to provide certain distinctive facilities and environments in which Jews may flourish without continually having to slow-down to explain things to their non-Jewish neighbors who are not required to pursue HaShem’s righteousness in exactly the same ways as Jews. Such explanations may be reserved for special Torah-training sessions dedicated to the needs of non-Jewish disciples. There are no time-boundaries on this situation; it will continue as long as the present heavens and earth exist, including a thousand years of millennial messianic rule, without any “dispensational” changes.

    Now, returning to earlier, pre-Shabbat topics — Once we’re in the realm of analogies, we don’t have a precise reflection of reality but only an approximate one. So I’m not sure there is any practical difference between tightly holding onto the covenantal tzitzit and being grafted into a cultivated olive tree to partake of its nourishment. The implicit advice in Acts 15:21, for non-Jews to avail themselves of weekly Torah instruction in the synagogues each Shabbat, represents at least one mechanism for partaking of the nourishment of the Torah covenant, and diligence in doing so could well be likened to “holding on”. The “access” is not to some covenant, but rather to HaShem and His kingdom perspectives, which are the means for obtaining blessings comparable to those promised in the Jewish covenant. The real mistake, historically and at present, is for non-Jews to think they need to be included in that covenant or any covenant in order to receive HaShem’s blessings. It’s like the mistake reported in Acts 15:1 whereby some thought that non-Jews needed to become circumcised (i.e., converted participants in the Jewish covenant) in order to be “saved”.

    But HaShem has already indicated that he wishes to bless all of humankind, and that non-Jews will bless themselves in Avraham’s example of trust and through interaction with Avraham’s promised descendants the Jewish people (and especially one of them, namely: Rav Yeshua). If that trust is present, then non-Jews have nothing to worry about, and they will lack for no good thing. One doesn’t require a signed contract with HaShem to force Him to provide some particular quota of blessings; He has already demonstrated His faithfulness to Jews for millennia; therefore He must be considered to be reliable for all that He has said, with or without the specific promises that He stipulated for Jews in the example of the Torah covenant. Similarly, the blessings of HaShem are not dependent upon the tasks one may be privileged or forbidden to perform during synagogue worship. They are, however, dependent upon one’s attitudes, as suggested in Matt.5:3-12.

    This should also answer the presumed complaint about an image, presented by James in his last post, of non-Jews “hanging on for dear life” to someone’s tzitzit (literally “hanging by a thread”) for fear that HaShem or his anointed king Messiah might be stingy about parceling out blessings to non-Jews — either in the present or in the millennial kingdom. That is not an appropriate image of HaShem or of His exceedingly generous intentions to forgive, to restore, and to bless. He who wishes to receive such blessings must exercise trust, even as did Avraham (prior to his circumcision). Rav Shaul described this behavior as reflecting the stance of “sons of Avraham”. He did not liken his non-Jewish Galatian readers to sons of Isaac or of Jacob/Israel; and he recommended against their consideration of conversion to Judaism in the strongest possible terms, which was confirmed in the halakhic decision of Acts 15 several years later. Non-Jews are not required to become Israel, nor to be bound by a covenant, to pursue the advice Rav Yeshua is reported in Matt.6:33 to have offered: Seek first HaShem’s kingdom and His righteousness, and all else that may be needed will be provided in addition.

  31. James do you think there’s a correlation between this present age and the Messianic Age? In other words the Messianic age is future and the Torah in the Messianic Age says all nations will keep the Sabbath. It’s not like you said that there’s nothing prohibiting Gentiles from keeping the sabbath in this age but there is a law in the Messianic Age. Is there correlation or what is the ‘pass’ that Gentiles get UNTIL the Messianic Age?

    A great friend of mine at our congregation isn’t Jewish but what he has told me is that he keeps the Sabbath because of the Messianic Age, the kingdom of God is right here right now(quote). He doesn’t keep it because of the reason there’s nothing stopping him from keeping the Sabbath. Most one law believes do so because of the same reason but they go beyond.

  32. @ PL I guess the point making is that there are some Jewish leaders in Messianic Judaism that say that ‘Moses is read each Sabbath…’ To mean of a future thing, meaning pertaining to Amos and other prophesies concerning the Gentiles. In other words what they say is the prophesies about the Gentiles has been read every sabbath.

    I think it means that Gentiles will hear the Torah read every Sabbath and learn to live a godly life.

  33. Well, Macher — Amos is certainly not read every Shabbat; and the traditional cycle of Torah readings was already in place when Acts 15:21 was written, and even the haftarot were more or less the same then as now. Certainly the intention was, as I said above, “… all of them would benefit … from learning Torah, which is the basis for any godly lifestyle they might develop.” So we’re not talking about something in the future, but rather of a prescription that is just as applicable now as then (regardless of any mistaken interpretations some MJ leader might spout). We’re not talking about teaching the gentiles only about prophesies that project HaShem’s blessings toward them, though mentioning it now and again couldn’t hurt.

  34. OBTW, Macher — I forgot to ask about your gentile friend who claims to keep Shabbat. What sort of halakhah does he follow to do so? Reform (where the notion of “halakhah” is actually something of an oxymoron)? Conservative? Orthodox? Some other, supposedly “biblical”, definition? I ask because the issue arises now and again about the difficulty of maintaining Jewish distinctiveness if gentiles also keep so-called “sign” commandments that are defined in Torah as indicating the distinctiveness of the Jewish people. Of course, if gentiles follow a non-orthodox halakhah perhaps Jews will be encouraged toward following a more stringent orthodox halakhah in order to remain distinct. So gentile behavior of this sort could be a very good impetus for improved Jewish praxis. [:)]

  35. Incidentally, Macher, I agree with your gentile friend about the kingdom of heaven being present even now and all around us for those with eyes and hearts to “see” it. This is why the Greek aorist tense is used in Mt.5:20 to indicate continual entering into it for those whose diligence to pursue righteousness exceeds even that of the scribes and Pharisees. It is not a “once for all time” activity. It is a moment-by-moment existential consciousness that HaShem is our Father and our King Whose Sh’khinah is ever-present as our “paracletos” comforter and helper (i.e., “yeshuateinu v’ezrateinu”, as expressed in the Amidah); and our corresponding obedience and adjustment of attitudes opens for us the windows of heaven that we may receive all manner of HaShem’s blessing (if you’ll pardon a brief excursion into a semi-mystical viewpoint). It is a precursor to the consciousness we will experience when the messianic kingdom is established physically as well as spiritually in Jerusalem.

  36. @Macher — Your gentile fellow-congregant’s strong motivation to keep Shabbat by not working thereon sounds quite commendable. But you haven’t provided any clue about his definitions of keeping Shabbat beyond such a “minimum”. And since I don’t intend that you should pry into his personal life to find out, let’s make the discussion generic and not about him. There is a fundamental distinction that should be understood by anyone who wishes to keep the Shabbat, between the meanings of the English word “work” and the Hebrew one “melachah” which is what is actually forbidden by Torah on Shabbat. One may think one is refraining from “work” but still be committing all sorts of “melachah”, and one may refrain from all “melachah” but become quite tired from strenuous activity. The essence of “melachah” is really one of exercising control over the world around us, but the rabbinical definition identifies 40 categories of activity as “melachah” which were derived from activities required to construct the ancient tabernacle.

    However, setting aside the theoretical derivations, we may consider some practical techniques that help us to refrain from “melachah” on Shabbat. For the moment, I will not attempt to draw any dividing lines between Jewish praxis and what might be appropriate or sufficient for non-Jewish praxis. One activity that is considered to violate the Shabbat by performing “melachah” is driving a car to shul (or anywhere else). However, Conservative halakhah offers a special “hora-at sha’ah” dispensation to allow operating a motor vehicle for the sole purpose of attending synagogue prayers, which are necessary to preserve the life of a Jewish community. Orthodox halakhah insists that one must live within walking distance from a shul, and that operating a motor vehicle requires performing several kinds of “melachah”, including the exceedance of permitted travelling distance, carrying unnecessary objects (like keys), and kindling various kinds of “fires”, both electrical and chemical. Another kind of “melachah” to avoid is cooking, therefore all food to be consumed on Shabbat is to be prepared in advance and kept warm (or cold) on warming trays or in thermos containers.

    Also in the same vein of not kindling fires is refraining from operating any electrical switches or appliances (including a microwave oven or a computer, or even a telephone of any sort). This includes disconnecting any refrigerator light bulbs for the duration of Shabbat, lest opening the door should turn on a light. One should be careful also not to allow a refrigerator or freezer to be open for any length of time that might cause it to operate more frequently than it might do merely to maintain its temperature automatically while closed. Its automatic operation that was already in progress before Shabbat is not deemed a violation caused by human action during the Shabbat. Similarly we bathe and shower before the Shabbat rather than during the Shabbat so that we do not cause even automated water heating systems to operate. Of course, getting cleaned up and dressed up before the Shabbat is another positive aspect of welcoming it as a highly honored guest. Other appliances that one would not use would include microphones and sound amplifiers, whereby the action of the human voice is instigating all sorts of energy to be burned.

    Another sort of device that is not operated on Shabbat is the musical instrument, lest some aspect of it, such as a string, break and tempt someone to repair it. A repair would certainly constitute “melachah”; however even the creation of a new entity such as a body of sound is too much like a reflection of the kinds of “melachah” from which HaShem refrained after creating the universe.

    There may be some question about the status of a smartphone, the power of which is entirely self-contained and which was presumably already in operation before Shabbat, and which arguably contains so little energy that it could never actually kindle a fire, but making or taking a call or instigating an internet search would be a “no-no” because of more subtle aspects of “melachah”.

    And then there is the issue of how to handle toilet paper, which is often a controversial topic. I’ll review it here simply because it demonstrates the fine degree of detail that may be considered in avoidance of “melachah”. Orthodox halakhah considers tearing toilet paper along its prepared perforations to involve a kind of “melachah”, therefore it must be torn before Shabbat as part of many other advance preparations for keeping the Shabbat; or some other means of self-cleansing must be provided. One popular product is similar to the pre-moistened towelettes used to clean infants during diaper changes (though not the type that must be torn from a continuous string of them inside a canister, which present the same tearing problem as toilet paper). Incidentally, the use of disposable diaper with adhesive tabs actually became a subject of modern halakhic discussion, and the agreed solution was a very symbolic one that simply insisted that a quantity of diapers would be prepared before Shabbat by opening the adhesive tabs in advance, even if they were temporarily closed again, so that using them on Shabbat would not require a fresh action of “tearing” the adhesive of the tab, but would be using a “pre-torn” adhesive tab.

    Now, some might protest that this is taking the “fence around the Torah” notion to an excessive extreme. That sort of accusation against Jews as we obey Torah and its implications is a very ancient protest among gentiles (and sometime heard from non-observant Jews). But consider another perspective on the notion of preparing everything that may be needed during the Shabbat beforehand, and preparing not to need external power and infrastructure during the Shabbat. It sets us free from all sorts of concerns that could disturb the care-free freedom of the Shabbat. We don’t have to worry about power-failures, or interruptions of the supply of water or gas, or interruptions of telecom, internet or other communication or entertainment facilities. We can set aside any thoughts of financial pressures or work demands or cultural depredations. We don’t suffer extraneous noise from all sorts of sources in ordinary daily activity, but rather we are free to explore our thoughts and our internal motivations and our spiritual state. And, moreover, we are free to explore thoughts from higher sources than those that are already in our heads.

    Of course, it is not always so easy or idyllic, because among the preparations for Shabbat it may be necessary to provide for emergency medical services or security services in order to guard the sanctity of Shabbat in an active manner. But even these demands merely challenge us to find means to improve our pursuit of the Shabbat for everyone.

  37. Proclaim Liberty said ” I ask because the issue arises now and again about the difficulty of maintaining Jewish distinctiveness if gentiles also keep so-called “sign” commandments that are defined in Torah as indicating the distinctiveness of the Jewish people. Of course, if gentiles follow a non-orthodox halakhah perhaps Jews will be encouraged toward following a more stringent orthodox halakhah in order to remain distinct. So gentile behavior of this sort could be a very good impetus for improved Jewish praxis. [:)]”

    We(my family) don’t follow a strict orthodox Halacha btw. Even growing up my family didn’t follow strict Halacha. I would say my congregation is between reform and conservative in practices. And there are some within the congregation that are more orthodox, as an example have kosher kitchens. There are some non Jews like my friend who keep Shabbat at a minimum and there are non Jews who don’t. Now I hope not to get into a debate about the different Judaism’s(reform, conservative, orthodox). In Israel Messianic Jewish congregations I believe it’s different than here in the USA. I know Joe Shulam’s congregation is more orthodox. Most messianic congregations here in the USA sort of take the reform view on membership. If your mother or father is Jewish you can become a ‘full member’. Whether right or wrong.

    Interesting that you mention Halacha. I know Reform Judaism can be dicey as you say. I was brought up in a reform/conservative home. My opinion the MAIN contention between reform and conservative is the matrilineal/patrilineal issue. That’s why I was brought up reform/conservative. Although my up bringing was more reform in NO WAY my family would be against the Halacha ‘if you’re mother is Jewish, then you’re Jewish’/Jewishness comes from the mother. There is no doubt that most conservative Jews in the USA are mostly reform in practice but like my family support the Halacha of Jewishness comes from the mother. If Reform Judaism conceded to the same, as an educated guess most Jews would be reform.

    With all that being said what separates Jews from the rest? I’m from Philly and if I told you the neighborhood I grew up in(that’s if you’re a Philly native) you would know that I was Jewish. There were some orthodox but most were Jews who practiced at the minimum so to speak. And yes there were Jews who indentified as Jews who had businesses and worked on Shabbat.

    I’m sure you know this.

    I’m not saying Halacha is good or bad. What I’m saying to give another example on Passover although my family is/was as I said above we followed the Halacha pertaining to Passover etc.

  38. I don’t know anyone in the Messianic Jewish or Hebrew Roots movements in or around my geographic location that keeps a Shabbat anywhere near Orthodox halachah, PL. I can only assume that there are a small handful of people with whom I’m acquainted over the Internet in Messianic Judaism that adheres to standards approaching Orthodox halachah relative to Shabbat and other practices, but due to distance, I’ve spent Sabbaths with some of them only rarely.

    Generally, Messianic Judaism (this isn’t the same for Hebrew Roots) doesn’t require Gentiles to keep Shabbat but does encourage voluntary participation on some level. I don’t think Gentile Sabbath keeping is really well defined in the Messianic movement.

    Within normative Orthodox Judaism, how are Noahides to approach Shabbat? Could this be a standard that MJ could adopt for Gentiles in their realm?

  39. @ James that is correct what you said “Generally, Messianic Judaism (this isn’t the same for Hebrew Roots) doesn’t require Gentiles to keep Shabbat but does encourage voluntary participation on some level. I don’t think Gentile Sabbath keeping is really well defined in the Messianic movement.”

  40. @ James if Gentiles are ‘strangers that dwell among us’ then I think that approach is better than a Noahide standard.

  41. I wasn’t trying to discuss halakhah in general (though that might be of some interest), but rather trying to offer a picture of halakhot specific to Shabbat observance for comparison with any degree of observance that was different (i.e., less) than this standard. And certainly we’re not here discussing halakhic definitions for who is a Jew. Of course, we still haven’t drawn any lines that might distinguish between what might be considered sufficient Shabbat observance for gentiles or for Jews.

    By orthodox standards, as I’ve indicated, a great many Jews do not actually keep the Shabbat for one reason or another, regardless of whether these reasons may have any good justification. Most Jews, especially in the USA, do not take the all-or-nothing view that would brand them as not keeping Shabbat. Rather, they weigh their observance on a sliding scale to claim that they are keeping or honoring the Shabbat, though their observance is nuanced or conditioned (or simply deficient) in various ways. Some, of course, have given up the struggle and admit that they are unable or unwilling to keep it; but I might suggest that the struggle itself is a Jewish trait and therefore worthwhile.

