Messianic Apologetics has produced a variety of commentaries on various books of the Bible under the “for the Practical Messianic” byline. These can be used in an individual, small group, or congregational study.
A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic
One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.
Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.
A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.
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A Survey of the Apostolic Scriptures for the Practical Messianic
As a Messianic Believer, do you have a problem reading the New Testament? When you read the Apostolic Scriptures, are you confused when you encounter the Gospels, Acts, or Epistles? Have you possibly been taught that the “New Testament” replaces the “Old Testament,” and that there are contradictions between the two, only to be reconciled by the coming of Yeshua? Do you have difficulty reconciling the words of the Torah to Yeshua, Peter, Paul, John, and the other Apostles?
If you have ever asked any of these questions, it is time that you receive a re-introduction to the Apostolic Scriptures. These texts record the ministry and teachings of Yeshua the Messiah, the history of the First Century Messianic community, and the challenges that the early Believers in Yeshua faced. These texts are not contrary to the Torah, but do continue God’s progressive story that begins in Genesis. They have valuable lessons that every Messianic Believer and Messianic congregation must learn in this hour, as the Messianic community grows and matures.
A Survey of the Apostolic Scriptures for the Practical Messianic takes you on a journey through the New Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Apostolic Scriptures, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the New Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.
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Acts 15 for the Practical Messianic
There is some shifting going on in today’s Messianic world as it concerns the unity that Jewish and non-Jewish Believers are to experience in Messiah Yeshua, and whether or not non-Jewish Believers are really called to obey God’s Torah. Much of this controversy is not based in an objective, historically conscious reading of the Scriptures—but instead in shifting ministerial alliances and religious politicking. The answer is not going to be found in evaluating who-said-what, but will be found in going to the Biblical text and in accurately evaluating what the trajectory of God’s Word is.
Around two decades after the ascension of Yeshua into Heaven, the message of salvation began being spread to the Mediterranean world outside the Land of Israel, and many from the nations eagerly embraced it. Was this just a bi-product of the message going to the Jewish people in the Diaspora, or was it the Father’s Divine plan? What was to take place with the new, non-Jewish Believers? Did they have to be circumcised and become Jewish proselytes? Or were all of the Believers, regardless of their ethnicity, to come together in a new environment rooted in the completed work of God’s Son? The Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 assembled to consider these issues, and it fairly ruled on what was to be done.
Too many of today’s Messianics refer to Acts 15 without a great deal of consideration for the context of the events as they took place in the First Century C.E. We often assume things that we should not assume, and we overlook things that we should not be overlooking. This study critically examines Acts 15 in detail, is engaged with current Acts scholarship, and tries to properly compare and contrast the ancient setting of the Jerusalem Council with some of what we see going on in the emerging Messianic movement today. What can we learn from all of this? What important lessons have we avoided for far too long?
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James for the Practical Messianic
The letter of James the Just, the half-brother of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah, is not without its controversy. Often considered to have the most Jewish character of among all the books of the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament), James’ epistle sits between two extremes: those who deny his message, and those who give his message a weight that it was never intended to have. James’ letter has a distinctive emphasis on the works of the individual, and so many have viewed what he has to say as actually annulling the grace of God in the process of salvation. Some have denied James’ place in the Biblical canon, and others have forgotten who James was as a humble, kind, and patient servant of the Lord.
James’ epistle has a universal moral message for all of humanity, and especially the Messianic community today. Written at the emergence of First Century Messianic faith, James was observing some of the controversies and issues creeping in as the gospel message went beyond the Land of Israel, and God’s Kingdom was in the process of being restored. Some were causing discord and forgetting the ethics that God requires His people to have in the Torah. When you add to this the early persecutions that the Believers faced, coupled with the fact that corrupt rich people were being shown favor in the assembly, you have a letter that deals with a great deal of practical faith, holy living, and consideration for others. James’ admonitions must be heeded, in order for people to find themselves in the will and purpose of the Lord.
