Salvation From Both a Jewish and Christian Perspective- Part 4

Up to this point, we have reviewed what salvation means and that it comes from faith in a Messiah. There are certain expectations (based on biblical prophecy) regarding what the Messiah will do, which we have examined from both a Jewish and Christian perspective. In doing so, we have seen a vast difference in what each religion expects, even though this is supposed to be the same Messiah. In this lesson, the fourth part of our series, we will look at how these different viewpoints and beliefs developed over the millennia since Yeshua (Jesus) walked the earth.

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When Yeshua was with his Disciples, traveling and teaching in the Synagogues and towns throughout Judea, he was preaching from the Tanakh (the “Jewish” Bible) because that was the only “Word of God” that existed. After he was resurrected and returned to heaven, the Disciples continued his teachings. Eventually, they died out and Shaul (Paul) was one of the last of the (divinely appointed) Apostles who taught, and he went mainly to the Gentiles, although he always taught in the Synagogues first.

Back then there were, as there always have been, many more Gentiles than Jews, and once the Jewish population had been separated into those that accepted Yeshua and those that didn’t. It is very important to know that both groups were still practicing Judaism- there was no “conversion” event, but what started to happen is that the newer additions to this movement would be mainly composed of Gentiles. As these formerly pagan worshipers accepted Yeshua as their Messiah, they were the ones converting- to Judaism! There were no other religions around- you were either a Roman pagan worshiper or a Jewish God worshiper, and the Jewish ones were obeying what is written in the Torah.

With the advent of more and more Gentiles being added to this group of Messianic Jews, and because this conversion was such a paradigm shift in lifestyle, the Messianic leadership (Elders) in Jerusalem decided to make it easier for them. In Acts 15:20, by a suggestion from Yacov (James, the brother of Yeshua) it was determined that Gentiles converting to Judaism through Messiah Yeshua immediately had to change their lifestyle in this way:

1). no fornication;

2). no eating of blood;

3). no eating of anything strangled to death; and

4). not eating anything that had been sacrificed or devoted to an idol.

The important thing to note is that these were not the only requirements, they were only IMMEDIATE changes that had to be made. James’s suggestion ended with the statement that these new converts would be hearing the laws of Moses in the synagogues every Shabbat.  That clearly indicates James expected that eventually these converts would learn and be obedient to all of the Mosaic Law, completing their conversion to Judaism.

In other words, there was never to be any difference between how Jews rejecting Messiah and Jews and Gentiles accepting Messiah would worship God.

The practice of Judaism was allowed in Judea because Rome had originally been invited into the land to help the Jewish people get rid of the Seleucid kings. Because the religion was well established and an integral part of the society and government, Rome allowed the people to continue to practice it. However, by the time Yeshua arrived, the Jewish population wanted (as discussed earlier) their Messiah to free them from Roman rule. When this expectation went unmet, they began to revolt themselves. This was not viewed favorably by Rome, and there was the beginning of political persecution by Rome against the Jewish people. The first Jewish-Roman War (70 CE) resulted in the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and the depopulation of the Jewish people (and renaming of Judea to Palestine by the Romans) was the result of the Bar Kochba revolt of 132-135 CE.

BTW– The Western Wall was not a part of Solomon’s temple- it was the remaining section of the wall built by Herod which surrounded the court of the original Temple.

As the population of “Believers” continued to grow, there were many more Gentiles joining than Jews, and eventually (as the original Apostles died out and were replaced) the leadership of this movement was populated by Gentiles and through wrongful interpretations and desire to separate from the Jewish population (which was having its own problems with Rome) led to a separation from Judaism of this new movement being called Christianity.

Let’s go back in history for a moment: when the 9 1/2 tribes of Israel living in the land God promised were split under Jeroboam into the Northern and Southern tribes (Shomron, also called Israel in the north and Judea in the south), the split was as much spiritual as it was political. In the north, idol worship took over and they rejected the Torah and the God of their fathers to worship the many Semitic gods of the surrounding peoples. This was as much a political move as a religious one; by doing this, Jeroboam ensured that his people would not be enticed to return to the southern kingdom.

Now we return to the end of the first century and see the Christian leadership following the example of Jeroboam. By separating themselves from the Jewish population, spiritually, they could try to avoid the Roman persecution by showing they were not Jews. This started with Ignatius of Antioch, one of the early “church” leaders. In 110 CE he changed the Sabbath day to Sunday.

Later, under the rulership of Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicene (third century), the doctrine of modern day Christianity was formed which completed the total separation of Jews and Christians.

Some examples of the Christian doctrine are the changing of the Sabbath day, the ideology of the Trinity, the festivals of Christmas and Easter, and the idea that salvation was available universally and not centered on Jerusalem. These changes, as well as many others, resulted in the total separation between Jews and Christians, which were now totally different religions. Yeshua was no longer a Jewish Messiah- he was now the Christian Savior.

For over two thousand years, between Jews and Christians, there has been animosity, bigotry, and ignorance. During these times the doctrine of the “Church” has been progressively hateful and derogatory towards the Jewish people. Ignatius, who already changed the Sabbath day, also declared (circa 110 AD) that where there is Christianity there cannot be Judaism. In or around 200 CE, Origin declared that because the Jewish people rejected Jesus Christ, it is right that their nation was destroyed and that God now offered his joy to the Christians; this is the beginning of Replacement Theology. And we get still more from Ignatius, who also said that living in accordance with Jewish law means that one has not really received Grace. This is still being taught today, which I can personally confirm as I have (more than once) been told that if I do all that “Jewish” stuff I am still “under the law” and not really saved.

When it comes to separating Christians from Jews and fostering hatred and fear, let’s not forget to mention the Crusades and the Inquisition, which (as we learned earlier) led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Jews by Christians who believed they were doing God’s work.  Spain, the progenitor of the Inquisition, was the world power in the 15th Century when Queen Isabella exiled all Jews from Spain. However, by the end of the 18th Century Spain was not even considered a viable threat, and has never recovered her position as a world power (didn’t God tell Abraham that those who curse him will be cursed?)

As we have already learned, Nazi Germany also thought they were doing God’s work- their belt buckles had “Gott mit uns” engraved on them (God is with us), and from the Jewish perspective, they were no different than Christians.

