The Cantor Comment: Did the Jews Really Reject Jesus?

by | Feb 15, 2013 | Israel & Jewish Roots

Many assume that the Jewish rejection of Yeshua was universal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The first congregation was exclusively Jewish, as it was birthed in Jewish Jerusalem. The first heralds of the message of salvation by faith in Yeshua were all Jewish. And when Shaul (Paul) returns to Jerusalem he finds, nearly 30 years since the Shavuot (Pentecost) outpouring, the revival is still roaring. 

Tens of Thousands of Messianic Jews
Shaul returns to Jerusalem in 57 or 58 CE to meet the Jewish apostles. The gospel has gone all over the known world. He meets with Jacob (the artist mistakenly know as James), the brother of Yeshua and the main leader of the Jerusalem community. Jacob and the elders give Shaul a great report concerning the work of the Gospel in Jerusalem.

Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law.” (Acts 21:20, NIV)

There are two eye-openers here and a mistranslation. First, they report to Shaul that the revival is continuing in power and bearing much fruit. However, it is even better than what you are reading because the Greek word translated thousands is myriads. The English translation of this word is myriads. One myriad is ten thousand. Myriads, plural, are tens of thousands.

Dr. Stern’s translation of this verse is more accurate:

“They also said to him, ‘You see, brother, how many tens of thousands of believers there are among the Judeans, and they are all zealots for the Torah.’” (Acts 20:21, JNT)

Zealots for the Torah
Not only does Dr. Stern’s translation bring out the fact that tens of thousands of Jews or Judeans (Jews who lived in the areas surrounding Jerusalem) had embraced Yeshua, but it suggests something that would have sent shockwaves throughout the Middle Ages during the Crusades and Inquisitions! “They (the tens of thousands of Jewish believers) are zealots for the Torah!”

For those who believe that Yeshua came to start a new religion apart from Judaism, this is dumbfounding. Jacob is not reporting this to Shaul as a problem, but as something good. In Yeshua, the Law had meaning. Paul himself says of the Torah in Romans:

“So then, the Torah is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good …We know that the Torah is spiritual…” (Rom. 7:12 and 14, NIV)

These were Jewish believers on fire for God and zealous for the Torah. Now keep in mind, when people today think of the Torah, they often conjure up images of black hats, long black coats and endless, tedious ritual. Most of modern-day Judaism is not following the Torah but traditions built upon the Torah and a supposedly secret Oral Law that Moses was also given on Sinai.

Forsaking Jewish Calling Equaled False Teaching
To further illustrate this point, take a look at what Jacob and the other leaders were concerned about:

“(The Jewish believers) have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.” (Acts 21:21-24)

The Jewish believers were concerned that Shaul was teaching a heresy, that Jews who embrace Yeshua are no longer called to live in accordance with the Torah. Furthermore it confirms that Shaul himself was “living in obedience to the law.”

Amazingly the very idea that caused deep concern among the apostles (that a Jewish believer would forsake his Jewish calling) eventually became Church policy in the Middle Ages. At that time, not only were Jews who came to faith not encouraged to continue to live as Jews, they were forbidden to do so! Acts records that Shaul, Jacob and the other apostles affirmed that it is wrong to teach Jewish believers to forsake Jewish life and calling, but the Church of the Middle Ages made it doctrine!

Calling, Not Justification
To be clear, they continued to live as Jews as a matter of calling (see Rom. 11:29), not in order to gain salvation: “Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because ‘the righteous will live by faith.’” (Gal. 3:11)

Here in Acts 21 they gave Paul a plan in order that it would be clear to everyone that “you yourself are living in obedience to the Torah.” Paul, nobody’s pushover, went along with the plan to prove what is true, that he, while not under the condemnation of the Law, desired to live according to God’s pattern for Israel.

The point is this: Not only was there a massive revival in Jerusalem with signs, wonders and miracles, but these Jews continued to live as Jews. If you had walked up to John, Jacob, Peter, or any other of the leaders of the Jerusalem revival and said, “Praise God. How does it feel to be free of the Torah and Judaism and to be a Christian?”—they would not have known what you were talking about. All they understood was that they had found the Jewish Messiah. What could be more Jewish than that? Then they may have asked, “What is a Christian?” as they referred to themselves as believers.

May revival return to Israel until “…all Israel is saved” (see Rom. 11:26).

