11:52 7Dec04 anonymous -
This is a great article. Thank you for being so clear on this issue. So many
people are confused. As a jewish believer in Messiah, I find it strange to
hear and see gentile believers trying to become more Jewish in their life
style. I believe these people are not comfortable with who they are and want
to become Jews. Some even convert to rabbinic judaism. How sad. If only they
could understand that God and Messiah loves and accepts them for who they are
and not for what nationality they represent.
13:45 7Dec04 James Wagner -
This article brought up some problems that I was not aware of. It is helpful
in understanding where things are going today in the Messianic Jewish movement,
and the right relationship of Gentile Christians to Messianic Jews (they are
one in Christ) and to Israel (should pray for and support). It also points
out areas where one could see the Devil would like to get in and cause
confusion or spin off little cult-like groups. Thank you.
19:43 7Dec04 Shirley Defendorf -
It is an excellent message that the Lord has given you and is just what it
needed to be heard today as so many are trying to be conformed to some other
image and likness than His and for some other purpose than His.
20:21 7Dec04 Carole Brown -
I am Gentile with a tender heart toward the Jewish people. The L-rd has as
you state above "bonded my heart in a unique way with the Jewish people." I
love the Jewish people as though they are my ancesters, I love Israel with my
whole heart and wish I could live there. I know that my ancestory is not Jewish
and that the L-rd does not have near future plans for me to live in Israel if
not ever. I make no pretense of these facts. The L-rd simply put has given me a
heart filled with love for His chosen people. I do so appreciate this article.
It helps understand my feelings and thoughts on this matter.
20:46 7Dec04 Jim Elsbury -
Thank you for a balanced and mature treatment of questions I have asked myself.
14:19 10Dec04 Jill -
I really appreciate your thoughts on this subject. I am a gentile raising
a jewess in a messianic congregation. She is a Bat Mizvah and embraces her
jewish identity heartily. My gentile backgound has been a tough subject
through the years. I came to our congregation 10 yrs ago a new believer. I
had one year of church under my belt when the Lord planted me here. I
feel more of a jewish orientation than a christian one. I know that does
not make me jewish simply because I have chosen to cast my lot with the
jewish people. I do have an understanding of what a gere or gereim is. I
know I fit more in that category than the term gentile...But when a
stranger asks are you jewish? I find there is not an off the cuff answer
that fits. I'm still working on the short answer.
It's a thoughtful subject that you handled well!
09:24 09May05 Catherine Neumann -
Yes, I have an identity crisis! I am a Messianic Believer, the
great-granddaughter of Orthodox Jews. Their daughter married a gentile and was
'dead' to them. She was a branch broken off two generations ago. I was grafted
back into the Messianic fellowship and this graft is still weak, an older
person, single, and alone. I was not raised in a Jewish life style and want and
need a Jewish Mishpoha (sic) to help me belong. I am on the fringe not feeling
like I belong as am a not a part of a Messianic Jewish family. With tears of
01:02 12Jun05 Manuel Correa -
I've been thinking about the theme you treat here and it makes me recall some
questions on myself. I came from a Gentile heritage in many ways, for example,
a non believer in Yeshua. Also I wasn't aware about Brit Hadasha's jewishness.
Since I was a child I knew that Jewish people -like some friends at school- had
something special and that had to be with G-d. In my most inner thoughts I
wanted to be a Jew. And talking with my mother who was a Christian, while I was
a non-believer, I told her once that if I wanted to search for G-d any time
that should be by the way of Judaism, because Yeshua was a Jew. And some years
later, when the L-rd came into my life He used a Messianic Rabbi! Now I am a
Messianic believer and I embrace Jewish heritage and identity in Yeshua. But
something strange arises when someone tells me that I must say I am Jewish or
a Gentile... Maybe both words have a tremendous background in a cultural,
historical, religious or any other context that doesn't help to seek truth in
ourselves as believers in Yeshua. Maybe some of us do not have to seek this
identity but in Adonai's commandements, in our L-rd Yeshua as you well say.
09:22 24Jul05 - Messianic Gentile -
Great article! I'm glad to be a Gentile, and know that G-d still loves me as
who and what I am. Although I love the Jewish people, and recognize the
Children of Israel as the Chosen People with a very special mission and
calling, why would I want to be Jewish? If I wanted Jewishness, I could easily
convert and join the Jewish people. Then I would be Jewish too! But I'm so
happy to be a Gentile, and be able to worship G-d as a non-Jew, within my own
culture and in my own language, at the same time as I am ONE with all fellow
Believers - both Messianic Jews and fellow Gentile Christians.
12:40 03Aug06 David Niles Jr -
I agree with this article wholeheartly, but differ in some things. We as
believers in Jesus the Messiah need to let Him (Jesus) define us, not a church,
a congregation, or a denomination. I think all of the Body of Yeshua needs to
let Yeshua define us, the Bible defines as well. Christianity and Messianic
Judaism are very divided. As Yeshua said "a house divided against itself will
not stand". So true, So true.