Lastly, Replacement Theology is a rampant right-wing Christian movement that says, essentially, because the Jews rejected Christ God has rejected the Jews and Born-Again Christians are now God’s true Chosen people, the “real Jews! Of course, the Bible is totally against this, as we can see in the following verses:

Matthew 19:28- Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jeremiah 30:11-I am with you and will save you,’ declares the LORD. ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. 

Isaiah 49:16- Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the son of her womb? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are ever before Me.

Jeremiah 30:31-At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.

In the letter to the Romans, Chapters 9 through 11 Shaul confirms the Jewish people will always be God’s chosen and will one day be grafted back onto the tree of Salvation. He warns the Gentiles not to become proud, which (apparently) they never paid attention to.

One last point regarding Replacement Theology: if they are truly God’s chosen people and the “real” Jews, then why didn’t they speak up during the Holocaust?

This ends lesson 4 of our series. In our next lesson, we will discuss methods we can use to try to reconcile the differences between the Jewish and Christian Messiah.

 

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Thank you for being here and please don’t hesitate to make comments- all I ask is that you be nice.

L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Why Christianity Has Ignored the Torah

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Today I am doing pretty much an opinion piece but the historical references are accurate.

I have two theories about why Christianity, in general, has ignored the Torah. In truth, most of the Tanakh is ignored, but the Torah, which has been misidentified as “the Law”, is taught to have been done away with by Yeshua’s sacrifice. As such, Christianity has been focused on love and forgiveness, and has marketed salvation through the Blood of Christ as a “Come as you are” party, after which you can “stay as you are.”  

First, we must remember that in First Century Jerusalem there were two religions: Judaism and Roman paganism. When a Gentile repented of their pagan ways and accepted Yeshua as their Messiah, they were converting to Judaism- there was nothing else. When a Jew accepted that Yeshua was the Messiah, he didn’t convert to anything because Yeshua was (and still is) Jewish and taught from the Tanakh, which included the Torah. So, Jews were still Jews and Gentiles were converting to Judaism.

The Elders in Jerusalem gave the new Gentile Believers some time to wean their way (so to speak) off of paganism and into this very different lifestyle by only having 4 absolutely “You can’t do this anymore” items on the list of immediate changes they must make (see Acts 15:19-21.) Soon, there were more Gentiles accepting Yeshua than Jews, and the distance between a Jewish lifestyle and the changes Gentiles had to make was growing further and further apart.

To add to the problem, Rome was persecuting the Jewish population because they were rebelling against Roman rule. This was not a religious persecution, mind you- it was a political one. To the converting Gentiles, though, it didn’t matter- the closer they were associated with Jews, the more under Roman persecution they came. Let’s not forget that the power elite in Judea also was persecuting this new sect of Judaism(it isn’t Christianity yet) because the teachings of Yeshua eroded the power base of the Pharisees, which was a performance-based salvation through which they could control the people by use of traditions they created.

By the end of the 1st Century leading into the 2nd Century, the majority of Believers were Gentiles who changed the rules of worship. The Sabbath was changed to Sunday and Ignatius of Antioch proclaimed Judaism and (now called) Christianity were unable to exist together. At this time we see most of the commandments in the Torah being ignored and the (mostly) Gentile Believers no longer had anything to do with Judaism.

NOTE: this back-fired on the Christians because to the Roman government, what was even worse than rebelling was forming a new religion. The Jewish persecution stopped sometime around the time of the first Jewish-Rome wars (60-90 C.E.)  when Rome had killed thousands of Jews and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. The next devastation of the Jewish population was about 60 years later during the Bar Kochba Rebellion, and by then Christians only had to worry about Rome.

The second reason, in my opinion, that Christianity ignored the Torah is because of a terrible misunderstanding of the “Great Commission”, which is considered a commandment by Yeshua to go out and make disciples of everyone in the world. This is found in Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:19.

I call it a terrible misinterpretation because it has been used as the justification for slaughtering thousands upon thousands of Jews and Muslims over the centuries (the Crusades and the Inquisition are the best-known means of performing what can only be called a “religious genocide”, but Nazi Germany and the Russian Pogroms are an indirect result of this.) The idea of going throughout the world and spreading the Good News was meant to be a benevolent ministry, not a military incursion where people are forced to convert or die. Any condemnation for rejecting God and/or Yeshua was to be administered by God, not people.

At some point, people realized that instead of the threat of death, to make the “Great Commission” successful market it as a “Once saved, always saved” program, and to sell the idea that “God loves you just as you are, ask forgiveness in his name and go to heaven.” Now that is an easy sell!

“Wow! All I have to do is proclaim Jesus is the Messiah, I am sorry I have sinned, please forgive me in Jesus’s name, Amen…and that’s all? Really? Just repeat the “Sinner’s Prayer” and I will be guaranteed a place in heaven forever? Where do I sign?”

See what I mean? Now, if I came to you and said you need to repent, accept Yeshua as your Messiah and follow the 613 commandments in the Torah, you might want to think about it for a while. Like, maybe, for the rest of your life think about it! It’s not an easy thing to just jump into a completely different lifestyle. There is a Shabbat where you aren’t supposed to buy or sell anything, you aren’t allowed to work on many festival days during the year, and you can’t eat any pork or shellfish. You can’t fornicate, you can’t lie, and you have to do this for the rest of your life! In fact, even after you have repented, if you return to your old ways of sin you will lose the salvation that you were given.

See what I mean? If I am trying to convert people from a gluttonous, sexually free and hedonistic religion to one of moderation, sexual purity and servitude to others, I will not be very successful. However, if I say just proclaim faith in Jesus, ask forgiveness and you are set for eternity, I will get many more people to join the club.

Following the Torah is being made holy, which means you are separated from the world and that results in the world not accepting you. People, human beings, want to be accepted. We are a social animal, and so the true religion that God gave to the Jewish people to bring to the world is not going to be a popular choice. Christianity, especially after Constantine, was and still is being sold as something very simple to change to.

Throughout history, Jews have not encouraged anyone to convert to Judaism- but Christianity is all about converting, and the easier it is to convert without really changing your current lifestyle, the more converts you will get.

So there you have it! Christianity has rejected the Torah because:

  1. they didn’t want to be part of the persecution of Jews by Rome; and more recently
  2. it makes it easier to get converts.