    What I was also suggesting in my previous post was that gentiles who try to keep the Shabbat may spur Jews toward greater zeal to keep it even better, which is one implication of Rav Shaul’s observations in Rom.10:19 (quoting Deut.32:21) and 11:11. Let’s remember that non-Jews are not at all required to keep the Shabbat, though it is strongly advisable for non-Jews who interact closely with Jews to respect and honor the Shabbat, sometimes by assisting Jews to keep it. Such assistance may be considered in itself a form of keeping the Shabbat that is acceptable and commendable for non-Jews, though generally it would not be an acceptable manner for Jews to honor the Shabbat.

    BTW, for anyone who missed it, I offered a justification for an orthodox approach to halakhah in the second paragraph of my post of 8Feb@10:44am. I realize it has been a minority view within the broad spectrum of MJ, but there have been many influences that have inhibited MJ development from progressing toward greater traditional observance. However, it is always possible to improve, albeit by whatever small increments, even if only slowly or fitfully.

  42. @ PL my view is somewhat different than yours. I believe the Apostle’s saw non Jews as ‘strangers that dwell among us’, ger toshav. The rabbis in Yevamot 48b suggest that the ger toshav is to keep the sabbath. This is where Isaiah 56 comes into play and maybe ties into the commonwealth principle in Ephesians 2.

    In other words it’s a correlation between Shabbat not being required now compared to Shabbat being required in the Messianic Kingdom. If it’s required in the Messianic Kingdom why not now?

  43. @ PL how would explain the fact that ‘ok Shabbat isn’t required for non Jews now but in the Messianic Kingdom it will be required’.

    How does the requirement in the Messianic Kingdom correlate with living a kingdom life now? It’s like yes non Jews get a pass now but won’t get a pass in the messianic age. This is why my friend and other non Jews keep the Shabbat at a minimum.

  44. @Macher — I think you may be conflating the notion that non-Jews will voluntarily keep the Shabbat in some manner in the messianic kingdom and the notion of legal obligation. Acts 15 states that non-Jews are free of any legal obligation for Torah observance except for four basic humane and anti-idolatry principles. However, one would certainly hope that as they learn Torah and its benefits they would wish voluntarily to adopt its principles and its observances. That is where Isaiah’s vision in ch.56 places us, with non-Jews being commended by HaShem for holding onto His covenant despite the fact that they are not required to do so. Do you see the difference? They don’t have to, but they will do so.

    The fact that they will choose to do so out of gratitude and recognition of its benefits will be a characteristic indicator that the messianic era has truly arrived. Nonetheless, one fine detail that is not (to my knowledge) discussed thoroughly, either in the prophesies or in later Jewish literature, is whether there will be some difference in the manner by which non-Jews conform themselves with Torah and the manner by which Jews conform themselves with Torah. It is we who are trying to deal with “facts on the ground”, so to speak, who can notice such details and try to cope with them.

    At present, we have an opportunity to deliberate and practice, in preparation for resolving these issues in the messianic era, how might we best resolve the problems of maintaining distinctness between Jews and other peoples (i.e., “gentiles”) while satisfying a gentile motivation for voluntary adherence to Torah. At the same time, we find we must resolve another issue which is to encourage Jews to fulfill their legal obligations to obey the Torah covenant in the manner prescribed by the “shoftim v’shotrim”, the designated Torah interpreters and administrators of our people in our generation, who have determined how we should apply the Torah within the current Jewish community and maintain continuity with prior generations of Jews.

    Now, upon further reflection while writing this, I realize that I may have neglected some discussion in Jewish literature that may offer insight into how non-Jews may approach Torah in the messianic era. I must defer to others whose knowledge of that literature is deeper and broader than mine, who may, in fact, be able to identify appropriate material. I’ll have to ask around, and meanwhile maybe some of them also read this blog and may be willing to try to address this issue.

  45. I’ll have to ask around, and meanwhile maybe some of them also read this blog and may be willing to try to address this issue.

    You could always forward the URL to them, PL. 😉

  46. PL said “Now, upon further reflection while writing this, I realize that I may have neglected some discussion in Jewish literature that may offer insight into how non-Jews may approach Torah in the messianic era. I must defer to others whose knowledge of that literature is deeper and broader than mine, who may, in fact, be able to identify appropriate material. I’ll have to ask around, and meanwhile maybe some of them also read this blog and may be willing to try to address this issue.”

    Wouldn’t that offer insight on approach of non Jews to Torah now?

    That would be some good info.

  47. Of course, Macher, the reason I suggested the idea was the hope of such insight for the present as well as for the future. But I know of very few people who have pursued the knowledge of Jewish literature from a messianic perspective thoroughly enough that they might have an inkling where to find any such very theoretical discussion. Rambam’s perspective may have been too practically oriented to have addressed the consideration. I don’t think Rashi focused that much attention on the Olam HaBa or the messianic era. But there is far too much that I don’t know and have never read. Since Jewish literature is focused on what Jews should do and think, it seems unlikely that there should be much elaboration on possible future interactions between gentiles and Jews or about gentile behavior in a future better world. Most references I’ve seen seem to limit non-Jews to elaborations of the Noahide principles; but the approach always seems to be from the direction of not expecting too much rather than considering that they might want to do “too much”. However, someone may have tossed off a comment here or there in consideration of scriptures like Zechariah’s mention of foreigners celebrating Sukkot or Isaiah’s foreigners who keep Shabbat and hold onto the covenant (and who don’t seem to be classifiable as “gerim”). The Noahide offshoot of Lubavitch has developed a “shulchan aruch” of sorts for Hasidic Noahides that includes celebration of a subset of Jewish holidays. Your previous mention of Yevamot 48b doesn’t really specify that the ger toshav must keep the Shabbat but only that he may not be forced by a Jewish employer to violate it (presuming that he chose not to do so himself) It doesn’t even suggest that the ger toshav is actually trying to keep Shabbat in any positive manner, but only that he may not be forced to do something from which he refrains and which would be a violation. But this is an example of a well-hidden reference or implication that illustrates how difficult it may be to find information of the sort we’re discussing.

  48. Good comments PL. As I said before I’m pretty convinced that the Apostle’s saw the non Jews as ‘strangers that dwell among us’ meaning that the non Jews are under the Torah but not in the same manner as Jews. And yes I’m being torn from tradition of our fathers and what the New Testament says.

    We talked about the Sabbath issue with non Jews in the Messianic Age, Isaiah 56. I agree that the Sabbath isn’t a requirement however non Jews will be blessed if they keep it is the bottom line. Being blessed is far more relevant than whether or not you’re required or not.

    I’m pretty convinced that the early non Jewish believers were taught about the Sabbath by Jewish believers etc and kept the Sabbath. I would agree with you that not in the same manner as Jews.

    So for me the bottom line is the likes of Isaiah 56. My understanding is that James refers to Amos in Acts 15 that Gentiles will be called by My Name. These Gentiles that are and will be called by MY Name will want to keep the Sabbath because Isaiah says “all who keep Shabbat and do not profane it, and hold fast to my covenant, I will bring them to my holy mountain
    and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar;
    for my house will be called
    a house of prayer for all peoples.”

    But I would also would be interested in halachtic stuff pertaining to such.

  49. I know we were talking about Sabbath-keeping among Gentiles before and I suggested using the Noahide ‘method’ as a model for Gentiles in the Messianic movement. I just came across an older blog post that quoted from AskNoah.org specifically about Gentile Shabbat observance:

    Question: I’ve been told that a Noahide must “mark” the Sabbath in some way. Could you give me examples of ways to mark Sabbath in the manner of a Noahide?

    Answer: A Noahide is allowed to mark the seventh-day Sabbath in some types of ways. But there must not be a belief or conviction that he or she has – or is allowed to take on as a Gentile – any religious obligation to rest from all productive activity on the Seventh Day, or on any other day. (Although indeed, there must be an intellectual recognition that G-d assigns a special quality to the Seventh Day, since that is part of the Torah of Truth).

    Probably not much help, but I felt I should toss it into the mix.

  50. @ James interesting find!

    As you know my model is the ger toshav. Does ger toshav= Noahide laws? The reason for my model is the likes of Isaiah 56, Amos 9. Mark Nanos in one of his papers suggests that the Apostles’s saw that the age(Isaiah 56 etc) has already began to dawn.

  51. I’d like to add that Nanos suggests the premise was the “that the age in fact dawned, paradoxically, that it not yet arrived in full – in the meantime it was the responsibility of the Christ following groups to demonstrate the truth of that proposition by remaining different yet equal ”

    To me it’s like saying we have one foot in this age and one foot in the Messianic Age. So my thoughts are for non Jews it’s not necessary since we are in this age however it’s sort of divine invitation to live a ‘kingdom life’ because the age has dawned(but not arrived yet). I mean the prophets said non Jews will be blessed if they keep the sabbath as an example in the messianic Age.

  52. I see the first non-Jews entering the first century Jewish movement known as “the Way” as the “first fruits” of the coming Messianic Age. We’re still somewhat in that “first fruits” state, as you suggest, Macher. The coming Messianic Era is less influenced by the passage of time and more influenced by a state of readiness in the world. The world is more prepared to receive Messiah when Jewish and Gentile believers become more conformed to performing their specific roles in summoning that age.

  53. @Macher — The Noahide laws are a small subset of the Torah that are incumbent on all sons of Noa’h the ark-builder, which is to say all of humanity descended from the single family that survived the great flood. As such they are incumbent on Jews as well as non-Jews, though Jews, of course, have much more Torah for which they alone are responsible (which also modifies the manner in which Jews would fulfill their conditions). Therefore you cannot draw any equation connecting gerei toshav specifically with the Noahide laws, though of course they are applicable to them as well as to others. The open question here is whether gerei toshav might be expected to wish to go beyond mere Noahide observance in order to interact more smoothly with the Jews amongst whom they dwell. An additional question is whether all non-Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua should automatically consider themselves like gerei toshav, even if they do not actually dwell physically among Jews, because they should be “dwelling” metaphorically in a Jewish scriptural environment and in close relationship with a Jewish rabbi.

  54. @ ProclaimLiberty those are some very good questions to consider. We know that Paul didn’t consider non Jews sons of Israel but ‘spiritual’ sons of Abraham in Romans 4.

  55. Or Galatians 3:29 “Also, if you belong to the Messiah, you are seed of Avraham and heirs according to the promise.”

  56. Yes, Macher, those were the references I had in mind, effectively citing a midrashic/metaphorical/figurative Avrahamic “sonship” that is nonetheless distinct from that of the B’nei Yisrael”. By that derivation, “b’nai Avraham” would seem to represent a step forward from other “b’nei Noa’h” (though not quite as far as the rabbinic definition of a convert as a “ben-Avraham”).

  57. @ PL I’m pretty set that Paul considered non Jewish believers ‘sons b’nai Avraham. And it was radical in that day and even today. Imagine a non Jew going to an orthodox shul and if asked he says he’s b’nai Avraham? The Apostle’s considered non Jews b’nai Avraham without having to become Jewish ONLY on the ‘condition’ of like following the footsteps of Avraham. And yes this would and does conclude being distinct from b’nai Yisrael.

  58. @Macher — Yes, obviously Rav Shaul used the terminology b’nei Avraham, but in a slightly different, more metaphorical way than traditional Judaism, which chose to use the same term for full converts. Non-Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua were not required to convert, hence they were not circumcised but only passed through mikveh. So it would be confusing and incorrect for a non-Jew to self-identify as a ben-Avraham in a traditional synagogue context where it is interpreted to mean something more that becomes equivalent to “ben-Yisrael”. However, the title question of the RPP blog you referenced was also mistaken to offer what appeared to be an either/or alternative between “b.N” and “b.A”, because non-Jewish disciples are both; although perhaps they should technically be awarded only a “b.A-minus”, while actual converts could be awarded a “b.A-plus” representing their full acceptance of the “yoke of Torah” via circumcision and acceptance as fully-adopted “b’nai Yisrael”. So those with a “b.A-minus” share only the legal responsibilities of a “b.N” even if they choose voluntarily to do more than that minimum. They do not become a “b.A-plus” equivalent to “b.Y” unless they take additional steps which are discouraged for several reasons. [In other posted topics the discussion has considered some reasons why in our current generation it may be appropriate for some individuals to seek a “b.A-plus” in order to resolve some anomaly.]

  59. ProclaimLiberty said ” Yes, obviously Rav Shaul used the terminology b’nei Avraham, but in a slightly different, more metaphorical way than traditional Judaism, which chose to use the same term for full converts.”

    Right I agree. Paul didn’t mean converts.

    ProclaimLiberty said “Non-Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua were not required to convert, hence they were not circumcised but only passed through mikveh. So it would be confusing and incorrect for a non-Jew to self-identify as a ben-Avraham in a traditional synagogue context where it is interpreted to mean something more that becomes equivalent to “ben-Yisrael”. ”

    Paul said if you are in Christ then you are Abraham’s seed and I do agree he meant it metaphorically. But I think this a a good reason why there much contention because it wouldn’t have been well received for obvious reasons. Even metaphorically I’m sure it wouldn’t/wasn’t well received. A radical Torah concept. Even today saying non Jews in Yeshua are Abraham’s seed wouldn’t be accepted and I know this as a fact being raised Jewish even if I emphasized I only mean it metaphorically.

  60. Shalom, Macher — I’m sorry, but I seem to have missed your intention in your last post. Why would the Avraham’s seed metaphor not have been well received, or by whom? Rav Shaul meant it as an encouragement to behave as Avraham behaved, even as an uncircumcised former idolater: He trusted HaShem implicitly; and received promises and blessings in response.

    I don’t know who in our own era would resist that notion. Behaving like Avraham is not a ticket to attend High Holy Day services in a synagogue. And the only danger that threatens the Jewish community (either the modern or the ancient versions of it) from a notion like recommending that well-motivated G-d-fearing non-Jews should attend Shabbat services in order to learn Torah, is that large numbers of non-Jews may overwhelm Jewish facilities and interfere with their normal and necessary operation. So, from a practical standpoint it could have become necessary in any case to have developed a separate venue for the non-Jews, in order to meet the excessive demand for accurate Torah teaching. Heaven knows there has been a shortage of THAT in the world! Until very recent generations, there has also been a shortage of well-intentioned non-Jews who wish to learn Torah from a Jewish perspective. Some would opine that this shortage still exists, and that there is also a shortage of modern Jews wishing so to learn. It is, of course, an historically well-founded fear of what non-Jews intend to do to Jews if allowed to get too close, especially when ideologically motivated, that inhibits the Jewish community from recognizing and embracing the subset of truly supportive non-Jews among the followers of Rav Yeshua. They tend to be viewed, at best, as large clumsy children who are prone to break things, and who become very difficult when they don’t get their own way. And there are worse scenarios.

  61. ProclaimLiberty said “Shalom, Macher — I’m sorry, but I seem to have missed your intention in your last post. Why would the Avraham’s seed metaphor not have been well received, or by whom? Rav Shaul meant it as an encouragement to behave as Avraham behaved, even as an uncircumcised former idolater: He trusted HaShem implicitly; and received promises and blessings in response.”

    Because as you and I know being a son of Abraham means a convert and it could have been misunderstood by ‘mainstream’ Judaism of that day and presently. Judaism would in most cases use and accept b’nai Noach.

    But I would find it hard for the Chabad for instance to even accept the b’nai Avraham metaphor but would with no doubt accept b’nai Noach. My parents wouldn’t accept it either ‘What are you talking about son! A b’nai Avraham is a convert. Are you telling us that the way you’re using b’nai Avraham, it means he doesn’t have to convert and is still considered a son of Abraham in a spiritual sense?’