04:47 07Aug06 A. Dorado -
The diaspora is a reason for much of the confusion, no one really knows the
full effects of it but Adonai. Thanks be to Adonai, Shilo has taken The Sceptre
and He will decide who is who. Meanwhile I'll imitate my Rabboni Y'Shua.
13:01 10Oct06 anonymous -
It seems that in our case, Jewish identity is finding it's calling on our lives
even though we are "removed" by 2 generations but still considered Jewish
according to halacha or Jewish law. What does one do in the case in which one
was raised "christian" but is certainly Hebrew with Jewish grand and
greatgrandparents? Being a minority is never easy and there's always the
temptation to join the majority and slip into anonymity due to fear of some
persecution. Unfortunatly, anti-semites are in the Church but Christ welcomes
all. With that said, having had experience with the messianics and rabbinical
Judaism, there's something in liturgical worship that is calling me to it.
I've personally tried to let it go but it calls me back to remember. A Jewish
soul is forever and that calling certainly feels irrevocable. But are we
according to scripture gentiles or Jews? This issue does not seem to have a
19:57 03Nov06 Adriana Griffith -
Praise the Lord for your ministry. My heart rejoice in Yeshua for ministries
like yours. Thank you for the article, it is a confirmation of a comment I had
made to my former Pastor Joshua of "Adonai Christian Church" in Rockland
County. The Lord had enlarged our territory by bringing my heart, my husband's
heart and my children's heart into the Mesianic Jew identity. As a gentile my
heart has been always drawn to Israel since I was very young back in Colombia
S.A. and with God's mercy we as a family are blessed by knowing we are one in
Yeshua. Yeshua prayed for the unification of all his choosen people in John 17.
We try to be obedient to His word and His will. We all as a family congregate
in a Mesianic Jew Synagogue and it has been wonderful. We as gentiles need to
have more education on our identity (Hopefully in Spanish). Thank you again
and the love and peace of the Lord will be with you alwyas.
19:54 09Dec06 Avri Todd Vanbeuren -
This is an excellent and concise document. Your anointed explication and
considerations, offer relevant solutions to the current phenomena. Many
Christian believers feel in an awkward position, mainly when it comes to
defining identities, since the behavior of the "Christian" Church for the past
centuries, not only toward the Jewish people, but toward true followers and
believers in Yeshua, was extremely obnoxious. I propose the name "Messianic
Gentiles" to aleviate the stigma being carried from the past. That way, we'll
have "Messianic Gentiles" who may better understand their own roles and
priviledges in Messiah, putting aside their atrocious past, even in the name of
"Christians". And "Messianic Jews" who are now one in Yeshua even as His chosen
people. Now, both as the "one new man" in Messiah. Your clear and
straightforward message is greatly appreciated in Yeshua. Thank you.
12:03 14Jan07 Clifton J Tracy Jr -
I am in full agreement with your article being a Gentile myself. I wrote a book
"A New Look At An Old Book" and since I published the book I was introduced to
a Messianic Jewish congregation where I attended the lecture you gave on Paul.
Like it said (Titus 3:9): avoid foolish genealogies, and that I try to do.
20:16 22Jan07 Caleb Zimmerman -
I found it odd that Dan Juster would write this, after reading what he has
written in regard to the Mosaic Law in the life of the present-day Believer.
I've known a number of Gentiles who point to Juster's writings as justification
for their wearing tzit-tzit all the time, growing their beards, davening, etc.,
etc. Until the covenants are taught correctly many Gentiles will do exactly
what is elaborated upon here. Indeed, some have identity issues ... but I've
known a number of my fellow brothers who drop their jaws at the title of
"Christian." Such a title is evidently "gentile." Be it identity issue, or
paranoia, mutual forebearance needs to be learned and expressed. Romans 14 is
17:12 22Feb07 O'Connor -
This is one of the best articles I've seen on the subject. What a relief it
was, the day I realized that being a GENTILE is okay. No more "lying" to myself
by calling myself a "Messianic" and belonging to a "Messianic congregation".
I'm a Christian Gentile, who now know who I am, and while I still attend a
Messianic JEWISH synagogue and I'm a strong supporter of Torah-observant,
Spirit-filled Messianic Judaism, I have found my place, I have reclaimed my
identity as a Gentile with my own unique cultural heritage.
18:53 25Jun07 Kathy -
I just read your article. I'm sorry but I don't feel like a poor little gentile
who wants to be jewish. Poor ME! I am a Christian. According to Paul there is
no Jew or Greek, no bondsman or freeman. It does not matter what I was born. I
and you also have no control over what our ancestery is. The word says if thou
shalt confess with thy mouth the lord Jesus and believe in thing heart that God
hath raised him from the dead thou shalt be saved. period. Don't get me wrong I
pray that all Israel might be saved right along with everyone else. I just feel
people are missing the point when they think their heritage (which they had NO
control over) somehow makes them special. They could have just as easily been
born a Gentile or visa-versa.