Let me again state that these theories are my own ideas. I expect that most Christians raised and accepting typical Christian dogma will vehemently disagree with me, and most Messianic Jews and Hebrew Roots Christians will agree with me, or at least accept that it is possible things happened this way.

 

What Jews and Christians Agree on That is Wrong for Both

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How many of you have heard someone say “Jews have the Torah and Christians have the Blood of Christ” when talking about the commandments in the Torah and who is supposed to obey them? I know I have, and the general understanding is that Jews and Christians are separated by this idea that Jews need to obey the Torah but Christians don’t because Jesus died for their sins.

Both sides seem to agree to this: Jews say the New Covenant is only for Christians and Christians say the Old Covenant is only for Jews.

Jews use only the Tanakh and Christians reference the Tanakh, sometimes, but generally stay only within the New Covenant. In fact, I believe the vast majority of Christians who have been taught from the Gospels and the Epistles don’t even realize that the writers of those books and letters are all quoting from the Tanakh.

So if both Jews and Christians feel “their” Bible is only for them, why is this wrong?

Well, I’ll tell you why- because the Torah is for everyone and Yeshua died for everyone. Yeshua taught the Torah and the Apostles taught the Torah: that was the only “Bible” around. The New Covenant letters and Gospels were being written as early as the middle of the First Century but didn’t come together until around 367 C.E., nearly three centuries later.

What has happened is that the “grafted in” are trying to take over the tree, and the tree is letting them!

The Old and New Covenants are one Bible, one story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It starts with the creation of everything, then God chooses a man (Abraham) to be the father of a nation dedicated to serving God; later, God tells that nation they are to be a nation of priests to the world (Exodus 19:6) and he gives them the Torah, his User Manual (if you will) on how they should live their lives. As priests, of course, they are not only to live their lives in accordance with the Torah but they are to teach the rest of the world how to do that, as well. The story continues as we read how the people of God fail to perform their priestly duties, and after the nation suffers a civil war leaving two nations, Shomron in the North and Judah in the South, their constant sinning forces God to disperse them throughout the world. However, that isn’t the end of the story.

There has, from the beginning, been the promise of a Messiah to come and reconcile the chosen people to God, and then all the world will worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in accordance to God’s commandments (Torah) when God regathers his people into their land, Israel. The promise of a Messiah comes to fruition in the New Covenant, which is the continuation of the Old Covenant. It starts some 400 years or so after the last entries in the Tanakh and it is Yeshua who is the Messiah. As prophesied, he is not accepted by the masses although he was supernaturally born and portrayed God’s power throughout his ministry. The prophecy that all people will come to worship God begins (properly) with the Messianic Jews (early followers of Yeshua) adding to their numbers from the Gentiles who were converting to Judaism. Despite what has been taught, first century Jews that followed Yeshua never converted to Christianity because Yeshua was, is and always will be a Jew teaching the Torah. As his ministry grew in strength and numbers more and more Gentiles were added as fewer and fewer Jews came to accept him as their Messiah. I suppose at some point there had to be a limit, since there were so many more Gentiles than Jews in the world then, just as it is today.

Starting around the end of the first century, the separation of Yeshua’s followers from Judaic worship to what is today Christianity begins to really “take off” and with the Council of Nicene, Christianity is a totally different religion, persecuting the Jews and re-branding Yeshua as Jesus Christ, the blue-eyed, blond-haired Teutonic image that is what people think of today.

The story ends with the regathering of the Jewish people to their homeland and the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) that we read about in Revelation. And, when all is said and done, all people will recognize and proclaim Yeshua as the Messiah and worship God on his Holy Mountain in Jerusalem (the new Jerusalem) as God told us we should, which is found (you guessed it!) in the Torah.

So, nu? What’s my point? My point is this: we need to bridge that gap that people created which God never intended to exist. We need to overcome the bigotry and hatred between Jews and Christians and realize that there is one God who does not have any religion, just laws, commandments, rules, ordinances, and regulations that tell us how we are to worship him and how we are to treat each other.

One God, one set of laws, one people under God and one Messiah for all. The separation between Jews and Christians serves only to help the enemy of God to be able to take over the world. Anyone, therefore, who promulgates that Jews and Christians should remain separated and that following the Torah is no longer valid or needed is an agent of Satan, whether or not that person realizes it.

If you are Christian, read the whole Bible and you will see there is nothing “new” in the New Covenant. If you are Jewish, rebuke the bigotry and fear that Jews have of the New Covenant. Read a Messianic version of the New Covenant (NOT the King James version, please!) and see that what Yeshua said was not in any way different from what Moses said. Yeshua taught the deeper, spiritual meaning of the Mosaic law by using a Drash to teach the Remes (look up the exegesis system called PaRDes to see what I am talking about) but never, ever taught against the Torah. He couldn’t! He was and still is, the Living Torah.

For Jews that are waiting for Messiah, you must be open to the idea that maybe, just maybe, he already came and he will be coming back. You can still wait, and I pray you accept him when he returns, or you can open your heart and mind and just simply study about Yeshua now. Remember, the Talmud talks about the Messiah as the Son of Joseph and also as the Son of David, indicating two separate Messianic occurrences.

For Christians, you must be open to hearing that the Torah is what Yeshua taught and the Canon of Modern Christianity is not what Yeshua taught but what Constantine created. You need to read the Old Covenant to really be able to understand what Yeshua was teaching and accept that following the Torah isn’t just for Jews.

Yeshua is Messiah to the world: Jews, Gentiles, Buddhist, Muslims ….everyone! God has no religion and when all is said and done, we who will survive through faith will worship God in the way he instructed his chosen nation of priests to teach us.

Who Really Made Christianity a New Religion?

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Being raised on Long Island as a Reform Jew I was always told that Jesus was a Jew who betrayed his Jewish roots and created Christianity, a totally separate religion which has historically hated and persecuted the Jewish people. Consequently, no real Jew believes in Jesus; in fact, if you believe in Jesus you can’t be a Jew anymore!

I spent 2/3 of my life believing this; fortunately, I have learned the truth about Christianity, who Jesus really was and what he really taught. And through that study and the guiding of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) I have come to accept that Yeshua (Jesus’s real name) was a Jew, still is a Jew, and taught from the Torah. He did not create a new and separate religion at all.