  62. @ ProclaimLiberty, the scenario I used about my parents and the Chabad I believe could have been the same in the 1st century. Paul is teaching Gentiles that non Jews IN Yeshua are sons of Avraham, yes metophorically. The obvious solution would be ‘ok they need to be circumcised’ from a Jewish perspective.

  63. ProclaimLiberty said “So, from a practical standpoint it could have become necessary in any case to have developed a separate venue for the non-Jews, in order to meet the excessive demand for accurate Torah teaching. ”

    I know we can’t live in the past. I believe like you(I hope I’m clear on your premise) that Moses being read each Shabbat means learning or hearing how to live a godly life. Hmm maybe it’s hearing then the learning someplace else like a separate venue for non Jews. Just be aware I’m thinking out loud here. But does this conclude having a separate non Jewish entity? Like Messianic Jewish synagogue and the non Jewish church?

  64. Well, Macher, since we can’t rewrite the past, we can only pursue how we might address an age-old problem in a modern context with modern technologies to aid us. There are certainly Jewish Torah commentaries or sermons for each parashah available online nowadays, with more being produced all the time. So we don’t actually need to pack multitudes of non-Jews into any given synagogue or other Jewish venue in order to provide the Torah exposure that was likely envisioned in the Acts 15:21 recommendation. Thus we may avoid the practical problem of overwhelming limited Jewish facilities and contaminating or interfering with the normal conduct of any given Jewish community. Further, we have organizations like FFOZ dedicated to trying to bring a sense of Jewish perspective to these multitudes of Christians. Doing so offers some hope of rewriting Christian religious procedures (and doctrines) in accordance with their improved understanding of Torah. And, yes, of course this should be reflected in godly lifestyles, because such godliness begins with godly attitudes. Addressing attitudes first was also Rav Yeshua’s strategy with an all-Jewish audience on a Galilean hillside in his Matt.5 introduction to proper Torah-study perspectives.

    Perhaps, now, after four decades of experience observing ups and downs and pros and cons within a messianic-Jewish inspired social movement that has attracted numerous non-Jews (witness the rise of the Hebrew Roots phenomenon), Jewish messianists may begin to clarify their distinctly Jewish theology, soteriology, ecclesiology, messianology, et al, and even their praxis, so as to better guide both Jewish messianists and non-Jewish ones about where they both fit distinctively into HaShem’s scheme of things. Thus discussion of the goal of a single renewed humanity, or “one new man”, should not devolve into a vision of that goal as producing only homogeneous non-Jewish drones (or even superficially Jewish-looking ones).

  65. ProclaimLiberty said “Thus we may avoid the practical problem of overwhelming limited Jewish facilities and contaminating or interfering with the normal conduct of any given Jewish community. ”

    Ok are you against or for non Jews IN Messianic Jewish congregations but suggest the likes of FFOZ to avoid the practical problem of overwhelming limited Jewish facilities that could get contaminated therefore or interfere with the normal conduct of any given Jewish community?

  66. I did read that article when you linked it previously, and I have a somewhat different view of what he calls “Messianic worship”, and what Jewish worship should be. I’m not sure if he views the phrase “one new man” in the same way that I do, but he seems to agree about the proper result not eliminating or fusing the distinct identities. He mentions the problem caused by the presence of non-Jews with vary viewpoints, but he does not seem to recognize the degree of its interference with MJ progression back to a Jewishness that most MJs have never experienced. I say “back” in the historical sense defined in Jewish literature and traditional Jewish praxis, though it is somewhat unfamiliar to most MJs.

    So I am in favor of only a very limited non-Jewish presence in synagogues, because in most cases cited by Dr,Stokes they can play only a very limited part in such a framework; and too many of them would render it untenable, because a Jewish community must be a demographically Jewish community and Jews worldwide are still in a phase of recovery even 70-75 years after the Holocaust, 66 years since the modern State of Israel was established, 47 years since Jerusalem was re-unified, and we are still not truly in control of the site where we must rebuild the Temple. The existence of the non-democratic haredi movement, that resists the integration into the modern state that would strengthen the religious perspective of the entire nation as one whole body, also leaves the haredi population in a galut mindset rather than a restored Israeli mindset and demonstrates that the recovery and restoration is not complete. MJs are another demographic that has not yet become ready for re-integration; and as such they have been unable to provide suitable guidance even to enable willing non-Jews to assist them. Dr.Stokes suggested a role for them that provokes envy in Jews for what they should have in even greater measure. I would take that farther by saying that envy is not what should be invoked but rather zeal. The Greek word used by Rav Shaul in his Roman letter (zelotes) is often rendered as jealousy, but it also means zealousness — and this is a perspective that the Jewish people was denied during centuries of barely surviving but we have begun to rediscover and reclaim it.

    Therefore I recommend that modern MJ synagogues become more like traditional synagogues throughout the world and across the span of centuries past, and that modern non-Jews learn the perspectives of Torah without trying to participate in Jewish venues, except for the few who have potentially legitimate reasons to consider conversion. Non-Jews may remain in churches; they may try to reform their churches; they may even rename them as assemblies rather than churches; and they may form different non-church organizations with alternative practices such as those developed under the Noahide model. Nowadays they do not need to be in synagogues in order to learn what is needed for their spiritual growth. Various methods exist to provide them with knowledgeable Jewish study partners and teachers. Many examples of the curious phenomenon that has become identified as an MJ synagogue actually seem to have developed organically a syncretistic synthesis of Jewish-Christian praxis that is more suited to Jewishly interested non-Jews than to Jews. Of course, that has not been encouraging toward the development of authentically traditional, actually Jewish MJ synagogues, though a segment of the overall MJ movement has been working to do so and to pursue the restoration and recovery that I described above.

  67. It’s interesting you should say all that PL, given my recent “adventures” with various Messianic and Hebrew Roots bloggers over the past several days (especially yesterday). This goes directly to their fears of being “second-class citizens” in Messianic synagogues or worse, being relegated to the churches they have long sense left, both emotionally and physically, as bastions of pagan worship, when, from their perspective, their only refuge from the “Babylon” of the church is to worship in equality with Messianic Jews in Jewish religious venues.

    I say all that not to disagree with you but just to mention that your statement, should it ever be read by such Hebrew Roots folks, will add fuel to their internal fire. It does present some interesting problems since it leaves “Messianic Gentiles” (I’m not incredibly fond of this “label” but I’m not sure what else to call them/us) with the choices you outlined: either join a church and attempt to reform them, no easy task as I can personally attest, or create our own “Messianic Gentile” congregations which has its own problems such as what to actually do in worship, what to call ourselves, and what does it all mean? The third option, and one that I periodically entertain, is to step outside all worship frameworks, but then my situation is unique. Even if there were a fully functioning Messianic Jewish group nearby and even if I were welcome (not wanting to intrude on a Jewish worship context), there’s still the matter of the feelings of my non-believing Jewish wife to consider and how she might feel having a “Messianic” husband. In some sense, difficult as it still is for her, my being a “straight up” Christian is a little easier to explain to her Jewish friends (if she has to explain at all) rather than trying to define my religious framework as not exactly Christian or Jewish. It least I don’t wear a kippah and tallit anymore, though I do still say a few prayers from the siddur.

    What to do to preserve Jewish integrity within Messianic Jewish congregations and at the same time acknowledge that Gentiles, along with Jews, equal co-participants in the body of Messiah is still something that is difficult to work out in the modern Messianic movement.

  68. @ James didn’t know that your wife wasn’t a believer. Your situation is unique for sure. And I can understand.

    James said “What to do to preserve Jewish integrity within Messianic Jewish congregations and at the same time acknowledge that Gentiles, along with Jews, equal co-participants in the body of Messiah is still something that is difficult to work out in the modern Messianic movement.”

    You know this is my venue right now. I agree with PL for the most part. I’m having a hard time excepting Gentiles stay in the Church. I know we can’t live in the past but I don’t think it was intended. I’m thinking out loud here. I think the Church happened because of sin. Now whether The Lord let it happen I don’t know and will not try to figure that out. But I do believe that Jews and Gentiles were in the synagogue together provided if the demographics provided it. It’s interesting though Paul went to the synagogues first where there were Jews and those that fear God. Then he would go to the Gentiles who were bonafied idol worshippers like Mars Hill.

    So my stance is not intentional separation that’s of course as long as there is demographics. I was born and raised in Philly and still live here and Philly has a large population of Jews and a population of believing Jews. I’ve read that Antioch was very metro and had a large Jewish population. Now if there is no believing Jewish population then of course that’s a different story.

  69. Too add, we have to deal with the present. And even though there is the Church and the Messianic Synagogue personally I don’t think it’s honest to promote the bilateral stuff. But how do you present it is the issue for me because it can cause contention with our Christian brothers and sisters. So maybe FFOZ approach which I didn’t agree with is a start, thinking out loud.

  70. I don’t think we’re going to get to one right answer that we can just stamp on all MJ groups everywhere. I agree with you (or whoever said) that it depends on the demographics of an area. You might have a small number of believing Jews and a large number of Gentiles who are “Judaically-aware” (for lack of a better term) who make a reasonably good fit and combined, form the critical number of people necessary to start and sustain a congregation. In a place with a large number of Jews including a large number of observant believing Jews (as opposed to believing Jews who are assimilated into the Church), it makes more sense for the believing Jews to form a synagogue that’s primarily or exclusively Jewish (apart from having spouses/children who are non-Jews). Even under those circumstances, you may have some non-Jews in attendance for certain specialized reasons, but the congregation would still overwhelmingly be a Jewish synagogue.

    I still don’t know what to do with a congregation that is made up of mostly “Judaically-aware” Gentile believers. What they believe is obviously at odds with most or all Christian churches, but how do they practice worship? Not being Jewish, do they even have a Torah scroll? Probably not. Going further, and assuming they’re not using kippot, tallitot, and tefillin in worship, what do they do? How do they sound? Do they pray from a siddur? Do they have Shabbat services? Is a “minyan” of ten people (in a non-Jewish context, obviously, it can be anyone who is a believer) required for a prayer service? Does any of this matter?

    The book of Acts at least suggests that in the very early stages of the spread of “the Way,” Gentiles worshiped in Jewish synagogues and, up to a point at least, followed Jewish worship practices, but that was because there was no other model for how to worship God. It would be like me when I worshiped in the local Conservative/Reform shul or how I imagine things would go if I ever accompanied my wife to the local Chabad. My role would be limited but I would be worshiping Hashem alongside the Jewish people and in their midst. In Acts 16 what was Lydia and the other Gentile women doing in their worship by the river after their Jewish mentors were evicted from the area? Probably the only model they had for worship was Jewish.

  71. @James — I thought I had addressed that whole second-class bugaboo in a post above, but apparently I’m remembering a recent response to your “Don’t argue” article on Feb.11 at 2:15am to someone I abbreviated as “CropCircles”. I understand the Hebrew Roots wannabees, who do not themselves understand the damage they do to HaShem’s purpose of preserving a distinctive people to whom belong the promises and the covenant(s), nor do they understand or accept the special distinctive position allotted to non-Jews. They may do very well to separate from church communities which could not and would not allow them to pursue the Torah-based greatness in the kingdom of heaven that they seek (derived from Mt.5:19), but they are insensitive to the aspects of that Torah which maintain the distinctive existence of the very people they would emulate. For example, the non-Jews who are commended in Is.56 are still identifiable as “b’nei nechar” (“foreigners”) rather than as pseudo-converts or even as would-be converts. And somebody will need to “step up to the plate” to fulfill the role in Zachariah’s vision of the foreigners who must come up to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot and yet remain foreigners, so that HaShem’s house of prayer may be for “all peoples” and not only for one people within whom all others must be assimilated. So it remains to be determined how non-Jews might properly pursue kingdom greatness via Torah praxis and yet fulfill the mitzvah of protecting Jewish distinctiveness. I suggested as a starting point the establishment of distinctive non-Jewish (HR?) congregations utilizing b’nai Noa’h praxis, which could certainly maintain friendly contact and interaction with Jewish-demographic MJ synagogues (and both might well establish similar relations with other traditional synagogues and with Jewish community activities in general). Forty-five years ago I participated in two home fellowship groups on opposite sides of the city of Philadelphia. One was primarily peopled with Jewish youth while the other included primarily non-Jewish youth. They would get together to celebrate Jewish holidays and have a grand-ol’-time together; and the enlightenment of budding Jewish messianism was shared by all. Of course, home fellowships are not permanent institutions, so this continued for only a few years before the various participants had to move on to other pursuits in other forms of organization; but there was a hint of a workable pattern in this short-lived arrangement, which I believe might be incorporated in the manner of distinctive but interactive congregations described above.

  72. @ PL are you from Philly? I’m born and raised in Philly. In fact I grew up literally around the corner from Beth Yeshua.

  73. Yes, I grew up in NE Philly, and was one of the original singers in Kol Simcha. These clues may be sufficient for you to identify me, though you may wonder how that youngster grew up to become the Israeli Hazan/shatz who has served and participated in Conservative synagogues in the USA and in Israel and now argues for modern orthodoxy among MJs as I do.

  74. I thought I had addressed that whole second-class bugaboo in a post above, but apparently I’m remembering a recent response to your “Don’t argue” article on Feb.11 at 2:15am to someone I abbreviated as “CropCircles”.

    I don’t doubt that you did, but it’s not always easy for me to pull together people’s comments across different blog posts to form a cohesive commentary. One day, I may have to copy all of your comments from different posts for a certain period of time and paste them into a new blog post called “Sayings of PL.” 😀 jk

    They may do very well to separate from church communities which could not and would not allow them to pursue the Torah-based greatness in the kingdom of heaven that they seek (derived from Mt.5:19), but they are insensitive to the aspects of that Torah which maintain the distinctive existence of the very people they would emulate.

    Self-sacrifice is an advance human trait and most people have a difficult time seeing past the tip of their nose. I think (just my opinon) when some Hebrew Roots folks claim “discrimination” or “racism” against Messianic Judaism, part of what they’re saying really is “What about me?” They don’t want to be sensitive to another group’s needs if it means their own needs and desires won’t be met.

    And somebody will need to “step up to the plate” to fulfill the role in Zachariah’s vision of the foreigners who must come up to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot and yet remain foreigners, so that HaShem’s house of prayer may be for “all peoples” and not only for one people within whom all others must be assimilated.

    The role of “shield-bearer,” “wingman,” or even paladin in relation to the Jewish people isn’t one that’s easy to apprehend for most people in the Hebrew Roots space. I’m probably not characterizing the role of the Gentile in Messianic Judaism accurately, but this is the closest I can get, since we (as I see it) have a responsibility to support and encourage the Jewish people in whose midst we exist to zealousness for the Torah. Again, from one point of view, it looks like Gentiles are subordinate to the Jewish people (which is one really big reason why “the Church” is going to resist this perspective tooth and nail) but from another angle, it simply means that we have a vital role in making sure God’s requirements for Jewish people in Messiah are met for the benefit of the entire world.

    As I recall, Boaz Michael’s daughter leads a support team for an Israeli Air Force fighter plane (I’m probably not expressing this correctly). True, fueling, reloading munitions, and mechanically repairing the aircraft is not as glamourous as flying it and directly defending Isarel from her enemies, but if that job were left undone or poorly done, then the aircraft would either not fly at all, or crash, making it impossible for that defense to occur.

  75. @ PL obviously you know I was born and raised Overbrook Park. My mom was also born and raised there and my dad was born and raised in Wynnefield. The roots are on my dads side is Ukraine>South Philly>Wynnewood. Then my grandparents(on dad’s side) moved to NE Philly in Valmont Towers on the BLVD. On my moms side the roots are also Ukraine>Strawberry Mansion>Overbrook Park.