11:20 26Jun07 Jonathan -
It is certainly true that each of us has no control over our ancestry, but God
does and surely that is what makes each of us special - whether Chinese, African
or Jewish. It is interesting, isn't it, that the Gal 3:28 verse you partially
quoted is often used to teach that Jew and Gentile have ceased to be distinct
when it actually teaches exactly the opposite: that the distinctions are meant
to remain while united in Christ. You see, Paul uses three categories of
people where it is impossible to blur the differences between them in order to
make the point that despite those differences, all believers in Messiah Yeshua
share the same spiritual blessing and standing before God. Jew and Gentile,
male and female, slave and free were all totally distinct and non-negotiably
different in Paul's time. While today there is very little open evidence of
slavery (although visiting some Arab or African countries might suggest
otherwise), it took 1800 years for slavery to be abolished; men don't have
babies and then nurse their offspring; Jew and Gentile remain totally distinct
in their calling and purpose in the kingdom of God while being one in Messiah.
We read in Revelation that before the throne of God there will be people of
every tribe and tongue and nation - that includes Jews too!
But you are right, it isn't our ancestry that makes us special, it is what we
do with it that matters. God calls Gentiles to be the best Gentiles they can
be; He calls Jews to be the best Jews they can be; both are to walk out their
God-given calling to the best of their ability, as the body of Messiah,
supporting each other in their unique walks. Praise God for our unity in
Messiah, and praise Him too for the differences He has made in and between us.
14:56 11Jul07 Jane -
From Daniel Juster's essay above: "It is much better to embrace one's
ethnicity in the Messiah by dying to any idolatry of it." A person's ethnicity
may define an appearance before men, but not before God. The fact that
ethnicity (Jew or Gentile) has become a topic of debate (and even contention)
among men, proves this argument to be nothing more than a distraction from the
true things of God and Scripture. Men may see an African tribesman, a Japanese
warrior, and a Jewish moreh; God sees three men who need His mercy and Grace.
13:56 10Sep07 Amber Harris -
I enjoyed reading this article and the comments that followed. I am not a Jew
by birth but I don't feel that I have any sort of identity crisis. I have been
grafted in to take part in my Hebraic roots. My fruit might be a little
different but my roots are the same. It is interesting to me that there is such
distinction between brothers. We have the same Father. We have, at the root of
Christianity, Judaism. Yeshua was a Jew, His disciples were Jews, and they
taught out of Torah. Somewhere that heritage was lost, but we are returning and
the besorah, the good news, has been proclaimed. We are to sit down and eat
together as one, in unity. I want to rehearse the returning Messiah and know
and understand in plasma screen, surround sound, taste-and-see-that-He-is-good,
real-life application. This is my identity. I am the grafted-in branch of a
very old vine, and I was selected because I was bearing good fruit. Praise
HaShem Elohim! So what do I answer when asked what I am? I am a servant of the
Most High, YHVH Elohim. If I look a little Jewish, well, my Master is Jewish.
What can I say? He is providing my everything. Speak to my Master.
23:23 25Sep07 Sarah -
Timely. I was asked today whether I was Jewish. But, I'm more confused than
ever now. I never called myself a "Jew" because I'm not ethnically a Jew, and
yet ... I follow the Torah to the best that I am able, and there are few
commandments which delineate "this for the Jew, and this for the other people"
There seems to be a conflict here, since some Messianics would put me on as
second class without the right to participate fully in the congregation (which
I think carries some heavy red flags), and then others will say that there are
no gentiles in the Kingdom since we are all Yisra'el. There are some
individuals who would say that Messianic Judaism is only for Jews - period.
That gentiles should go find protestant churches ... that seems wrong to me.
So, some say I shouldn't follow Torah because it is only for Jews (where does
it say that in scripture?), while others say - different. Confusion. Elohim is
not the author of confusion ... it seems to me that there needs to be more
cohesion within the Messianic community as a whole so that folks like myself
aren't so easily confused. In addition, I'll just stick - as a gentile - to
doing what I can do best in following Torah, and if someone will claim that I'm
"pretending" to be Jewish merely by following God's commandments - well, I'm
sorry for that perception, but I can't let that sway me until I have some
scripture claiming that I'm not to follow it.
I shall see elsewhere online if there is something to clear away the cobwebs
here. What I know for certain is what Paul taught after he said that the true
Jew is one who is so inwardly (and I think that is an important scripture right
there, actually, in terms of Torah observance). If we are no longer foreigners
(according to Ephesians), then perhaps we are not considered Gentiles after the
flesh any longer, but I digress. I'm still pondering that point. Paul
mentioned the "advantage" of being a Jew is this: that they were entrusted with
the Words of Elohim.
As is written also in the prophets, that through the Jewish nation the Torah
will go out to the gentiles, and perhaps, *if* we are going to speak upon
ethnic distinctions - that is the true distinction right there. I'm going to
do more reading on this subject.