In the commentary James for the Practical Messianic, Messianic Apologetics editor J.K. McKee addresses what we need to learn as Messianic Believers today from James’ epistle. He takes into account the distinct Jewish character of James, considering various passages in the letter with statements made in the Torah and Tanach, the Apocrypha, Philo, Josephus, the Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls, and also the Mishnah and Talmud. He also considers the First Century history behind James’ letter, and also parallels that exist between statements in James and remarks made in Greco-Roman classicism. Most importantly, various important theological opinions that have existed over the centuries regarding James are addressed, especially as to whether or not the Epistle of James at all contradicts the theology of the letters of Paul. Some of the current scholastic trends in examination of James are also considered, both enriching and challenging the diligent student who is looking for a distinctive Messianic perspective of this letter.
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Romans for the Practical Messianic
Paul’s letter to the Romans is easily discerned to be the most influential letter ever written in human history. It has had a significant impact on religious authorities, governmental authorities, and philosophies on God, human behavior, and societal order. There is no denying the great theological importance that the Epistle to the Romans has had throughout Christian history, especially since the Protestant Reformation.
Romans was written against the backdrop of both the Apostle Paul setting his ministry activity westward toward Spain, and the Roman Jewish Believers returning to Rome after the Edict of Claudius, and finding that things would not exactly be the same with the assembly of Messiah followers being majority non-Jewish. Paul’s letter to the Romans was written as a presentation of his theology of the gospel, to a group of people with whom he was not directly acquainted, but also to issue some admonitions to their circumstances, so that all might get along. Romans is a key epistle for Pauline theology to be sure, regarding issues surrounding salvation, justification and righteousness, the Jewish people and the Kingdom of Israel, the nations, and the Torah of Moses. Yet, Romans is also about some significant First Century issues regarding the redemption of the Jewish people and the nations, and them functioning together in one Body of Messiah.
In much of Romans examination, only up until the past few decades, Paul’s letter has principally been viewed as a theological treatise and not a letter written to ancient Messiah followers. While there are many useful perspectives and insights offered by those past voices who have considered Romans—the setting of Romans is quite important and most relevant for the broad, contemporary Messianic movement. Much of the ancient setting of Romans, with the Jewish Believers getting reintegrated into the fellowships of Believers, parallels much of what we see in our own faith community. The Messianic movement of today is a majority non-Jewish group of people—yet both Jewish and non-Jewish Believers do rely on one another, and should be eagerly about “lov[ing] one another with mutual affection; outdo[ing] one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10, NRSV).
This Messianic study on Romans is definitely one produced for the 2010s, and for the challenges that the Messianic movement presently faces! Messianic Apologetics editor J.K. McKee offers a compelling examination of this letter, appreciating the perspectives of Law-positive Christian traditions which have preceded us, but one which is also engaged with some contemporary perspectives. These include proposals present via the New Perspective on Paul, studies and thoughts regarding the “I” of Romans ch. 7, egalitarian views regarding figures such as Phoebe and Junia in Romans ch. 16, and most especially current Messianic handling of the topic of Israel in Romans chs. 9-11. Romans for the Practical Messianic is a commentary that should be welcome in many Messianic libraries, as it interjects some well needed information into our developing theology of both Paul and the mission of God.
Also included in this commentary is an exposition on Acts 28:11-31: Paul’s arrival in Rome.
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1 Corinthians for the Practical Messianic
What has been commonly labeled the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, is actually a second piece of correspondence written to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:9), and is a letter which tends to be quite puzzling for not just Christian readers, but most especially Messianic readers. While 1 Corinthians is hardly a letter that goes unappreciated, being able to sort through the divisions, sectarianism, and inappropriate actions of the different groups among the First Century Corinthian Believers, is something that can catch many completely off guard. Not enough, in looking through 1 Corinthians, are aware that they are engaged in reading one side of a two-sided conversation, between the Apostle Paul and a group of people who widely, and in some cases desperately, needed discipline and help. Between the letters of 1 and 2 Corinthians, more was written from the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian Messiah followers, than any other group in the First Century C.E.