    The neighborhood changed and my parents moved to nearby Greenhill Condo in Wynnewood.

    Wow one of the original’s of Kol Simcha?!!

    We still are members of Beth Yeshua and you might know that Beth Yeshua isn’t modern orthodox which I’m OK with.

  76. Macher, I’m OK with you and PL having this dialog about your mutual backgrounds and so forth, but keep in mind this is a public forum that anyone can view. If you want to have a more private conversation, you might want to try email. Just a suggestion, guys.

  77. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff about how/why etc Paul uses Abraham to show that Gentiles are heirs. This is mostly prominent in the New Perspective where the NPP goes into more detail about Abraham and Gentiles relation to Abraham. Some scholars make the point about Gentiles becoming heirs to the promise and some say heirs to the promises. I find it interesting that promise and promises singular and plural. Of course in a singular sense it means the promise of salvation; the promise of being resurrected in the age to come.

    But what about promises in the plural? Is it a mistake for scholars to say promises in the plural?

  78. I looked at a number of translations of Galatians 3:29, and they all say “promise” in the singular.

    Well over a year ago, I was deep in my “Jesus Covenant” blog series, trying to figure out in the Bible exactly where and how the New Covenant applies to Gentiles. As it turns out, Gentiles don’t have a direct covenant connection with God, only Israel does, starting with Abraham. I created a detailed breakdown of the promises God made to Abraham and only part of one of them (1.Genesis 12:1-3) applies to the nations of the world (“all peoples on earth would be blessed through Abraham”).

    I think there’s only one basic promise to the Gentiles, tying Abraham and Paul’s commentary on Abraham together…that we people of the nations will be blessed through Abraham’s seed (singular), that is, through the Messiah.

  79. @ James in other words the promise of salvation, the promise of the resurrection in the world to come.

    I’m very interested in the Abrahamic covenant because Paul uses Abraham in a way that unites. Some have suggested that ‘all nations will be grafted into you(Abraham)’. This means that believers are not grafted into Israel. That both Jews and non Jews IN Yeshua are part of Abraham’s family of God if you will.

  80. Actually, I think that there’s a lot more going on than just what Christians would perceive as the “salvation plan.” We’re talking about participation in bringing about and living in the Messianic Age, when King Messiah rules over Israel as the head of the nations, and over the entire world, bringing an age of global peace that the earth has never seen before this side of Eden.

    I don’t think this means we become Israel since the defining moment for Israel was Sinai. The entire world didn’t stand before God to receive the Torah. Israel became the guardians of Torah and Shabbat and Messiah and as the various prophesies say, the people of the nations will be attracted to Israel, and will desire to go up to the Mountain of Jacob in order to worship Israel’s God in the House of Prayer for all peoples.

    Israel is the connection point for the rest of the world and more specifically, Messiah, as the living embodiment of Israel and as Israel’s “first born son” so to speak. Without that connection, the non-Jewish world is toast.

    That’s what bugs me about “the Church” when Christians say “the Church,” rather than Israel is the connection point. They put the cart firmly before the horse and demand that Israel cease to exist and cleave instead to the Church for salvation. If that actually, literally happened, there would be no salvation, no restoration, no Messianic Age, because destroying Israel destroys God’s plan (not that God would ever let that happen, of course).

  81. @Macher — HaShem made a singular promise to Avraham that included multiple aspects, so it is certainly possible to parse it as individual promises in the plural. He promised to Avraham a land-grant and numerous descendants who would inherit it to preserve also his spiritual legacy. I suppose the blessing that followed the Binding of Isaac could be considered an additional promise, though in some ways it is merely an extension of the descendants aspect of the prior promise. HaShem did not say anything about “salvation” in these promises, though He did say that the nations/gentiles would bless themselves because of Avraham’s descendants. Rav Shaul midrashically noted the form of language used to reference these descendants, whereby the singular and plural are both indicated by the same word, in order to highlight one particular descendant (Rav Yeshua) by whom the non-Jewish nations would be blessed. The promise of resurrection is also a derivation rather than an explicitly-stated promise; and “salvation”, or “rescue”, or “redemption”, are all similarly a result of trusting HaShem and incorporating His instructions and principles into individual conduct and societal custom. Remember that everyone will be resurrected at some point in time; but not everyone will find what follows that experience enjoyable. Yohanan’s vision (i.e., his “Revelation”) describes two periods of resurrection: the first to life and the second to severe Judgment and destruction. Therefore I’m not sure whether the so-called promise of resurrection should be called a promise or a threat. But gentiles whose Avraham-like trust brings them into relationship with HaShem’s trained mediators the Jewish people, and thus with His instructions and perspectives, are thus co-heirs of these blessings along with Jews.

  82. PL said “But gentiles whose Avraham-like trust brings them into relationship with HaShem’s trained mediators the Jewish people, and thus with His instructions and perspectives, are thus co-heirs of these blessings along with Jews.”

    How does inheritance of the land come into play or not into play?

  83. @ James and Proclaim Liberty….

    We have been talking about Oneness and Twoness and went off into different roads about Oneness and Twoness. I have to say I’m not in line with the what a lot of messianic Jewish leaders are teaching nowadays about non Jews stay in the Church and try to represent the Tent of David venue ONLY if demographics demand it. Yes my views change in regards to this but I’m not comfortable in my spirit about the hard line of separation. The fact is there are non Jews who don’t want to be part of the Church because of reasons and want to be part of Messianic Jewish synagogues. What I don’t like what I see online is that non Jews condemn Christianity, not all. But that’s besides the point. In real life from my experience I never experienced that.

    To me it looks like certain Messianic Jewish organizations are are an active role about the Torah being for Israel only and that Gentiles are not obligated etc. Perhaps it’s from reaction of non Jews since in most cases is majority of non Jews and I can relate and understand this. But I don’t see a balance, I see a venue of total separation. The conversion to Messianic Judaism(if there is such a thing) is one of them. I also know that Messianic Judaism says that Jewish believers shouldn’t assimilate in the Church which I agree with.

    All what I’m posting is a think out loud post.

    I understand what Messianic Judaism is presently. But why can’t we focus on how the Messianic Jewish community that is made up of both Jew and non Jew are united and the relevance of the likes of Isaiah 56. Whether Isaiah 56 is a choice or not is irrelevant what I’m trying to say. The point is that non Jews who listen to Isaiah 56 as an example are living as such whether they choose to or not and they shouldn’t be condemned or put down because the fact is the biblical fact.

    Interesting I was watching a interview with Rabbi Chernoff on Jewish Voice Ministries and Chernoff made a comment about the Sabbath and how the Church said ‘no you can’t do that’. Chernoff said they examined the scriptures and he made a comment that All will be keeping Shabbat and I think he referred to Isaiah 56.

    Is it possible to focus on Onesness and have Twoness as a secondary. To me it seems like Twoness is the primary focus right now.

  84. Shavua Tov, Macher! — When I referenced Avraham-like trust among gentiles, remember that Rav Shaul referenced Avraham’s exercise of this trust while still uncircumcised, which is also prior to the land-grant promise or the definition of descendants via Yitzhak (not to neglect the later clarification through Yakov and not Esav). So there should be no question that non-Jews do not inheriting any portion of the land of Israel in the context of blessings as metaphorical “sons of Avraham” exercising Avraham-like trust in HaShem. Only the descendants of Yakov/Israel are designated to receive these promises and the Torah covenant.

    The emphasis that you perceive on “Twoness” is a response to an emphasis on a falsely-defined “Oneness” that neglects the necessary distinction between Jews and other nationals defined in Torah and reflected particularly in the Acts 15 decision. It is now a matter of self-defense that Jews must insist on developing their space and the boundaries that guard it. Allowing the masses to trample that space is not healthy for Jewish recovery after centuries of assault. Jerusalem has been “trodden down” by the gentiles for more than long enough. The “times of the gentiles” are almost completely fulfilled, and Israel must re-assert itself. These are the times in which we live; and non-Jews will continue to be challenged to “come up to speed” and “get with the program”. Gentiles who wish to experience the maximum of HaShem’s blessings have a vested interest in allowing Jews to reach their fullest potential as Jews, that they may themselves rediscover the treasures of their heritage which may also enrich the gentiles.

    This is merely an extension of how the modern MJ movement began. Jews began to rediscover the Jewish Messiah, to realize how Jewish he is, and to begin exploring the implications of that fact for their own Jewish identity. Non-Jews observed this rediscovery and saw its implications for their own rediscovery of the authentic roots of their faith. So they hitched their wagon to this star and came along for the ride, not realizing that they might be overloading a delicate vehicle and slowing it down. Modifying the metaphor a bit, the yearlings that have been pulling the cart need to mature a bit before they may pull any more of the increasingly heavy loads.

  85. @ PL your views are in line with mainstream Messianic Judaism here in the USA for the most part but you’re more detailed and expressive and give valid reasons for Twoness.

  86. @ PL I should have said that your views are sort of in line with the UMJC. Not all Messianic Judaism is united.

  87. Decided to come back to this subject because it certainly is a trend in certain Messianic Jewish circles promoting bilateral ecclesiology which I don’t believe is biblical and isn’t truth. The reality of the matter is there is the Church and the Messianic synagogue, but is the reality truth? I know we have to deal with the present reality, but how do you deal with it with truth? Would expressing the whole truth and nothing but the truth cause offence or should truths be expressed in bits and pieces not to cause offence?

    I read Ephesians and it flies in the face of bilateral ecclesiology.

  88. Are we talking about facts or truth because the two are different. The Bible can tell us both, but we’re limited in how to understand certain things because they don’t seem to be spelled out for us. That would include the exact relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the body of “the Way” and the status of each group.

    Did they meld into a single, amorphous form with no distinctions at all, effectively eliminating any “Jewishness” about the Jewish people? Did the Gentiles adopt practices identical to their Jewish counterparts becoming proselytes in all but name (and circumcision)? Either option diminishes the Sinai covenant by “rewriting” the New Covenant to say that either everything that came before it is meaningless or that everything that came before it suddenly applies to the entire population of the earth, not just the decedents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

    If the solution to this problem were as easy as reading Ephesians (presumably in an English translation of the text), then there would be no reason to have New Testament scholars and scores and scores of studies and research on the meaning of the Gospels and Epistles to say nothing of their relationship with the rest of the Bible. Also, it may not be reasonable to take one letter out of the Bible, separate it from the rest of the Biblical context, and say that it answers such as difficult question.

    One of the best conversations I’ve found on Ephesians 2 no longer exists on the Internet, but I recorded some of the dialog in a blog post, Macher. I also took a stab at Ephesians 2 some time ago. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but it seems like the classic Christian and the classic One Law solutions all lead to the same place. As far as “Bilateral Ecclesiology” is concerned, I think it’s an attempt to understand what was happening originally between the Jewish and Gentile populations within Yeshua-worship and to apply that to modern Messianic Judaism. It’s a work in progress, from my point of view, not a done deal.

  89. Well applying to modern Messianic Judaism is the challenge.

    I didn’t suggest that the Messianic community melded together with no distinctions eliminating Jewishness. In fact what Ephesians suggests is the total opposite; a Messianic Jewish community with all it’s Jewishness and retaining all it’s Jewishness where Gentiles are included.

    My point is condemning the promotion of bilateral ecclesiology like some Messianic Jewish circles have been doing.

    The traditional Christian Church says that Jews and Gentiles should come to the church and it’s the church that has erased all Jewishness, this is a fact. However why can’t it be accepted that it’s the other way around and that’s how the Apostle’s intended it to be? If it is accepted my previous post asked how can we express this without causing offense? Is the Tent of David premise the answer? It could be but if you accept that the intention was unified Messianic Jewish communities which accepted Gentiles(not the other way around), retaining it’s Jewishness then the Tent of David premise isn’t 100% truthful. Obviously if you believe in bilateral ecclesiology then the Tent of David is useful.

    Not it’s interesting that Stern’s rendering I think in Acts 19 or 20 is Paul spent years in Ephesus and Stern’s rendering is Paul set up a yeshiva. Hmmm. Now this doesn’t mean one law. But according to Ephesians Paul taught about commands that were from the Torah. And if Paul viewed that the dawning of the age has begun then this would include certain laws of the Kingdom that applied or didn’t apply.

  90. I don’t think bilateral ecclesiology can really eliminate a Gentile presence from the Messianic Jewish worship and community space, at least not totally. There will always be intermarried couples in the synagogue (even in non-Messianic venues like Chabad and certainly in Reform synagogues). I think that Gentiles worshiping alongside Jews in a Messianic Jewish synagogue is a perfectly valid model. Both of Mark Nanos’ books that I’ve read suggest that Gentiles were integrated in Jewish worship communities alongside believing and non-believing Jews.

    If I’m “bilateral,” it’s with the meaning that there is still a separation of roles and legal status between Jewish and Gentile believers in the Messianic Jewish context. My showing up at a Messianic Jewish congregation neither makes me Jewish or “pseudo-Jewish” in the sense that my legal obligation to the mitzvot is identical with my Jewish counterparts.

  91. @Macher — We’ve already discussed Acts 15 in sufficient detail that you cannot dismiss the distinction it draws between two segments of the “ecclesia” of Rav Yeshua disciples: the non-Jewish one which is conditionally released from general Torah obligations and the Jewish one that remains covenantally responsible and obligated to keep the entirety of Torah. This is what is meant by “bi-lateral ecclesia”: simply that this body or assembly of people has two sides or two segments. These segments are defined by the difference between their respective responsibilities. Nothing that you can find in Ephesians can contradict that fact and that halakhic ruling of which Rav Shaul was a primary supporter and instigator. His words of encouragement and inclusiveness to the non-Jewish Ephesians were intended to counteract the same sort of attitude we see cited in Is.56:3, in which the alien (ben-ha-nechar) is fearful of being separated or dis-included from HaShem’s people. So we see nothing new in the fears of the Ephesians or in the modern fears that the notion of bi-lateral ecclesia, which guards the distinctiveness of the Jewish people, will somehow disenfranchise its non-Jewish segment. There is no justification for them to emulate the jealousy of Edom against his brother Yacov.

    As for my views being somewhat in line with UMJC policy, that’s all well and good, but I prefer to think that they are accurate reflections of the Tenakh, the apostolic writings, and other classic Jewish literature. It is my hope that the movement identified as Messianic Judaism will continue to move in this sort of direction to conform its praxis with that historically evidenced by the Jewish people in the aggregate. My hope for G-d-fearing non-Jewish Rav Yeshua disciples, as wild olive branches grafted onto a cultivated tree of nourishment rooted in the notion of “salvation”, is that they will be nourished by Jewish knowledge and insight and will rejoice that they may share in the blessings of a transformed life that does not require any covenant (even the Jewish one) to guarantee it, but only demands trust in HaShem’s good intentions for all humans aligned with His goals. While Rav Shaul offered to the Corinthian assemblies some suggestions about their meetings, which might be generalized to other non-Jewish fellowships, his primary emphasis was for their attitudes, outlook, and morality. Specific performance for modern non-Jewish assemblies like those of Corinth, Ephesus, or Galatia remains, as James suggested, a work in progress.

  92. @ PL bilateral ecclesiology as I understand it promotes having a separate Church and Messianic synagogue. In other words Jews stay in the synagogues and non Jews stay in the Church.

  93. Bilateral ecclesiology as Mark Kinzer describes it in his book “Postmissionary Messianic Judaism” describes that as an ideal of sorts, but it certainly isn’t a practical reality, at least in the U.S. The issue involved, and I’m sure PL can describe this better than I can, is to preserve a space where Messianic Jews can worship and live their lives as Jews without the threat of having to compromise who they are or to be confused with the traditional Christian church which historically and often in modern times, is guilty of overt or covert supersessionism.

