"Hebrew Christian or 'Mess amc Jew.
A Maturing Movement Finds its Identity ~ Both Messianic and Jewish
until a litde over thirty years ago, Jewish believers in Yeshua generally referred to themselves as "Hebrew Christians." In 1975,
the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America (HCAA) made a change in their organization that would have a profound and far-reaching
effect on the development of an emerging movement. Reflecting a transformation of vision that was already taking place among the
Jewish believers, the name of the HCAA was officially changed to the Messianic Jewish Mliance of America (MJAA). Why is
this mere cosmetic change so important? Because it marked a significant shift in how Jewish believers in the Messiah Yeshua would
begin to identify themselves, and how they would relate to Judaism, Christianity, and, indeed, the whole world. Let's examine these
words--Hebrew Christian and Messianic Jewish--to understand why the change in terminology is so significant.
- Hebrew (m's iycb:iy)
Messiamc The name "Hebrew" was
first applied in the Scriptures to ~ Although it is not found
Abraham, who was a descendant in the Hebrew Scriptures, the
of Eber ('~£.., ever, a great- ~ word "Messianic" comes from ~-.~ !
grandson ofShem) from whose • ~ .... ~, masbiyacb (Messiah,
name the word "Hebrew" is i l t-he Hebrew equivalent of
derived. Used to describe Xp LOZ6q, cbristos), which
a Hebrew man or woman, means "anointed one." From
"Hebrew" means, "from the a theological standpoint, the
other side' '--geographically word "Messianic" is identical in
speaking, a general indication meaning to "Christian"--in this
of their land of origin. case, "a follower of Messiah."
In Philippians 3:5, Paul refers to himself as a "Hebrew of The use of the term "Messianic" among Jewish believers
Hebrews," depicting his strong identification with his people. diffuses the stigma attached to the term "Christian." Indeed,
But even in Paul's day, "Hebrew" was considered synonymous "Messianic" is more than just a superficial variation on
with "Jewish," thereby indicating a national affiliation. Today, the "Christian." Rather, "Messianic" implies more than a connection
term "Hebrew" is known as the language of the Old Testament to the Cbrist of the New Testament, but a union with the Messiab
(the Hebrew Scriptures), but its use as an identifier for Jewish of the Jewish people--both of whom are one and the same:
people is rare--considered quaint and out of date. Yeshua!
XO Lo' mvbv (Cbristianon) - Christian (Y'budiy)-Jewish
Not a Hebrew word at all, but rather Greek, the word The Biblical term "Jewish" is different from "Hebrew" in
that it refers specifically to those Hebrews who are descendants "Christian" appears in the New Testament only three times.
It is derived from Xploz6~, christos (Christ), which does of U~.'IU ~, Y'budab (Judah), one of the twelve sons of Israel.
After the gingdom of Israel was divided in 975 BCE and the have a Hebrew equivalent (see "Messianic," right). The word
"Christian" means "a follower of Christ," though it was originally Northern Kingdom was conquered in 721 BCE, all that remained
of Israel was Judah--the Jewish people. used as an epithet (a derogatory term) to refer to followers of
Messiah. Being an historically newer term than "Hebrew," "Jewish"
For virtually the last two thousand years, it has been more accurately describes the racial origin of the Jewish
universally understood that a "Christian" is an adherent to the people• As such, a Jewish person not only bears the covenantal
Gentile religion of Christianity. Despite the fact that the New responsibility of being a descendant of Abraham, but he is also
Testament uses "Christian" to describe one's faith as opposed to bound to his destiny as part of the remnant of Israel. "Judah,"
one's ethnicity, a stigma has been attached to the term, especially meaning"praised," also prophetically points to the calling of the
Jewish people to proclaim ADON~ to the nations, causing them in in the minds of contemporary Jews. To the Jewish people, it was
"Christians" who persecuted them throughout the ages--from turn topraise Him as the one, true God of all the earth.
the Crusades, to the Inquisition, to the Holocaust. A "Hebrew
r" " " Ch lstlan then, to an unsaved Jew, is not only an oxymoron, but
a traitor to the Jewish people. ~ _
e-: Geoffrey is a jewish gelievei in the Messiah Yeshual H e ~ 1\[~\[
K vl.~ the founder and president of Perfect Word Ministries, a ~ ~.~
• " . 11 1! ,i It • 11 It Pronunciation Key. a = ah; e = eh; ~ = ee; Messianic Jewish equipping ministry, which also publishes the ~' ~-
o = "oh"; u = "oo"; ch = gutteral sound in back of throat as monthly Messianic discipleship publication/'he Messianic Life. ~IL~ "~- ~ ~Jl in "bach" or "loch," not "ch" as in "much."
Kevin resides in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife, Esther, and their \[~1~i/~
sons, Isaac and Josiah. Visit Perfect Word online at ~~r~
May/June 2006 Jewish Voice Today 13
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