Dear Refiner's Fire...
I have a nagging question: WHO IS A JEW? Can a believer in Christ call him or herself a Jew since Paul said that, one is a Jew "inwardly"? Is a Jew a person born of Jewish, man-blood (Ethnic)? Is a Jew any person of any blood who keeps the Law of Moses (Judaism) (Religious)?
Or, is a Jew any man, not of his own blood, but of the divine-blood of the lamb that is the image and evangelizer of God in Messiah Yeshua by being born again? (A Jew by blood sacrifice in spirit) who also keeps the Law through a transcendent level of New/Same Covenant (spiritual)?
If you say the first, how is salvation brought to the world through a non believer? (Salvation comes from the Jews.) If you say the second person, how is the Law salvation? Do you say the 3rd? So, how do we bless Israel to meet scripture when the majority refuses to believe Jesus to be the Messiah, spits at his name, calls him a mamzer, and says in the Sanhedrin that he does inappropriate things with donkeys?
The fact is, any person of the world, anyone born of Jewish blood, or any person in Judaism (blood or not) that denies the Lord Jesus as the Messiah, Son of the Living God, applies to 1 John 2:22 which identifies them as antichrists. (Agreed by Dr. Brown) So, by their own hate-filled admission and 1 John 2:22, how do I bless Israel?
Great question and the answer is: There a many varying trains of thought about what constitutes a "Jew." First and foremost is that a Jew is someone who is descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who is born of a Jewish father and/or a Jewish mother; it could also be someone who has formally converted to Judaism. The Jewish people are part of an ethnic group originating in the Israelites or Hebrew people of the ancient Middle East.
According to the Scriptures, the definition of a Jew is three-fold:
(1) Jews are a nation and a people. To be considered Jewish one must be a physical descendant of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 12:1-3).
(2) The Biblical lineage is patrilineal (through the father). For example, Moses had a Gentile wife and King David's great grandmother was Ruth, the Moabitess, yet their children were all considered Jewish.
(3) The Scriptures also indicate, however, that if either parent is Jewish or if a grandparent is Jewish one can identify himself or herself as being Jewish and can claim himself as part of God's Chosen people. (After all, Yeshua was Jewish through His mother!)
Scriptures also reveals that people can "become Jews" through formal conversion (Ruth 1:16) - which means they have to be Torah obedient - following God's original teaching and instruction. Yahweh was perfectly clear about the activities of those who were "grafted in" to Israel:
Numbers 15: 13 "'Everyone who is native-born must do these things in this way when he brings an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 14 For the generations to come, whenever an alien or anyone else living among you presents an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, he must do exactly as you do. 15 The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD: 16 The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you.'"
The question as to exactly "who constitutes a Jew" is hard to describe. While Jews are an ethnic group originating in the ancient Israelites, the ethnicity is strongly related to the religion of Judaism itself - dating back to Abraham, with whom Yaweh made His original covenant. There are black, white, brown and yellow Jews, which means Jews are not necessarily a "race", although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1980s that they are a race for the purposes of certain anti-discrimination laws.
Jews fall under the heading of "Family" more than anything else - in the style of, for instance, Army families who are able to form immediate bonds anywhere in the world with complete strangers who are wearing an Army uniform - simply because that uniform indicates "membership" in the same organization. Like Jews, military families have to obey strict rules and regulations; disobedience can have dire consequences which include being kicked out of the "Family". Unlike the military where being kicked out strips the person of their military identity, someone who has Jewish lineage remains Jewish, even if their family has disowned them. Their obedience to God is what's important....
Are Torah observant Gentiles who believe in Yeshua automatically Jews? No - not even if they go through a formal "conversion" process often required by rabbinical teachings! Torah observant Gentile believers in Christ are referred to as "Messianic Gentiles", while believing Jews are called "Messianic Jews".
Some believe that everyone and anyone who believes in Yeshua and is Torah observant, automatically falls under the generic heading of "Jew". The question then remains is: If that's the case, what happens to the Scripture that tells us that the Gentiles will make the Jews jealous (Romans 10:19; 11:11, 11:14; John 1:11-12, Acts 15:14)? It's not just any Gentile that will make the Jews jealous, because most Christians erroneously denounce Torah - but it is those believers who realize that Torah's "forever" commands pertain to EVERY believer and are Torah observant believers in Christ! Those are the ones who will ultimately "make the Jews jealous".
Some people insist that Paul said anyone who was a Jew "inwardly" can consider himself to be Jewish, but there is more to it, than that!
Romans 2: 28 For the real Jew is not merely Jewish outwardly: true circumcision is not only external and physical. 29 On the contrary, the real Jew is one inwardly; and true circumcision is of the heart, spiritual not literal; so that his praise comes not from other people but from God.
In the above, Paul was not saying that anyone who believes himself to be a Jew inwardly automatically becomes a Jew. He was attempting to show people what constitutes "a Jew" according to God - and God made it perfectly clear to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that He expected total obedience to His Torah from both the Jews by birth and those who are grafted in. What we label ourselves is irrelevant; our hearts and our willingness to obey and to please our Creator is the real issue.