As I studied the New Covenant writings, especially the Epistles of Shaul (Paul) I began to understand that he did not convert to Christianity or write against the Torah and Judaism (as most Christian teachings profess), but remained a Jew and always confirmed the importance of following the Torah. The problem with reading Shaul’s writings is that one has to get into the right “mindset” to understand what Shaul was saying, as well as be trained in biblical exegesis. Shaul wrote to Gentiles that were first learning how to be Jews; there wasn’t anything else to be at that time. You were either a Jew or a Pagan. The early churches he set up weren’t churches at all; at least, not as we understand what a church is today. The first time they were called a “church” was in the early 1600’s, when King James decided to call them that, despite the fact that his bible experts disagreed.  In my opinion, the organizations that Shaul created as he preached the Gospels would be more accurately called “Kehillot“, the plural of the Hebrew word Kehillah which means “community organizations.”  So although Shaul’s preaching has been confused and misinterpreted probably ever since he wrote the first letter, he did not create Christianity as a separate religion.

I finally came to understand that the Christian Canon of today was developed mainly by Constantine at the Council of Nicene in the 3rd Century. The rules and separation of Christian worship from it’s beginnings in Judaic worship was confirmed and finalized, so to speak, by what Constantine did. Therefore, I (and many others I know) have been accusing Constantine of being the real creator of Christianity as a separate religion from Judaism.

I have been wrong.

Constantine definitely is the creator of Christian Canon that all of the modern Christian religions are based on, but he was not the first one to identify Christianity as a religion separate and unique from Judaism. It wasn’t Ignatius of Antioch, either, although he certainly did what he could to separate it (he changed the Sabbath to Sunday and also stated that one cannot have Judaism and Christianity together.) And it wasn’t first declared separate and unique by any of the other early “church” fathers.

Sherman, warm up the WABAC Machine and let’s go back before Yeshua and just after the Maccabees revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, which is the story of Hanukkah.”

 

After that last Seleucid king was defeated, there was still political upheaval in Judea and the Judeans invited the Hasmoneans to mediate, eventually leading to Roman rule over Judea. However, because the Romans were “invited” in they allowed the Jews to continue to worship in accordance to their religion. This was very unique, since almost every Roman-conquered city or province was forced to worship as Rome did. Under normal conditions, it was illegal for any Roman ruled people to have their own religion (this is important to remember.)

Now we come to the point where the power elite Judeans, who rejected Yeshua as Messiah, needed to get Pontius Pilate to convict Yeshua. So what did they say? They first accused him of blasphemy, but Pilate said that was an internal religious issue and not a legal one. They next accused him of stirring up the people and telling them not to pay taxes, making him an enemy of the Emperor. Pilate didn’t fall for that one, either. Their final accusation was that Yeshua was a King, which he admitted to being but said his kingdom was not of this world, so Pilate had no legal reason to find him guilty of treason. In truth, they couldn’t get Pilate to find Yeshua guilty of anything. They had the same problem with Shaul when they brought him before the Roman rulers of whatever province he was preaching in. But then later, the Jews in the provinces around Judea who wanted to stop the Apostles from preaching about Yeshua found the one argument they could use that got the Romans to take action: they accused the Apostles of creating a new religion! This was against Roman law. The Jewish religion was tolerated by Rome but this new “Way” was denounced as a separate religion from Judaism so Rome had to take action. By the 2nd Century, both Jews and Christians were being persecuted, but for different reasons: Jewish persecution was for political reasons (they were rebelling against Roman rule) and Christian persecution was for religious reasons (practicing a religion that wasn’t approved by Rome.)

So, who really created Christianity as a separate religion? It was the Jewish power elite of the First Century!  We created our own “Frankenstein’s Monster” which turned against us and since then caused us harm and suffering. This was a real surprise to me: imagine…it was us! Jews are the reason that Christianity has become a separate religion from its Jewish roots. Who wuddah tought it?

If the Jewish elite had only ignored the Jews and Gentiles that accepted Yeshua as Messiah, then who knows what might have happened?  But, of course, that didn’t happen and maybe it was, in the long run, for the best. After all, didn’t Shaul write to the Kihillot in Rome (Romans 11:11):

“Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.”

This shows that God’s plan of salvation for the Gentiles could only come through the Jews and eventually we will all be one in Messiah.

Now, for those of you out there who love to take a word or sentence out of context and go off in all sorts of tangential arguments that have nothing to do with the point of the message, let me address the fact that when I say “the Jews” I am not using it as a universally descriptive term but a reference to the power elite of the Judean political system at that time. And let me also say the Jews aren’t the only ones responsible: Ignatius, Constantine and nearly every Pope and Christian leader since the 2nd Century has contributed to making Christianity a separate and different religion. Christianity has become a separate and unique religion from Judaism as the result of the work of many people over many years.

My message today is that Christianity as a separate religion wasn’t proposed or initiated by Yeshua or any of his early followers- it came about as a result of the accusation from the non-Believing Jewish power elite in order to give Rome legal justification to persecute those people who accepted Yeshua as the Messiah.

So Yeshua didn’t create a new religion. Neither did the Apostles or Shaul or Constantine- the ones who first identified Christianity as a new religion were the Jews of the First Century!

WHY I THINK CHRISTMAS ISN’T SO BAD. 

