Judaism and the Early Church The Jewish Opposition

The Jewish Opposition

Jesus took his message to others because he was rejected by his own as that he is rejected by his own because he tells them that it is God's will and his own mission to go beyond the confines of their - and his own –Jewish faith.[1] Jesus Christ taught both Jews and Gentiles that he was the way, the truth and the life.[2] Some Jews believed and followed, the disciples, for instance, but many Jews rejected the teachings of Jesus Christ. Even beyond the life, death and resurrection of Christ, Jews continued to reject Jesus.

The Theology of Jews and Jesus

Jesus Himself and His first followers were Jews. He instructed them in a fashion very reminiscent of first century itinerant Jewish rabbis. It is not surprising to find the primitive church after Pentecost (around AD 30) composed almost exclusively of Jews from Palestine and from the Jewish Diaspora.[3] Jesus came as a Jew but He died for all men, not just Jews. Paul in his missionary activity in Acts is first directed toward the Jews. Jews are exhorted to convert.[4]

It is interesting to point out that Jesus knew that not everyone, Jews in particular, would accept Him as God and Savior.

Jesus and Christology are presumed to be the decisive dividing point between Christians and Jews. [5] For many Jews, Jesus was a good teacher but they reject “Messiah” status and do not believe that Jesus has literally fulfilled all the prophecies in the first century. [6] Other Jews have a problem with the incarnation of God in Jesus, the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. [7] This boils down again to the Christology and Lordship of Jesus. Unfortunately, Christians have turned this into a battle that “they” have won by de-legitimating Jews and Judaism. Some Christians say that Jews were made so arrogant by their experience of being the chosen people that they “missed” the message of Jesus. They have portrayed Jews as Christ killers amongst other things. Judaism has reciprocated such contempt. Jews have called out Christianity as unbelievable and idolatry. Two kindred faiths have blown up into enemies.

[1] Fergus Kerr. “Rage against Jesus (Luke 4:21-30)” Expository Times. Volume ii8 Number 3 Pages 139-140

[2] John 14:6

[3] Marvin R. Wilson, Our Father Abraham (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989) p 40-41.

[4] Dieter Georgi. “The Early Church: Internal Jewish Migration or New Religion?,”65- 66.

[5] Denny Weaver, “Footnote on Jesus,” Crosscurrents Magazine, Winter 2007, 1.

[6] Ed Hindson, and Ergun Caner, eds. The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, 300.