A diverse array of topics—ranging from Biblical faith being the true and genuine philosophy, to the proper application of God’s supremacy over all supernatural beings, to the gifts of the Spirit, to the personal status of different individuals—is considered in 1 Corinthians. Admonitions are issued to those caught in sin, as are answers to errant ideas or sayings circulating among sectors of the Corinthian Messiah followers. Pleas for the Corinthians to return to a steady and secure path of faith and trust in the Lord are issued.
Even with some discussion on parts of the letter of 1 Corinthians, here and there within the Messianic movement, 1 Corinthians still remains one of the most difficult and elusive writings within the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament) for our faith community to examine. This resource, 1 Corinthians for the Practical Messianic, intends to change much of the insecurity that today’s Messianic people may have. Messianic Apologetics editor J.K. McKee focuses Messianic people on: the text of Paul’s letter, various translation issues from Greek into English, background issues from either Second Temple Judaism or Greco-Roman classicism, and academic proposals such as various statements in 1 Corinthians not at all being remarks of the Apostle Paul, but instead Corinthian slogans Paul is having to respond to or refute. This commentary is a significant resource for providing clarity to an epistle, where there has not been enough probing, for either its ancient or modern relevance.
Also included in this commentary is an exposition on Acts 18:1-18: Paul’s visit to Corinth.
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2 Corinthians for the Practical Messianic
After a Bible reader has waded through some of the significant issues and controversies of 1 Corinthians, it is easy to treat a letter like 2 Corinthians as a kind of “appendix.” The letter follows no formal outline, and shifts in its tone, so much that there are examiners who think that 2 Corinthians could actually be a compilation of multiple pieces of correspondence. What is the point of 2 Corinthians? That a figure like the Apostle Paul has heard about the much-improved behavior of the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 7:6-16), and that he is preparing this audience to see him again in person (2 Corinthians 12:14; 13:1), are clear enough.
2 Corinthians is an intensely personal letter written by the Apostle Paul to an audience which has some significant spiritual difficulties. All too frequently, it can be forgotten that a good part of Paul’s ministry service was about much more than just providing First Century Believers with good theology; a good part of Paul’s ministry service was demonstrating through his consistent faithfulness a genuine emulation of the Lord Yeshua and a complete reliance upon God. To understand and appreciate a letter like 2 Corinthians, is to not just identify with the Apostle Paul and his legacy of service—but to also enter into a venue where each of us should consider how little or how much various leaders, teachers, and servants in the Body of Messiah throughout history have conformed to his example. As is directed, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Messiah’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). While there are bits and pieces of 2 Corinthians which we have all benefited from in our reading of Holy Scripture and personal times of meditation, recognizing the critical place of this letter for understanding the person of the Apostle Paul, and the legitimate strains and stresses of serving God, needs to be better recognized.
As today’s broad Messianic movement enters into the late 2010s, 2 Corinthians for the Practical Messianic—while surely presenting some important theological discussions—may surprisingly offer us more to consider about our present level of spirituality. There are First Century background issues involving Second Temple Judaism and Greco-Roman classicism to be weighed, but there are more vital questions to be probed about the difficulties faced by an individual person like Paul. How much do we not consider ourselves as beneficiaries of not just Paul’s letters, but his steadfast devotion to the Messiah? What overlooked lessons and necessary corrections, do today’s Messianic people need to take from 2 Corinthians—especially given the new challenges that we will be facing, as salvation history steadily moves toward the return of Israel’s Messiah?