Now, before some of you jump down my throat, please use two of the Fruits of the Spirit: patience and self-control. Read what I say (I will try to keep it short) and then jump down my throat, if you still need to. 
First off, a little background…. the reason that Jews were allowed to remain Jewish when Rome controlled Judea is because they invited Rome in to help them get rid of the Seleucid kings. When the followers of Yeshua (Jesus) began to grow, they were made up of Jews, and of Gentiles (mostly Romans) converting to Judaism. However, by the end of the 1st Century, Rome had problems with the Jews and were persecuting them, but it was NOT a religious persecution. It was a political persecution because the Jews were rebelling against Roman authority. As such, the Jews following “the Way” and the newly converting Gentiles began to separate themselves from the persecuted Jews, which was to be safe from persecution. That backfired, because as they started to form a new religion, that was not acceptable to Rome, and so the (now called) Christians were persecuted; this was a religious persecution. In the 3rd Century, along comes Constantine and he converts to Christianity (now very different from Judaism) and he makes it even more separate, essentially creating modern Christianity.
That brings us up to Christmas. Constantine had a problem, which was how to make Christianity more popular to a people who have worshiped Roman gods for centuries, and most likely will not be as happy to trade them off as Constantine is. The answer: re-boot the holidays! Take the celebratory feeling that comes with their big holidays, and redirect it to a new holiday with the same feel, but make it a celebration of Messiah instead of a pagan god. This is why I don’t think Christmas is so bad- it isn’t worshiping a pagan god, it isn’t a pagan holiday, and it never was. Saturnalia WAS a pagan holiday that worshiped a pagan god, but Christmas was created to celebrate the birth of the Messiah. I believe a lot of the anti-Christmas feeling comes from the fact that it was placed at the same time as the pagan celebration. The reason for that was not to put a different face on the same holiday, but so that it would easily fit into their schedule, and that made it easy for Constantine to switch focus/worship of the population from paganism to Christianity.
Here’s the point- Christmas is not Saturnalia with a new name, it is a totally new and different celebration; Saturnalia was rejected and done away with. Just as the Golden Calf was rejected and destroyed, so too did Constantine do away with Saturnalia, and it was replaced (NOT re-instituted, but replaced!) with Christmas, which is from it’s inception a celebration of Messiah’s birth.
Now, the fact that the birth of Messiah was months earlier in the calendar isn’t relevant to the topic, which is that Christmas was never a pagan holiday. Christmas was created as a righteous memorial to Messiah, and was “timed” to occur at the same time as an old, now rejected, pagan holiday so that it would be an “easy sell” to the populace.
Therefore, I don’t see anything wrong with Christmas so long as the people celebrating it are celebrating Messiah Yeshua. If you really want to come down on someone, come down on the retail companies that have prostituted this celebration into a social event that has made gift giving more important than celebrating the birth of our Messiah.

One last note: Joseph’s brothers conspired to murder him, but Joseph later understood something that I think we need to relate to Christmas (Genesis 50:20): “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” What had been an unrighteous pagan celebration has been replaced and changed into a righteous celebration of the Messiah, who is the ultimate means of saving people’s lives. I think celebrating the birth of our Messiah, whether on the correct day or not, is always a good thing, no matter how it started or where it came from.

Constantine Wasn’t the First

With the Christmas season already upon us (thanks to advertisers) there is a lot of “chatter” on Face Book regarding the pagan origins of this holiday (‘holiday’ meaning man-made, whereas ‘holy day’ is God-ordained) and how Constantine used it to bring the pagan Romans under the Christian banner, so to speak, by substituting this holiday for the pagan one.

But did you know that he wasn’t the first leader to do something like this?

The First Hurdle to Overcome When Talking to Jews About Yeshua

If you have ever tried to talk to a Jewish person about Jesus, you are already done. The moment you use the name “Jesus” pretty much any Jew you are talking to will be screaming, “Shields up, Scotty!!” because, to a Jew, Jesus is a Jew who betrayed Judaism and created his own religion, which has historically hated and persecuted Jews.

As I have talked about before (check out the blogs under the category “Jews and Jesus”), approaching a Jewish man or woman with the Good News is something that has to be done with total respect for, and only referencing, the Tanakh. Use “Yeshua” or “Messiah/Maschiach” when referencing Yeshua. Do not use the terms “Under the blood” or “Under the law” or even imply that Torah is not still valid and necessary, and do not, under any circumstances, use anything from the New Covenant writings to justify a position.

This teaching within Judaism, that Jesus created Christianity, is the major hurdle preventing Jews from even wanting to listen to anything about Jesus. And what makes this even more potent, as a wedge between Jews and Christians, is that Christians believe it, too! The fact is that Jesus did NOT create Christianity as it is practiced today. He did not create anything new, all He did was better define the existing laws in the Torah. Yeshua (let’s practice not using “Jesus”) did not change or delete or teach against anything in the Torah. Christianity teaches that He was the living Torah, that the Word became flesh (the only “word” at that time was the Torah) and that Yeshua lived a perfectly sinless life, which is why He was an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. Christianity teaches and is based completely upon that truth: Yeshua was sinless. Yet, much of Christianity teaches that the Torah is no longer necessary; in other words, Christians are told to live and do what Yeshua did, but in the next breath they are told that they don’t have to obey Torah, which is what Yeshua did! Huh??  Do as Yeshua did, but don’t do what He did? The popular idea of living as Jesus did with the bracelet that has written on it, “WWJD?” (What Would Jesus Do) is creating a lie, because what Christianity teaches is “DDWJD” (Don’t Do What Jesus Did).

To be fair I should say, most of Christianity teaches this. There are the Messianic and Hebraic Roots Christian movements which are turning back to the roots of Christianity and accepting Yeshua as a Jew, and also accepting the Torah as a valid and necessary list of commandments that are, and always have been, as much a part of the New Covenant God made with us (through Yeshua) as the Old Covenant. Mosaic laws are still valid and need to be obeyed for blessings and to remain saved. Ignoring or rejecting Torah is rejecting God, and rejecting Messiah. We are told this in 1 John 2:4-6:

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.  But if anyone obeys his word,love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

So, how do we overcome this hurdle? It ain’t gonna be easy, I can tell you that!

First, we should re-train the “Church” to recognize that being saved by Yeshua’s sacrifice does not mean they are no longer subject to the commandments in the Torah. We all need to recognize that the Torah is God’s commandments to the world, not just to Jews.

Second, the “Church” needs to understand that Constantine created modern day Christianity. Before then, there was growing political and social upheaval that caused the rift between Jews and followers of Messiah Yeshua (which was composed of Jews and Gentiles converting to Judaism.) Once the Christian world understands how and why the rift between Jews and Gentiles began, we can begin to overcome the wrongful, hateful and Satanic (yes, Satan is behind the split between Jews and Christians- no doubt about it!) teachings that came from the early “church elders.”