  94. @Macher — I offered the clearest possible definition of bilateral ecclesiology in my last reply. James has just posted a summary of the relevant consequences in our era, which are connected with Jewish survival and recovery from a long and still current history of assault by forces that have tried to destroy the Jewish people and still inhibit our recovery and development, particularly those of us who pursue devotion to the Jewish teachings of Rav Yeshua. Jews have been overwhelmed by Christians for far too long, even as Jewish messianists; this was discussed earlier in this topic; and we must now insist on preserving our space that we may pursue our distinctive responsibilities with less to inhibit us. This is a problem that did not exist in the first century, so you won’t find any discussion of it in the apostolic writings other than the reiteration in Acts 15 of the longstanding distinction defined in Torah. The “new” problem then was that entrenched Jewish attitudes and views about fellowship inhibited the development of fellowship with non-Jews and the process of acquainting them with the Messiah. The “new” problem now is that entrenched Christian attitudes and views about fellowship inhibit the restoration of Jewish messianism and the process of acquainting other Jews with the Messiah.

  95. PL said “this was discussed earlier in this topic; and we must now insist on preserving our space that we may pursue our distinctive responsibilities with less to inhibit us.”

    Does this mean you support that non Jews should stay in the church?

  96. PL said “This is a problem that did not exist in the first century, so you won’t find any discussion of it in the apostolic writings other than the reiteration in Acts 15 of the longstanding distinction defined in Torah”

    Distinction is fine. But to promote that distinction saying non Jews should stay in the Church to maintain that distinction causes separation, no matter what.

    I’ve heard David Chernoff say he would have never dreamed that there would be so many non Jews attracted to Messianic Judaism. Some organizations have handled it differently.

  97. @Macher — One of my first replies to this topic discussed the formation of non-Jewish fellowships distinct from traditional Christian church venues or from synagogue venues; and I think that the decision about forming, or joining, or staying with, or leaving, any given fellowship community must depend on evaluating many factors. So I don’t support any “one-size-fits-all” statement about where anyone should fellowship. But I do support some general principles such as the recognition of the distinctive responsibilities incumbent on Jews or upon non-Jews, and their effects upon their respective fellowship behaviors.

    I support a definitive forward development for Jewish messianists of classic traditional Jewish communal behavior that would likely leave modern non-Jews feeling somewhat uncomfortable and left out, because except in rare cases it would not apply to them. Jews need the experience of being the majority in their own venue, in order to see themselves clearly in their traditional environment. Trying always to compensate for the presence of non-Jews, to keep them from feeling excessively excluded, is detrimental to that development. Jews need the freedom to act and think and express themselves Jewishly, unselfconsciously, without continually having to justify doing so in every little detail because someone else doesn’t understand something.

    Consequently, since this must by definition limit non-Jewish participation in some defined Jewish spaces, non-Jews must fellowship in some other venue if they are to do so at all (which they should). I do not insist that this must be a church, though certainly that must be considered one possibility. In some places it may be the only available option.

  98. PL said “Consequently, since this must by definition limit non-Jewish participation in some defined Jewish spaces, non-Jews must fellowship in some other venue if they are to do so at all (which they should). I do not insist that this must be a church, though certainly that must be considered one possibility. In some places it may be the only available option.”

    We know there were Jews in Ephesus and also non Jews.

    Acts 19:9-10
    9and when these started defaming the Way before the whole synagogue, Sha’ul withdrew, took the talmidim with him, and commenced holding daily dialogues in Tyrannus’s yeshivah. 10 This went on for two years; so that everyone, both Jews and Greeks, living in the province of Asia heard the message about the Lord.

    Are you suggesting that the Jews stayed in the synagogue and/or formed their own synagogue for believers and Paul formed a separate congregation for the non Jews?

  99. @ PL what I see evident is the integration of non Jews into the Jewish community. Not like how the church would integrate Jews into the Church, removing Jewishness and distinctions.

    I think it’s evident that the Apostle’s especially Paul expressed how Gentiles can be part of a Messianic Jewish community and justify this radical position to the Jews.

  100. As I explained, Macher, today’s situation is not the same as the one 19 centuries ago. It does not matter now that then the number of non-Jews coming to faith was small enough that they could sometimes be included in existing Jewish venues. Then the problem was ensuring that they would be allowed to participate and accepted for the sake of fellowship. Now the problem is different, and it is the minority Jews who are in need of protection. How do you propose to “integrate” massive numbers of non-Jews into Jewish space without forcing upon them excessive conformity with Jewish culture and praxis? And, if you do this, what becomes of Jewish distinctiveness? If you do not, then Jewish space ceases to be Jewish space and Jews are unable to develop as Jews and thus can never fully realize their Jewish potential.

  101. Actually, in Acts 13, I think the reason the synagogue leaders in Pisidian Antioch freaked out when so many Gentiles showed up at Shabbat services was that there were so many Gentiles. I don’t doubt they felt overwhelmed, particularly since most of them were unlikely to be God-fearers.

    Since non-Jews have always outnumbered Jews, any movement, such as “the Way” that advocates the entry of non-Jewish population into a Jewish religious practice would very quickly be “overrun” with non-Jews. I do think that at that time, even if Jews became a numeric minority in their own synagogues, they would still be in leadership positions by definition, with the newly minted Gentile disciples having the status of students or learners. But even if the course of history had gone differently and the Way had remained a stream of Judaism going forward, the problem of a Gentile majority would still had to have been dealt with.

    I think the difference as you state PL, between then and now, is that we’ve had almost two-thousand years of anti-Jewish theology and practice associated with Yeshua-worship and reorganizing this religious stream to once again be accepting of observant Jewish populations is going to require radical actions. One such result is that there will be synagogues that will have a majority Jewish population, but I still don’t see that as the only model possible or even the only model desirable.

  102. James said “I think the difference as you state PL, between then and now, is that we’ve had almost two-thousand years of anti-Jewish theology and practice associated with Yeshua-worship and reorganizing this religious stream to once again be accepting of observant Jewish populations is going to require radical actions. One such result is that there will be synagogues that will have a majority Jewish population, but I still don’t see that as the only model possible or even the only model desirable.”

    Well gentile attracted to messianic Judaism may or may not have an anti-Jewish theology or they wouldn’t be attracted. I do understand and relate to anti-Jewish.

    Whether the majority would be non Jewish shouldn’t be issue. The wall of partition should be taken to heart.

  103. PL said “Then the problem was ensuring that they would be allowed to participate and accepted for the sake of fellowship. ”

    Not only that but accepted as equal joint heirs. One that the Jewish Messiah rules every person, two to explain what Gentiles roles are in the Messianic community and three to the Jews justify this radical position.

    PL said “Now the problem is different, and it is the minority Jews who are in need of protection. ”

    Protection from what? That Gentiles will over run us and take us over and gentile-ize our congregations?

    Let’s give the Gentiles that are attracted to Messianic Judaism the benefit of the doubt because the wall of partition is suppose to be broken down.

    PL said “How do you propose to “integrate” massive numbers of non-Jews into Jewish space without forcing upon them excessive conformity with Jewish culture and praxis?”

    What cultures and praxis are you referring too that non Jews would be forced to conform?

    PL said “And, if you do this, what becomes of Jewish distinctiveness? If you do not, then Jewish space ceases to be Jewish space and Jews are unable to develop as Jews and thus can never fully realize their Jewish “potential.”

    How would Jewish distinctiveness cease to exist? That would depend what cultures and praxis would be forced on non Jews to conform. Example would be the Passover. I don’t see Jewish distinction ceasing if a non Jew celebrates a Messianic Passover as a congregation. On the other hand a Bris and/conversion I consider unbiblical which would cause Jewish distinctiveness to cease.

  104. James said “But even if the course of history had gone differently and the Way had remained a stream of Judaism going forward, the problem of a Gentile majority would still had to have been dealt with.”

    We can say that the Way has been ‘ressurected’ again in modern times as Messianic Judaism. The majority gentile problem is only a problem if there is fear of losing Jewish distinctiveness and dealing with the Gentile problem is inspired by fear in my opinion. If a gentile is wanting to embrace the Jewish Messiah as the Jewish Messiah then as Paul said in Ephesians 2 the wall of partition has been broken down. There is no passage anywhere that speaks of taking Israel out of the world and somehow protecting Jewish identity and distinctive from outside influence. To be honest that’s man made dogma in ordinances that’s contrary to what Hashem has said.

  105. Are you suggesting an elimination of what it is to be Jewish, Macher? Christianity, for the most part, has been completely convinced that’s what should happen for a very long time. Ephesians 2 is one of their “proof texts” that there is no distinctiveness whatsoever between believing Jews and Gentiles.

    I dunno. Maybe it’s because my wife and children are Jewish, but I have a very strong aversion to eliminating every last trace of their identities as Jews because of one or two sentences in a letter written by Paul, especially when the vast majority of the Biblical record doesn’t (IMHO) require Jews to stop being Jewish and to assimilate into Gentile Christianity (and of course, Hebrew Roots trivializes Jewish identity by using the same scriptures to validate the opposite…that everyone must observe the mitzvot identically).

    I looked up a blog post I wrote almost a year ago which addresses this “wall of partition” in a different way. I can’t prove it’s true in any absolute sense, but it does suggest there’s more than one way to interpret the scripture at hand.

  106. James said “Are you suggesting an elimination of what it is to be Jewish, Macher? ”

    That’s not what I said.

    James said “Christianity, for the most part, has been completely convinced that’s what should happen for a very long time. Ephesians 2 is one of their “proof texts” that there is no distinctiveness whatsoever between believing Jews and Gentiles.”

    Yes you’re right but we are not talking about Christian theology.

    James said “I dunno. Maybe it’s because my wife and children are Jewish, but I have a very strong aversion to eliminating every last trace of their identities as Jews because of one or two sentences in a letter written by Paul,”

    Who said about about eliminating last traces of Jewish indentities?

    Speaking from experience(of being Jewish) the concern of losing Jewish distinctiveness arises because of fear. Fear of what it takes to define being Jewish. If you don’t know who you are then you fear dilution from others joining with you.

    In the movie the Chosen there was fear that the boy going out into the world would lose his indentity. And that he promised his father that he would never forget who he was even though he was venturing out into the world away from Chasidic community. A Jew as a minority in a majority gentile world with no doubt can maintain his indentity because he knows who he is and has no fear.

    James said “because of one or two sentences in a letter written by Paul,”

    What Paul wrote will have to be in line with the Torah concerning Gentiles being part of a Messianic Jewish movement called The Way.

  107. I really don’t think that fear is completely unwarranted, given the long, long history of the nations trying to wipe out Jewish existence either through physical means or simply by promoting assimilation. You probably know better than most that for the vast majority of the Church’s existence, it has been a direct threat to Jewish people and to Judaism. So you can imagine that some Jewish Messianics might register a little “concern” about not being able to maintain Jewish distinctiveness among a large group of Gentile Christians.

    All that said and going beyond the issue of fear, I really do believe that Jewish people and non-Jewish people in Messiah are not called to have the Torah applied to them all in an identical fashion, hence there is a remaining distinctiveness. Removing a former barrier between Jews and Gentiles in the Messiah doesn’t mean we abruptly become identical.

    In watching my wife establish herself in the local Jewish community over many months and years, I have come to respect her perception of what it is for her to be Jewish. That helped me realize that I, a Gentile Christian, donning tefillin, tallit, and kippah and davening in our home must seem ludicrous if not just plain offensive to her. I know my former associations (and probably some of the current ones) have been a direct barrier in her having Jewish friends to the house.

    Although I relate to this issue on a personal level, I believe it also operates on a corporate level. Just as I, as a husband, will not commit acts or assume behaviors that are considered typically Jewish out of love and respect, I also have resolved to not commit those behaviors in response to the large Jewish community, believers and otherwise.

  108. James said “I really don’t think that fear is completely unwarranted, given the long, long history of the nations trying to wipe out Jewish existence either through physical means or simply by promoting assimilation.”

    I agree but I’m referring to those Gentiles that embrace the Jewish Messiah as the Jewish Messiah.

    James said “All that said and going beyond the issue of fear, I really do believe that Jewish people and non-Jewish people in Messiah are not called to have the Torah applied to them all in an identical fashion, hence there is a remaining distinctiveness. Removing a former barrier between Jews and Gentiles in the Messiah doesn’t mean we abruptly become identical.”

    Right the removing of the barrier doesn’t mean we become indentical.

  109. Right the removing of the barrier doesn’t mean we become indentical.

    So saying that, what is your “vision” of Jews and Gentiles in Messiah within a Messianic Jewish community?

  110. @ James about the barrier that was removed. The barrier being removed has nothing to do with being indentical. The barrier has to do with institutional ‘prejudice'(I put this in quotes because it might not be the correct word to describe it). Now is this ‘prejudice’ justifiable with the oppressions by the Babylonians, Assyrians and the Church?

    Only the word of God would declare it justifiable or forbidden. The word of God never forbids Gentiles who wish to serve the God of Israel. Look a at Naaman. He wanted to take truck loads of soil back to his homeland because he wanted to make offerings and sacrifices to the God of Israel. Notice that Elisha didn’t get out the knife and say ‘ok now it’s time to get circumcised’.

  111. I get the impression, Macher, that you’ve not experienced the kind of intensively Jewish environment that you cited from Singer’s fiction “The Chosen”; thus you seem not to appreciate the degree of assimilation already present in the average American Jewish experience. Apostolic references to breaking down barriers between Jews and non-Jews using the concept of a “wall of partition” do not mean that Jews can never have their own protected space. There is no such wall mentioned as ever having existed between men and women, but orthodox synagogues still use a mechitzah to commemorate the Temple’s distinctive court of the women. Similarly, the Temple’s court of the gentiles remains just as valid as any other aspect of Torah; and an additional reserved space for non-Jewish visitors in a synagogue would still be appropriate and not a violation of Rav Shaul’s references to walls that have been broken down. No explicit passage is required in the apostolic writings to protect Jewish distinctiveness, including designated Jewish space, because such separations are already defined in Torah and do not need to be reiterated because Torah is still valid and applicable. We’re not talking about exceptional cases in which visitors are welcomed to participate, such as a Passover seder. We’re talking rather about the right of a synagogue to accept only Jews as members, while others must accept the status of visitors. We’re talking about the right of a Jewish organization to accept only Jews as full members, and to assign a more limited form of “associate” membership to others who wish to participate in the organization’s activities. We’re talking about the right of the modern State of Israel to define its citizenship as applicable primarily to Jews (while other kind of citizens exist only due to special circumstances). Non-citizen tourists and temporary workers and students are welcome, but eventually they must return home to somewhere else. Jews have always been hospitable to visitors, but that does not give to any of these visitors the right to move into our house even if they admire us and would like to live by our house rules. We’re also not talking so much about the characteristics of Jewish individuals as we are about the notion of Jewish community and communal identity and interaction. One cannot have authentic Jewish community unless the demographics and behavior of the community is virtually entirely Jewish. Far too many people seem to resist the notion that Jews should be allowed to form Jewish communities that are not required to integrate foreign elements into themselves.

  112. PL said “because such separations are already defined in Torah and do not need to be reiterated because Torah is still valid and applicable. ”

    Ok I’m referring to BE where the premise is Gentiles stay in the church and Jews stay in Messianic synagogues.

    You’re referring to something that has ‘a house of worship for all people’.

  113. OK, Macher, would you prefer, maybe, that gentiles stay together in Messianic synagogues and Jewish messianists attend traditional synagogues along with other Jews? I’d accept that solution, though the Jewish messianists would need to learn to improve their aggregate behavior in order to do so acceptably. “BE” is merely a descriptive term that simply recognizes that the scriptures explain that Jews have responsibilities that non-Jews do not, and because of this fact certain separations are required in order to enable the Jewish contingent to fulfill its distinctive requirements. “BE” is not a commandment or an instruction to do some particular thing, but one is required to draw some inferences about how to respond to the circumstance it describes. On the other hand, if you wish to insist that Jews are not ever allowed to be separated from gentiles, then you are denying the validity of HaShem’s Torah. Or, if you agree that Totah considers that such separation is acceptable (or even to be expected), why can’t a synagogue community be such a venue?

