Both a Jew and a Christian

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I am certain that this is strange to some, and offensive to others.  

Just as a woman, ever since after the first woman, Eve, is a female from her conception, so, too, is a Jew whose parents are both Jews genetically.  We are descendants of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.  To get really legalistic, we would also be of the tribe of Judah.  Since it is uncertain today from which tribe we may be from, all those whose lineage is from “the Fathers” are called Jews today (as we also were in the days of the Messiah and His Apostles), just as the “all Israel” that will be saved will not be limited to the 10 tribes of the northern kingdom only, or to only the tribe of Judah, but to the full remnant from all the 12 Tribes of the Children of Jacob/Israel.

Being a Jew is a DNA thing; being a Christian is a faith thing.  Being a Christian is neither a Jewish nor a Gentile issue:  Christians can be Jews and also non-Jews, or Gentiles.  Many peoples and cultures have been christianized, or gospelized, without actually being Christian.  Being Arab is an ethnic thing (although many non-Arabs have been arabized, especially through Islam and its Arabic language and culture); being Muslim is a religious faith issue.  

Many Jewish believers in Yeshua/Jesus refuse to identify as being Christians.  They say that they are Jews — albeit Messianic Jews.  Of course Messianic and Christian are the same thing:  one from a Jewish word; the other from a Greek word.  Messianic is not really a noun, but Christian is.  Both can be used as adjectives.  Not all Jewish people who are messianic believe that Jesus/Yeshua is the Messiah and Son of God.  There are various messianic Jewish movements and cults that reject the truth of Messiah being Yeshua.  There are many Christians who do not really believe in Jesus for who He is, but if they say that they are Christians, the association is always connected with Jesus as the Christ and Son of God.  Some say they are Christian simply to mean that they are not Muslim or Hindu, or of some other religious community.  And some will say they are Christian to mean that they are not Jews.  This is to confuse faith with a particular people group.  I also know that many Christians can not understand how a Christian can also be a Jewish person because they associate Jewishness with a religion — Judaism — only.  That, as we have seen, is not correct.  It is true that I no longer practice a religion that denies that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God; but I am still a Jew, and even more so now that I understand what it is to be a Jew, and not only Jew-ish. 

To be a real Christian, and not just a cultural one, means that you are born-again by the Holy Spirit from Above, and truly believe that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God the Father.  This Jesus/Yeshua is YHVH God in the flesh, who came in order to die on the cross for our sins; He was buried, then rose again on the third day; He showed Himself alive to hundreds of Israeli Jewish people for 40 days; then He ascended back to the Father’s throne in Heaven to the glory that was His before He ever came in the flesh as our Redeemer and Savior; and this same Jesus/Yeshua will come again to judge the nations, and to restore the Kingdom of God back to Israel, and over all of the nations — and throughout the entire universe that He created and made.  Our sins are forgiven and our righteousness is from God by our repentance and faith in His Son.  (I may have left out something important; I may have added more than you think necessary.)  

To be a Christian is not only to believe in Jesus/Yeshua, but also to be identified with Him; to follow Him and obey Him:  He is the LORD!  Just as the first disciples were Israeli Jews, so, too, were the first Nazarenes (natzrim, נצרים in Hebrew, which is the usual word for Christians in Judaism, mostly in a pejorative sense).  The Apostle Paul was accused of being a leader of the nazarene sect, which he did not deny, but used that to describe his hope as the same as the hope through the covenant promises given to the fathers of the Jewish people and nation. 

There is another [Greek] word for disciples of Yeshua/Jesus used in the New Testament, and this word is used three times. (Acts 11:26; 26:28;1Pt 4:16)  The word in Greek is transliterated into English as Christianos, based on the Greek word used for Messiah — Christos.  The term could possibly have been used derogatorily against the believers, but they owned it.  When Paul gave his testimony to King Agrippa, the Jewish king said that Paul almost persuaded him to become a Christian.  The Jewish apostle to the Jews, Peter, wrote to the Jewish believers in the diaspora not to suffer as any sort of evil doer, but if they did suffer “as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter”  (Some translations have, “in this Name“).  