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Galatians for the Practical Messianic
Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians is easily the most difficult to understand text for people within today’s broad Messianic movement. Galatians has been historically interpreted by Christianity as delivering Believers a stark choice between God’s Law and God’s grace. Those who choose any obedience to the Law, according to this view of Paul, are unfaithful to the Messiah and the saving power of the gospel. Supposedly, Paul was desperately concerned for anyone who was trying to keep the Torah of Moses. Consequently, Galatians is a frequently-quoted text to today’s Messianic Believers, many of whom are simply trying to live a life of holiness by obeying God’s commandments in accordance with the example of obedience modeled by Yeshua (Jesus).
Understanding Galatians in its original context, for its original audience, and for the original issues that it addressed, can be a severe challenge. Was the issue that the Galatians faced forced circumcision, followed by salvation―or was the issue ritual proselyte conversion for inclusion among God’s people? Likewise, who were the people errantly influencing the Galatians? Were they authorized members of the assembly, or misguided outsiders with a definitive agenda?
In the commentary Galatians for the Practical Messianic, Messianic Apologetics editor J.K. McKee takes a direct look at the issues of Paul’s letter as he rebukes the Galatians for errors that have crept into their midst. Engaging with contemporary Christian scholarship on Galatians, critical questions regarding common conclusions of Paul’s words are asked. Are Paul and Yeshua truly at odds when it comes to the Torah? Were the Jerusalem leaders and Paul at constant odds with one another? How do Paul’s Pharisaical background and views affect the composition of this letter? What were the spiritual dynamics present in Galatia? What does the term “works of law” really mean? These are only a few of the questions that are considered. Likewise, some of the proposals from the New Perspective of Paul in theological studies are also analyzed.
The Epistle to the Galatians gives us a small peek into the world of the First Century Body of Messiah, and the social dynamics and divisions between Jewish and non-Jewish Believers that had to be resolved. Many of the issues that the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 would address had yet to be discussed. Many did not understand the Abrahamic blessing of his seed being a blessing to the whole world. Many thought that inclusion among God’s people came via ethnicity, rather than faith. Many did not know the proper place of obedience to the Torah in the post-resurrection era. Paul’s letter set in motion the need for these issues to be addressed by the First Century faith community.
This commentary will aid many Messianic Believers who have difficulty with Paul’s letter to the Galatians. It also provides solid, exegetical answers to those who are skeptical, if not critical, of today’s Messianic movement.
Also included in this commentary is an exposition on Acts 13:13-14:28: Paul’s visit to Southern Galatia.
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Ephesians for the Practical Messianic
The Epistle of Ephesians is a letter that contains a very important message for the people of God, who are to be encouraged in accomplishing His mission for the world. Yeshua the Messiah is portrayed as exalted above the cosmos, with His resurrection power being accessible to all Believers. God’s people have been selected by Him to be holy, corporately composing a Temple in which His presence can dwell. By the sacrificial work of the cross, Jewish and non-Jewish followers of the Messiah are to be united together as a “one new humanity”—the mystery of the gospel! All are to serve one another in the Body of Messiah in mutual submission, as Yeshua’s thoughts and mindset nourish the whole ekklesia. People are encouraged to emulate God in their behavior, living distinctively different lives from those around them.
In varying degrees, Ephesians has often been highly valued by today’s Messianic movement because of its emphasis of Jewish and non-Jewish Believers being a part of the Commonwealth of Israel. It does speak of the unity that we are to all have in the Lord, as a testament to the grander redemption of Creation that will come in the eschaton. But while Ephesians is a text that we often turn to, Messianics are often not aware of the more detailed issues surrounding this letter present in contemporary scholarship. Were the “Ephesians” the only audience who received the letter, or was this a general epistle written to Believers in Asia Minor? Did the Apostle Paul really write Ephesians, or was it written by a second generation Believer in his name? What is the specific debate surrounding the dividing wall that has been abolished by the cross—is the wall abolished really the Torah of Moses in its entirety or could it be something else? Are husbands the head/authority of their wives or the head/source of their wives? How interconnected is the composition of Ephesians with the composition of Colossians?
