The Revelation of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach

(The following is substantially derived from portions of my thesis [2008, Jewish Imagery in the Book of Revelation: Are Popular Interpretations of the Book of Revelation Anti-Judaic?, Anglia Ruskin University] and may not be reproduced in part or in whole without written permission from Ideally, this portion of my thesis should be read in conjunction with: Re-dating Revelation and Jew-hatred & Revelation.)

The Revelation of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach

to Yochanan

The book of Revelation is not just a book of prophecy, it is a bifocal text of instruction written specifically to Jewish communities in Asia Minor, who maintained that Yeshua of Natzeret[1] was Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. Its Messianic-Pharisaic[2] distant vision deals with the place and importance of Resurrection[3], while its near-sight focuses on the raison d’être for the Messianic community to continue Jewish practice in “Judaism’s fourth mutation-revelation”.[4] Like the letter to the “Twelve [Messianic] Tribes in the Diaspora” (James 1:1) from Ya’akov[5] the book of Revelation is also a clarion call to accountability and action. Employing complex[6] Jewish imagery to convince and compel the Jewish communities of Asia Minor to neither forsake the Messiah nor their heritage, this document, which many have claimed is too Jewish to be of any Christian value,[7] encourages, cajoles, and commands those in its hearing to preserve the Messianic-Pharisaic community and remain Jewish in practice in spite of teaching to the contrary by other Jews, who also claimed to follow the Messiah but who had abandoned strictly Jewish practice.

‘Called Out Ones’

Certain Jewish Messianic communities in Asia Minor were the target audiences of the text – Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. While the assertion that these communities were ‘Jewish Messianic’ may grate against the prevailing thought that these particular communities were a mix of Jew and Gentile, this is one of those place where, because the text has been viewed and consistently interpreted only as a Christian document, no allowance has ever been made for the possibility of these ‘called out ones’ (?????s?a[8]) being Jewish Messianic communities[9] – that they were indeed Jewish Messianic communities is attested to by the predominantly Jewish content[10] in the text itself.

The interpretation of the book of Revelation has, until recently, always been presented from a Christian perspective[11] – “its Judaism hidden due to forces beyond its control”.[12] The application of the maxim ‘history belongs to the conqueror’ appears to be just as applicable to the interpretation of history’s texts. Could it be that an ancient document written to a Messianic group outside of the nascent Church is not as easy to believe in as having existed or survived the passage of time as the Gospels or Pauline epistles? What ever happened to the post-ascended-Jesus “orthodox’ Jewish messianic movement . . . which expected an imminent end . . . which was scrupulous about the law . . . . [Which] lacked ‘fellowship’ with sinners [Gentiles]”?[13] Is it impossible to believe that one of their teachers/prophets/”brothers” had written to them about, among other things, deception and fraud (Rev 2:2, 9); and an aberration (Rev 2:14, 20) being perpetrated on Messianic Jews right in their own communities? What if the (Dead Sea) scrolls of the Essenes had been discovered at the same time as the Gospels or Pauline epistles and not in 1947 by the shepherd lad[14] who found them in the Jordanian caves of Qumran,[15] would they too have been swallowed whole as complex-and-difficult-to-interpret Christian documents?

War Cry

That the book of Revelation was indeed written to “‘orthodox’ Jewish messianic” communities in Asia Minor can be heard reverberating above all the messages and images in the text – in its thunderous call to remain faithful to Judaism:[16] Do not worship idols; do not eat food sacrificed to idols; do not succumb to the false teaching of those who call themselves Apostles and Jews; do not pay any kind of homage to the Emperor or Rome; continue to support the Temple in Jerusalem; continue to observe the laws of purity; continue to do good works; continue to witness to the advent of the Messiah; even though we might all be one before God, do not stop being Jews but cling to the hopes and tradition of the forefathers – do not forsake your people!

To add punch to his war cry, the Messianic Jewish recorder[17] offers detailed Jewish imagery to evoke the ethnic and spiritual connections they all shared – the Garden of Eden’s Tree of Life; Bil’am and Balak; Jezebel; manna; the Book of Life; the key of David; the Temple in Jerusalem; Lion of the tribe of Judah; the root of David; 12 tribes of Israel; the Temple in heaven and Ark of the Covenant; the song of Moses, the Tent of Witness; Day of the Lord; Armageddon; the Hallel; Sheol; the Fountain of Life; the worship of God alone. However, so dominant are Christian apocalyptic interpretations of the text, these strictly Jewish images are consistently given meaning and colour far beyond the intention of the recorder.

