Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?
To his own master he stands or falls.
And he will stand
For the Lord is able to make him stand. …
For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life
So that he might be the Lord
Of both the dead and the living.
You, then, why do you judge your brother?
Or why do you look down on your brother?
For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
It is written:
‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord
‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. …
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking
But of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit
Because anyone who serves Christ in this way
Is pleasing to God and approved by men. …
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you
In order to bring praise to God.
For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews
On behalf of God’s truth
To confirm the promises made to the patriarchs
So that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy. …
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
As you trust in him
So that you may overflow with hope
By the power of the Holy Spirit.
-Romans 14:4, 9-12, 17-18; 15:7-9a, 13
Messianic Judaism is a movement that predates the birth of Christianity. Long before Messianic Gentiles (Christians) arrived on the scene the only battle raging was between Jews of many persuasions (Sadducee, Pharisee, Essenes, Zealots, Herodians, Samaritans, the ascetic Therapeutae – to name just some of the many sects) and Messianic Jews (Jews from the ‘many persuasions’ who believed in Yeshua Ha’Mashiach).
Then came the controversy concerning the acceptance of Gentile ‘God-fearers’, and Gentiles in general, by Messianic Jews – did Gentiles have to become Jews to accept Yeshua as Messiah? The issue was resolved by the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-33), who set down four principles by which Gentiles could be accepted in fellowship with Messianic Jews without having to undergo full conversion (circumcision) to Judaism.
What the four principles really show is that Messianic Jews were not required to give up their cultural heritage or practices. The Council’s requirements of abstaining from eating food sacrificed to false gods, from blood, eating meat of strangled animals (blood not drained out), and from sexual immorality, was addressed “to the Gentile believers” (Acts 15:23b) – the decision did not apply to or affect Messianic Jews, who were already doing these things.
Today, after nearly two millennia of Christianity, the controversy is reversed: Do Jews have to give up being Jews to become followers of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach? This question still persists in spite of the Hebraic Roots movement within Evangelical Christianity, and the growth in ecumenical tolerance in general. After millennia of forced conversions based on the unscriptural view that one could not be a Jew and a believer in Yeshua – and be saved – it is time to revisit the Jerusalem Council’s decision alongside Paul’s commentary and realize that this issue is not an either/or situation.
It’s time to right the wrong of the past two millennia and recognize Messianic Jews in their own context. It’s also time to recognize both Messianic Jews and Messianic Gentiles for what they really are – servants of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, and that neither is above the other, or more culturally acceptable than the other. It’s time to turn, be wholly reconciled – ‘accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God’ – to fellowship in love and in “a spirit of unity”.
The Lord is coming!