Messianic Apologetics

Addressing the Theological and Spiritual Issues of the Broad Messianic Movement

Messianic Theology

Today’s Messianic movement is in a very precarious situation. On the one hand, some good things are happening as many Jewish people are coming to faith in Messiah Yeshua, and Christians are expressing a love for Israel and embracing their Hebraic Roots. Our numbers are getting larger and larger—with many not having to really wonder what “Messianic” is any more. Many people know that when you call yourself “Messianic” you are either a Jewish Believer in Yeshua, or a non-Jewish Believer in Yeshua who has some kind of strong connection to Israel.

On the other hand, though, there are some not so good things happening today in the Messianic movement. The theology of the Messianic community and its understanding of the Bible have largely not been able to keep up with its growth. On the whole, many of the answers that we have to give in response to external criticisms of our convictions have not been very deep. They have sometimes not been examined very well from the Scriptures, and our engagement with theological discussions—in some cases going back several centuries—is often just not there. We have a great deal of progress that we must make in the coming years as a more coherent and scholastically-minded Messianic theology begins to come forward.

What needs to be done to secure a stable and secure future for today’s emerging Messianic movement? How can we be people who make a positive difference in the fallen world in which we live?

The modern Messianic movement got started as an outreach of Jewish Believers, to see the Jewish people come to saving faith in Israel’s Messiah. To be sure, there are other things which have taken place since, such as non-Jewish Believers entering in and more tangibly embracing their Jewish Roots. There are theological and spiritual issues, which the original leaders could not have anticipated being discussed. We pray that God raises up the right people to perform the diversity of tasks before us. The original mission of seeing Jewish people come to faith in Israel’s Messiah still has not gone away. And, if you are a part of today’s Messianic movement, you have to ask yourself, “What contribution am I making to Jewish evangelism?”

The claim that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew is something that must be substantiated by those who believe it with historical references, textual support, and most of all extant manuscripts in Hebrew. These references must be credible, the textual claims must be supported within a relatively conservative framework of exposition, and the manuscripts must be verified as authentic by organizations such as United Bible Societies or the American Bible Society. Thus far, no one in the Messianic community has been able to prove a written Hebrew origin for the entirety of the New Testament on the basis of these factors.

Many Messianic Believers think that it is important to learn the Hebrew language, the language of the Tanach or Old Testament. This is to be commended and encouraged, as these texts make up the first two-thirds of our Bible that many Christians, sadly, ignore or feel are important only for Bible history. However, there is another portion of the Bible, the Apostolic Scriptures or Messianic Writings, commonly known as the New Testament, which were not written in Hebrew, and should not be cast by the wayside.

This article will attempt to explore some of the key details which today’s Messianic people need to be aware of when they encounter various English Bible versions. We will be reviewing some of the contemporary Jewish and Christian versions which are used in sectors of the Messianic movement. Also important will be a review of some Messianic Bible versions, particularly of the Apostolic Scriptures, which tend to be encountered.

To many people in today’s broad Messianic movement, the issues involving the place of husbands and wives in the family, as well as men and women in the local assembly, is a done deal. Husbands lead the family, and wives abide by their husbands’ decisions. Men lead the congregation, and women are there to help facilitate congregational functions. Any position about men and women in the Body of Messiah which might invoke terms such as co-equal, shared responsibility, and mutual submission are often viewed as compromise with the prevailing culture at best, or capitulation to liberal theology at worst. You do not just throw around the term “egalitarian” in the Messianic movement, unless you really are willing to experience some blowback.