Messianic Judaism: An Overview

The following is an extract from Paul Liberman  “Chapter 1: Messianic Judaism: An Overview” The Fig Tree Blossoms: The Emerging of Messianic Judaism. Kudu Publishing (2012). Kindle Edition. This book (Kindle version) sells at the moment on Amazon for $A 7.29. 


It traditionally has been accepted that Judaism and Christianity are separate and distinct. This belief is being challenged by a new and growing number of Jewish people who accept both the Old and New Testaments as valid. For such Jews, the long-expected Messiah has come. These Messianic Jews are experiencing a personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Historically, whenever a Jew accepted the New Testament, he was rejected by his own family and friends as a turncoat and traitor. He was severed from his people and considered a Gentile. Conversely, the Christian church accepted the new believer and told him in subtle ways he was no longer Jewish. He was accepted as a member of the church and the issue seemed clear-cut from the viewpoint of both Jewish and Christian institutions.

Judaism verse Christianity

Although both groups saw these philosophies as distinctly different, the issues were more difficult for the individuals involved, or for their families. There was little reason for the families to investigate the precepts on which this change of heart was based. The personal trauma usually was so severe, the stigma so great, the new believer was glad for the refuge of his new church rather than suffer continual rebuke from his former synagogue and personal acquaintances. How comfortable for everyone concerned except the new Jewish believer! The rebuke he was to suffer usually included disdain from his family and friends and, in some cases, he was written off with a funeral service.

For nearly 2,000 years, the Christian church has not fulfilled its mission to bring the good news of the coming of the Messiah to the world’s Jewish population. The time for change has come.

A tenet of Messianic Judaism asserts that when a Jew accepts a Jewish Messiah, born in a Jewish land, who was foretold by Jewish prophets in the Jewish Scriptures, such a Jew does not become a Gentile. In fact, he becomes a completed Jew—a Jew who believes Jesus is the Messiah. This is because he not only has the promise of a Messiah, he actually knows Him. Where ritual and tradition previously were obligatory, they now take on a higher meaning. They are seen as the foreshadowing of God’s overall plan. Such traditions now give a Jew a sense of purpose and a link with his cultural past.

Messianic Judaism is not a new cult seeking to separate itself from the body of believers in the Messiah. It is a way of reconciling belief in the Messiah while continuing to be a Jew. This is important when attempting to explain about the Messiah to traditional Jews. Who else can better be a Jew to Jews?

By becoming better Jews, by being interested in Hebrew Scriptures and the State of Israel, traditional Judaism no longer can justify the claim that acceptance of the New Testament is an attempt by other Jews to assimilate. Also, by speaking in a united voice, the full chorus of such transformed lives can be heard. This adds credibility to Jewish believers in the New Covenant and checks efforts to write them off as a few misguided fanatics…

…There is nothing in the Scriptures that requires Jews to stop being Jews when they accept the Messiah. As a matter of fact, the Scriptures strongly support the concept that Jews remain Jews, after they come to know their Lord personally. Early followers of the Messiah continued going to synagogues and celebrating festivals as they always had done. Saul of Tarsus, after changing his name to Paul, spoke of himself as a Jew. He did not refer to himself as a former Jew, and he underwent the purification required by festival procedures.

Moreover, Paul instructed Timothy to be circumcised to affirm his Judaism. Any true believer in the Lord realizes that outward forms of expression are secondary to obtaining an inner peace in this life and eternal rest in the hereafter. This true peace is available to anyone who openly looks at the truth.

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