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Paul, Jesus and "Jewishness"?

Reformed Eve is a daughter of God, which makes her royalty - no matter what the world throws at her. She straightens her crown quite often.

Paul, Jesus, and Jewishness

Acts continue where Luke left off. Acts begin in the first or second century, perhaps in 62 AD, while Paul was in Rome, in prison.[1] The setting of the first part of Acts is in Jerusalem. Acts serve as the Church’s history, and it assists one in understanding the importance of the Church’s past with modern-day Christianity. There was a general rejection toward the apostles at this time. A special event is known as Pentecost occurred, and the Holy Spirit descended onto the Apostles.[2] The Holy Spirit assisted the Apostles in speaking other languages and in performing miracles. A few Jews did decide to convert, and one of these Jews was Paul. He can spread the word of God to other Gentiles in the Roman realm.

Acts 22:3 – Rabbi Gamaliel (a well-known Rabbi) was the teacher of Paul. This is a sample of proof for Acts and the Jewish aspect, as rabbis are Jewish scholars and teachers.[3]

Acts 1:8 – “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost comes upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” It can be assumed that Jerusalem/Judea refers to Jews and Samaria to the Samaritans. The last part may mean Gentiles.[4]

Acts 2:17, 21 “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh…And it shall be that whoever calls on the name o the Lord shall be saved."[5]

Luke wanted to show why the Word of God stopped being exclusive to Jews. The Gentiles began to accept the Word of God, but the Jews started to reject the foundation of its core. Jews were no longer the only people of God – Gentiles became part of that equation, too. Luke wanted to show that the death of Jesus, and its significant impact, affected the entire world, not just the Jews. He wanted to emphasize that Christians, to fulfill the Scripture.

Perhaps the Jews were waiting for a warrior king, much like David was, and they wanted this warrior king to liberate them from the bondage they were under regarding Roman rule. Since the Messiah is not discussed in the Torah, Jews may not feel that they should be believed in. According to Torah teachings, Isreal should be the center of the world government. Isreal's restoration as a united kingdom should be under David, including parts of Syria and Jordan. The Temple is to be rebuilt, with Jerusalem being the undisputed capital, and the Jewish law is to be restored. It appears that most Jewish people are taught that Jesus is only meant for Gentiles. Beliving in Jesus may make a Jew a social pariah and lower their status in their community. Over the years, Jewish people have been at the center of violence. Jews were massacred in Mainz in the year 1096. In 1492, Jewish people were forced, by the sword, to turn to Christianity. Even Reformer Martin Luther mentioned that the Jews needed to have their synagogues met with fire. And, of course, there was the holocaust. It seems that Christianity, over the years, has included murder, genocide, and general violence. It's important to remember that in the past, Christianity was mostly Roman Catholic, and Roman Catholic does not exactly represent the true heart of Christianity, which is a relationship with Christ instead of the hyper-focus on religion.

The book of Acts is a transition from Israel and the Old Testament to humanity and the church. I imagine, in this sense, that the Book of Acts serves as a bridge between the two, which is a special thought that I have not considered before. It's important that you highlighted the different kinds of Jews that existed and existed, such as the Abrahamic Jews. I could imagine the rage that those listening to Rabbi Paul felt when they heard things that may have been considered blasphemous to them. I understand more now - there were many caught between the OT Kingdom and the church, as you stated. Interestingly, Judaism does not consider the suffering servant from Isaiah 53 to be the Messianic prophesy. They may believe that instead of Jesus, this passage talks about the Israel nation in bondage. Therefore, instead of understanding that Jesus is the person in Isaiah 52-53, they may believe it's representative of a certain individual.

Maybe they feel that the true Jesus would have already completely liberated the Jewish people while bringing the world peace. Christians see Jesus as the revelation of God to man. Christians read the prophets through the gospel, as well as the Torah. However, perhaps Jews do the opposite. The event where God appeared to man was during the Exodus on Mount Sinai. He presented the Torah. Therefore, to Jews, Torah is the center of interpretation since it's God's direct revelation. Deuteronomy 13 mentions that one can not follow miracle workers and prophets proclaiming that they are strange gods. Jesus taught the trinity, and following Deuteronomy 6:4, this was against their Torah understanding.

To Jews, Jesus can only claim the title of Messiah after he performs his promised work, and being crucified without accomplishing any of the promises puts Jesus out of the running for most Jews. It's sad how there is so much contemplation and even hatred when it comes to either segment. I suppose it's because there is a lot of ignorance and modern cherry-picking Christianity regarding the scriptures. Many people, young and older, decide to negate the Old Testament altogether. Perhaps they feel it's boring, not interesting, or not relevant. Because we are under the new law after Jesus was resurrected, they feel that the Torah or the old Moses laws are not important. They truly are! Why else would Luke, a respected physician, talk about the Jewishness of the church? Like you mentioned, Jesus was Jewish! I agree that Luke wrote Acts to highlight the role of the Holy Spirit in the early church.

Ultimately, Jesus was Jewish. His ancestry is traced back to that of David’s line. (Matthew 1:6)[6] While Jesus had many Gentile followers, many of His followers were Jewish, too. If Judaism never existed, Christianity would not have been able to take root. Understanding the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is highly dependent on understanding the older Jewish culture and how it affected God's relationship with his people. Due to Roman influence, Constantine started to separate a new Christian mindset from the Jewish people's culture.[7] Unfortunately, this caused a very great chasm to occur. The new Christian movement started to cast their Jewish brothers and sisters aside because the Jewish decide to continue living the more ancient ways, as Jesus lived with his disciples. This colossal error has created an effect where many people are unaware of Israel’s true previous importance and current impact. Romans 11:25 lays this out perfectly: “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”[8]

Sadly, this separation of Jewish people and Christ caused terrible atrocities to occur in the name of Christianism vs. Jews. There is a strange thought that mentions that Jews killed Christ, but according to John 19:23, Roman soldiers promoted and carried out the death of Jesus.[9] While Jewish people did bring Christ to Pontius Pilate, Romans 3:23 reminds us that everyone has sinned, and everyone was responsible for His death.[10] It is dangerous to turn a blind eye to the Old Testament and Israel's history. This creates anti-Semitic views, fuels violence, and gives way to unnecessary discord and ignorance.

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[1] J Murphy-O'Connor, Paul: A Critical Life (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).

[2] J Dwight Pentecost, New Wine: A Study of Transition in the Book of Acts (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 2010).

[3] Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments: King James Version. (New York: American Bible Society, 2010).

[4] Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments: King James Version. (2010).

[5] Holy Bible (2010).

[6] Holy Bible (2010).

[7] Kenneth E Bailey, Poet & Peasant; And, Through Peasant Eyes: A Literary-Cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1983).

[8] Holy Bible (2010).

[9] Holy Bible (2010).

[10] Holy Bible (2010).

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Reformed Eve


Mark Richardson from Utah on March 13, 2021:

Very informative. Acts is one of my favorite books in the NT

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