Divergent Views and Instructions

One of the dominant concerns of the book of Revelation is that the Messianic Jewish communities continue in Jewish practice and uphold Jewish traditions, those also which the Messiah had practiced and kept while among them.[18] But this concern is not one echoed by the majority of the texts in the New Testament. In fact, the writings of Paul seem to advocate the opposite of the clarion call sounded in Revelation: You don’t need to be circumcised (I Corinthians 7:18-19; Galatians 5:2-6); you can eat meat sacrificed to idols (Romans 14:3, 14; I Corinthians 8); “obey” the Emperor and Rome’s authority and pay your taxes to them (Romans 13); don’t worry about Moses and “traditions” (Galatians 5:18); there are no longer any Jews (Galatians 3:28); do not listen to the false teaching of others even if they are angels (Galatians 1:8), ‘acknowledged leaders’ (Galatians 2:6) or ‘acknowledged pillars of the community’ (Galatians 2:9). Even the importance of the place of the “mitzvah system”/‘works’[19]is thrown to the wind in Paul’s proposition maxima of ‘justification by faith alone’ (Romans 4:1-3; Galatians 3:6, 11).[20] Paul also appears to skew the Jerusalem leadership’s requirements of the Gentiles (for the sake of fellowship and unity with Jewish believers) – don’t eat things sacrificed to idols, don’t eat blood, don’t eat anything strangled and don’t be sexually immoral (Acts 15:19-21, 28, 29; 21:25) – by insisting that the only thing they required was that “the poor” be remembered (Galatians 2:10). What could lie behind such divergent views and instructions?[21]

In a letter to the Galatians (2:7-10), Paul identifies two distinct ministries to spread the “Good News” – one to Jews led by “Ya’akov, Kefa and Yochanan”[22] and one to Gentiles led by him and “Bar-Nabba”.[23] Following on from this, Paul also makes it quite clear that there were also two distinct categories of Jewish believers (Galatians 2:11-13) – Jews who ate with Gentiles in Paul’s company, and those in the Jerusalem community who not only favoured circumcising Gentile believers, they also favoured not eating with them otherwise. These differences are just samples of the divergence of beliefs between these two Jewish factions – the Jews under Ya’akov[24] and the Jerusalem community, and the Jews and Gentiles under Paul and his interpretation of the first advent of the Messiah.[25]

The book of Revelation, while never dealing directly with the issue of circumcision, does address the serious issues of “those who call themselves emissaries” who turn out to be “liars” (2:2, 9; 3:9) as well as those who teach false doctrine (2:14; 20). To whom is the text referring? Could it be addressing Paul’s claim of apostleship (Rom. 1:1, 11:13; 1Cor. 9:1, 15:8; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:1)? Could it be addressing his divergent teaching? When Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:15 “µe p??te? ?? ?? t? ?s???[26] is he just addressing the attack against him in Jerusalem by some Jews from Asia (Acts 21: 27-29), or is this an acknowledgment of the reaction of the congregations in Asia to him after reading the letters from Yochanan[27] of Asia Minor? If answers to these questions were found they may also help settle the dating controversy behind the book of Revelation (see Re-Dating Revelation).

While Paul did not consider ‘actions’ connected to religious activities of Jews of value in comparison to his understanding of ‘faith’ occurring first in the ‘spiritual’ realm and thereafter leading to ‘action’ in the ‘physical’ realm, he did not actually denigrate ‘the law’ and ‘’Temple’ as such but relegated them to the world to which he believed they belonged – the world of the ‘flesh’. Paul’s pivotal “christocentric rendering of Abraham”[28] in Galatians (3:6-9, 14, 16, 18, 29) in particular, is the foundation upon which he builds all his arguments for the inclusion of the Gentiles into ‘the people of God’. Paul believed he was called to proclaim the equality of all people before God by ‘faith alone’, and even that status was achieved through the ‘grace’ of God. (5:16-25). On the other hand, the book of Revelation, while extolling the grace and righteousness of God, does not reflect the same understanding of the status of ‘the people of God’ nor of ‘actions’ as something separate from ‘faith’ (i.e., 12:17; 14:12). Neither does it reflect some of the common Christian interpretations of Jewish imagery found within its pages.

