Words are powerful. The terms, expressions, titles and labels that we use in every day life are crucial in expressing ourselves to one another. For instance, in the realm of politics terms such as hawk, dove, liberal, conservative, left-wing, right-wing, Republican and Democrat all help to identify concepts and positions. In Messianic Judaism, terminology is also extremely important. The last two thousand years of history have seemingly boxed us into an undesirable dichotomy that exists in the minds of people. This thinking purports that one is either Jewish or Christian, a member of Judaism or a member of Christianity.
We as Messianic Jews say that this is not true. We believe that it is Jewish to believe in the Messiah Yeshua and that He is the fulfillment of Biblical Judaism. Consequently, we have created and developed a new language to more effectively express our faith. By using Messianic terminology, we accomplish a number of things. First of all, we put Yeshua back within the proper Biblical and historical Jewish context from which He was uprooted. Secondly, we are educating many people today to the Jewish roots of this faith in the Messiah Yeshua. Finally, this Messianic language simply is often-times more accurate historically and Biblically (e.g. the name of Yeshua).
I encourage all Messianic believers to use this terminology, to change your language in order to more clearly express your Jewish faith in the Messiah Yeshua (I Cor. 9:19-22). Here are some of the most important terms to understand:
The historic Hebrew name for “Jesus” meaning “salvation;” Jesus is the hellenized-anglicized form of Yeshua.
A Hebrew term meaning literally “the Anointed One;” a title like president or king; in the Greek, it was translated to “Christos” and then anglicized to “Christ.”
3. Messianic Judaism
The movement of Jewish people who have come to believe that Yeshua is the promised Messiah of Israel. This movement is worldwide and is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy (synonymous with “true Biblical Judaism.”)
4. Messianic Jew
A Jewish person who believes that Yeshua is the Messiah and remains Jewish in lifestyle and worship.
5. Messianic Synagogue
A congregation where Messianic Believers can worship and exercise their Jewish faith in the Messiah Yeshua.
6. Messianic Rabbi
Rabbi literally means “teacher;” the spiritual leader of a Messianic Synagogue.
7. Completed Jews
Jewish people who have found the Jewish Messiah, have not converted to another religion but are fulfilled in their Judaism and heritage in the Messiah Yeshua.
8. Brit Hadasha
The Hebrew name for the New Covenant or New Testament; books written in the first century by Jewish writers who believed and followed the Messiah Yeshua.
Hebrew term name for the Old Covenant or Old Testament.
10. Rabbi Shaul
The Hebrew name for the "Apostle Paul" of the New Covenant; he was a rabbi who studied under the feet of the famous Rabbi Gamaliel in the first century (Acts 22:3).
11. Mikveh or Immersion
Mikveh is the actual pool of water and immersion is the Jewish ceremony of being “immersed” in water for purification as commanded in the Old Covenant. In the New Covenant, the Immersion also symbolizes purification when believers in Yeshua publicly confess their faith in the Messiah Yeshua. (Christians use the term “Baptism” for this Jewish ceremony).
12.Yochanan the Immerser
The Hebrew name for John the Immerser or John the Baptist.
This booklet seeks to answer many of the most often asked questions about Messianic Judaims. The most important fact to comprehend about Messianic Judaism is that it is centered around the belief that Yeshua (Jesus in Hebrew) is the long promised Messiah of Israel.
Written by Rabbi David Chernoff, MMI Publishing Co., Havertown, PA.