In the commentary Ephesians for the Practical Messianic, Messianic Apologetics editor J.K. McKee addresses the known and unknown questions that this important letter asks us as Messianic Believers. A large Jewish and Greco-Roman Mediterranean background is considered of the issues. Careful and detailed attention has been given to the opinions present today surrounding the dividing wall, and complementarian and egalitarian views of the household codes. References to Tanach (Old Testament) concepts in the author’s words are considered, along with careful consideration for how Ephesians challenges us as a faith community trying to achieve our Father’s objectives. Poignant questions as to how we can be molded into a mature people are asked for today’s season of Messianic uncertainty.
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Philippians for the Practical Messianic
The letter of Paul to the Philippians is a frequently overlooked and disregarded text in the Bible by today’s Messianic community—yet it speaks so profoundly to many of the spiritual issues we are facing, or will undoubtedly be dealing with in the near future. Perhaps with the most Roman character of any other book of the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament), save Paul’s letter to the Romans, Philippians invites us into a community of First Century Believers on their own in the Roman colony of Philippi. These people are surrounded by neighbors who are hostile to both Judaism and the gospel message of Messiah Yeshua. Their numbers are few, but the Apostle Paul is able to consider them his close and affectionate friends, and seldom has a negative word for them. The Philippians are generous to his ministry work, and Paul has strong feelings for their well-being and calling in the Lord.
The Epistle to the Philippians presents us with many theological and social questions that cannot be avoided by anyone who reads it. Above all things, the Apostle Paul places Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) at the center of his life, and urges his Philippian brothers and sisters to do the same. He urges the Philippians to be kind, generous, and significantly different from their neighbors. He urges them to show humility and to be about the supreme service of the gospel, even unto death. He urges unity in the assembly, and that all demonstrate God’s love to others. He affirms the mystery of both the Divinity and humanity of Yeshua. Paul also recognizes the value of women in the local congregation as servants and leaders. For the modern Messianic, Philippians gives us a definitive example of how small fellowships and congregations on their own should function, in addition to the huge questions of how we must have a global vision that recognizes the virtues of other ethnicities and cultures, while still maintaining an Hebraic view of the Scriptures and God’s mission.
In the commentary Philippians for the Practical Messianic, Messianic Apologetics editor J.K. McKee addresses many of the avoided issues that this text asks Messianic Believers. He takes into account the First Century Jewish and Roman background of Paul’s letter. He also considers the large amount of intertexual references that Philippians makes to the Tanach (Old Testament), deeply embedded in Paul’s vocabulary and mannerisms. Most importantly, he considers the centrality of Yeshua and His completed work for Paul, and how all human achievements pale in comparison to who He should be for us as born again Believers who have experienced His transforming power.
Also included in this commentary is an exposition on Acts 16:6-40: Paul’s visit to Philippi.
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Colossians and Philemon for the Practical Messianic
The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon are two of the most overlooked letters in the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament) by today’s Messianic community. Too frequently, our engagement level with Colossians is limited to words that Paul issues about Torah practices like Sabbath-keeping or kosher eating or about something being nailed to the cross. Because Christian friends and family often use partial quotes from Colossians to refute Messianic Believers who are Torah observant, we often try to avoid Paul’s letter. And like many of today’s evangelical Christians, Paul’s letter to Philemon is totally avoided, simply because we do not know what to do with the issue of slavery. Ignoring these two letters cannot be allowed to continue any longer.
Colossians and Philemon, two letters of Paul written together, are actually not too difficult to understand when read as a whole—and when we consciously make a point to interpret them for their original, First Century audiences first. What was the false teaching circulating among the Believers in Ancient Colossae? Was it first Jewish, and then pagan—or first pagan, and then Jewish? When the Apostle Paul uplifts Messiah Yeshua, is he simply claiming that He is like the impersonal force Wisdom—or something much more than Wisdom? Does Paul really affirm Yeshua as being the Deity—God Himself incarnated as a human? How were things like the Sabbath and appointed times improperly used by the false teachers in an ascetic philosophy designed to appeal to the cosmic powers over which the Messiah had prevailed? What can we learn about the mystery of the ages, and how the power of the gospel can change anyone? What role does a letter like Philemon play in our reading of the Bible?
