Edit Schaeffer, wife of the late Francis Schaeffer, wrote a book with the title, Christianity is Jewish, Her point is that Christianity, no matter how un-Jewish some of its current forms of expression may be, has its roots in Judaism and in the Jewish people.
The facts are simply not a matter of debate. For years all of the disciples of Yeshua were Jewish. The New Testament was entirely written by Jews (Luke being, in all likelihood, a Jewish proselyte). The very concept of a Messiah is Jewish. Finally, Yeshua Himself was Jewish – was then and apparently is still, since nowhere does Scripture say or suggest that he has ceased to be a Jew. It was Jews who brought the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul the chief apostle to the Gentiles was an observant Jew all of his life. Indeed the main issue in the early church was whether without undergoing complete conversion to Judaism a Gentile could be a Christian at all. The Messiah’s various atonements are rooted in the Jewish sacrificial system; the Lord’s Supper is rooted in the Jewish Passover traditions; baptism is a Jewish practice; and indeed the entire New Testament is built on the Hebrew Bible.
Furthermore, methods of biblical interpretation, the form and order of worship, the church alter, the use of a pulpit, the titles of church offices (e.g. elder, teacher, shepherd), and the vocabulary of prayer (e.g. amen, hallelujah) all have been taken over and adopted from Judaism.
The Jewishness of Christian faith is clear throughout the New Testament, but Paul makes it explicit in the book of Romans. He writes, “The Jews were entrusted with the very works of God”, (meaning the Bible), and then he expands on the theme, adding that the people of Israel were made God’s children, the Sh’Khinah (God’s glory manifested) has been with them, the covenants are theirs, likewise the giving of the Torah, the temple service and the promises; the Patriarch are theirs; and from them, as far as His physical descent is concerned, came the Messiah…
The Church was born in Jerusalem, King David’s royal abode. A city with a history of prophets, priests, and kings, Jerusalem, with its sanctuary, had been the focus of Jewish religious life for over a millennium. After Jesus departed into heaven, His followers remained continually at the temple, praising God (Luke 24:53). Jesus had instructed them to stay in Jerusalem to await the coming of the Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). A group of about one hundred and twenty Jewish believers come together in an upper room for prayer (1:14 – 15). Among them were the Twelve from Galilee (1:11, 13).
Down through the centuries the Bible has enriched our language, ennobled our literature, and inspired our souls, Spurgeon noted, “A Bible which is falling apart usually belongs to someone who is not”. And this Bible is a Jewish book.
A profound and abiding Christian appreciation for Jewish roots and the Jewish people comes from sensing inwardly that one’s deepest spiritual identity is with a Jewish Lord, and that “salvation” is from the Jews (John 4:22). It is being cognizant that one has received a kosher heart transplant, or being changed from the inside out. It is the existential realization that spiritually one is “grafted into Israel”, a Jewish people. A new family and a child of Abraham.
John Denson is currently serving as Director of Shalom Ministry. John welcomes your questions and con be reached at:
P.O. Box 19695
Detroit, MI 48219