Import jQuery

What’s the difference between Messianics and Christians?

A Christian woman visited our congregation last night.

She emailed me this morning and asked, “This is all new to me; what’s the difference between “Yeshua believer and Torah follower” and typical Christianity?

Here’s my response. I tried to avoid pushing negativity towards Christianity, as some tend to do. I also didn’t dwell on theological differences between different Messianic organizations. I tried to portray in simple terms what we believe.

Here’s what I wrote:

Hi [name],

Thanks for coming last night. I apologize I was not able to stay afterwards and chat.

The largest difference between Messianics and Christians is that Messianics believe God's commandments are still valid. That's why we keep the sabbath, celebrate the Biblical feasts (like Passover), don't eat foods the Bible says are unclean, for example.

Our Biblical basis for this is Yeshua's own life. He kept the Biblical feasts and said that God's commandments are in force until earth passes away.

Another difference between Messianics and Christians is that Messianics see the ongoing relevance of Israel. The Bible is a book about the people of Israel; God's law given to Israel, God's redemptive plan for Israel, the prophets sent to Israel, and Israel's Messiah. And it will end with Israel's Messiah reigning in Jerusalem. We don't think Jesus came to create a new religion where Israel and God's commandments are of little relevance; on the contrary, we believe Yeshua the Messiah strengthened God's commandments and that one day, all Israel will see him as part of God's ultimate plan for his people.

We believe both Jews and gentiles are called to keep God's commandments.

I hope that answers your questions! Blessings in Messiah.

I think it’s important for Messianics to not demonize Christianity while we explain why we keep the commandments or reject supersessionism. Explaining the good and dwelling on that tends to create better fruit, I think, than focusing on the errors of greater Christianity.

Of course, the Messianic movement is different things to different people. Some Messianic organizations, like MJTI, say the Messianic movement is only for Jews, with the exception of a minority of gentile supporters, and wish to distinguish between Messianic Jewish congregations and Hebrew roots congregations.

Others, like me, are more inclusive; seeing the Messianic movement as part of a greater reformation of all God’s people, both Jews and gentiles.

How do you explain the Messianic thing to Christians?


  1. "How do you explain the Messianic thing to Christians?"

    Simple (for me): Jews following Yeshua as Messiah while living as Jews in complete and inseparable unity with their own people - religiously, traditionally, culturally and ethically.

  2. Gene,

    Karaite and Chabadniks are also ethnically and generally culturally Jewish. And we can marry their daughters, but not give our daughters to their sons. Because they are minim and/or afeiqorosim.

  3. That's a pretty good summation, Judah.

    Gene, your definition works as applied to the Jews in the Messianic movement, but it doesn't recognize the large body of non-Jews in "the movement", even those who worship in the more "Bilateral Ecclesiology" compliant congregations. The person Judah emailed probably wasn't ready for an answer that is any more complicated than the one he gave her.

  4. Aharon... really not sure what you are getting at. I was merely defining the Messianic Jewish Movement, not which Jewish group is "minim". Also, I said "eTHically", not "eTHNically".

  5. "Gene, your definition works as applied to the Jews in the Messianic movement, but it doesn't recognize the large body of non-Jews in "the movement"

    James, I would leave that for answering the probable follow up question (e.g. What about all those Gentiles/Christians in your synagogues?). That I would answer as follows: "Many supportive Christians/Gentiles have chosen to worship along side their Jewish brothers and sisters".

  6. " "Many supportive Christians/Gentiles have chosen to worship along side their Jewish brothers and sisters".

    Yah, right...Only brcause the BE crod is forcing them to be "supportive" instead of accepting them as equals...

    Smoke and tactics....

  7. Gene, I've noticed a lot of Christians are interested in the "Jewish roots" of their faith until they find out just how Jewish those roots are. I think they're expecting basically "Christians in kippahs" and when they find Messianic Jews keeping "the Law", studying the Talmud, and even Kabbalah, it becomes uninteresting or even a little scary.

    What Judah told his questioner is most likely the limit of her interest, unless she's one of those rare Christians who feels like challenging their assumptions.

  8. I think the concept to avoid condemning what other do or believe is a good approach that so often people fail to take.

    Personally, I rather say "I do this and this because of these reasons" and leave it at that rather than say "I do this and this because of these reason and those that do not do so are wrong." If what I am doing is based upon solid reason then that is all that is needed to support myself.

    I think quite often we feel the need to add the condemning part about alternate viewpoints is because of our own insecurities and if we can render the other viewpoint as completely worthless then we feel like we are better validating our own viewpoint (at least subconsciously).

    I speak of this for not only practices of faith. So often I see if one person does say, one certain diet, they need to not only say why that diet works for them, but why other diets are inferior. Truthfully, while one thing (a diet in this example) might be better than another, it could also be that that the other diet is pretty good and might work better for another person for whatever reason.

    Thus, I think you took a good approach to answering the question.

    As to the content of the answer I might say that Messianic Judaism tries to represent a first century faith walk more similar to what is seen in the book of Acts as compared to many churches today. There are certainly cultural differences between Christianity and Messianic Judaism as well and many from a Jewish background feel more comfortable within this framework. At our congregation it has often been said that to Jews Messianic Judaism represents our Jewish roots and to non-Jews it represents the Spiritual DNA of their faith. I think that is a pretty good description.

  9. Judah,

    I like the possitve approach. In the greater Messianic movement, what you said is true. It is about following Yeshua fully.
    We do need to tell the truth about the paganism to those who come to learn and that is tough stand for many to make especially in our culture today. But for those just inquiring in general it's a great place to begin. well said.


  10. I thing the more excellent question would be: What is the similarities between Jews and Christians? There we all find our unity in Christ Jesus, there we all men find salvation. When we come to christ, we come as we are...Roman, Jew, Greek, etc. Being a Jew means being a chosen people by our Creator and being a Christian means choosing to believe in the God of the Jews. Our unity in Christ Jesus makes us bound to one another, brothers and sisters in the Lord, not by laws and traditions but by the precious blood of the One True Lamb.

  11. Actually, Ephesians 1:3-6 tells us that we non-Jews were also "chosen" in a way. In a sense, we are all "chosen" (though not in the covenant manner of the Children of Israel) because we were created in God's image. That "image" is the part of us that is designed to seek God. We don't have anything to do with it.

    The part were we have choice is in what we do with the gift of life God gave us.


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