Response from Andrew Gabriel Roth, Aramaic scholar and translator of the Khabouris Codex which became the source of the Aramaic English New Testament:
The better question is not "Who is a JEW" because JEW refers to JUDAH and there are 11 other tribes but who is "A HEBREW?" Who is he who has CROSSED OVER IN OBEDIENCE TO YHWH? That means no lineage gets a pass. If a "Jew" commits adultery he is as guilty as a Gentile, but that is NOT for a Gentile to thump his chest in arrogance and assume that he can revoke that which YHWH declared cannot be revoked. A person who does so is condemned by YHWH and no grace will touch him because his sole hope for life after death was a JEWISH HEBREW CARPENTER who said, "Until heaven and earth disappear, not the least stroke of the pen will pass from the Torah until ALL is accomplished". Heaven and earth are still here and so is the double witness of Matthew 5:17-19 and Luke 16:17.
Our Savior was a HEBREW. He had to be to inherit David's throne and fulfill Messianic promises. Again, the prophets didn't talk about a Gospel being fulfilled by a Roman or a Philistine or a Babylonian. If being a HEBREW were only confined to Israel, then how do we explain the ministry of Jonah to Nineveh? How do we explain ALL RACES being judged and perishing in the flood of Noah? What about Melchizedek, Jethro and Job - all righteous and obedient servants ACCORDING TO TORAH and ALL being outside of Israel? Torah and Gospel are the same thing.
Y'shua summarized the Gospels through the Ten Commandments and Deuteronomy 6:4. His disciples like James talk about "the perfect Torah that is liberty", and Paul to Timothy says "ALL Scripture is fit for reproof" including that inconvenient "Torah of the Jews" that the Bereans themselves followed and were praised for following. Rav Shaul kept a nazirite vow, performed circumcison at least once and fasted on Yom Kippur. He had to rush home for Shavuot (Pentecost) and kept Saturday Shabbat 84 times - just in the book of Acts alone. John defined sin as "transgression of the LAW"....Well, that is Torah! And this is 30+ years after the resurrection and 15 years after the events of Acts 15 so we need to dismiss the "new dispensation".... As John says, "the new commandment is the old one that you have had from the beginning".
In Hebrew and Aramaic the word TRANSGRESS means "to go around the law" so the question remains, who do the Torah-less Gentiles want to be? Do they want to CROSS OVER into obedience and lift the curse that is on their heads for daring to question the nationality of YHWH's chosen servants and Savior to the world, or do they want to GO AROUND the covenant, into the broad path that leads to destruction? The choice is, of course, theirs.
And finally, Yeshua said those who kept the commandments of His Father (remember, "my teaching is not my own but Him who sent me") are his brothers, sisters and parents. He was a Hebrew - and so are those who obey him.
Rav Shaul said in Romans 3, "What advantage has the Jew? In every way for they have been entrusted with the oracles of Elohim (God)."
Y'shua and all the NT writers save Luke were Jewish and even Luke may have been a proselyte like Cornelius in Acts 10.
YHWH said that Abraham's righteousness came from keeping His "Torah, statutes, judgments and laws" (Genesis 26:5). Abraham's faith was justified by his works and it also works the other way. Until Abraham showed his willingness to obey YHWH with respect to his son Isaac, he didn't get the full blessings. He bound Isaac because of his faith that YHWH would raise him from the dead to fulfill his other promise. Faith and works go together.
Ephesians 2:11-16 makes it clear that Gentiles become grafted into the COMMONWEALTH of Israel. Romans 11, especially verse 25 talks about how, even if some Jews are made enemies of the Gospel that all of them will be saved. As is stated clearly there "Elohim's promises ARE IRREVOCABLE."
Many hate "the Jews" including many Christians. Before anyone can curse Israel as Balaam did and bring destruction on to his head, they need to understand that Abraham was BORN A GENTILE and BECAME a Hebrew. Abraham was born in Ur of the Chaldees - Babylon. He lived as a Babylonian for 75 years, becoming "exalted father" Abram of his tribe. Later YHWH changed his name from exalted father to "AbraHAM" - father of MANY nations, because all the world is blessed through him, but not if they curse his descendants.
There is a day, however, at the end of Genesis 11 but before the beginning of Genesis 12, where Abram goes to bed a Chaldean and wakes up a Hebrew. Why? Because he heard YHWH's voice and began obeying it. HEBREW - the word first occurs in Genesis 12:1, means TO CROSS OVER. Abram "crosses over" both physically AND spiritually in his trip to Haran in obedience to YHWH's command. The obedience and the trip go hand in hand and forevermore he is "Abram/Abraham the HEBREW". That means anyone who comes into YHWH's instruction - or Torah, and whether they are "Jewish" or not - becomes a HEBREW.
For those Gentiles who have inherited nothing but lies from their fathers (Jeremiah 16) who don't like this, they are in for some problems because YHWH NEVER made ANY covenant with Gentiles. EVER. ("Jews" has become an all-encompassing term that originated from the word "Yehudah" who was one of Jacob's sons. There were no "Jews" until Jacob begat a son who became the Tribe of Yehudah. People weren't actually labeled until Abraham when it became an "us" (the Hebrews) and "them" (the non-Hebrews who did not believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.)
Jeremiah 31:31-34 talks about a New or Renewed Covenant with the houses of Israel and Judah. There is no covenant with Babylon or with the Assyrians or the Philistines or the Egyptians. YHWH says repeatedly "there is ONE Torah for Jew and for foreigner" and in Exodus 12:38-40 an EREB RAV (mixed multitude) came out of Egypt with Israel. The Hebrew word EREB means "mixing of light and shadow" and can also mean SUNSET for that reason. Therefore these people who were redeemed were of different skin tones and races. That's the only way to express the concept in Hebrew.