In the commentary Colossians and Philemon for the Practical Messianic, Messianic Apologetics editor J.K. McKee shows us why today’s Messianic Believers need not be afraid of these two letters any more. A wide array of scholastic opinion is considered in regard to these two texts, especially the various proposals made about the false teaching that disrupted the Believers in Colossae. Contemporary applications for some negative trends being witnessed in today’s Messianic movement are also proposed, especially in terms of the false philosophy and worship of angels refuted by Paul. Colossians and Philemon are both important letters for us to understand, as today’s Messianic community strives to move forward in its reading of the Pauline Epistles.
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1&2 Thessalonians for the Practical Messianic
It is very easy for today’s Messianic Believers to overlook the content of the Pauline Epistles, due to their complexities about issues pertaining to the Torah, First Century Judaism, and the inclusion of the nations in God’s plan of salvation. Among all of the Pauline letters, though, 1&2 Thessalonians get almost totally ignored by contemporary Messianic readers. Yet, 1&2 Thessalonians were some of the earliest of Paul’s letters written, depicting some of the early conflicts that the Body of Messiah experienced, as the good news was being proclaimed in the Mediterranean world. 1&2 Thessalonians are quoted in bits and pieces for their teachings on the end-times, the Second Coming, and they are surely employed in debates over a pre– or post-tribulational gathering of the saints. 1&2 Thessalonians includes much more to be examined for certain, as the First Century Believers were caught in the middle of often being rejected by the Jewish Synagogue, and they were treated with great suspicion and hostility by Greeks and Romans.
What are some of the important spiritual and theological issues to be explored in 1&2 Thessalonians, that can no longer go overlooked for today’s Messianic Believers? Is the Apostle Paul anti-Semitic in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15? What kind of a religious and/or political clash was occurring between the early Messianic movement, and the Roman establishment’s veneration of Caesar? How has 1&2 Thessalonians been interpreted among many contemporary Christians accurately, and not so accurately, as it concerns the return of the Messiah? What about the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection, especially for the early non-Jewish Believers, who were still likely struggling with issues of their pagan upbringing? What were some of the challenges that the widely non-Jewish Believers of Thessalonica faced, as they turned to the Messiah of Israel for salvation, and had to decisively be removed from any of the social or religious spheres in which they had once lived?
What important lessons are there for contemporary Messianic Believers to learn from 1&2 Thessalonians? How much have we left these two letters outside of our purview of Bible reading? What key insights and admonitions need to be incorporated into our spirituality, given some of the issues and difficulties that we currently face—presumably as we live in some of the final decades before the actual return of Yeshua (Jesus) to Planet Earth? Messianic Apologetics editor J.K. McKee elaborates on these, and various other key subjects, in the commentary 1&2 Thessalonians for the Practical Messianic.
Also included in this commentary is an exposition on Acts 17:1-15: Paul’s visit to Thessalonica.
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The Pastoral Epistles for the Practical Messianic
Unlike some of the other letters of the Pauline corpus, there has been no significant demand for a detailed, Messianic examination of the Pastoral Epistles of 1&2 Timothy and Titus. Many of today’s Messianic teachers and leaders think that they already know what these letters mean, and so putting out the effort of analyzing them beyond a cursory reading or survey is thought to probably not be needed. Sadly, today’s broad Messianic movement is largely unaware and under-informed of a literal factory of academic proposals and perspectives, from over the past fifty years, regarding 1&2 Timothy and Titus. Much of this scholarship has affected various trends present in evangelical Christianity, the ordination of females as clergy within the contemporary church, and the debate over complimentarianism and egalitarianism. It is time for our faith community to join into these discussions.
