Recently I was asked to comment on an article by a Messianic Jewish Rabbi named Joe concerning the issue of non Jewish believers who operate a “Jewish style” assembly for the purpose of worship. Below you will find his article followed by my notes which I sent privately to the editor, who chose to publish them anyway. Mine was a quick response, not concerned with an in-depth look, but that will come in future posts as there is much more to be said.

Rabbi Joe’s arguments bring light to a real issue now facing the entire body of believers, both Jew and Gentile, and that is how the natural branches (the Jews, broken off for the sake of the Gentiles) are to be grafted back into the Root. This is the exact opposite of the issue that Paul and the Jewish leaders faced in the early church which was how the Gentiles, the wild olive branches, were to be included in fellowship with the Jewish believers. We read their solution in the 15th Chapter of Acts.

Why is this topic important? Because for almost 1900 years the overwhelming majority of the Gentile Church has not understood what it means for a Gentile to be grafted into the Commonwealth of Israel. I know for many of you this will be hard to accept as truth, but Gentile church’s position has been built on false premises dating back to the second century. Read Romans 11:11-24 for Paul’s teaching on branches being grafted-in.

Some of the questions that Paul and the Apostolic authors answer are: Do Jews stay as Jews in relationship to the Torah upon accepting their Messiah? Or do Jews become Christians? What are Gentile believers actually grafted into? What is the Gentile believers responsibility to Torah? What is the one new man Paul talks about in Ephesians 2? And many more.

Rabbi Joe’s Article

“I am a Messianic Jewish Rabbi, leader of a synagogue of Jewish and Non-Jewish believers (Sojourners/Foreigners See Numbers 15:14-16). Though one could argue that an ecclesia and a synagogue both mean gatherings of people or assemblies of people who are gathered together for religious or other purposes, the context here distinguishes a synagogue as a Jewish House of Worship and an ecclesia as a Christian/non-Jewish place where both groups worship Yeshua/Jesus but are not the same, just as a man and his wife can be “one” in unity, (See John 14, “perfected in unity”) yet they are two very distinct individuals with very different roles.

1. God distinguishes Jews and Gentiles in Romans 1:16 as nations (not by faith). And He tells Jews to be “A light to the Gentiles in Isaiah 49:6.

2. The Torah was given to Jews at Sinai, not to the nations. It was part of His covenant which Israel broke (Jeremiah 31:31). Although Yeshua drew from Torah, He changed several things in the Beatitudes. Yeshua’s commandments and Torah may intersect at points but they are not one and the same. New Covenant…


4. Isaiah 56:3 says, “Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, The Lord will surely separate me from His people.” Who are his people in Isaiah 56? The, Jewish people. It then goes on to speak of the blessings promised to the Gentile who keep God’s SABBATHS (but together with His people, the,Jews.).

5. In the first century Assembly of believers you had Jewish Apostles, particularly Paul, planting congregations of believers among the Gentile, yet they were always connected to or under direct believing Jewish authority. That all changed when Emperor Constantine and His Bishops expelled the believing or Messianic Jews from fellowship in 325 A.D. saying “Let us have nothing to do with this most hostile rabble of the Jews.”

6. Upon expelling the Jews much like the split b/w Jeroboam and Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12, new holidays were created to replace Jewish holidays given by the Lord to the Jewish people. In the same way , when the Roman Church broke fellowship with the Jews they created new holidays such as Easter and Christmas. Or should I say, they gave new meaning to old pagan holidays… They thought this, was their idea, but God inspired it because according to His word, if the Church would not sojourn (dwell) together with the Jews, then there was no Torah for the Goyim. Again, see Numbers 15 :14-16, Isaiah 56. The Church believed that getting rid of Jewish Sabbaths and Feasts was their plan, but it was God guarding His word.

7. God loves the Church (True Gentile believers, non Messianic). John 10:14, 15 Yeshua tells His Jewish sheep that He has another fold that they know not of, (The Church). And He must bring them too and together they shall become “one flock with one shepherd. ” well to understand the Jewish concept of “one ” read John 17, where Jesus says He is one with the Father and vice versa and He prays that we (Jew And Gentile will be one) “perfected in unity He says… like a husband and wife, Gen 2… two sheep folds, but perfected in unity, The Church and the Messianic Jewish community. “THAT THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE ” He says. This is the key to world revival.

8. Grafted in, so you err in assuming that you are grafted into Israel unless you sojourn, dwell with, support, pray for, celebrate Shabbat, Passover and Sukkot with the Messianic Jews as Gentile believers did when the New Testament was written.