19:12 01Nov07 Richard -
I have been walking with the Lord for only two years now. When I first got
saved, I was (and still am) heavily influenced by a Messianic group of
believers. Some are Jewish, others are not, but they all love Yeshua so much
and it is evident in many facets of their life. I feel a real connection with
them and they were there to teach me and provide fellowship when I first called
upon the Yeshua. They keep Torah and the dietary laws, keep the Shabat on
Friday nights and Saturday, and study with an emphasis from a Jewish
perspective. I have learned so much and really love and identify with this. I
recently started going to a traditional Christian church, a Calvary Chapel in
southern CA, and I have recieved almost harsh rebukes from people saying it is
wrong for Gentiles to follow Torah, that it takes away from the grace and love
of Yeshua's ministry to follow Torah and the dietary laws, that the rules and
the law of Moshe are for Jews alone, and that we are not to follow such things.
I feel mixed up and I am not sure what to do. I love keeping the Shabbat and
the High Holy Days, but I am doubting myself because of the influence of my
Christian church. What should I do?
-- Dr Juster replies:
The best way to understand the New Covenant Scriptures is to understand
that they make a distinction between universal Torah that is for all and
the specifics of Torah for Jewish calling. The universal is best typified
by the application of Yeshua in the Sermon on the Mount. Acts 15 and
Galatians show us this distinction especially in urging Gentiles to not
be circumcised. However, some Gentiles are called to Jewish ministry and
to live their lives before and with the Jewish people. This can be
expressed in a Messianic Jewish congregation as part of this. When this
call is embraced, the Gentile embraces Torah that is not required of him;
celebrates the Sabbaths and Feasts and more. This is a matter of being
led by the Spirit. Rabbinic Judaims eventually by the end of the second
century embraced this idea of universal Torah and specific Jewish
responsiblity Torah under the idea of Noahide laws and Jewish Laws.
There are important scholars who have written about this. Marcus
Bauchmuel of Cambridge and Peter Tomson in Paul and the Jewish Law.
15:52 15Nov07 Ruth -
Oy Vey! All this dialogue sounds like my congregation. I'm gentile (with
possible Jewish heritage), "a church kid", and grew up with an interest in
history, scripture and Jewish boys. I began attending Messianic congregations
back in the 1990's. One past Rabbi told me, it doesn't matter what your
heritage is, what matters is how you live for Jesus now. The congregation I am
attending now has a healthy mix of Jew & Gentile. And we all ask many
questions. Mine has been: okay, we are in the age of grace, but grace from
what???? Some in the congregation say that we MUST obey Torah, that means
absolute Sabbath observance, etc. Grace is the fact I can observe Sabbath,
worship and then go to a family event that my non-messianic clan is having.
God knows my heart. He knows what I want to learn and do and understand. He
doesn't answer our questions immediately, it is a lifetime study. But that's
the joy of scripture. If we knew all the answers now we wouldn't be asking
these questions. It is part of our relationship with God. Another aspect of
grace is accepting differences in others. As God has shown grace to us, we
need to show grace to others. None of us will be completely on the same page
until Jesus comes back and fully answers our questions. Enjoy the fellowship!
Let us reason together! Hinei ma tov umma nayim, shevet achim gam yachad.
Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together. Ps.
02:18 18Mar08 Eduardo -
Hey, the question of Torah observance and not so much Torah observance should
clearly be based on the text. When Israel came out of Egypt it was a mixed
multitude that went up (Ex 12:38) and that same mixed multitude that later said
"Yes" to the whole of Torah. The Hebrew word 'ger' is a stranger or foreigner
who has joined themselves to the people of Israel. The ger was granted full
citizenship in Israel with both the responsibilities and the privileges. The
foreigner who joined Israel had to keep, to name a few: Shavuot (Dt 16:10-11),
Yom Kippur (Lev 16:29), Sukkot (Dt 16:13-14). The foreigner took part in
sacrifices (Lev 22:17-18). The truth is whether Jew or Gentile the whole of
Torah applies to you if your desire is to honor the God of Avraham, Yitzack and
Ya'akov. The words of Yeshua are that "If you love Me you will obey My
commands". Which ones ?? All of them. For Yeshua has not come to destroy the
Torah or the prophets but to fulfill. Fulfill does not equal abolish. So to all
who are joined to the vine of Hashem observe the mitzvot (commandments). Also
kosher laws still apply. The vision Peter had on the roof was to teach him that
if he can deduce from Torah that eating unclean meats is forbidden then he
should deduce from Torah (and Torah alone) that Gentiles are not unclean and he
can speak and eat in the house of Cornelius because the rabbis taught that
Gentiles were unclean.