Jewish Imagery

Following are just two brief examples (from my thesis) of reflections of the Jewish imagery within the book of Revelation viewed through a different prism:

  1. The imagery of Bil’am, Balak, and Jezebel (Rev. 2:14, 20) is usually interpreted as examples of the problems of compromise, in this case, with Roman culture and practices. However, the reality is that the recorder compares the situations in Pergamum and Thyatira with the acts of three notoriously “evil” Gentiles[29]whose goal was to destroy Israel. The condemnation of eating food sacrificed to idols not only stood in direct opposition to Paul’s understanding and teaching (Rom. 14:3, 14; 1Cor.8) but also definitely upheld the ancient admonition to have nothing to do with idols or any part of the cultic ritual attached to them (Ex. 20:3-4). Jezebel is a “prophet” only in the context of “teaching and deceiving my servants to commit sexual sin and eat food that has been sacrificed to idols” (Rev. 2:20), and is used as a pointer to the strict prohibition of such activity in Judaic practice[30] rather than specifically against ‘Roman culture and practice’. In fact, the admonition to give up ‘food sacrificed to idols’ is directly linked with the promise of the reward of ‘hidden manna’ (heaven’s ‘sweet’ bread) for doing so.[31]
  2. When it comes to interpretation dealing with the context of the passages surrounding and including the term “the key of David” (Rev. 3:7-13), it is best to start with an example of the history of antisemitic interpretation of another term in the same passage. Stern’s (1996, p. 796) astute comments on Rev.2:9 (thus Rev. 3:9) “synagogue of the Adversary” bear repeating:

Virtually all the commentators ignore the obvious and straightforward interpretation that Yochanan is talking here about Gentiles who pretend to be Jews. The same kind of expression is used in v. 2: “… you tested those who call themselves emissaries but aren’t – and you found them to be liars.” It obviously refers to false apostles, and there the commentators accept the literal sense without demur. But here they opt for the metaphorical interpretation that Yochanan is talking about Jews who reject Yeshua as the Messiah instead of the literal understanding that these are non-Jews who lied and say they are Jews but in fact are Gentiles. In this way a verse which says nothing about Jews is given a virulently antisemitic significance. … But nowhere in the New Testament are unbelieving Jews called non-Jews . . . . Nor does anything in the present context call for a violent outburst against Jews.

Interpreters often miss the relationship of the power given to the community in Philadelphia through the key of David[32] and what is subsequently accomplished with it (3:9), which is reminiscent of yet more Jewish imagery – Joseph’s dream of his father and brothers bowing down to him as well as the eventual reality of the dream of the one deemed small and despised becoming honoured and powerful (Gen. 37:10; 42:6; 43:26; 44:14) for remaining faithful to God (i.e., Gen. 39:9, 21, 23; 40:8) – the apparently insignificant congregation will be rewarded for remaining faithful to all that the key of David represents, that is, God’s rule and commandments, while the supposedly powerful “synagogue of the Adversary” dominated by non-Jews, who (obviously) do not follow God’s rule and commandments, will be forced to acknowledge that God loves Jews, in particular, who remain faithful and obey His commandments (Rev. 12:17; 14:12). Interestingly, this is another instance which stands in direct opposition to Paul’s understanding and teaching (Rom. 14:3, 14; 1Cor. 8). Given such dichotomies of interpretation, how can Revelation be approached today?

Interpreting the ‘Good News’ of Revelation 10:7

One example of a different way of approaching this enigmatic ancient text is the following brief examination of what may be one of the key verses to understanding the book of Revelation and its overall purpose. The little discussed passage of Revelation 10:7 reads:

. . . in the days of the sound from the seventh angel when he sounds his shofar, the hidden plan of God will be brought to completion, the Good News as he proclaimed it to his servants the prophets.[33]

Vine’s Expository Dictionary[34] gives the meaning of the verb e?a?????? as “to bring or announce glad tidings . . .[and it] is used . . . in the Active Voice in Rev. 10:7 (‘declared’)”. Under “Tidings” Vine writes that the use of e?a?????? is used of any message designed to cheer those who receive it . . .”[35] making Stern’s translation (above) quite accurate. So, what will be the “Good News” that will be heard in the days of the sound of the seventh shofar? What would have been considered “Good News” to first century Messianic Jews? The answers lie in understanding a few things about the past.

