The Jew and the Christian according to the New Testament

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The Jew and the Christian according to the New Testament

Post  hannielebed on Mon 06 Jun 2011, 8:26 pm

The New Testament paints a complicated picture of the relationship between the Jew and the Christian. It would be an injustice to the New Testament to reduce it down to antisemitism or antagonism. It would also be an injustice to the New Testament to reduce it down to nothing more than a movement or fashion trend within Judaism. Although I am not a scholar in Judaism, I have studied enough to give you an overall picture of what the New Testament actually says about Judaism and the relationship that Christians and Jews should have toward each other.

On the one hand, the New Testament teaches Christians to respect the Jews and to accept the Jewish scripture (not the corrupted mistranslations of the Jewish scripture). We can accept the King James, the New American Standard, and certain other translations because the errors of translation are few and minor but we should give preference to the original Hebrew words and understanding if we have the opportunity to learn such.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:21-24 (emphasis added)

Salvation is through the Jews. God intended to save men from all peoples and nations but he chose the Israelites to be the people he did his work through. The Bible refers to Christians as grafted into Israel, as adopted sons of Abraham. Why would we be grafted into Israel if the New Testament rejected Israel? Why would we be adopted sons of Abraham if the New Testament rejected Abraham.

Furthermore, the New Testament mourns the loss of those Jewish brothers who by lack of faith, lost their salvation to make room for us Christians. This was not something God did in anger or hatred and therefore God would have us also mourn instead of hate. We are to mourn as if our brothers had died because that is the way the New Testament refers to the lost Jews.

I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Romans 11:1-2

if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? Romans 11:14-15

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? Romans 11:17-24

From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; Romans 11:28

The New Testament acknowledges the Jews as the chosen people of God. All the nations will come to bow (Isaiah 60). Not only does the New Testament acknowledge the Jews, Israel, and Jerusalem, it acknowledges the Jewish scripture and laws. There are multiple references to the Jewish scripture.

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. Matthew 5:17

How can the New Testament reject Judaism when Jesus was a Jew, nearly every single person mentioned in the Bible was a Jew, each of the disciples and Paul were Jews, and as far as we can tell, every author of the Bible was a Jew.

On the other hand, the New Testament frequently speaks against legalism including against Jewish legalism. And why should we be surprised at this when the Jewish scripture also speaks against legalism. I'll have to defer to my Jewish friends on this one. Do 1 Samuel 15:22, Jeremiah 44:23, Lamentations 2:6, and Isaiah 1 speak against legalism as I suspect they do?

Jesus spoke many harsh words against the Jewish legalists and Paul wrote many harsh words in his letters against the Jewish legalists. These were not written against the Jewish people but were written against the pride and arrogance that prompted people to add burdens that did not come from God.

I did not send these prophets, But they ran. I did not speak to them, But they prophesied. Jeremiah 23:21

Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who steal My words from each other. Jeremiah 23:30

They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. Matthew 23:4

You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Matthew 23:24

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Matthew 23:13

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Matthew 23:27

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’” Matthew 23:37-39

So we can see that the New Testament does not advocate a whole hearted acceptance of everything Jewish. The New Testament accepts the Jewish people and the Jewish scripture but harshly rejects the Jewish legalism, not because the law of God is rejected, but because the Jews added to the law what did not come from God.

God did not call everyone the same. Even among the Jews, not everyone is called to be a priest. Some were called to be Nazirites, or judges, or prophets, or kings. Even among the priests, some were called to be priestly musicians, some were called to handle the sacrifices, and some were designated as High Priests. The laws differed with the different callings and would you really want to live by the strict laws of the High Priests or the Nazirites if you were not called to that role? So why should the Christians be expected to live according to the calling of the Jews. Christians have a different calling and role and among Christians, there are different callings. Some are called to be apostles, or prophets, or evangelists, or pastors, or teachers. Some Jews and Christians were called to navigate the world of business. Others were called to navigate the world of academics. Others were called to navigate the world of arts and crafts.

But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 1 Corinthians 12:18

I am familiar with the Brin Noach, the covenant of Noah. I'm not sure how accurately that covenant applies to Christians but the principle applies that Christians don't have to follow the stricter rules of the Jews to be accepted by the Jews. Christians have to follow rules because the law of God applies to all but the law applied to the Christian and the Jew is different because the role of the Christian and the Jew is different. We as Christians should welcome our fellow Messianic Jews and Jews that share in the faith as fellow members of the body of Christ who have a different role, are a different part but are of the same body. There should not be any attempt to convert Christians into Jews. This is what Galatians was speaking against, the Judaizers that tried to change Christians into Jews. Christians have a different calling and different requirements from the Jew. But Christians should accept that, despite the difference in calling and requirement, those Christians and Jews who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are members of one body.

There should be a difference between the relationship of Christians and Jews compared to the relationship of Muslims and Jews.

The Muslims claim to worship the same God as the Jews, the God of Abraham. But they declare themselves to be the chosen people instead of the Jews. They call the Jews and the Christians the corruptors of the holy books. And they would treat both Christians and Jews as second class citizens even if they didn't resort to violence.

Although there have been false Christians who have committed acts of violence against the Jew, these were people who went against what the New Testament teaches. For the New Testament teaches us that the Jews are the chosen people. The New Testament teaches that Jews are the preservers of the holy books. And the New Testament teaches that Jews are to be honored like brothers. They are brothers who may have gone astray but are we Christians any better?

If Jews and Christians were true to Judaism and Christianity, than Jews and Christians ought to get along better than just about any other religious groups. Different calling, different requirements, but the same God and the same family or body of our Lord Jesus Christ (or Yeshua).

hannielebed
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