-- Dr Juster replies:
The problem here is a failure to note that the covenant is with the
Nation Israel and that some at that time could join it. In the New
Covenant, once cirumcision is no longer encouraged, but strongly
discouraged, we see a change. This is the expected change in Torah
application forseen by the Rabbis. So for Jews the whole Torah applies
but we no longer bring sacrifices to a Temple - application change. In
the same way, in the New Covenant as the Gospel goes to the nations, the
Torah applies differently. If not, then Galatians, Acts 15, Col. 2 make
no sense. There is no way to avoid the implications of these texts. The
difference betwween the universal dimensions of Torah that apply to all
and the specific Jewish calling dimensions was known in 1st century
Judaism and codified in the idea of the Noachide laws for Gentiles.
17:14 23Apr08 Carl Haggard -
While I see where you are going, I question how diversity in teaching and
practices make us one new man. Paul asserts a certain oneness in Ephesians: One
body, and one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and
Father of us all. Maybe outside these "ones" there can be more than one. Too
much diversity can be confusing too.
04:59 22Jul08 Marion -
This is excellent - and very well written - thank you. It gives a balance to
things that have concerned me for a while [I have been connected to Messianics
and Hebrew roots and interest for over 25 years, even though a 'Gentile'], soon
after coming to faith, but extremists are beginning to spoil what I have
learned and appreciated and support.
I hate legalism with a passion [for my first calling is to non-believers and I
see the damage it does to them], so the growing extremism in 'the Messianic
Movement' and all the various factions, and the disregard and lack of love for
the One Body in Messiah really grieves me so much.
08:40 09Sep08 - Robert Hoffmann - South Africa -
I am a German gentile out of the Lutheren church. My wife and myself have
prayed to Adonai to allow us to be grafted into His olive-tree like Ruth did.
We try to keep to all Adonai's instuctions. We download and listen to sermons
out of a synagogue every Shabbat. There is no one to lead us but the Ruach ha
Codesh. If you were to adopt a child into your home, would you allow him/her
to follow a different set of rules? When Meshiach ben David returns He will
sort out the "problems".
-- Dr Juster replies:
When a person is called to the MJ community, they live the same life as
the rest of the members who are Jewish.
09:55 13Sep08 Cheryl Ann Miller -
Absolutely love, appreciate and want to pass on this valuable understanding of
the Messianic Jewish movement and the Gentile idenity. I feel that this is
important to say to both and all for the complete understanding of Eph 3:14-22.
21:09 22Sep08 Kisha -
Why is there so much confusion when Paul, in Ephesians chapter 2, clearly
describes what happens to a "Gentile" once they believe? Vs. 19 "So then you
are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints
and ARE of God's household" This the same picture given to us in the Torah. The
strangers and the aliens were to be counted as a natural born citizen of
Israel. (Ex. 12:49; Lev. 19:34; Lev 24:22; Ezek. 47:22,23) This is not
replacing the Jewish people -- it is joining with them! Most (or all) of this
'identity' confusion is due to man's teachings and doctrines, not the bible.
The bible is very clear until we let men (with good intentions no doubt)
distort the word. Galatians, Acts 15, Col. 2 are not trump verses to support
one sort of Torah life for the gentile and some other Torah life for another
group. This goes against the rest of scripture and keeps the 'dividing wall'
firmly in place. Why? Because some really love that dividing wall! Go back and
read Galatians, Acts 15, Col. 2 and ask yourself if Paul or any other
apostle/disciple of the Messiah intended to have one set of values and laws for
"gentiles" and another set for "Jews". My bible says that God is not a
respector of persons. For example, the God of our Father's Abraham, Issac, and
Jacob doesn't expect Jews to keep "kosher" and yet at the same time expect the
"gentiles" to eat whatever they want. With this logic, we could assume that the
Jew's stomach must be completely different than the gentiles. Sound ridiculous?
That's because it is. There is and always has been: "one body, and one Spirit,
even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith,
one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and
in all." (Eph 4:4-6) Why do we continue to make it difficult for those coming
into the kingdom?
-- Dr Juster replies:
What can I say? There are different callings and the New Covenant
Scriptures are clear. Galatians 5 is quite simple and applies this to
circumcision and this implies to Jewish life in general. These texts
are a trump card.
20:19 09Oct08 Susan -
Just wonderful! A good balanced commentary with new life, I wish we would
finally get it--I think we're getting there!!
09:46 30Oct08 Steve -
The article is good, but in some ways does not discuss one vital issue. That
issue would be the One Torah idea, which sees the Torah given at Sinai as being
for the nation of 'Israel' and the strangers (non-Jews) attached to them.
When we see passages in Ephesians about those born not of Israel's ethnic DNA
being strangers to the covenants of promise, and the later verse saying that in
Christ we have been brought into (and therefore able to partake) the covenants
of promise, it is easy to see why some gentile believers can believe Torah is
for them as readily as Torah is for Israel.
Breaking of bread becomes a major issue when discussing this, as Jesus' "last
supper" was according to all accounts a "passover meal". Yet we are told to
take part as often as we remember him. If it was a passover meal, then
according to Torah it is for the circumcised only.