Jacob Neusner,[36] in a discussion on Midrash-exegesis, gives a useful understanding of prophecy as

. . . a mode of theology formed in response to history, whether past or future . . .[and that a prophet] interpreted events as they took place . . . . [They also addressed the future, certain in their knowledge of what would happen–what must happen–on account of how things were and where they clearly were heading. … Scripture’s account of the past instructed our sages on how to explain what was happening then and told them, also, what would happen in time to come . . . . [They] interpret events by appeal to the past understood as future.

Urbach[37] in a discussion of “portrayals of the ‘End’ and ‘the days of the Messiah’” explains that the “vision” “conceived by the prophets of Israel” had “two aspects”: One aspect sees a “times when the existing world would be perfected . . . freed from . . . wickedness and injustice, from wars and catastrophe . . . . The other aspect . . . [sees] a day of ruin and destruction of the present world . . . . ‘a day of darkness and gloom’ . . .”. Both Neusner and Urbach provide key information in understanding what the “Good News” of Revelation 10:7 could be.

Today, “Good News” is often interpreted as a term which only finds its meaning in ‘preaching Jesus’ – Jesus as ‘Saviour’ being the “Good News”. However, the full meaning of “Good News” originates in the “past understood as future”, that is, in the Tanakh[38] and in its simplest form can be rendered – God’s Kingdom is coming. During His lifetime Yeshua continued to ‘proclaim’ the ‘vision’ of Israel’s prophets every time He spoke of the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ or the ‘Kingdom of God’. This message was specifically for “the house of Israel”. Thus, the book of Revelation can be seen as a continuation of both Yeshua’s (1:1) and Yochanan’s (1:2, 9) proclamation to the “house of Israel” in Asia Minor of “the message of God”, that is, the “two aspects” of the coming Kingdom of God – the “Good News” – and the fullness of its transition from the invisible to the visible. This understanding could also explain that which Stern calls “[a] difficult phrase” in Rev. 19:10, “[f]or the testimony of Yeshua is the Spirit of prophecy”.

A whole new approach to the book of Revelation is required. Klaassen[39]has well said that

[t]he book of Revelation has puzzled Christian interpreters virtually since it was written. … Hundreds of interpreters have wrestled with its arrangement, trying to find the key to unlock its secrets . . . . It is itself like the book of seven seals, which no one can open . . . .

To paraphrase one of Dr. Phil McGraw’s[40] well-known down-to-earth observations – are you doing what you are doing today just because you did it yesterday? This is a question Church authorities and theologians alike need to ask themselves before attempting to interpret, preach or teach again on this enigmatic text, whose significant imagery portrays another peoples culture and history.


The book of Revelation has been suffering from a type of “emperor’s new clothes”[41]for the past two thousand years – presented by some of Christianity’s finest tailors as “haute couture” visible only to Christian interpreters. The only thing clearly apparent is that Christianity has manufactured a stream of seemingly endless supersessionist interpretations in an attempt to cover-up/disguise a fantastic portrait of first-century Messianic Judaism. It is time for the book of Revelation to be recognized as a Jewish Messianic text and for interpretation to be carried out from that perspective. What could Jewish scholars contribute to the body of knowledge on this text if they were to examine the book of Revelation as their own? How would their tradition of interpretation, linguistic, and cultural expertise render this enigmatic text? Relinquishing this text to the Jewish community, Messianic or not, could do more to further Jewish-Christian relations than any document produced by a ‘Council’, ‘Assembly’, ‘Synod’ or ‘Conference’.

» = return to origin

[1] Jesus of Nazareth. »

[2] “Pharisaic Judaism” was wide spread in both ‘the land’ and the Diaspora. Maccoby (1989, pp. 11, 33) notes that while there is little evidence of what kind of Judaism played out in the Diaspora it is not unreasonable “to conclude that the Judaism practised was of the Palestinian type, i.e., Pharisaic on the whole . . . but modified by Hellenistic culture . . .” (p. 33). And while one of Sanders (1977, pp. 426) parenthetical notes says little was known “about distinctive characteristics of Judaism in Asia Minor”, Trebilco (1991, p. 34) sums up the situation of “Jewish identity in Asia Minor” by observing that there was a “commitment to the synagogue, to the Temple tax and thus to the Temple and its worship, to the Sabbath, to food laws and to living in accordance with their tradition”. He concludes that at the very least the evidence “places the Jewish communities of Asia Minor within the mainstream of Judaism”. If one were to add to these observations the well-documented fact that Pharisees held belief in resurrection, in contradiction to others, i.e., Sadducees and Essenes (Flusser 2001, p. 97), and a belief in the resurrected Yeshua of Natzeret (Acts 15:5), it would not be difficult to see this text as ‘Messianic-Pharisaic’ in orientation. Also Kraabel’s (1981, p. 123, points 4 & 5) observations that Jews in the Diaspora were no less Jews or that “their form of Judaism was [no less] authentic” just because they had their own “local alliances . . . social organization[s] and to some degree . . . . [their] own theology”.»