9. So Torah is only for Gentiles who join themselves to Yeshua and the Believing Jews, Isaiah 56… Anything else is SUPERCESSIONISM, REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY. The Law of Christ and Torah are not the same exact thing. But James says if a Gentile believer wants Moses (Torah) He can go to a synagogue (See Acts 15, Jame’s decision). Again, non-Jews practicing Torah and studying with Jews!

10. CONCLUSION: Unless you are attending a Messianic Synagogue or join together with Messianic Jewish Believers for Feasts of the Lord, you are grafted into Jesus, but you are not Israel. The Church is neither physical Israel or grafted into spiritual Israel without a human connection to Messianic Jews. The Church is grafted into Jesus without a relationship with Messianic Jews (sojourners, Messianic Non-Jews) And Christians who play Jewish are just a Church with strange doctrine if they don’t join with Messianic believers. Happy Christmas early!

Bottom line: if you were an Anglican and I pretended to be one by calling my synagogue an Anglican Church, having a Sunday service and having people call me vicar or Father Joe, I’D BE A LIAR. I’m no Anglican… just because Christians accept Jesus doesn’t make them Jews or give them the right to “pretend to be a Jewish/Israelite-ish house of worship” That would be SUPERCESSIONISM or Replacement Theology, which the Church has been practicing for 1900 years (not everyone, but even Anglicans believe they are the true Israel… Revelation 3 has Some strong words from Jesus against those who “say they are Jewish, but are not…” God is very specific in His word as to who He made the covenants and Gave His Word to.

I say Non-Jews many times instead of Gentile or heathen, though Paul was an Apostle to the Gentiles. Even after they were “converted,” or “grafted in” he used that word, Gentile.
BOTH God and I love the Church (True believers) and His word necessitates that there be Two Sheep ffaoldsf “perfected in unity” the Messianic Jewish fold and The Church, that the world might believe.

My Response:

I found Rabbi Joe’s post interesting as it reveals some of the problems that many in leadership in the Messianic community have as it relates to how Jewish and Gentile believers in Messiah come together in unity under the headship of Yeshua. While I agree with Joe that there are inherent problems with God-fearers wanting to be identified as Messianic Gentiles independent of a unified community of believers, he misses the mark in several of his points, as they are not historically nor doctrinally correct.

Joe makes some of the same mistakes that the “church” has made for the past 1900 years in not correctly defining what the Apostle Paul calls the commonwealth of Israel and how the wild olive branches are to be grafted in and the natural branches grafted back into the Root to produce one new man. (“One new man,” the next great perversion coming to the body of Messiah.) A key question is how this community of the Redeemed is to look and function while waiting for His Kingdom to come.

After Jerusalem and the Temple Mount were retaken in 1967 there was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit not seen since the 2nd chapter of Acts. It was a continuation of what was started amongst Jews in the 19th century, but was now becoming more widespread. It appeared to be the starting countdown to the times of the Gentiles coming to an end, which includes the end of the false church age.

Right after this outpouring I was in leadership comprised of Jewish and Gentile brothers of a large fellowship attempting to live according to what we saw in the Book of Acts. It was probably one of the few times in history since the 1st century that this many Jews and Gentiles had come together to worship Messiah.

I remember well some of our early discussions where many of the Jewish brethren believed they had converted to Christianity. And to prove the point would actually order a ham sandwich when we were out to lunch. I was horrified at this thought, and told them that they were doctrinally out to lunch. But this early attempt shows the struggle it takes to learn of the Master’s way of bringing us together to fulfill His promises.

I believe Joe’s post is a needed part of the discussion. But the discussion has to be fact based. We have to correctly define terms as the Scriptures define the terms. And what does Joe mean in point #2 where he says, “Although Yeshua drew from Torah, He changed several things in the Beatitudes. Yeshua’s commandments and Torah may intersect at points but they are not one and the same.” Does he mean Yeshua is changing the Torah, ignoring the Torah, adding to the Torah? We know that if Yeshua was not 100% Torah observant, he could not have been Messiah. The entire Sermon on the Mount is about the proper interpretation of Torah from His father’s point of view.

In point #5 where Joe says, “In the first century Assembly of believers you had Jewish Apostles, particularly Paul, planting congregations of believers among the Gentile, yet they were always connected to or under direct believing Jewish authority.” This statement shows a lack of understanding of the governmental structure of the community of believers that Paul established. Since the leadership in any given geographic location were the elders, and being Jewish is not one of the necessary qualifications for being an elder, Joe’s statement is not entirely true. I’m not saying that Gentile believers were not connected to Jews, what I’m saying is the only scriptural Jewish authority that the Gentile believers had and have to be under was and is Yeshua the Messiah.