What purpose do these three letters serve within the Apostolic Scriptures? Are 1&2 Timothy and Titus to actually be read as a kind of “church manual”? What was the false teaching in Ephesus that caused Paul to issue some restrictive instruction? What is a proper usage of the Torah, versus an improper usage of the Torah as employed by the false teachers? What were the troublemakers on Crete doing? Why is the Apostle Paul so positive toward women in positions of high service in other letters, but perhaps not as much so in the Pastoral Epistles? Is abstinence from eating certain things, like keeping kosher, truly a sign of end-time apostasy? What do the Pastoral Epistles teach us about Yeshua the Messiah, and the Father’s plan for the ages? How do we defend genuine Pauline authorship of 1&2 Timothy and Titus? These, and many more critical issues, are examined.
The Pastoral Epistles for the Practical Messianic takes into consideration much of what has been offered by various scholars, not only in terms of the ancient setting of 1&2 Timothy and Titus, but also with how these epistles should be accurately applied in a modern setting. Messianic Apologetics editor J.K. McKee helps to probe these letters for the future development of the Messianic movement, weighing our strengths and weaknesses of them, in an effort to be an assembly that is no longer lacking an adequate understanding. What are the things that we have actually interpreted correctly from the Pastoral Epistles, and what needs to be improved upon? How might some Messianic congregations and fellowships change if we took a good, hard look at 1&2 Timothy and Titus, and implemented some necessary reform? How can we truly be all of the things that we can be in the Lord? This significant commentary asks these, and many more pertinent questions.
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Hebrews for the Practical Messianic
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the most overlooked texts in the entire Bible, and is greatly unappreciated by many in today’s Christianity, as well as the Messianic movement. A profoundly spiritual and intellectual masterpiece, the theme of this treatise is undeniably Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), and His supremacy over all. The author engages his audience by describing Yeshua as the Creator, being superior to angels, Moses, Joshua, and as mediator of the New Covenant. The author comes to these conclusions using some very unique ways, employing First Century rhetoric and literary devices that often evade your average reader. His sacrifice has provided men and women with permanent atonement for their sins, if they will truly choose to accept it.
The Epistle to the Hebrews asks First Century questions for a First Century audience. The Jewish revolt in the Land of Israel was just getting started, and the Temple was on the verge of being destroyed. Many Jews from all over the Mediterranean world—who had acknowledged Yeshua as Messiah—did not know what to do. Was this the end of their faith? Many were at the possible point of denying the Lord. The author of Hebrews, employing carefully constructed and Scripturally-based arguments, advocates that to not heed the warnings of the past brought Ancient Israel extreme judgment—and to deny the Messiah would bring even worse judgment. The bulk of his arguments are deeply rooted in the Jewish theology of the First Century that we see attested to in a variety of ancient sources such as the Septuagint, the Apocrypha, the Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, Philo, and traditions later recorded in the Mishnah and Talmud.
In the commentary Hebrews for the Practical Messianic, Messianic Apologetics editor J.K. McKee tackles some of the difficult hermeneutical questions that are asked when we consider this text for today. Hebrews asks ancient questions that had to be answered by an ancient audience: Hebrews has background issues that cannot be answered solely by a surface reading of the text. Who wrote Hebrews? When was it written? How broad was its original audience? These are some of the many questions that surround Hebrews. The Twenty-First Century questions that Hebrews asks are difficult for many Messianics to consider: What should the role of the Greek Septuagint be in our theology? Do we ever make the mistake of uplifting the Torah over Yeshua? How do we maintain a high regard for Moses, but understand that Yeshua is superior?
In a very careful way, the issues of Hebrews are addressed fairly and scholastically. We need to understand who Yeshua is to us, who Moses is to us, what the New Covenant is to us, and how we should never lose sight of our saving faith in Him. You will see that the Epistle to the Hebrews is a truly inspired and profound text.
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