[3] For example: Yeshua – first born from the dead (1:5); vision of the Son of Man – points out he is “the Living One. … was dead, but … [now] alive forever and ever!” (1:18); messages were from “the First and the Last, who died and came alive again.” (2:18); chapter 5 – a hymn to the resurrected “slaughtered lamb” (5:1-14); those who lost their lives in the “Great Persecution” (7:14) are resurrected, and serve God in his Temple day and night (7:14-17); the two witnesses are resurrected, after 3½ days lying dead in the streets, in full view of people, and taken “up into heaven” (11:11-12); God “lives forever and ever” (15:7); those beheaded for witnessing and those who didn’t worship the beast or its image and had not received the mark “they came to life. . . . This is the first resurrection.” (20:4-5); all the dead – from the sea, Death and Sheol – are raised up for judgement (20:12-13); there will no longer be any death (21:4). Urbach (1979, pp. 649ff) offers significant insight into the meaning and importance of Resurrection to Jews during various periods of history as well as the understanding held of its relationship to Redemption. Vermes (1997, pp. 88-89) gives a very brief but interesting overview on what the Dead Sea Scrolls have revealed on the ‘Resurrection fragment’. Also Meyer’s (2007, pp. 52-55) translation of a fascinating late second century Gnostic view on resurrection in The Treatise on Resurrection shows that to the orthodox or non – the subject was a cornerstone in belief and an important one from which to wrest an understanding.»

[4] Rivkin 1997, p. 147. Also Wilson (1989, p. 59) “Prior to the fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), the messianic movement was viewed as another type of Jewish heresy.”»

[5] James.»

[6] For example, the complex imagery in Revelation 12, generally interpreted in Christian circles as dealing with Israel, the birth of Christ, and a battle with the devil (Koester 2001, pp. 118-125; Morris 1984, pp. 155-165; Wall 1991, pp. 157-164ff), could be understood from an astronomical perspective – the woman equals the sign of Virgo, the child equals the moon – a symbol of the Messiah, and the dragon could equal the constellation of Draco, Hydra or Scorpio – thus a ‘signs and seasons’ picture of when the Messiah will appear.»

[7] In How Christian is The Book of Revelation (1974, p. 275-284), Beasley-Murray takes a short but interesting look through the ages at those who found the book of Revelation not only too “Jewish [in] character” but also Christ-less in content (p. 275).»

[8] As Marshall (2001, p. 84) notes: “there is nothing in the usage of ?????s?a in the first century that need connote a Christian gathering as opposed to a Jewish gathering.»

[9] Stern’s (1996, p. 796) comments of Rev 2:9 “synagogue of the Adversary” are particularly useful here as he makes some thought-provoking observations: “Virtually all the commentators ignore the obvious and straightforward interpretation that Yochanan [John] is talking here about Gentiles who pretend to be Jews. The same kind of expression is used in v. 2: “… you tested those who call themselves emissaries but aren’t – and you found them to be liars.” It obviously refers to false apostles, and there the commentators accept the literal sense without demur. But here they opt for the metaphorical interpretation the Yochanan is talking about Jews who reject Yeshua as the Messiah instead of the literal understanding that these are non-Jews who lied and say they are Jews but in fact are Gentiles. In this way a verse which says nothing about Jews is given a virulently antisemitic significance. . . . But nowhere in the New Testament are unbelieving Jews called non-Jews . . . . Nor does anything in the present context call for a violent outburst against Jews.” Also, significantly, Sanders (1985, pp. 408-49): “Jesus was survived by and ‘orthodox’ Jewish messianic movement, … It lacked ‘fellowship’ with sinners [Gentiles]”. See also Marshall’s (2001, pp. 124-127) comments on Rev 2:9 and 3:9.»

