What’s the difference between Christianity, Messianic Judaism, and Judaism?
In very early Christianity, the church fathers (eg., Justin Martyr and Origen, 130 AD) decided that the New Covenant had replaced the Old Covenant and the church had replaced Jews as God’s chosen people. Not only was did it foment anti-semitic ideas, but it is also responsible for the horrendous treatment the Jewish people were dealt at the hands of Christians. How that history must grieve the Lord!
Going back even further, when Emperor Claudius, who was in office AD 41-54, expelled the Jews, anti-semitism reared its ugly head. The church had gained many Gentile members, even more than Jews. The Gentile believers remained in Rome and began practicing Christianity apart from the Old Testament. Until that time, the Scriptures that they referenced (and so did Yeshua) were from the Jewish Bible (the Tanach). Without Jewish leadership and without a Jewish worldview, error began to creep in. When Jews were finally able to return to Rome upon Claudius’ death, the Gentile church was not willing to receive them back. We see this in the books of Acts and Romans. Only seven years after Paul’s letter to the Romans, society began to redefine Christianity as separate from Judaism, because it was drifting further and further from its roots.
Today, Christians and Messianic Jews worship the same Messiah, but in very different ways. Messianic Jews retain their Jewish identity but are saved the exact same way everyone is: through faith and confession of Yeshua as Lord and Savior (Messiah).
Judaism does not recognize Yeshua as
Messianic Jews believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, but they continue to worship Him in decidedly Jewish ways, keeping the seven feasts of Israel and living life as Jews. One thing that sets them apart from most of Christianity is the observance of the seventh day Sabbath.
Many Christians have come full circle. Instead of thinking of themselves as separate from Jews, they recognize the “one new man” spoken of in Ephesians 2:14-16. They worship alongside their Jewish brethren, keeping the feasts and worshiping God through them. In Romans 11:17-21, Paul tells the Romans (Gentile believers) to recognize that they are grafted into the same olive tree and draw their sustenance from the root thereof.
So where does that leave me? I am a Gentile, but my husband is a Jew. We both worship the same Messiah and are heaven-bound upon leaving our mortal bodies. We attend a Jewish congregation within a Christian church, one of very few in the world. We keep the feasts and celebrate the Sabbath every week. We are drawing people, both Jew and Gentile, to the Lord in these end days. So I don’t label myself at all, other than to say I am a believer. I simply remember Romans 2:28-29.
“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”