The appellation of Christian to a follower of Yeshua/Jesus was applied to both Jewish and Gentile disciples.  Only later, when Gentiles far out-numbered the Jewish believers, did the term Christian take on a connotation, at least in Jewish minds, of being “gentile” and not “Jewish”.  But the Word of God has not changed, and the Holy Spirit knows what God wants to say to His people, that even the unbelieving among His people might humble themselves and repent of their unbelief and wrongful heart attitudes towards those who are true servants of the God who chose the Jewish people to bring praise to His holy Name.  He also wants to humble us who do believe, and to deny ourselves, to pick up our cross daily, and to follow Him wherever He leads us.  

Interestingly, in Isaiah, YHVH speaks to His wayward people that there would be a time that they would not prosper, but those who do believe in Him, and serve Him, would be provided for and prosper.  He says that He would call His servants “by another name”. (Is 65:8-16)  Before this prophecy came to pass, YHVH’s servants were called by the name of Israel/Jews.  I believe that this prophecy is being fulfilled till now during these past almost 2000 years, and also looking ahead to the salvation of Israel to come.  The “another name” which the God of Israel is calling His servants now is Christian — a moniker uniting both Jewish and Gentile believers as one new man in Christ/Messiah — identified with His Anointed One/Messiah/Christ. (1Pt 4:16; Ja 2:6-7) Yeshua, the Jew from the Tribe of Judah, was not Christian, nor a Christian; He is the Christ/Messiah.  Yeshua is God’s netzer, the branch from Jesse’s roots, and the Son of David, and the keeper of YHVH’s covenant and testimonies.  Notzri is a messianic Hebrew term from the Tanach, which was spoken by the prophets! (Is 11:1-5; Ps 25:8-10; Mt 2:19-23

Why are we Jewish believers so loathe to be called by such a name?!  It is an opportunity to explain the truth of what the term means (and what it does not), how Yeshua fulfills it, and how we also fulfill it! 
https://streamsinthenegev.com/what-is-in-a-name-yeshua-shall-be-called-a-nazarene/

I am a Jew who believes in Jesus/Yeshua.  You can call me a Christian, a Messianic Jew, a traitor.  I am still a Jew — and an Israeli — and, thank God, I am also a Christian:  I belong to Yeshua/Jesus:  I am my beloved’s, and He is mine.  In Pharasaic/Talmudic/Rabbinic Judaism, He is called pejoratively, Yeshu ha-Notzri, fulfilling Mt 2:23 (in Hebrew).  He is outside the camp, bearing the Father’s reproach; and we are called to go outside the camp and to identify with Him, bearing His reproach.  He sends us back into our own natural camps, and sometimes to other camps, both in order to go fishing and bring other persons out to Him; and then they will do the same.  May I be found worthy and faithful by the grace and mercy of my Savior, my Lord and my God, and not be ashamed when the Son of Man returns. 

 

9 COMMENTS

  1. Love this in the way it brings clarity to understanding the beauty of individuals in the entire body of Yeshua and the importance of identity and humility. Thank you for writing it.

  2. A very interesting article. I guess every person identifies from his/her individual background. Speaking for myself I was born again in August 1982. Even though, having been tought about Jesus from my birth and giving my life to Jesus when I was 13, Christianity in general had been the most boring lifestyle before my New Birth in 1982, because only then GoD/ Jesus became an active Creator in my life. BUT when I studied theology to gain a certificate to teach “religion” at elementary school in Germany and I learned about the Jewishness of Yeshua as well as about the antisemitic church history, I denied to call myself a “christian”. After having been in Israel for 20 years besides working as a teacher in Germany, my identity now is that of a “disciple of Yeshua”. No longer I am a “christian” because I distance myself from church history and traditional christentum. Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah, the Lamb of GoD, the GoD of Abraham, Isaac & Jacov, who is the Sin Sacrifice for my sins and the sins of the World! HE is the Coming King of the Jews who will rule all over the world in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel!