Another awkward issue is that Jesus says he was sent only to the lost sheep of
the house of Israel. Does this mean that his teachings are for Jews only, and
the writings of Paul are only for gentiles ... what stupidity!
We need to look again at the One Torah idea and re-appraise from scratch. The
real question is thus ... can a gentile observe Torah?
09:30 11Nov08 Stephanie Simpkins -
I still have questions that are unanswered. First as background, as far as I am
aware, I am a Gentile (non-Jewish by birth). I accepted Jesus as my Savior at
the age of 15. I have attended church (various mainstream protestant
denominations) very faithfully, eventually teaching Sunday school classes,
vacation Bible schools,ladies Bible studies, and even working at the
headquarters of an international ministry. I greatly enjoyed studying the
scriptures and was often perplexed by questions like, why there were not three
days and three nights from Good Friday to Easter Sunday ... I had many such
questions, but few answers from my church leadership. As young adults, my
husband and I began studying the origins of some of the church
traditions/festivals. So many were clearly pagan. Over the course of many
years, with much study, we made the deliberate decision to one by one stop
doing the church traditions that were contrary to scripture. This process took
over five years. Eventually, we came to the question of which day was the
Sabbath. When we found the origins of Sunday worship from the Catholic Texts,
and could find no evidence of a change in the scripture themselves, we were
lost. We knew of no other people who saw the scripture this way, and we were
begging God to show us our error, or to show us what to do next. It was then
that the Lord introduced us to Messianic Judaism. Our route was not because we
loved Israel (I even had some antisemitic habits to break) but because we
sought the most biblical truth we could find. I am now 53 years old, and we
have been active members of the Messianic community for over 12 years. But I
still do not have a word/name to answer those who ask what I am. I was born
Gentile, but I'm not a Christian. I am Biblically Jewish in lifestyle, but not
born Jewish. So I have two questions: First, in your opinion, would be a good
identity name for someone like me to answer those who ask? And second, I know
from our studies that what is Biblically true in Christianity is essentially
Biblical Judaism. All that makes Christianity a distinctively different faith
that has pagan origins. So please explain why you believe Christians would be
encouraged to stay in Christianity rather than to eventually grow from there to
a more biblical faith?
-- Dr Juster replies:
We use many names. Messianic Gentile, Jewish Roots Christian, and more.
I think the title is not that important of itself, but how God wants you
to see yourself before Him and the community where He has placed you.
And yet the Church has been a great source of blessing and has made many
positive steps forwards in our knowledge of God and His ways in spite of
their error. God is using the Church to accomplish a different but
inter-linked purpose alongside the Jewish people. Some correction is
certainly needed, and people who are open to hear the Spirit will move
and grow as He directs them. In spite of the presence of error - and
the Jewish community is not exempt from the same charge - God is still
using and speaking through people of faith in both communities.
13:38 29Nov08 Monty Stratton, D.Min. -
I see the One New Man as a Kingdom Stew, made up of Messianic Jews & Gentile
Christians all of us as 'joints of supply'(FLAVORS IN THE STEW) ...Eph.4:16.
It's NO LONGER ABOUT US ... it's about the stew(KINGDOM)!!We become 'the man in
02:03 06Feb09 Leonard Michiel Fernig -
I recognize both the question on identity as well as the temptation to the
Ephraimite movement thinking. Now I understand I can resist by taking a stand
in Jewish identity by serving the body from this position and not try to
08:19 17Apr09 Henry Bronkhorst -
If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive
shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing
sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider
this: you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say
then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." Romans 11:17-19
03:45 27Sep09 Rick Arii -
Excellent thoughts. A big problem between and within the various sects
(opinions?) is judging each other. I love Paul's statement in Romans 14:5 -
"One indeed esteems a day above another day; and another esteems every day
alike. Let each one be fully assured in his own mind." This seems to indicate
there will be differences of opinion, and that is ok, but we need to be "fully
assured," not following our whims. I am encouraged by what Paul says in 1
Corinthians 13:12 - "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part, but then I shall fully know even as I also am fully known."
We must be content to "see in a mirror dimly" at least for now ...
11:15 30Dec09 Bonnie -
If we are all to be One New Man in Messiah, and we are to be focusing our
identity on the future, then why do we still make the distinction between Jew
and Gentile? If the New Testament term "Jew" meant "believer in Adonai," and
the gospel is to the Jew first, then shouldn't it be going to all of the
believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, regardless of their ancestry?
Shouldn't all believers now simply be called Israel?
18:00 31Dec09 Webmaster -
We make the distinction between Jew and Gentile because Rav Sha'ul makes that
distinction: For their is neither Jew or Greek, neither male nor female,
neither slave nor free, for you are all one in Yeshua the Messiah (Gal 3:28).