When I use the term “church elders” I am referring to Gentiles who took control of the early followers of Messiah. Even though there may have been thousands upon thousands of Jews that initially accepted Yeshua (and never, ever changed their Jewish lifestyle or worship), by the beginning of the Second Century people following “The Way” were being led by Gentile converts, and the majority of Messianic followers were Gentiles who had been converting from their pagan practices to Judaism. Those Gentile leaders did not want to get in any more trouble then they were already with Rome, so they began to separate themselves from the Jewish lifestyle and worship practices (if you read the letters from Shaul/Paul to his Messianic Communities, you can see between the lines that already they were beginning to fall away from Judaism in their worship and lifestyle, which is what he was trying to prevent.) In the same way Jeroboam separated Israel from Judea when he first took over the 10 Tribes that rebelled against Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, these elders became so passionate about no longer being associated with Judaism that they literally created a new religion, which Constantine made “official” at the Council of Nicene; those canon are the foundation for what we today call Christianity.

Finally, the third step in this process is to approach Jews with the truth about Yeshua: He was a Jew and is still a Jew, Torah is what He preached and followed and that He taught others to do so. His Disciples (use the term “Talmudim”, which means students) also lived a Jewish lifestyle, worshiped as Jews do, and taught others to do so. The early “church” was not a church at all, but made up of Messianic communities (use the term “Kehillot” (ka-hee-lote), which is Hebrew for communities) that were Jews who accepted Yeshua as their Messiah and pagans converting to Judaism.

God willing, once we can get past the wrongful teachings, which are from Satan’s desire to weaken God’s union of those who follow the Messiah, we may then have our Jewish Brothers and Sisters give the order to “lower shields”, and communication can begin.

The truth WILL set you free, and it will also bring us into union as one new person, under Messiah, worshiping God and treating each other as God commanded us to do.

 

 

Expectation is Everything

I was in the Sales field for about 15 years, between 1992 and 2007, and the title of today’s message is one of the most important lessons I learned about being able to have a successful sales career. 

I am sure all of you reading this have found the most disappointing purchases you have ever made were the ones where what you got wasn’t anything at all like what you expected. That can be the fault of the salesperson, or yourself, or both- neither one really explaining or listening to the other, and ending up having an unrealistic expectation.

 This same thing has happened with Yeshua and the Jewish people, which started in the First Century and is still present, today. 

The Tanakh (Old Covenant) has very explicit expectations of what the Messiah will do. He will regather Israel (Ezekiel 38:16), He will restore the Temple service (Jeremiah 33:18), He will end wickedness and heresy (Zephaniah 3:13),  He will reestablish the religious courts (Isaiah 2:2-4), and He will be a son of David. With these, and the many other Messianic prophecies found in Tanakh, the Jewish people’s expectations for their Messiah, taught to them by their leaders, was for a political savior who would immediately restore the Davidic kingdom, and that it would be just like it was in David’s and Solomon’s times. 

And when you think about it, that expectation wasn’t really all that far-fetched. So, looking back, it is understandable (isn’t it?) that the Jewish people would have rejected Yeshua as their Messiah when He walked the earth because many of the biblical expectations were not met: there was still sin and heresy (in fact, at that time the Jewish political and judicial systems were probably the most corrupt ones we’ve ever had), the Ten tribes were still in the Diaspora, Temple service had not been interrupted (so He couldn’t reinstate it), and He died! Duh! How could this guy be the Messiah and have an eternal kingship if he’s dead?  

These unmet expectations are the reason so many Jews back then rejected Yeshua as their Messiah, and even to this day they are the basis for still rejecting Jesus as Messiah. When you add to that the last two Millennia of the treatment Jews have received at the hands of the “followers of Jesus Christ”, well, it’s no wonder we don’t want anything to do with this Jesus guy. After all, isn’t Jesus the reason for the Crusades, which resulted in thousands of Jews being slaughtered when they didn’t convert?  And wasn’t Jesus the reason for the expulsion of Jews from Spain and her territories, not to mention the torture and murder of thousands of Jews during the 300 hundred years (or so) of the Inquisition? And isn’t Jesus the guy the Nazi’s said was on their side?- the belt buckle of the Nazi uniform had the words, “Gott mit uns” (God is with us) engraved on them. Oh, and let’s not forget the Replacement Theologists who say that God, Himself, has rejected the Jewish people (because they rejected Jesus) and that the Born-Again Christians are now God’s Chosen people. 

Taken altogether- unmet expectations, wrongful teachings, mistreatment, bigotry, persecution- is it any wonder the Jewish people have nearly universally rejected as their Messiah this blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Aryan image of the Jesus Christ we know today? 

So…how do we get around this misunderstanding (and it is a misunderstanding) about who Yeshua is? We start by realizing, within Judaism and Christianity, that what we know today as Christianity, and who we think Jesus Christ is, is wrong. First off, Jesus did not create Christianity: Constantine did, at the Council of Nicene in the Third Century. Without going into an entire history lesson on what happened, let’s simply state that as more and more Gentiles (who were Pagans at that time) were accepting Yeshua (He wasn’t called Jesus until many, many years later) and, thereby, converting to Judaism, all the restrictions of the Torah were too much for them at the start. In Acts (15:29)  there were only 4 absolute “Must Stop Now” restrictions, but when you read the entire passage it is clear that the Elders expected these new converts to learn how to obey the entire Torah as they continued to attend the synagogues. But with the continuing rebellion of the Jewish community against Roman rule, being identified as a “Jew” was becoming more intolerable than being a follower of Yeshua, so those Gentiles who were converting started doing less “Jewish” stuff. As early as the First Century, what was now being called Christianity began to actively separate itself from the Tree of Life it had been grafted into. They changed the Shabbat, they ridiculed and insulted Judaic practices, and by the time Rome accepted Christianity as an approved religion, it had lost most of it’s attachment to Judaism. Then Constantine created Christmas and Easter as a means to make Christianity more “fun” and further separate it from the Holy Days God defined for us. 

That is why today Christianity is not anything like what Christ preached or taught. We need to approach Jews with this information to destroy the expectation that by accepting  Jesus you have to reject Judaism. That is what Jews expect they have to do if they want to accept Jesus as their Messiah, and it is simply not true. 