  114. PL said “On the other hand, if you wish to insist that Jews are not ever allowed to be separated from gentiles, then you are denying the validity of HaShem’s Torah. ”

    where does the Torah say that?

    PL said “Or, if you agree that Totah considers that such separation is acceptable (or even to be expected), why can’t a synagogue community be such a venue?”

    Ok if you’re talking about a Messianic synagogue community then that’s a different story, not that I would or wouldn’t agree.

    But I’m talking about the trend if you will of Messianic circles promoting that Gentiles should stay in the churches.

  115. @Macher — The first Torah passage that comes to my mind is one of the blessings pronounced by Bil’am, in Num.23:9 “… behold they are a people that shall dwell in separateness…” (הֶן-עָם לְבָדָד יִשְׁכֹּן). It’s not the only passage that describes aspects of HaShem’s instructions that are designed to make the people of Israel distinct from all the nations around them, but it is a particularly poignant one. The notion of non-Jews “stay[ing] in the churches” is merely someone’s convenient citation of an existing available place for them if they are not to overwhelm the synagogues, messianic or other. Would it not be better for properly-motivated non-Jews to overwhelm the churches with their devotion to Israel and a genuine perspective of Rav Yeshua in place of the falsehoods that have been promulgated therein for centuries and often are still so promulgated? Many gentiles during the past four decades have learned a great deal from Messianic Jews in MJ synagogues. They are still welcome to learn, but isn’t it perhaps just about time that they should spread that knowledge in places of darkness where it is sorely needed? Many Jewish speakers have visited churches during this period in order to attempt some eye-opening. But Jews really shouldn’t be attending churches or assimilating into church culture. Non-Jewish disciples of the Galilean Rabbi might help to correct that.

  116. PL said ” But Jews really shouldn’t be attending churches or assimilating into church culture. Non-Jewish disciples of the Galilean Rabbi might help to correct that.”

    So it’s not ok for Jews to assimilate into church culture but it’s ok for non Jews that have been called to the Jewish Messiah as the Jewish Messiah to assimilate back into church culture and/or go back to church culture?

    PL said ”
    They are still welcome to learn, but isn’t it perhaps just about time that they should spread that knowledge in places of darkness where it is sorely needed? ”

    What about the house of worship for all peoples?

  117. @Macher — The house of prayer for all nations, “HaShem’s House”, is not solely in one building or one location, except when the Temple stands in its designated location. And even then, it is only the head of all such houses of prayer. All places where HaShem’s people gather for His purposes are participants in that one great metaphorical house. I made no suggestion that non-Jews should return to church culture. I am suggesting that they should transform non-Jewish houses of prayer to conform with HaShem’s ways and His perspectives. Their visits and interactions and studies with Jews as the head of the spiritual nations should empower them to transform their native cultures and worship venues. It may be required, at times, to form new houses of prayer where non-Jews may be free of anti-Jewish cultures, in order to facilitate their learning of a new perspective; but there is also a crying need for the transformation of existing ones, thereby transforming enemies of Israel and HaShem into friends.

  118. I know you’re talking to Macher PL, but as one of those non-Jews who is attempting to “transform non-Jewish houses of prayer to conform to Hashem’s ways,” I can tell you there’s quite a bit involved in that activity, especially if you (as is the case with me) are the lone voice speaking of these ways.

    I agree that this is a needed activity, a sort of “missionary activity” of reaching out to “the Church” the way Christian missionaries reach out to unsaved people in different areas of the world, but in some ways, since this is our own culture, it is all the more difficult to convince them of Hashem’s ways when they already think that’s what they’re doing, or worse, they think they’ve found a better way in “the grace of Jesus Christ,” with centuries of Christian interpretive and supersessionistic tradition attached.

    The idea of “Messianic Gentiles” forming their/our own houses of prayer is also a two-edged sword, because that again isolates us and our message from those who need to hear it the most, and it provides a temptation (as in many Hebrew Roots groups) to set ourselves up as feeling “superior” to other Christians, even though, while rejecting the Messianic gospel message, they still are performing some of the weightier matters of the Torah (feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and so on).

    I think sometimes there’s a good match between leadership of a particular church and the person carrying in the Messianic message of the ways of Hashem, but a lot of times there isn’t, resulting in frustration on both sides of the aisle, so to speak.

  119. @ James and PL to be honest there isn’t an easy 100% answer. James expressed some good concerns and issues.

    Believing Jews were once in the church then Messianic Judaism was created. The same premise can also be used for Messianic Gentiles but James makes a good point about superiority. Actually the same can be applied to Jewish Messianic congregations, who’s to say they won’t fall into the superiority complex in light of what and how Christianity sees Messianic Jewish congregations.

    So now I’m not sure what means is better. If there were Messianic Gentile congregations the same premise would be the same as Messianic Jewish congregations, a place to live out the Torah. I don’t have experience in a Church so I don’t know how difficult it is to live out Torah such as Sabbath, annual community Messianic Passover Seder etc.

    See I’m not in the camp when and if a non Jew wants to embrace the Jewish Messiah as the Jewish Messiah and wants to keep the Sabbath and others to say to him that’s for Jews only. I see this as fulfillment of prophecy. And I’m not in the camp which is one law and say if you don’t keep Sabbath you’re going to be least in the Kingdom. But I do see and encourage those non Jews who are called by His Name that see or realize or whatever the Law of the Kingdom.

    Just thinking out loud here. What would be wrong with a Messianic congregation that would be a light to the non Jews.

    I wonder what Beth Immanuel is like?

  120. I’m tempted to ask “as compared to what?”

    Compared to Reform synagogue services (I don’t have experiences in Conservative or Orthodox shuls), Beth Immanuel presents a very “Jewish” worship environment. Keep in mind, the vast majority of people who regularly attend are not Jewish. Lancaster, who does the weekly teaching, isn’t Jewish. Of course, during Sukkot conferences (I’ve gone the last two years), the population balloons up considerably, but the Jewish population is still in the minority.

    The prayer and Torah services compare well to what I would consider a more “normative” Jewish environment.

    There are a variety of levels of observance there. Beth Immanuel maintains a kosher kitchen and there are facilities for ritual handwashing before eating. Some people only walk on Shabbat but others drive.

    No separate seating for Jews and Gentiles or, for that matter, for men and women. I “think” only Jews are called up for an aliyah but I’m not positive on that detail. It may be that they simply defer to Jews when calling up someone but may allow Gentiles.

    Beth Immanuel probably wouldn’t meet PL’s description of an ideal Messianic Jewish environment, but I didn’t sense any discouragement of non-Jewish participation or “mixing” with the Jewish people present.

    These observations are just off the top of my head. Is there something specific you want to know?

  121. @ James sounds like a typical Messianic Jewish synagogue. With that being said what’s your opinion on this being a model congregation being it’s minority is Jewish in light of what we have been discussing?

  122. It’s a step in the right direction, but I doubt it will become what PL is describing. You’d need a larger Jewish population and in the ideal, a nearly exclusive Jewish populations. I think that as Messianic Judaism gains traction among halachically Jewish people and especially those who have been raised in traditionally, culturally, and religiously Jewish environment, other synagogue settings will emerge that will be more like what PL suggests.

    I don’t see one and only one type of Messianic Jewish synagogue existing, Macher. I think it depends on the demographics of the area where the synagogue is located and the “druthers” of the Jewish and Gentile population. I think there will be synagogues like Beth Immanuel that will continue to go forward, both because there is a majority Gentile population, and because the Jewish population is accepting of closely worshiping side-by-side with the Gentiles.

    Others will probably be more like how PL describes, but I don’t think we’re there yet, at least in the U.S.

    You might also want to take a look at Tikvat Israel which is located in Richmond, VA. That’s Rabbi David Rudolph‘s congregation and I understand that it has a significantly “Jewish” presentation, though I’ve never been there.

    I think I forgot to give you the link to Beth Immanuel‘s site. You could review both sites and email folks at each synagogue and ask questions of them I wouldn’t be able to answer.

  123. So I think the conclusion is, at least for now, is that the synagogue environment for Messianic Judaism is rather variable. I do want to point out that there is a difference between what I consider a Messianic Jewish synagogue, which is modeled largely after a normative synagogue and community, and many of those that are loosely referred to as “Hebrew Roots,” which take some aspects of the Jewish synagogue experience but disregard various aspects, typically including the so-called “man-made laws”.

  124. James said “which is modeled largely after a normative synagogue and community, ”

    Well that would depend if reform, conservative or orthodox. I’m more in line between reform and conservative a bit closer to conservative.

  125. That’s the best I can do, Macher. I don’t have an incredibly vast experience in different sorts of synagogues to make a detailed comparison. As it seems you have much more experience than I, the only suggestion I can make is to visit some of these places yourself.

    The only other thing I can say is that I still support Messianic Jews who desire a synagogue that provides some “safety,” for lack of a better term, in terms of the sort of Jewish community experience PL describes. That doesn’t mean all MJ synagogues *must* offer that same environment.

  126. I don’t support it. Does Ezekiel Temple have a wall of partition that excludes Gentiles?

  127. Ezekiel’s Temple isn’t here yet and we are not in the Messianic Era.

    From the point of view of a Gentile, if a Messianic Jewish (or any other Jewish) synagogue wants to organize around certain principles, such as a synagogue being a space dedicated to Jewish people and community, it would be pretty cheeky of me to march in there and say, “I don’t like the way you are doing things and I want you to change them for me.”

    It’s not *my* worship environment. I don’t have the right to just burst in and demand my way. If I were a long-term member (or associate member) and had solid relationships with the people, I might feel more free to express my opinion, but it’s still not a space that I own anymore than I own the Christian space in which I currently worship. Even there, with few Jews in attendance (and all Jews in attendance not observant in any Jewish sense I can detect), although I’ve had many candid conversations with the Head Pastor, if he and everyone else chooses to disregard my opinions, it’s there right to do so.

    As far as the Messianic Age goes and how Jews and Gentiles in Messiah will interact, I have no idea how that will work. I actually wrote a blog post a few months back that isn’t scheduled to be published until right before Passover. In it, I predict that when Messiah comes and rebuilds the Temple, if my Jewish wife and children choose to obey the commandment and offer a Lamb at the Temple, based on my current understanding of the Torah, I would not be allowed to sit at the Pesach table in Jerusalem and eat the Paschal lamb with them. Maybe that’s not a pleasant thought or maybe I’m missing something, but being a Gentile in a Jewish family doesn’t mean that I’ll automatically have access to what has been reserved only for the Jewish people and Israel.

  128. @ James I have to look but in Ezekiel’s Temple there doesn’t seem to be a Passover sacrifice meaning not the same as in the Torah. But I could be wrong.

  129. I wasn’t thinking that the Temple described in Ezekiel also contained a list of the exact sacrifices we could expect in the Messianic Age. I’ve never heard anyone say that only some but not all of the moadim would be observed.

  130. James said “I wasn’t thinking that the Temple described in Ezekiel also contained a list of the exact sacrifices we could expect in the Messianic Age. I’ve never heard anyone say that only some but not all of the moadim would be observed”

    Yes they will be observed but define observe. What’s interesting is there isn’t a Yom Kippur sacrifice in the Messianic Temple.

    What’s also interesting is that only Herod’s Temple had court of the Gentiles and court of the women. etc. Solomon’s Temple didn’t and Ezekiel’s Temple doesn’t.

  131. I’ll have to re-read Ezekiel to see for myself. Occam’s Razor would suggest that if there is a Temple and if the Moadim (which can’t be properly observed without the sacrifices) are to be forever observed by Israel, then when the Temple exists, the sacrifices for the Moadim will be performed.

    That there won’t be a court of the Gentiles in the future Messianic Temple doesn’t meet we won’t be going through a transitory process from the present, where we struggle with Jewish and Gentile relationships in the synagogue, to the future where this will all be clearly defined by King Messiah.

    I’ve said before, I don’t have all the answers. I may have an idealized version of what a Messianic synagogue would look and act like, but as I said above, as a Gentile, I don’t feel it is my place to make that definition.

  132. @ James this why I don’t support separation and such that we have been discussing. Now Paul said he never went against the Law and customs of the fathers which is true. The reality was when the Temple(Herod) was present there was the Court of the Gentiles so it was relevant because of submitting to authority like Paul did. However that doesn’t mean you agree with it, you are just submitting to it.

    However since the Temple isn’t present it’s sort of irrelevant. An exams would be Passover Seder(in light of Messiah). There isn’t any provision for a Gentile to participate in a Seder.

    Ezekiel Temple is the Temple in the Messianic Age with Yeshua and the Law of the Kingdom coming forth from Zion. But you might say ‘well Macher that hasn’t happened yet’. However you made a comment if the Temple was present and you being married to a Jewish wife and your children being Jewish you couldn’t eat the sacrifice and you’re right. But if one is going to be honest it isn’t relevant in light of Messiah and the Messianic Age. Yeshua ‘enacted’ the New Covenant with His blood. If we look forward to Messiah’s return and the Law coming forth from Zion why look at it as ‘I can’t eat the Passover sacrifice’?

  133. James said “I’ll have to re-read Ezekiel to see for myself. Occam’s Razor would suggest that if there is a Temple and if the Moadim (which can’t be properly observed without the sacrifices) are to be forever observed by Israel, then when the Temple exists, the sacrifices for the Moadim will be performed.”

    I know for a fact you won’t find a Yom Kippur sacrifice which doesn’t mean it won’t be observed in some way maybe as a memorial. There is a Passover sacrifice but it’s a bull and not a lamb.

    This stuff is very important in light of the New Covenant.

  134. James said “That there won’t be a court of the Gentiles in the future Messianic Temple doesn’t meet we won’t be going through a transitory process from the present, where we struggle with Jewish and Gentile relationships in the synagogue, to the future where this will all be clearly defined by King Messiah.”

    The wall of partition contained in ordinances has been broken down, in other words prejudices. It would be up to each individual/community to deal with prejudices that aren’t suppose to exist as a result of ‘human nature’. This would be in context of non Jews embracing the Messiah as the Jewish Messiah. All are called to say no to the wall of partition contained in ordinances in light of the context.

  135. I think somewhere in this conversation, I posted a link or two to blogs rendering my opinion about what the “partition” is in metaphorical language.

    Also, the New Covenant is a process, not a point event. It started with Yeshua, his life, death, resurrection, and ascension and the giving of the Spirit in Acts 2 and 10, but it is hardly completed not will it be until Messiah returns, there is war, Messiah defeats Israel’s enemies, rebuilds the Temple, brings all the Jewish exiles back to their Land, and ushers in an era of world wide peace. Oh, and the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh to such a degree that basically we will all have the knowledge and apprehension of God as if we were all greater than the Prophets of old.

    Since I don’t see all that being here yet, I’d say we are working toward it. Our houses of worship and Messianic practice must start where it is which, right now, means I’m prepared to recognize significant distinctions between Jewish and Gentile believers. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve chosen to make this matter personal.

    If my Jewish wife finds it necessary to draw a barrier between her Jewish life and my interaction or participation in that life, I’m going to respect it, even if I’d like to have greater participation. That’s just the way it is and I’m choosing silence and humility as the better part of valor.

    I’m also choosing to treat the community of Messianic Jews the same way. It would be different if I were invited in, but if there’s a place they don’t want me to go, I will accept that restriction. What happens as we move forward in history and after the second advent of Messiah will look different than what we have today…but we have to start at today.