[10] Rowland (1982, pp. 408-409) observes “that of all the New Testament writings Revelation is the one which is the product of its Jewish background. … the religious outlook in the document is still dominated by distinctively Jewish practices . . .”.»

[11] Smith’s (1990, p. 83) examination of the origins of ‘early Christianities’ shows that the place Judaism has held in Christian scholarship on “Jewish ‘backgrounds’” is a “duplicitous” one in that it has “provided apologetic scholars with an insulation for early Christianity, guarding it against ‘influence’ from its ‘environment’. … [and] it has been presented by the very same scholars as an object to be transcended by early Christianity”. Marshall (2011, pp. 59-60) in a discussion on the Christian “metanarrative of Western culture” correctly asserts that the “presumed eclipse of Judaism remains a consistent impediment to historical understanding” which in turn “compromises the attempt to understand the Apocalypse within a historical-critical community of discourse.”»

[12] Marshall 2001, p. 207.»

[13] Sanders 1985, p. 323.»

[14] Vermes 1997, pp. 1-2.»

[15] Thiede 2000, pp. 13-14.»

[16] This call is totally in keeping with “Jesus’ challenge” – as Barrie Wilson (2008, p. 83) has put it so succinctly – “ . . . [which] was straightforward. Be better than the Pharisees, the teachers of Torah. Outdo them in righteousness. Live the covenant with God to the fullest, following the law carefully, paying attention not only to the required conduct but also to the corresponding right attitude. … Jesus’ message reinforced the teachings of Deuteronomy.” Also Levine (2006, p, 47), “Jesus does not ‘oppose’ the Law, he extends it. Moreover, his attitude toward it is not liberal, but highly conservative”.»

[17] The term ‘Messianic Jewish’ recorder is used here to mean – a Jew whose Jewish expectations of a Jewish Messiah have been fulfilled in Yeshua of Natzeret. While the term ‘Jewish Christian’ is a popular term in some circles, it is not in keeping wither with the character of the recorder or the book’s contents. The NT, vis-à-vis the book of Revelation, is a part of, as Rivkin (1997, p. 144-145) puts it so succinctly, “the record of a mutation-revelation within the framework of Judaism.” Dieter Georgi (1995, pp. 47-48) in discussing “polemical opposi[tion] of Jew against Jew” points out that such event does not mean “a split in Judaism or a division into two religions. … Judaism of the first century was a colourful, pluralistic phenomenon . . . . Most of those who believed in Jesus as God’s agent lived and survived well in the Jewish matrix of the first century” (emphasis added). Also Chilton and Neusner 1995, pp. 4-8; Harris-Shapiro 1999, pp. 1-3, n 1; and Marshall 2001, pp. 7-9.»

[18] Sanders (2002, pp. 31-55) examination of Jesus’ Judaic practice is enlightening, i.e., Jesus practised purification rites (p. 38), agreed with “sacrificial worship” (p. 39), upheld the priesthood and Temple (pp. 39-41) – he was not “an anti-Jewish Jew” nor was he “the moral and religious opposite of his Jewish contemporaries” (p. 54). Wilson (1989, pp. 40) lays out his early life simply: “He was born of Jewish parents . . . circumcised on the eighth day in accord with Jewish Law . . . . As a boy he celebrated Passover . . . as a youth he learned . . . with . . . Jewish teachers, … amazed at his understanding. Frequenting the synagogue from Sabbath to Sabbath as was his custom . . . .” Also Flusser’s (1977) work, Jesus, is a wonderful examination of those things He did and taught and how they would have been and are understood from a Judaic perspective.»

[19] Sandmel 1978, p. 313.»

[20] A proposition soundly refuted by James (2:21-26). As Wilson (2008, pp. 152-153) writes: “For James . . . . [A] faith-only religion amounted to absolutely nothing. … Rather faith requires being faithful to the law. The differences [with Paul] are profound. Paul’s view positioned faith as an interior experience, something experienced by a person and confined to that individual. … James’s––regards it as something interior and exterior” (original italics).»