Once we kill that first expectation of having to reject Judaism, we can then start to kill the next expectation, which is that Jesus taught against Torah. We need to educate people, both Jews and Christians, regarding the false teaching that Yeshua rejected Torah: that is a lie from the pit of Sheol! He not only taught to obey Torah, but He did so by teaching us the deeper meaning of it so we could live it more completely! And Shaul (Paul), John, Matthew and the rest of the gang all lived and taught obedience to Torah. Not as the means of salvation, which was the understanding of Torah then, but as a means of showing God our faithful belief that what He says to do is what is best for us, and to demonstrate our love and thanks to Him through obedience to His word.  

If you have gotten this far, having overcome thousands of years of wrong teaching and bigotry, now you have a chance to show how these expectations, which have resulted in such a massive rejection of Yeshua, are unreasonable. The prophecies were often dual-prophecies, meaning there was a current interpretation, and a future one, as well.  For instance, an argument against Isaiah 53 is that it was talking about Israel as a nation then and there, which could historically be shown, but it was also talking about Yeshua, which wouldn’t happen until far in the future. The expectations that the Jewish people had, and have, of Messiah were based on misunderstanding, not to mention the political and social pressures against accepting Him (back then) due to the corrupt individuals who would lose their power and standing if He had been universally accepted.

Today I can see the spirit of God moving- the regathering of Israel, the Hebraic Roots and Messianic Jewish movements gaining momentum, and the world getting worse and worse- all these point to the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) getting closer and closer. And that means we are getting closer to the return of Yeshua ha Maschiach!   Therefore, let’s educate in a way that edifies people, removing the unrealistic and improper expectations, showing the truth about who Yeshua is and what He teaches, and thereby making it possible for all people to hear the real Good News with unclogged ears and seeing eyes. 

hebraic roots and messianic judaism: two sides of the same coin?

I am a Jewish man. I was born a Jew, from Jewish parents of Russian descent. I was raised in a Reform Jewish environment, and since neither of my parents ever really embraced being Jewish, my B’rit Milah (circumcision) and Bar Mitzvah were as much a “This is what we do” thing as it was a spiritual acknowledgement of my covenant with God. When I grew older I forgot about religious observance, and always felt distant from God yet desiring to be closer. What kept me away was my desire to sin, which constantly overcame my desire to know the Lord for some 40-odd years. It was a series of traumatic events that led to my desire to know God, and a determination to finally either know Him or reject the whole thing, once and for all. Thankfully, I did get to know God, and then I also needed to know the truth about this guy Jesus, who most of my life I was told was Jewish but started His own religion and was someone we Jews killed.

Now I know who Jesus really is: a Jewish man named Yeshua ben Yosef, who is in truth the Messiah God promised would come, who was born Jewish, lived a Jewish life and died Jewish. He was still Jewish when he was resurrected. During His life He observed the Torah and never-ever started a new religion (for the record, modern day Christianity is from Constantine, not Yeshua.) So, now that I am still Jewish (I am not a Christian, a Christian-Jew, a Hebrew-Christian or anything other than a Jew) but have accepted Yeshua as my Messiah and recognize that He is the son of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that means I am no longer just a Jewish man, but I am a Messianic Jewish man.

Messianic Judaism is not Jews for Jesus. Jews for Jesus is an organization, a non-profit company with a “religious” mandate to bring the truth of the Messiah to Jewish people. One of the things that I wish they would do is stop sending Jews willing to know Yeshua to Christian churches. Not that Christian churches are a bad place, but most Christian churches are not Hebraic Roots churches (Oy! Another label!) and many, many Christian churches have a “don’t need Torah” attitude, and (worse than that) some are Replacement Theologists.

The Hebraic Roots Movement is similar to Messianic Judaism in that Messianic Judaism is for Jews (and Christians, too- most Messianic congregations I have known actually have more Gentiles than Jews) who accept Jesus (Yeshua is the preferred name) as the Messiah, but still maintain the Jewish lifestyle and worship rooted in observance and obedience to the Torah. Hebraic roots congregations are Christians (and some Messianic Jews, like me) who desire to get to know and worship the Lord as Yeshua did, worshiping as they did in the First Century.

Essentially, if a person is someone who has accepted that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah, and worships as the followers of Yeshua did in the First Century when He walked the earth (and for about two centuries after that), then they are either Messianic Jews (if they are Jewish by birth) or Hebraic Roots Christians (if they are Gentile by birth.)

Same coin, different sides.

By the way- this is obviously a very simplistic explanation. I am hoping that it is effective in getting across the idea that anyone who worships the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who accepts that Yeshua was born a man by Divine conception, who believes He was and still is the Messiah God promised in the Old Covenant writings, is thereby one in the body of Messiah. And, whether or not they were born Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, whatever- when they accept Yeshua as their Messiah, they also accept His lifestyle. Which was, as we would label it today, Judaism. In fact, more similar to Orthodox Judaism than any other sect within Judaism.

I worship at a Hebraic Roots church (zionistrevivalcenter.org) and am one of only maybe 3 or 4 Jewish-born members. We are very small, no more than 15-20 or so “regulars” but we will, with God’s blessings, grow. I believe there is a growing desire in the Christian world to get closer to Jesus, since most of what He really is and what He really taught has been thrown out and replaced with Christian rhetoric, ritual and Anti-Semitic diatribe (such as the Replacement Theology claim that God has rejected the Jews for rejecting Yeshua, and Christians are now the “Chosen people.” Really? I don’t think so- God is pretty clear about His devotion and love for the Jewish people throughout the Bible.)

The aim of this blog-ministry of mine is to help people understand that God doesn’t have any religion, just rules. His rules were given to us in the Torah and the Torah is meant for everyone. It is not, and was never meant to be, exclusive to Jews. It was given to the Jews to bring to the world.

Whatever belief system you have now, does it respect the Torah? Do you believe (or have you been told to believe) that the Torah is valid for everyone? Do you believe that God still expects you to obey the laws of Kashrut outlined in Leviticus 11? Do you honor God by celebrating the festivals God said we are to celebrate and in the manner He described in Leviticus 23?

Or- do you believe (or have been told) that the Torah is only for Jews? Were you taught that Jews receive their salvation from Torah but Christians are saved by the Blood of Christ? Do you believe that the only things in the Old Covenant that are valid for you are the “moral laws” that God gave the Jews? If so, you have a very rude awakening coming to you.