    • Thank-you, Olive, for sharing your testimony of becoming a disciple of Yeshua. I usually identify myself as Jew who believes in Jesus/Yeshua, since both the synagogue and the church
      have historically said that one can not be a Jew once he believes in Him. But if someone then says that I am a Christian, I do not deny it, nor apologize for it. Christian history is
      not much different than Jewish/Israeli history, according to the record that we have in the Bible. For many centuries many Jewish people did not want to be identified as being Jews, often times out of fear, which you will understand as a German.

      Many Jewish people today do not want to be identified with Israel because of their view of the country; many Israelis do not want to
      be identified as Jews, because, for them, that is just a religious name. Yet for all that, many of us today are “proud” to say that we are both Israelis and Jews. We all have our own justifications for how we may identify ourselves.

      But Jesus/Yeshua is called Christ in Christianity; in Judaism He is called Notzri. He knew the history that would develop. The prophet Daniel identified with his Jewish people despite all of the sins that they had committed against YHVH his God. Christian history has many highlights, and many low points. Yet we cannot hide behind our own term of identity when it may separate us from the price for being Yeshua’s disciple. Peter tried denying his relationship with the Lord, and God used that to break all his pride and his fear. Praise the Lord! The Holy Spirit will do the same with each of us who love Jesus/Yeshua.

      God bless you.

  3. I’m a Gentile, so grateful for my salvation and redemption through Jesus Christ – as in John 3:16
    Perhaps like many Gentile believers I was much more concerned with the divinity of Jesus as the Son of God, born of a virgin, living a sinful life and then dying on the Cross and taking my sinfulness upon Himself, so that I might be born again, etc etc.
    I knew next to nothing about the Jewish people except that Jesus was born a Jew according to prophecy,, and He was the promised Messiah.
    Not until I lived a full five years in Israel did I have a much better grasp on the Biblical Jewish faith. when I read about Avraham, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David and many more, I could relate to them. Their relationship to God made sense, and I could identify with their struggles and failings, plus God’s leading in their lives.
    Then just three years ago I was invited to be a ‘meeter ‘n greeter’ for an Orthodox Rabbi’s webinar.
    I loved it! I felt and still feel honoured to be involved.
    BUT what I have discovered is that what is recognised today as ‘Judaism’ is NOT the Judaism of the Tanakh! In some ways, in its reverence for Torah it is, but in its narrow, legalistic interpretation of the Law it has become a caricature of Biblical Hebrew.
    Yet many people, myself included supposed that Rabbinic Judaism is the true version of Judaism.
    Today I am much more aware of Conservative Judaism, and find that a much more attractive ‘version’ of Biblical Judaism. I do believe that a Messianic Jew (our definition) remains Jewish and can keep the feasts etc, attend synagogue – if they are allowed- I still struggle to understand how we Gentile believers and Jewish believers can fellowship together, unless we are both willing to put our Lord Jesus at the centre of our worship.
    I totally accept the Jewishness of our Lord and of the early Church. I accept that the Gentile Church introduced beliefs, traditions and that awful hierarchical system. So I am more than happy to regard Jesus as my great High Priest ‘who ever lives to make intercession for us, for me..
    I think we should model ourselves much more on the Early Church system, with elders and deacons, with holy men and women who are not ‘Empire builders’ or self promoters, but true servants of the living God.
    However our God works out the world with Jerusalem as the centre, is fine. But our hearts -all our hearts should be focussed on our Lord Jesus Christ.

  4. Thank you for that explanation. I am going to a messianic Jewish conf this weekend starting tonight. This helps me to explain the difference as I am a Messianic Jew/Gentile to those who ask me. I have been born again when I was 23 and am now 87. Did not know about the Jewish connection until my Father finally told us a few years before he passed. My mother died when I was 5 yrs. and have no one else to verify where her ancestery came from except Scot/Irish. I have been to Israel 8 times in 5 years, once there I was hooked and felt I belonged. I applied for Aliyah spring of 2016 but husband did not want to go so it’s on hold.

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