20th Century Messianic Judaism
Table of Contents:
Part 1: Definitions
Part 2: The Origins of Messianic
Part 3: 20th Century Messianic
Part 4: Messianic Jewish Lifestyle
Part 5: Messianic Judaism and
Part 6: Messianic Terminology
Written by Rabbi David Chernoff, MMI Publishing Co., Havertown, PA.
1. How many Jewish believers in Yeshua are there in the United States ?
While there are no concrete figures, it has been estimated by many of those involved in the movement (and even by those outside the movement), that the number of Jewish believers in the Messiah Yeshua may be as high as 500,000 in the United States alone, and this number is growing all the time.
2. Is the movement of Messianic Judaism just in Canada and the United States?
Today the movement of Messianic Judaism is in many other countries throughout the world including Israel , England , France , Scotland , Australia , New Zealand , South Africa , Puerto Rico , Mexico , Brazil , Argentina , Russia and other countries. This is truly an international movement! We believe that Messianic Judaism will eventually spring up wherever there are communities of Jewish people throughout the world.
3. Why do we use the name “Yeshua” rather than “Jesus?”
Because Yeshua is His given Hebrew name! “Jesus” is the hellenized-anglicized form of “Yeshua”, which means “Salvation”. Yeshua never heard the name “Jesus” in His lifetime. He was always called “Yeshua,” which is very similar to “Joshua,” a common Hebrew name at that time. Good examples of this name, in reference to the Messiah, are in Isaiah 62:11 in the Old Covenant and in Matthew 1:21 in the New Covenant.
4. What does “Christ” mean?
Some believe that “Christ” is Yeshua's second name or surname in the same way that we have a second or family name. Actually, “Christ” is a title in much the same way as “President” or “King.” This title is taken from the Hebrew word “Mashiach” or “Anointed One,” which was translated into the Greek “Christos” and later anglicized to “Christ.”
The actual English translation of Mashiach or “Anointed One” is “Messiah.” Once again, using “Messiah” rather than “Christ,” is more accurate. (Examples of this title in the Old Covenant are Daniel 9:25, Pslams 2:2). Also, Yeshua claimed this title of Messiah in the New Covenant (Mark 14:61-62).
5. Why don't Messianic Jews simply call themselves “Christians?”
The term “Christian” originally meant “follower of the Christ” or “follower of the Messiah.” In and of itself, it is a good term. Unfortunately, over time, the term “Christian” came to mean more than simply “follower of the Messiah”.
Many people today have this dichotomy in their minds, that on the one hand there are Jews and Judaism, and on the other there are Christians and Christianity. You are either one or the other. Accordingly, when a Jew accepts Yeshua he “switches over” from the Jew-Judaism side to the Christian-Christianity side and is no longer a Jew but a Christian. For all intents and purposes, the term “Christian” has become synonymous with “non-Jew” or “Gentile”.
Obviously, we believe just the opposite has occurred. Messianic Jews believe that we have found the Jewish Messiah and we are now “completed Jews” in Him. Consequently, we choose to call ourselves “Messianic Jews” which identifies us as Jewish people who believe and follow the Messiah Yeshua. Early Messianic Jews had many names for themselves e.g. believers, elect, remnant, the Way, followers, disciples, etc. Interestingly, there is no commandment in the New Covenant to call ourselves “Christians.”
6. Why do Messianic Jews say that they are “Completed Jews?”
Because we believe that Yeshua is the fulfillment or completion of Biblical Judaism. As Jews, we have “completed” or “fulfilled” what God wants us to do as Jewish people, that is, accept the Messiah Yeshua as our atonement for sin and come into a personal relationship with God.
Yeshua never intended to start a new religion; He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. Therefore, how could we, as Jewish people, by accepting the Jewish Messiah become non-Jews? On the contrary, we believe that Yeshua has fulfilled our Jewish heritage and faith. We have not “converted” to another faith, but rather we have been completed because we have found true Biblical Judaism through the Messiah Yeshua (Matthew 5:17 ).