The Oral Law, or Oral Tradition, is believed to have accompanied the written Torah that Moses received on Sinai. The Oral Law was supposedly given in order to know how to live out the written Torah. It is believed that Moses passed this down to Joshua and so forth and so on. However, there couldn’t have been an Oral Law because in the time of King Josiah, they had lost the written Law and didn’t even know what Passover was, much less an Oral Tradition. When the Book of the Law was recovered, they had to start from scratch. If there ever had been an Oral Tradition, it had long been gone.

Strangely, the Oral Law has now been written down in the Mishna and Talmud. It is probable that the religious Jews in the time of Yeshua did not actually believe that the Oral Law came from Sinai, as it was merely referred to as ‘The Traditions of the Elders.’ Yeshua Himself rebuked the Pharisees for putting these traditions above the Word of God. (see Mark 7:9)

Furthermore, concerning the idea of an Oral Law, we find in Exodus 19:8 that “When Moses went and told the people all the LORD’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, ‘Everything the LORD has said we will do.’”

“Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said” (Ex. 24:24). This passage says that God shared all his laws and Moses wrote them down. There was no secret Oral Tradition. The children of Israel were told to obey all that was written. (see Deut. 30:10, 31:9, 24, 26, and Josh. 1:8)

Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic Ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Ron also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish Roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, will be released on April 16th. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Israel Prophecy: The Enemy is Stirring an Unimaginable Conflict

Israel Prophecy: The Enemy is Stirring an Unimaginable Conflict

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJFFqAgykmU A cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants took effect late Sunday in a bid to end nearly three days of violence that killed dozens of Palestinians and disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis,...

Why Partial Obedience to God is Disobedience

Why Partial Obedience to God is Disobedience

My husband had a saying for our children growing up. “Partial obedience is disobedience.” He wanted them to understand that doing half the plan would not get them the full reward. Another reminder we used to tell our kids was, “Don’t think about it, don’t hesitate,...

Kingdom Economics: Why is America Declining Spiritually So Quickly?

Kingdom Economics: Why is America Declining Spiritually So Quickly?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a surprisingly strong July Employment Report.  Total nonfarm employment was 528K (398K previously, 250K expected).  Private nonfarm employment was 471K (404K previously, 230K expected). The headline unemployment rate dropped to...

Can You Discern Spiritual Wind?

Can You Discern Spiritual Wind?

The wind is a funny thing. We do not know where it comes from nor where it goes. We cannot see it, but we can see and feel its effects. Wind can be gentle and refreshing, cold or hot, strong, and dangerous, and everything in between. When the wind blows, we must...

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

It is interesting that, as a Messianic rabbi the question I am asked most often by Christians is if I believe that they as Christians have to celebrate, or observe, the biblical Holy Days. They are usually asking about those days listed in Leviticus 23: Shabbat, Yom...

How the Holy Spirit Is Preparing America

How the Holy Spirit Is Preparing America

As the crackdown against Christianity in America grows, it is a cycle believers have seen before. While no one celebrates their religious freedom coming under attack, God has used this persecution to great effect throughout history. Over the centuries, there have been...

Dealing Effectively with the Dynamics of Change

Dealing Effectively with the Dynamics of Change

Change can be challenging. Some people look forward to change and embrace it. Some people dread change and try to avoid it. Since change is inevitable, so here are some of the dynamics surrounding change and the specific strategies to deal with change more...

RECENT ARTICLES

God’s Holy Interruption Is Coming Soon

This past weekend I preached at The Roads Church, a charismatic congregation located in the tiny town of Norris City, Illinois. Located amid cornfields, the population is only 1,325, but almost that...
The Biblical Way to Rise Above Mediocre Expectations

The Biblical Way to Rise Above Mediocre Expectations

We spend a lot of life figuring out if we “measure up,” a phrase someone coined in the mid-1800s. Even in childhood, we begin comparing ourselves with siblings and kids at school, and it never seems to stop. The problem goes back to Cain and Abel, doesn’t it? Most of...

A Better Way to Witness to Others for Christ

A Better Way to Witness to Others for Christ

”Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (Rom. 2:4). Looking retrospectively at my past as an atheist, I can see where God...

Why Does God Want Us to Speak with Tongues?

Why Does God Want Us to Speak with Tongues?

Why speak with tongues? There are many reasons for speaking in a spiritual language. Primarily, though, the Scriptures require it. The apostle Paul commanded us, saying, “Pray in the Spirit always” (Eph. 6:18). Jude commanded it in verse 20, saying, “Pray in the Holy...

Pin It on Pinterest

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]