Here’s the truth- the biblical truth that you can verify in the bible- Yeshua lived and worshiped as a Jew. The Disciples lived and worshiped as Jews. Shaul (Paul) never “converted” to Christianity- it didn’t even exist then! The followers of Yeshua were Jews who met in the synagogue or, if under social or political attack, met in their homes but NEVER stopped worshiping as Jews. There was no “church” in the first century- the “church” (as we know it today) was formed by Constantine and the Council of Nicene a couple of centuries after Yeshua walked the earth. The truth, my friends, is that if you believe Jesus is the Son of God and you claim to worship Him, than you should be worshiping God, not Jesus, and worshiping God as Jesus did.

I see bracelets with “WWJD” on them, and hear all the time that Christians should do as Jesus did and walk as Jesus walked, yet the Christian world teaches (for the most part) to do nothing like what Jesus did, and to walk a path Jesus would never have even thought of walking! Consider this: the world is about to celebrate the birth of the Messiah and enjoy a holiday feast in His honor with food that He would have considered an abomination to see on His dinner table! I am talking about the traditional Christmas Ham, of course. When you think about it, eating ham on a day designed to celebrate Jesus’s birth is, in fact, disrespectful to God and to Jesus.

The end is always coming closer. That is just simple math- our timeline moves in one direction, and the end is at, well…the end, so every day, every hour, every breath brings us all closer to the final judgement. And the real kicker is that we don’t know when the end is! Bummer! That means that the best possible time to get yourself right in accordance with God (through Yeshua) is now. Right now. And that means if you haven’t accepted your own sinfulness, now’s the time to get with the program. We all hear about asking for forgiveness, but the truth is until you accept your own sinfulness and inability to overcome it, there’s no desire to ask anyone for forgiveness. So, first and foremost, we have to accept and “own” our sinful nature as being against God and we have to want to change it, to do T’Shuvah. Then, and only then, will our request for forgiveness through Yeshua’s sacrificial death on our behalf, be honest.

Next, accept that the truth that God’s will is for us to live as He said we should, which is defined and outlined in the Torah. Yeshua taught nothing but what is in the Torah- He respected it, He observed it perfectly, and he taught others to do so. He never, never, never taught anything against or outside the Torah. What really happened is God gave the Torah to Moses, the people added too many rules and regulations on their own and when Yeshua came to earth to teach the truth, He upset the “religious” authority by telling people that it is God’s authority that counts. We were only looking at the words of the Torah, and Yeshua taught us the spirit of the Torah. And He was all about the Torah and all about God.

If you want to  worship God in a way that will please God, then doesn’t it just make sense to worship God as He said to worship Him? To live your life in the manner He said to live it?

Duh!

 

 

 

Paul never converted

I really can’t stand it when I am reading Acts 9 and the paragraph title is something like this: Paul’s Conversion on the Road to Damascus”

First of all, his name wasn’t Paul- it was Shaul. and second of all, he NEVER converted.

Historically, there was only one other religion at that time for him to convert to in that area of the world, and that would be the pagan Roman religion. I think everyone can agree Shaul didn’t convert to that.

During the First Century C.E. in Israel there were Jews and Romans- that was it. Among the Jews some accepted Yeshua as the Messiah and followed Him as such, and others (the majority) did not. But they all followed Judaism. There were also some Romans who accepted Yeshua as a Messiah and they converted- to Judaism!

The name “Paul” was used for him when the written accounts (some becoming scripture) were translated into Greek.

Shaul never converted. He was a Pharisee, he was a real “Jew’s Jew”, and his entire life was spent practicing Judaism.

In Acts 18:18 Shaul proves his Judaism by taking a Nazarite vow and sponsoring others to do so. It is clear from the writings in Acts and from his own letters that Shaul never, ever, not-even-once said anything about not being Jewish. He never said to disobey or ignore the Torah, he never said he converted, he never said that Gentiles should not follow the Torah.

Throughout the book of Romans Shaul is writing an apologetic for Torah- he is saying that following Yeshua is not ignoring Torah. And that Torah is still valid- a very Jewish viewpoint.

In 1 Peter 4, the word “Christian” is used. I do not believe that the other two times, both in Acts, that the word “Christian” is what the original writing had. The people who followed Yeshua in the First and Second Century were the first Messianic Jews, and the word “Christian” was used (most likely) by scribes copying the written accounts down in Codex A and Codex B much later, when the term Christian was widely used. They just (naturally) used it when copying and condensing the texts. The word that was most likely used originally would have been “Christiano’s”, which in Greek has no real meaning. The scribes “knew” that these people were Christians because that is what they were called then, so they just wrote “Christians.”

There was no “church” in the First and Second Century, either- you can thank King James for using that term, despite being told it was incorrect. I guess when you are the King you can even re-write the bible any way you want to; like they say, “It’s nice to be the King!”

The use of the word “Christian” in 1 Peter was, in fact, used as a derogatory term. Shaul said he would accept it because he knew what following Yeshua really meant.

If you are Christian, or Jewish, or thinking about accepting Yeshua, please do not be fooled by the subtle (or sometimes not-so-subtle) anti-Jewish bias of most New Covenant interpretations. The people who followed Yeshua in the 1st and 2nd Century C.E. were Messianic Jews (composed of Jews and pagans who were in the process of converting to Judaism.)

Let’s look at Acts 15:19-21:

19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

I purposely bold printed verse 21 because that sentence is proof that the only conversion that occurred was from Gentile to Jew. When James told the Council of Elders (all Jews, by the way) to have only those 4 restrictions, that wasn’t the end-all of it. That was just the beginning, because (as he said) they (the Gentiles converting to Judaism) will be learning the law of Moses every Shabbat. “…read in the synagogue on every Sabbath.” clearly indicates that the Jewish religion and the Jewish lifestyle is what was expected from the Gentiles who accepted Yeshua.

Shaul was never called “Paul”; Yeshua was never called “Jesus”; Jews and Romans who followed Yeshua were not called Christians until many years after He was resurrected, and only then as a derogatory term. It wasn’t until Constantine and the Council of Nicene that Christianity, as we know it today, began. Before then it was Jews, Jews and Gentiles who accepted Yeshua (Messianic Jews), and Pagans.

Shaul was, always remained, and still is a Jew.  Just like Yeshua.