By using three examples of things that it is impossible to blur or mistake,
Sha'ul is saying that in spite of those permanent differences, yet believers
all share the spiritual status in Messiah: sons and heirs. You are mistaken in
assuming that the term 'Jew' was ever intended to refer to Gentiles; that is
why Sha'ul says that the gospel was first to the Jew and also to the Gentile -
both together but with a Jewish-priority. The term used for all believers is
the Body of Messiah, never Israel, which is a term explicitly and only used for
the Jewish people, not including Gentiles.
13:41 21May10 N.S. -
This is so refreshing! I have seen all of the unfortunate digressions
mentioned in this article operating in the Messianic Movement. The Gentiles I
see who are truly embracing their calling to the Jews have a humility that
seems to be born of their embracing the sufferings that come with identifying
with and loving the Jewish people. Very often they experience the same kind of
rejection and persecution from family and friends that a Messianic Jew does. In
others I have also seen much of the unresolved anger toward the church that
gave them the Gospel, though may not have preached about their Jewish roots.
But when a Gentile is able to lovingly embrace the Jewish people, the church
and their own culture and ethnicity, that is a sight to behold! Someone like
that is able to be a true comfort to Israel. As a friend once told me, when a
peach branch is grafted into a plum tree, it still produces peaches! But it
shares in the life giving root with the natural branches. May God grant grace
to us all to accept the person God created when he created and chose us.
15:07 03Aug10 Gavriela -
Thank you! Yeshua is the uniting factor and the cord that binds.
12:08 22Aug10 MK -
This article has cleared up many questions and misgivings I have had recently
about the Messianic Movement. I have felt that I had to give up my "former"
ways of doing things and after a while that became a nuisance to me on a
personal level. Now I see that we are a "blending" together of the "new man"
and not just the acquisition of acting "Jewish" or practicing Jewish customs
etc. This has helped me a great deal.
12:52 19Sep10 Michael Sanders -
Not much to say but "Thank you!" Short, sweet and right to the point! As a
Gentile in a Messianic Congregation and as an Elder/Teacher I appreciate you
and your work. So many Gentiles want to be "Jewish" and miss the sheer
awesomeness of what Adonai has done in tearing down the wall and calling us
together. Why isn't that enough for some? I agree with your insight! But
what about those predominately Jewish congregations where Gentiles are second
class members? I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on that!!! We simply
wish to worship and serve in a manner as close to that of Yeshua as we can find
- both Jew and Gentile in Him.
-- Dr Juster replies:
My argument is that a MJ congregation consists Jews and Gentiles who
have a primary call to the Jewish people, to live their life of witness
before them. While it is good for the Gentiles to not act so as to give
the false impression that they are Jews (their ceremony at age 13, for
example, would not profess responsibility to be Jewish but loyalty to
Yeshua), in general there should be full acceptance on both sides of the
Jew-Gentile equation. This includes, in my view, leadership positions.
It is a matter of calling.
10:10 28Sep10 Ryan Micklewright -
This is an interesting perspective. I came across Daniel's name by referral
from a friend of mine who is running CMJ (Messiah's People) here in South
Africa. I had several Jewish friends while at University in South Africa and
later, as a Christian, my attraction to Jewish people got stronger ... I have
been looking for a Jewish Messianic fellowship in Johannesburg to no avail as
yet and I have been investigating how to study the Bible from a hebraic
perspective. Until now I had not thought that I might have a calling to a
fellowship or to minister to the Jews ... I just had a desire to worship with
them, study with them and observe the festivals that are still right for us to
observe in these New Testament times. But perhaps I do and there is a higher
purpose at work here.
07:02 24Mar11 Raymond E. Wiggins Sr. -
Your terse statement sums it up very well: "There are different callings, but
without status superiority in the Body." There is nothing like "spiritual
clarity" which is like the "shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the
perfect day!" Proverb 4:18
00:45 24Jul11 Leslie Springs -
This is an excellent article. I have experienced the "elitist" mentality of
the Messianic movement. Six years ago, after being saved 20 years, I was
amazingly and supernaturally called to love the Jewish people. A burning in
my heart to see them come to love Yeshua as their Messiah. But I've gone
through a very hard time finding a Messianic Church to attend. I've been told
I will end up being Jewish, or that I have to become Torah Observant. Either
one is wrong, we are to come together, in our uniqueness, and serve the One
-- Webmaster replies:
Your last sentence sums it up well: we are to come together, in our
uniqueness to serve G-d. We must not lose our distinction as Jew
and Gentile, because otherwise the One New Man isn't new, but just a
copy of one or the other.
19:31 10Sep11 Ms. Yvonne Hendricks -
I believe that the reason why so many Gentile Christians may be looking at
the Jewish life style is because they have come to realise that many things
that they have been taught e.g. Easter, Christmas etc. has its roots in
paganism and they would prefer to follow the true Biblical ways, feasts,
etc. They realise that the substance is in the roots - meaning the Jews
have the way but at the same time the Jews need the branches - their Gentile
fellow believers - this makes us one through Adonai our Messiah.