  136. James said “I’m also choosing to treat the community of Messianic Jews the same way. It would be different if I were invited in, but if there’s a place they don’t want me to go, I will accept that restriction. What happens as we move forward in history and after the second advent of Messiah will look different than what we have today…but we have to start at today.”

    The problem is you can’t work from the premise you’re not invited in. There are some Messianic Jewish congregations/organizations that wouldn’t invite you in and there are ones that would.

  137. There are some Messianic Jewish congregations/organizations that wouldn’t invite you in and there are ones that would.

    That’s true, and I would abide by the rules of whatever community I found myself encountering. When Messiah returns, we will have one standard by which we will understand the roles and relationships of Jews and Gentiles in Messiah, but until then, our communities are highly variable. This is true in Christianity as well, which has widely varied perspectives on a number of important topics. While I don’t think a Christian church would turn me away out of hand, some might because being married to a Jewish woman who is not a believer, I am “unequally yoked.” Others would probably toss me out on my ear if they knew I believed in a continuing authority of the Torah for the Jewish people, including Jewish believers.

    Right now, what you and I believe about Messiah, the Torah, and the Jewish people is considered an “opinion” by most branches of Judaism and Christianity. We may relate to it as “Biblical truth,” but most of the “Judeo-Christian” world (not there there is such a thing) does not. How are you going to walk into someone else’s house of worship and tell them they’re doing it all wrong? You may, after a time and establishing relationships, initiate a dialog about your perspectives, but that doesn’t mean you can make people, including some Messianic Jewish synagogue leaders believe what you believe, anymore than I can make the pastoral staff at the church I attend believe my opinions represent actual Biblical truth.

  138. James said “That’s true, and I would abide by the rules of whatever community I found myself encountering. When Messiah returns, we will have one standard by which we will understand the roles and relationships of Jews and Gentiles in Messiah, but until then, our communities are highly variable.”

    Yes variable and you go, fellowship, become a member etc in the community that best fits your beliefs.

    And if you can’t find a ohys

  139. Ooops and if you can’t find a physical community then that doesn’t invalidate your beliefs according to a community you believe in. Or express beliefs that you believe in.

  140. I’ve been reading Divine Invitation theology and I don’t support the way it is presented. There is a lot of yes, but. Example would be Shabbos. Unquote; ‘Sabbath is a natural expression of biblical faith but not morally obligated in the same way Jews are’. Why do you have to throw ‘not morally obligated in the same way Jews are’ if you say ‘Sabbath is a natural expression of biblical faith’? If ‘Sabbath is a natural expression of biblical faith’ then it doesn’t matter if Gentiles are not morally obligated in the same way Jews are. And then to say ‘when a Gentile embraces the Sabbath he’s delighting in the things which God delights’.

    This reminds me of a video I watched with Schiffman and the topic was ‘is the court of the Gentiles a bad place to be?’ Why even say that? That’s like a ‘yes’, ‘but’. I’m sure FFOZ would agree there wasn’t a court of the Gentiles in Solomon’s temple(a house of prayer for all peoples) and not one in the Messianic Temple/Age so why in the world would you bring that up? Ok it might have been a good teaching if we were in the 1st century but it’s not relevant today. It might have been good to say in the 1st century ‘listen we have to submit to authority and accept the rulings of authority with grace just like Paul did when he said he never went against the people and the traditions’.

    I’m Jewish and I am finding this latest trend in some Messianic Jewish circles disturbing.

  141. @Macher — I would suggest that Dr. Schiffmann’s question abut the court of the gentiles was presented precisely because so many people mistakenly think that there was something wrong about being there. It is the same fear that invokes questions about so-called “second-class” status. It represents a lack of trust in HaShem’s decision to single-out the Jewish people as forever distinct from everyone else. To me this question seems more relevant than ever, both for insecure non-Jews and for Jews who are tempted to feel guilty for having been singled-out to receive the irrevocable gifts and calling of HaShem. We may hope to get over such feelings in the Messianic Age, if not beforehand, but we must face the fact that the Torah will still remain valid in all its finest Oral-Torah details (as in Matt.5:18 and the herb-tithing example of Matt.23:23) throughout the entire thousand-year Messianic reign, because the appearance of a new heavens and earth doesn’t occur until Rev.21, after the thousand years have ended as described in Rev.20. Hence, the fading and obsolescence mentioned in the Hebrews letter won’t occur until then, and even then we may find that HaShem’s instructions and perspectives haven’t changed (even into a new era).

  142. Ooops and if you can’t find a physical community then that doesn’t invalidate your beliefs according to a community you believe in. Or express beliefs that you believe in.

    In a lot of ways, I really can’t find a suitable physical community. First of all, a true Messianic Jewish shul doesn’t exist in my little corner of the world. Second, even if it did, I probably wouldn’t attend, at least regularly, out of sensitivity to my wife’s feelings as a non-Messianic Jew. Boise isn’t really all that big, so word gets around about who’s doing what where.

    As far as Divine Invitation, I don’t think Kinzer meant it to be a straightjacket or some sort of infallible theology that must be adhered to by all Messianic Jewish groups everywhere. It’s tough coming out and saying what a lot of Jews in the Messianic movement are thinking, especially those who grew up on non-Messianic observant Jewish homes where even the hint of considering that man “Jesus” as the Messiah would be really bad.

    The DI aspect of Messianic Judaism is trying to do something that hasn’t really been done (with perhaps a few rare exceptions) in nearly two-thousand years: establish a Jewish synagogue setting especially for Jews who live and worship as Jews who are observant of the mitzvot and devoted to the Moshiach. Luke’s book of Acts shows us how those communities can be disrupted when Gentiles are liberally added to the mix.

    This doesn’t mean that literally all MJ synagogues have to be organized around that model, but I believe there’s room the movement to be sensitive to the needs of some Jewish members who desire and even need to feel “safe” in a wholly Jewish worship and lifestyle context.

  143. James said “The DI aspect of Messianic Judaism is trying to do something that hasn’t really been done”

    Not according to FFOZ. The main premise is that one law condemns those that don’t observe which is true. This is FFOZ main purpose for DI.

  144. I’m not supportive of the “one law” position that all believers in Yeshua must observe the mitzvot in an identical manner and while I believe the Torah applies to us all, it applies differently depending on whether or not you’re Jewish or non-Jewish. You don’t have to adhere to DI to believe that.

    Not sure what exactly you mean when you say “Not according to FFOZ. The main premise is that one law condemns those that don’t observe which is true. This is FFOZ main purpose for DI.” Can you elaborate a bit?

  145. James said “It’s tough coming out and saying what a lot of Jews in the Messianic movement are thinking, especially those who grew up on non-Messianic observant Jewish homes where even the hint of considering that man “Jesus” as the Messiah would be really bad.”

    Well you can usually get the jist from different organizations and it’s leaders. But that doesn’t mean that individuals would agree.

    Speaking from experience in my congregation it’s encouraged to take hold of the Torah.

    What I don’t agree with is obligation. David the anti-typical Yeshua didn’t keep the commands out of obligation but as a result of love. There’s a difference.

  146. But there were also consequences for disobedience of the mitzvot. Yes, of course he kept the commandments out of love, and so do many, many Jewish people in the modern era. For many of the mitzvot, Gentiles can keep them too out of love. I’m just saying that for certain of the mitzvot, if a Gentile chooses not to observe them, there is not the same consequence (if a consequence at all) as it is for the Jewish person.

  147. James said “But there were also consequences for disobedience of the mitzvot. Yes, of course he kept the commandments out of love, and so do many, many Jewish people in the modern era. For many of the mitzvot, Gentiles can keep them too out of love. I’m just saying that for certain of the mitzvot, if a Gentile chooses not to observe them, there is not the same consequence (if a consequence at all) as it is for the Jewish person.”

    What’s the point in emphasizing obligation, what’s that accomplishment if we agree about encouraging to take hold?

  148. Because not only do I not believe I’m commanded to, for example, wear tzitzit or lay tefillin, I believe it actually can do harm if I take up practices that I understand were specifically given to the Jewish people, particularly in a public venue.

  149. James said “Because not only do I not believe I’m commanded to, for example, wear tzitzit or lay tefillin, I believe it actually can do harm if I take up practices that I understand were specifically given to the Jewish people, particularly in a public venue.”

    Ok I referring to the commandments specified in the DI white paper; Sabbath, festivals, dietary.

    Being commanded too is not what I’m referring too. In the DI it says they encourage(I’m assuming not tzizit etc) because Gentiles will do well taking hold of the commandments such as being as it being a blessing but it’s not a sin if you don’t. So it’s not whether or not your commanded too or not obligated.

  150. I take DI seriously but not that seriously. Really, I don’t quite share any other individual’s or group’s vision on this issue or many others. Not to say I’m a rebel, but I have points of disagreement. At this point though, it is less about my opinion and more about the needs of others. If, for example, someone in a particular Messianic Jewish synagogue had a condition that Gentiles are not to be called up for an aliyah, I’m not going to throw a fit about it.

    Personally, I love the Torah service, but in an actual Jewish setting, I’d be incompetent to participate, in part, because I don’t read or speak Hebrew and even using transliterations, I tend to muck up the pronunciations. Also, Christianity took over a Jewish religious stream that involved worship of Messiah more or less by force. I’m quite content to step back and let today’s Messianic Jews take back what started out as theirs in the first place.

    As far as Shabbat, Festivals, and dietary laws, being married to a Jewish wife would automatically include me in most of those observances, at least in our home.

    The missus has returned to lighting the Shabbos candles, but typically doesn’t invite me to share in observing the lighting and hearing her or my daughter recite the blessings. She’s asked in the past if we could kasher our kitchen and I said I was perfectly fine with that, but so far, she hasn’t gone in that direction. We have a family Seder every year and observe Chanukah, and I build a wee sukkah in our backyard for Sukkot, but our festival observance is hardly perfect or probably even halachically adequate. Again, I’m content to follow her lead because she is Jewish and she should be the one to have the right to define Jewish practice in our home.

    As far as a Gentile family wanting to “go above and beyond” and have the observances in their home, really there’s nothing to stop them. If they have Messianic Jewish mentors who will assist in “teaching them the ropes,” so much the better.

  151. PL said “It is the same fear that invokes questions about so-called “second-class” status. It represents a lack of trust in HaShem’s decision to single-out the Jewish people as forever distinct from everyone else”

    PL to be honest I’m not so sure that certain Messianic Judaism circles attempt/s to be a valid form Judaism and accepted by the Jewish community could work IN LIGHT OF MESSIAH unless it takes a more reform approach to Judaism which Reform Judaism is in the same boat sort of.

    My view the big debate THEN was how Gentiles can be part of a Jewish community because of the revelations as a result of the crucified and risen Messiah about the Gentiles. And this debate or argument is happening now with all the theologies and the like.

  152. Shavua Tov, Macher — I don’t understand what you’re suggesting with respect to a Reform Judaism approach to MJ being somehow more consistent with working “in light of Messiah”. I can tell you that the “Reform” approach is inconsistent with Rav Yeshua’s Pharisaic views which integrated the views of Shammai and Hillel in a manner that suggested being strict with oneself and lenient with others. Further, “Reform” would never find acceptance in Israel; because by its very nature it represents a “galut” mentality that is inconsistent with Zionism’s returning to rebuild the ancient pathways and to be rebuilt ourselves in the process. The essence of the Reform approach was to assimilate into the non-Jewish majority environment, which was inherently self-destructive.

    I think it is a mistake to view the debate then or now as one of how to make non-Jews a part of the Jewish community. The vision shown to Kefa was that he was not to reject them as “untouchable” (or un-teachable). On the other hand, Rav Shaul’s rebuke to the Galatians was that they should not allow themselves to feel compelled nor to be compelled to become part of the Jewish community (i.e., by conversion). These represent two poles of over-reaction; whereas the proper course between them was to educate them to come alongside the Jewish people and share in the blessings of what might be called a Torah-enlightened civilization. In other words, “clean ’em up” to become fine upstanding citizens of a civilized commonwealth (i.e., good neighbors), rather than “adopt ’em as family pets and take ’em home with you” or “chase ’em away as nothing more than mangy mongrels”.

    James has pointed out from time to time that Christianity has extracted moral principles from the Jewish (Torah-based) scriptures, including the apostolic commentary, that have served at least a portion of that cleaning-up function, though there still remains some work to develop that desired sense of good neighborliness and cooperation with the Jewish community (and a little gratitude wouldn’t hurt, either). An admirable goal would be to encourage non-Jews to “partner with” the Jewish community; not to try to become an integral part of the Jewish community — so that together they might pursue common goals of “tikun ha’olam b’yirat ha-shamayim”.

  153. PL said ” I would suggest that Dr. Schiffmann’s question abut the court of the gentiles was presented precisely because so many people mistakenly think that there was something wrong about being there. It is the same fear that invokes questions about so-called “second-class” status”

    The problem is whether or not the court of the Gentiles is biblical. Isn’t it interesting that there wasn’t a court of the Gentiles in Solomon’s Temple and there isn’t one in the Messianic Temple?

    Yes if we were present in that day we are to submit to the court of the Gentiles. The point is just because we are to submit doesn’t mean the court of the Gentiles was right. Even if we don’t think it was right we are told not to cause an issue over it.

    It’s also interesting that the Temple was destroyed. And also interesting that the Messianic Temple doesn’t have a court of the Gentiles. We are New Covenant believers aren’t we? If so why look at yesterday and apply yesterday to today? Why apply the court of the Gentiles concept to the Messianic Jewish movement? The court of the Gentiles ISN’T relevant because it doesn’t exist today and won’t exist ‘tomorrow’ so why bring it up?
    Nations’.

    As New Covenant believers the realization according to prophesy Gentiles will be drawn to the Law of the Kingdom and the Jewish Messiah AS the Jewish Messiah. This has been happening and is happening.

    Are we old covenant believers or new covenant believers? ‘but Macher the New Covenant hasn’t arrived yet’ I keep hearing. I submit as a result of the crucified and risen Messiah we are called to live as New Covenant believers with Gentiles as EQUAL co- heirs to the covenants of promise. This doesn’t mean that Gentiles become Jews but this does as an example Gentiles are being drawn to the Torah of the Kingdom and it’s the role of Israel to teach and embrace and not cause separation, second class status. This is what the messianic Jewish movement should be striving for.

    It should ALWAYS be in light of Yeshua and the New Covenant.

  154. @Macher — Your question about whether “we [are] old covenant believers or new covenant believers” implies that you think there is something different about the content of the “new” covenant, vis-à-vis the “old” one, that affects non-Jews. There is not any difference about its conditions except that it will be internalized, “written on the heart”, comparable to the Deut.30 notion of heart circumcision. And it still applies only to Jews. Non-Jews benefit by association with its principles, not by becoming members of any covenant. They also inherit the messianic kingdom alongside Jews, not because of the covenant but because of HaShem’s unearned grace. The “old” covenant is still very much with us in all its validity (Matt.5:18), and its “obsolescence” is exactly comparable to that of the heavens and earth themselves which are “wax[ing] old as a garment” (Is.51:6). The “old” Torah covenant will still be in effect even during the millennial reign, when presumably the “new” condition cited by Jeremiah will also be fulfilled to internalize it. Hence the “new” is not replacing the “old” but rather it is strengthening it; re-vitalizing it; renewing it.

    Note that none of the building descriptions of any of the sanctuaries mentions any outer court except that where only men could enter. But we know that such additional courtyards were provided to enable Temple participation by women and by non-Jews in the Second Temple. You cannot reason from the lack of such mention that similar provisions were not included in Solomon’s Temple or will not be included in the Ezekiel one. Where do you think the idea came from, and how do you think it was authorized, given the lack of mention in the written Tenakh? One could argue that they were part of Oral Torah; and one may likewise argue that they will still be valid inclusions in the Jewish future sanctuary. The “court of the gentiles” is not a negative thing of the past to which one might have needed to “submit” reluctantly but only in the past. Separation due to differing responsibilities is not an establishment of second-class status, nor is it in any way contrary to Torah or Tenakh or the apostolic writings. But we’ve already discussed that issue in previous posts.