[21] Sandmel (1978, p. 308ff) rightly observes that information about the Paul of Acts and the Paul of the Epistles “seem out of character” with one another. Sandmel’s conclusion that Paul’s background “was not Judean Pharisaism, but a Jewish Diaspora milieu into which Hellenistic ideas had deeply penetrated” (p. 336) could indeed explain many of his divergent views. Lapide (1984, p. 52) notes that in spite “of being ‘a light to the nations’ (Isa. 49. 6)” Paul was “[r]ejected three times by Judaism, by various Gnostic and Gentile cults, as well as by his own mother church in Jerusalem . . .”. See also Kraabel’s (1981, p. 118) examination of Luke’s “revisionist treatment of Paul”.»

[22] James, Peter and John.»

[23] Barnabas.»

[24] James.»

[25] Gager’s (2002, pp. 56-76) attempts to separate Paul’s teachings from the response history of Jews to those teachings is an excellent but lop-sided endeavour. If one does consider Paul’s teaching strictly “as it relates to Gentiles” (pp. 70-71) they could arrive at Gager’s understanding that what appears to be contradictory messages in Paul’s writings are not contradictory. However, Luke makes it clear that Paul taught both Gentiles and Jews, not just Gentiles (Acts 17:2). One point Gager does not address is the question of why Paul’s teaching, ‘as it relates to Gentiles’, seems even to contradict those instructions to the Gentiles agreed to at the ‘Jerusalem Council’. Another significant point is Gager’s observation that Paul “no longer thinks of salvation for Gentiles within the Mosaic covenant” (p. 75), is completely at variance with the Jerusalem Council’s purview, and Paul’s own as per Gal. 2:7-10. As Stern (1996, p. 278) points out at least three of the “prohibitions” enjoined by the Jerusalem hierarchy on Gentiles “correspond to the three acts a Jew must die rather than commit”. As Gentiles were turning to the one God of the Jews, and would be in fellowship with them, there had to be definitive guidelines for their inclusion into worship of God alongside Israel (that unity in worship was the “hope” of Jews for Gentiles, see Fredriksen 2002, p. 15). Further examination of this topic down Gager’s road could lead one to ask if the authority of Paul’s “revelation” (Gal. 1:12; Eph. 3:3) supersedes the authority of Ya’akov, “the Lord’s brother” (Gal. 1:19), “’the Just’ or ‘Just One’” (Eisenman 2002, p. 133), and the community in Jerusalem.»

[26] Aland et al., 1975, p. 732.»

[27] John.»

[28] Siker 1991, p. 207, n. 7.»

[29] As Marshall (2001, p. 131) notes, the issues deal with “relations to non-Jews and non-Jewish practice”. All three were Gentiles, enemies of Israel, and considered wicked and evil (Ginzberg, 2003, vol. 2:758-778; Urbach 1979, pp. 134, 486-487, 680, 686).»

[30] “An alternative understanding here . . . based on the Tanakh’s frequent figurative use of the word translated ‘sexual sin’ : the Israelites ate food sacrificed to idols, thus joining in idolatrous worship and thereby ‘committing adultery’ against God – that is , they became apostate” (original italics; Stern 1996, p. 797).»

[31] Faley (1999, p. 30) notes the “post-exilic Jewish belief that . . . [among other things] manna . . . would reappear in the final days”.»

[32] In Isa. 22:20-22, amidst a series of prophecies during the reign of King Hezekiah, in a “[u]nique among biblical oracles” (Berlin and Brettler, 2004, pp. 826-827) prophecy, God promises “Eliakim son of Hilkiah” the authority and responsibilities in place of the royal steward, Shebna, who displeased God. This authority included holding King David’s palace keys, which meant that what “he unlocks none may shut, and what he locks none may open”. Such power “probably denote[d] an office comparable to that of Prime Minister” (Berlin and Brettler, 2004, p. 826).»

[33] 1989, Jewish New Testament.»

[34] Vine 1996, Vol. II. E-Li, p. 168 B. 1. a.»

[35] Vine 1966, Vol. IV. Set-Z, p. 137.»

[36] Neusner 1990, pp. 71-72.»

[37] Urbach 1979, p. 650.»

[38] i.e., Ps. 89:35-37; Isa. 2:1-4; 9:1-6; Dan. 2:44, 45; 7:13-14, 27; Micah 4:1-8.»

[39] Klaassen 1999, p. 237.»

[40] Dr. Phil McGraw is an American psychologist, popular T.V. talk show host, and self-confessed Christian [Online]. Available:»

[41] “Used to express when many people believe something this is not true” (Urban Dictionary [Online]. Available:’s%20new%20clothes).»

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