Table of Contents:
Part 1: Definitions
Part 2: The Origins of 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. What is Messianic Judaism?
Messianic Judaism is a movement of Jewish people from all walks of life, who believe that Yeshua (Jesus in Hebrew) is the promised Jewish Messiah and Savior for Israel and the World. Messianic Jews have not stopped being Jewish. On the contrary, we have continued to remain strongly Jewish in our identity, lifestyle, and belief that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah and the fulfillment of true Biblical Judaism.
2. What is the difference between Messianic Judaism and Rabbinic Judaism?
Rabbinic Judaism is a Judaism centered around the teachings and writings of Rabbis. Its formation began over 2,000 years ago when the second temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. Before then, "Judaism," or the faith of the Jewish people, was centered around the Temple and the sacrificial system according to the Torah (the Law or the five books of Moses). After the destruction of the Temple the Rabbis reorganized Judaism, adding many new laws, rules, and traditions. Today, their writings and commentaries (the Talmud, etc.) form the foundation of Rabbinic Judaism.
Rabbinic Judaism consists of several branches: Orthodox (very traditional), Chassidic (Ultra-Orthodox), Reform (liberal), Conservative, and Reconstructionist. Some within Rabbinic Judaism are still looking for the Messiah but they are the exceptions.
Messianic Judaism differs in that we rely totally on the Scriptures. Our faith is the Judaism of the Bible (Biblical Judaism) and is centered around the Messiah and the worldwide salvation He brings. We in Messianic Judaism believe that Yeshua is the promised Messiah and that we don't have to go through the Sages or the Rabbis to know God. We have access to God because of the great atoning work of the Messiah Yeshua, who has fulfilled us as Jewish believers and therefore has fulfilled our Judaism (Matthew 5:17).
3. What is the difference between Messianic Judaism and Gentile Christianity?
Gentile Christianity is the faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as expressed by Gentile followers of Him. Gentile Christianity today numbers over one billion people in the world, with innumerable denominations and doctrines, all centered around Yeshua as Savior. For most of the first century A.D., this faith in Yeshua was predominately Jewish. As more and more Gentiles came into the Messianic faith however, some did not understand its Jewish roots and God's eternal covenant with Israel . A "de-Judaizing" process set in, a separation from the Jewish roots of the faith and from the Jewish people. This separation eventually led to the formation of a second wing of this faith in Yeshua composed of Gentile believers i.e., "Christianity."
While we feel we are one in the Spirit with true Gentile believers, Messianic Jews have our own expression of faith in Yeshua the Messiah. Messianic Judaism holds that it is Jewish to believe in Yeshua and is a return to the Jewish roots of the faith. We observe the Biblical feasts and holidays, while at the same time maintaining that the only way to be saved and truly born again of God's Spirit is through the great atoning work of the Messiah Yeshua (Romans 11:24-25).