    I recommend that you take a deeper look into the notion of exactly what is the inheritance to which non-Jews are co-heirs with Jews. In Ephesians they are heirs to the good news of the Messiah, namely the accessibility of the kingdom of heaven. In Galatians, they are also sons of G-d by faith in the pattern of Avraham before he became circumcised. In Romans, they are heirs of righteousness and the promise of resurrection. However, it is still “Israelites” to whom belongs “the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises” (Rom.9:4), as well as having been “entrusted with the oracles of G-d” (Rom.3:2). The son-ship of non-Jews seems to be a bit more nuanced; they are explicitly NOT co-heirs of the “covenants”; and the promise in which they share is effectively the one granted to Avraham after the Akedah whereby all nations will bless themselves through him, his descendants, and one particular descendant (cited in Rav Shaul’s midrashic reflection on the Akedah in Gal.3:16).

    I find that I am repeating myself to you, Macher, in that my post of 7Feb@7:29am (an entire month ago) addressed the question about to whom the new covenant applies. But I’ll copy the relevant portion here to save the effort of finding it, where I wrote:

    “[At the risk of climbing out onto an unpopular theological limb, here (or, more precisely, an ecclesiological one), I’ll go so far as to suggest two notions: one, that the so-called “new” covenant, as described by Jeremiah, is not actually new except in the sense that it represents the successful internalization of Torah; two, that this renewal of the Torah covenant is technically only applied to Jews (which at the time included the “houses” of “Israel” and “Judah”, which since then have been reunified as the Jewish people). Of the only seven references to the “new covenant” appearing in the apostolic writings, five are addressed unambiguously to Jewish audiences; one, to the non-Jewish Corinthians, merely quotes one of Rav Yeshua’s Passover comments to his Jewish disciples for the purpose of shaming the Corinthians into a more orderly approach to their community fellowship meals; and the remaining one, also addressed to the Corinthian assembly, is an oblique reference to Rav Shaul himself as a “servant” of the new covenant (who was, not incidentally, Jewish).

    Hence, Christians and non-Jewish disciples in general do not actually participate in the “new” covenant itself any more than they did the “old” one. Their best approach to it might be as described in Isaiah 56, as “holding onto” His covenant, perhaps akin to the Zech.8:23 prophecy about ten members of the nations grasping hold of the tzitzit on a Jewish man’s garment (the Hebrew verb is identical). Now, is holding onto HaShem’s covenant with the Jewish people very different from being bound by that covenant? We might so interpret from Acts 15. Further, even Rav Yeshua’s Jewish disciples (including modern messianists) have not yet experienced the fullness of Jeremiah’s “new covenant” prophecy; and likely they will not do so until it is fulfilled in the millennial messianic kingdom.

    Therefore I would dismiss as incorrect the notion of Jews and non-Jews in a messianic synagogue as both being “under the new covenant”, along with various other misunderstandings of what that covenant means or comprises. The references in the Hebrews letter/drash to “new” and “old” are really discussing new and old approaches to the same Torah covenant, given an understanding of Jeremiah’s actual wording, and not to two different covenants, one considered old or obsolescent and the other being new, improved, and different.]”

    I appreciate your American egalitarian instincts, Macher, but equality is not the same as identicality or uniformity. In a Torah-based civilization, people are not interchangeable; they have differing responsibilities by which to obey HaShem’s requirements (though many other responsibilities may be shared by various demographic subgroupings). Each of us has much to learn about fulfilling the responsibilities that apply to us, learning to rejoice in them, learning not to envy someone else’s responsibilities or position, and not to feel guilty about our own.

  155. PL said “An admirable goal would be to encourage non-Jews to “partner with” the Jewish community; not to try to become an integral part of the Jewish community ”

    You’re speaking present day Judaism and I’m speaking in light of the New Covenant. Yeshua said Himself…

    “Moreover, I tell you that many will come from the east and from the west to take their places at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven with Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya‘akov”

    Jewish distinction will not be lost because of Jewish tradition(Torah), heritage and the like.

  156. @Macher — You seem still to have missed the meaning and effectiveness of Jeremiah’s covenantal renewal, even if some of us can successfully appropriate it now in some degree even before Rav Yeshua returns as the Messiah ben-David and restores the Jewish kingdom for a thousand years. If anyone internalizes the Torah by means of the enlightenment provided by Rav Yeshua, then they will behave consistently with “present-day [Torah] Judaism”.

    When do you think Rav Yeshua expected this Matt.8:11 banquet with A, Y, & Y to occur? Certainly it would have to be sometime after the first resurrection described in 1Cor.15:52 and cited in Rev.20:5-6. So he couldn’t have been referring to non-Jews in our present era participating with MJs, except in the most metaphorical sense.

    But even if we accept the metaphor of MJs standing in for A, Y, & Y at a “banquet” of Jewish enlightenment shared with non-Jews “from the east and from the west”, a banquet is a discrete event (or even a series of them) and not a permanent ongoing state.

  157. PL said ” Your question about whether “we [are] old covenant believers or new covenant believers” implies that you think there is something different about the content of the “new” covenant, vis-à-vis the “old” one, that affects non-Jews. There is not any difference about its conditions except that it will be internalized, “written on the heart”, comparable to the Deut.30 notion of heart circumcision. And it still applies only to Jews.”

    I agree and The New Covenant encompasses more than that.

    PL said “You cannot reason from the lack of such mention that similar provisions were not included in Solomon’s Temple or will not be included in the Ezekiel one. ”

    If a court of the Gentiles was present in Solomon’s Temple and will be present in Ezekiel’s we certainly would know from scripture just like we know from the New Testament. The proof is you won’t find anywhere in scripture that there is a court of the Gentiles. Even people have models of Ezekiel’s Temple which doesn’t include a court of the Gentiles. Just like Yom Kippur sacrifice not being present in Ezekiel’s temple.

    PL said “Separation due to differing responsibilities is not an establishment of second-class status, nor is it in any way contrary to Torah or Tenakh or the apostolic writings. But we’ve already discussed that issue in previous posts.”

    Not according to the prophets of a Messianic Kingdom.

    PL said “However, it is still “Israelites” to whom belongs “the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises” (Rom.9:4), as well as having been “entrusted with the oracles of G-d” (Rom.3:2). ”

    Ok what’s that have to do with separation? Bi lateral theology?

    PL said “Therefore I would dismiss as incorrect the notion of Jews and non-Jews in a messianic synagogue as both being “under the new covenant”, along with various other misunderstandings of what that covenant means or comprises. ”

    The New Covenant encompasses more.

    PL said “@Macher — You seem still to have missed the meaning and effectiveness of Jeremiah’s covenantal renewal, even if some of us can successfully appropriate it now in some degree even before Rav Yeshua returns as the Messiah ben-David and restores the Jewish kingdom for a thousand years. If anyone internalizes the Torah by means of the enlightenment provided by Rav Yeshua, then they will behave consistently with “present-day [Torah] Judaism”.

    It wouldn’t encompass the New Covenant which includes inclusion of Gentiles. It would include premises such as court of the Gentiles applied to present day Judaism.

  158. @Macher — No, the “new” covenant does not encompass anything more than what Jeremiah described. It says nothing about non-Jews, and it does not apply to non-Jews. Non-Jews outside of the covenantal framework may, however, benefit from exactly the same thing that can make the new covenant effective for Jews, which is Avraham-like trust in HaShem and taking into themselves Rav Yeshua’s teaching and enlightenment which are symbolically represented in his “blood”/martyrdom and all that follows from it. Prophetic references to the messianic kingdom do include a place for non-Jews, but it is not as members alongside Jews of any covenant (including Jeremiah’s “new” one).

    Since no court of gentiles was mentioned in connection with the building of the second temple, any more than for the first one or for the future Ezekiel version, but we know from other Jewish literature that additional separate courtyards were authorized for women and for gentiles, the fact that no one has thought to include them in their models of these other versions does not make those models accurate. It merely shows the model makers to be short-sighted and ignorant of how the same authorizations for these courtyards in the second temple would apply to the others, or at least to any temple built later than the second temple.

    Incidentally, one may not infer that the “new” covenant encompasses anything not defined by Jeremiah merely because the apostolic writings have been mis-labeled as a “New Covenant” or described as “new covenant” writings. Mis-labelling does not authorize redefinition. The history recorded in Acts does attempt to show something of how non-Jews are intended to fit into the larger picture of redemption for all humanity, but it doesn’t redefine or augment the new covenant by including anything not cited by Jeremiah. One of the hallmarks of MJ is its insistence upon reading what the scriptures actually say from the perspective of their natural Jewish context, without allowing centuries of Christian traditional doctrines to influence their interpretation.

  159. @Macher — I’m not sure what you meant by “ecclesiological” in your last post (which I had not yet seen when I last posted), but let’s consider a bit more the apostolic perspective on the inclusion of non-Jews. We should begin with Rav Yeshua’s explicit statement to a non-Jewish (Syro-Phoenician) woman that he was sent only to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (viz: Matt.15:24). One might add to this perspective that even this is only a subset of the Jewish demographic (viz: Matt.9:12-13), as he also indicated that the healthy do not require a doctor and that he came to call sinners to repentance rather than the righteous. (We may, for the moment, ignore the observation that the righteous may be quite few and far between. [;^)]) Nonetheless, when the risen master instructed his disciples in Matt.28:19 that they were to make disciples in “all the nations”, they could well have understood him as referring to diaspora Jews. We see an indication of this in Acts 2, where those who heard all their native languages from all sorts of nations were Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem for Shavuot; in other words, the target audience was Jews in or from “all the nations”. It wasn’t until Kefa’s vision of a sheet from heaven in Acts 10 that one of the apostles began puzzling over the notion that HaShem would allow non-Jews also to be cleansed and enlightened by Rav Yeshua’s message about the accessibility of the kingdom of heaven. And while it was at about the same time that HaShem took hold of Shaul of Tarshish, it was yet some time after that when he became designated as a special emissary for the “uncircumcised”.

    Of course, the existence of the court of the gentiles at the Temple was already a demonstration that Judaism has long held the vision that non-Jews may be accepted by HaShem; but nothing about Rav Yeshua’s ministry and message specifically emphasized applying them to non-Jews. Such a notion required additional impetus from HaShem to remind the apostles of the larger prophetic picture of redemption for all humanity; and specifically Rav Shaul had an exceptional challenge to elaborate halakhot whereby non-Jews are not to become circumcised and join the Jewish people but rather are to demonstrate that HaShem redeems non-Jews also as non-Jews (regardless of occasional exceptions where conversion is still appropriate). Rav Shaul had also an additional challenge to reassure non-Jews that they were not merely an afterthought or “second-class”, despite the primary emphasis of bringing the message to Jews first as they remain its primary focus because of HaShem’s irrevocable promises to Avraham.

    Now why have I been pounding so hard on this theme of Jewish difference and primacy of focus? It is merely to counterbalance the consequences of a longstanding over-reaction against it that have been detrimental to Jewish restoration. There has been a longstanding tendency to emphasize Rav Shaul’s letters to non-Jewish assemblies and to lose sight of the other letters that contain particularly Jewish perspectives that were sent out for general distribution in the era when they were composed. MJs, in particular, need to redress that imbalance.

  160. PL said “Incidentally, one may not infer that the “new” covenant encompasses anything not defined by Jeremiah merely because the apostolic writings have been mis-labeled as a “New Covenant” or described as “new covenant” writings. Mis-labelling does not authorize redefinition. The history recorded in Acts does attempt to show something of how non-Jews are intended to fit into the larger picture of redemption for all humanity, but it doesn’t redefine or augment the new covenant by including anything not cited by Jeremiah. One of the hallmarks of MJ is its insistence upon reading what the scriptures actually say from the perspective of their natural Jewish context, without allowing centuries of Christian traditional doctrines to influence their interpretation.”

    What I mean is that although the New Covenant is directed to Israel only and Israel’s final redemption it includes the nations because Israel’s restoration means restoration for all human kind. Somehow the Gentiles to receive redemption have to have something to do with Israel. And we know what circles conclude about this such as the heretical 2 house movement, one law movement to name a few.

    Stern in his commentary on Ephesians says non Jewish believers being part of the Commonwealth of Israel “implies an obligation to observe a godly life that has it’s origins in God’s relationship with the Jewish people. More than that it implies an obligation to relate as family to the Jewish community whom their faith has joined them”

    David Rudolph says the commonwealth of Israel is “a multinational expansion of Israel proper that has emerged in the form of the Church”. The point is according to an apostolic way of thinking there isn’t Israel for Jews and the Church for Gentiles; Jews stay in the synagogue and Gentiles stay in the Church.

    The assertion that Gentiles are incorporated into Israel’s commonwealth, being citizens with Israel along with fellow Jewish believers, of course is controversial within some Messianic Jewish circles. This doesn’t mean that Gentiles become Jews.

    David Stern notes(How Jewish is Christianity) “After Yeshua is became it became to believers on Him that Gentiles who believed in Him had joined God’s people, the term ‘brought near’ doesn’t mean brought close but still outside, rather it means ‘brought all the way into the national life of Israel’.

  161. @ PL the concern is Jewish distinctiveness which I agree. Take my friend Anthony. Everyone in the congregation knows he’s not a Jew. He knows that although he worships with us on Shabbat he’s not a Jew. He knows he is not going to try to run off and make Aliyah or even try to become a member of a non believing Jewish synagogue. If I go to his house he doesn’t hang a mezuzah on his door post and he doesn’t have Judaica. He’s pretty comfortable in his ethnic and cultural background even in partaking in Messianic Jewish worship and respecting and values the Jewish heritage of Shabbat and congregational commemorations of the Feasts and the like.

  162. PL said “It is merely to counterbalance the consequences of a longstanding over-reaction against it that have been detrimental to Jewish restoration”

    Jewish restoration will happen NO MATTER WHAT as it is written…

    “Out of Tziyon will come the Redeemer;
    he will turn away ungodliness from Ya‘akov
    and this will be my covenant with them, . . .
    when I take away their sins.”

  163. @Macher — And has not this redeemer come already from Tzion, opened a door to redemption, and turned away ungodliness from many of the sons of Y’akov, both 20 centuries ago and within the past century? Nonetheless, I disagree that this happens “NO MATTER WHAT”. It happens when the sons of Y’akov turn to him; and their turning often requires education and encouragement and protection. We would not be talking about the need for restoration at all except for the destruction and exile suffered for more than 18 of the past 20 centuries. There are mechanisms and processes behind the fulfillment of such prophecies. The fact that they will happen does not mean that they won’t require help and cooperation to bring them about. The Jewish restoration of which I wrote is still a work in progress; and, not unlike the process shown to Yehezkel in the valley of dry bones, several stages are required before the breath of spirit may be called upon to fill the re-assembled, re-upholstered, no-longer-dry bones that have become a multitude of fine upstanding citizens. Once we get the point that there are stages of a process involved, we can look at the actual “facts on the ground” of the matter to consider what must we do to facilitate it.

  164. PL said “It happens when the sons of Y’akov turn to him; and their turning often requires education and encouragement and protection”

    Yes it happens when they turn to Yeshua. In the context of Messianic Judaism, Jews are already turning and have turned to Yeshua. However not on a national scale. The education is about Yeshua. The protection is already within the realms of a Messianic Jewish community and Judaism.

    PL said “The fact that they will happen does not mean that they won’t require help and cooperation to bring them about”

    It’s interesting that where the Gentiles come in as well. Gentiles who know they are part of the commonwealth of Israel also know they are part of the restoration.

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