15:46 09Jan12 CR -
I am glad you wrote this. I have seen what you could call "super-Jewish
Gentiles" who feel inferior as Gentiles and seem desperate to be Jewish and
because of that go the way of Rabbinic observance to the extreme. Then I
have seen Jewish-by-birth believers who have been embittered by the
traditional religious and have rejected any traditional observance - saying
the service at shul is "too Jewish" - and have embraced church culture with
the exception perhaps of Shabbat and the High Holidays, and maybe b'nai
mitzvah for their kids; these give the impression of selling their
birthright like Esau did to some. I have seen Gentiles come in and complain
about the Jewishness of the service (um, it's a synagogue?), too, but at
least they're okay with being Gentile, though one wonders why they insist
Jewish believers can't stay Jewish in their practices? Then I have seen
Gentiles who have adopted and adapted some traditional practices but for
whom it is a more natural thing, ranging from slightly observant to the
level of wearing peyot. I am a second-generation Messianic believer. I went
through this identity crisis but have started to see it's like with Ruth
and Naomi and there are stages of being grafted in; my husband is second-gen
too but until we married had trouble accepting that it's okay for him not to
be ethnically Jewish but we can still practice. I know some who insist they
are Jewish if they have any ancestry at all. Well, Timothy was sort of ...
My only sadness is that I could not make aliyah officially since I only have
some ancestry on my father's side.
11:55 17Mar12 Dennis Cavitt -
Paul wrote the following in 2Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is God-breathed
and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
This is a guiding scripture for me and my walk with my Master, Yeshua. When
Paul wrote this, the only scripture available was the Tanak. As I understand
this passage, the Torah was used to teach new believers how to live righteous
lives in an unrighteous world. The Torah, God's Instruction, should be
separated from the consequences of the legalism that many follow. As I
understand it, the purpose of studying Torah is to truly know our Creator. This
is why my family and I study Torah. It is through knowing Him that we can truly
be the one new man in Yeshua.
05:03 25Mar12 David Waterman -
This is a good article, not that I necessarily agree with every word, but that
does not stop it being a sound addition to the ongoing discussion. Dr Juster's
standing in the Messianic world is widely known and deserved.
I came to the Messianic world about 2 years ago, after many years of
Christianity, although regular church attendance has not always been possible.
Although I think our family has some Jewish history, I am not Jewish according
to halakha. Yet I am so drawn to Judaism it is incredible. I do not mean
because of influence, or because I "like the lifestyle" or for any other
reason, it has to be of G-d as it is so strong and all consuming.
I am a "Messianic gentile" perhaps is the term to use. I perhaps differ from
some here in that I simply believe that the Church was meant to evolve from
our Jewish roots not destoy its past. That means, for me, not abandoning the
Biblical feasts for :"Christian" ones (anybody argues with this just ask them
to point to the Scriptures that tell us to observe Easter and Christmas) and
following Torah, (not Rabbinically as Jews cannot either, there is no Temple).
For a good example of how modern Jews cope with these issues may I suggest you
look at Reform Judaism as your guide, not Orthodox sources. At the same time,
many of my teachers are Jewish; as a student of Torah, as a believer in a
messianic faith that fully accepts both Jew and Gentile, and as a student of
Jewish thought I believe this is not inappropriate.
Accept all, and let us leave each other space for our own interpretation,
under G-d's guiding light
07:02 29Sep12 Greg Wells -
It's interesting how the comments evolve over an eight year period. The real
point is: One Torah. Of course we are not all Jews ethnically. But we all have
and follow One Torah! 'If you love me, keep my commandments.' It's very
simple, 'Saved by grace to obey by love'. Noachide laws, Christian theologians,
Rabbinic thought, it;s all summed up in John 14:15. Thank you Dr. Juster for
your bridge-building, but respectively One Torah will be what Yeshua returns
to in the body of Mashiach. It is very clear to me that this is what it has
always been and what it is re-evolving to. Thank you.
06:31 23Mar13 Teresa Dixon -
What do you fully mean by "partnering together for the full RESTORATION of
Israel and the church? There is confusion for me concerning this word
"restoration". Do you mean just the reality of Jew and Gentile as One New Man
in Messiah OR that we will make the world a better place for Yeshua to return
to? I want to understand what you mean and not walk in fear.
-- Dr Juster replies:
We mean much more than just the one new man. Our book "Israel, the
Church and the Last Days", as well as the book "That They May be One",
give our sense that before Yeshua comes back we will see a true believing
Church world wide that will be in unity, empowered by the Spirit and
living out the Gospel in profound holiness and power. It will also
include the five fold ministries of Ephesians 4. We join with all to
foster this restoration, for this kind of Church will be a key to
Israel's salvation. Yes, this Church will be joined in love toward
Israel. However, the restoration of Israel is to faith in Yeshua, to
their land and their destiny among the nations.