Until the community of the Redeemed, and this includes those in Gentile churches and Messianic Jewish congregations, understands how the ministry functions of Ephesian 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12 interact with the elders, deacons and all the saints, we are doomed to never come into maturity and unity. This all started, if the stories are true, with the Apostle John appointing Polycarp as bishop of Smyrna. So at the start of the second century we now have communities being overseen by a bishop and not a plurality of elders, as in Paul’s model. So by the time we get to Constantine and his bishops and then a Pope, we have over 150 years of a false governmental structure. But praise be to Hashem, our Messiah is raising up leaders who will learn and then enact the truths necessary to fulfill our purpose.

In point #6, Joe is missing the history of how persecution starting in the first century during the Roman war against the Jewish revolt made it unpopular to associate with the Jewish people. The threat of persecution and death led many of the the God-fearing Gentiles to abandon their Jewish friends. At the end of the first century, Roman tax reform required tax collectors to distinguish who was legitimately Jewish and who was not, thus forcing Gentiles to distinguish their religious identity from Judaism. At the same time Synagogues began to use a curse against heretics, which included Gentile believers thus encouraging Gentile believers to leave the Synagogues. By the time Constantine and His Bishops came along the Jewish believers who were treated as heretics by the Synagogues were driven away from the christian community.

Contrary to what Joe thinks, the Torah doesn’t go away for the Goyim (a word that in the wrong hands has a negative connotation) that believes Yeshua is the Messiah. Salvation is an individual act, not a group commitment. Joe makes the classic mistake of believing all Gentile believers are apart of what he incorrectly identifies as the church.

In point #7 Joe states, “God loves the Church (True Gentile believers, non Messianic).” What exactly does Joe mean by the term non Messianic? Messianic, by definition means relating to Messiah. As the Apostle Paul says, “then we are also heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with the Messiah.” Joe goes on to say that Yeshua “prays that we (Jew And Gentile will be one) “perfected in unity.” Based on his own reasoning why does Joe believe that only Jewish believers have the right to the term Messianic?

#8 seems to contradict some of Joe’s other points.

#9 is one of my favorites. Joe states “So Torah is only for Gentiles who join themselves to Yeshua and the Believing Jews,” Joe doesn’t seem to understand how the Torah operates in relationship to Gentile believers. His statement implies that if a Gentile believer can’t find believing Jews, which for the most part was true for 1700 years, then the Torah is null and void to the Gentile believer. Joe is also reading things into Isaiah 56 and Acts 15 that aren’t there, so that he has some proof texts.

In #10, Joe’s CONCLUSION where he states, “Unless you are attending a Messianic Synagogue or join together with Messianic Jewish Believers for Feasts of the Lord, you are grafted into Jesus, but you are not Israel. The Church is neither physical Israel or grafted into spiritual Israel without a human connection to Messianic Jews.” Joe, there is absolutely zero historical or Scriptural proof for that statement. I have spent many a feast in Israel with non Messianic Jews, especially at Hebrew University at the Mount Scopus campus.

It’s statements like these that give Messianic Judaism a bad name to both Jew and Christian, especially within Israel.

Acts 15 establishes that there will be two types of people in the Assembly of Messiah, Jewish believers and Gentile believers. The Scripture is clear that they are to be one, joint heirs, but to remain in the state they were called. If a Jew, still a Jew, if a Gentile, still a Gentile. It doesn’t say that there are two different classes of people, one superior to the other, which is somewhat the tone of Joe’s message. To me Joe implies I cannot receive the full benefits of salvation through Yeshua unless I’m directly connected to a Messianic Jew or Messianic Synagogue. WOW!

In 2 Peter, the Apostle states, “just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” tells us upfront that this isn’t going to be easy.

Paul was not persecuted by the Jews for preaching Yeshua as the Messiah, he was persecuted for his gospel, which was the Gentile was joint heir, without out the need for circumcision. Now at the end of the times of the Gentiles, we have the situation reversed. It is now the branches that were broken off being grafted back into the Root. As the Apostle Paul says, none of us should be conceited, but fear Him who can break off any branch, natural or wild.

To date the Gentile believers have not made Israel jealous, nor has the Messianic Jewish community shown as the true light to the Gentiles. The Lord will see that we get there, “let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith.”

Thanks for reading.

  • I think you are right on in your commentary. I find the “tone” of the rabbi to be bordering on disdain. It would seem that by his commentary he has a very weak hold of Paul and his gospel. The book of Romans would seem to refute much of his assumptions quite clearly.

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