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If you have been on my site for more than 5 minutes you have probably become familiar with the term “Messianic Jew”. In case you are not, I will explain below. But what is a Messianic Gentile and how do they differ from a Christian? How are they very different from say the Hebrew Roots or “One Law” movement?
There is a pretty clear distinction between them and in this article we are going to tell you what a Messianic Gentile is and the important role they play in the Messianic community.
What is a Messianic Jew?
Before I can adequately explain what a Messianic Gentile is, I need to define what a Messianic Jew is. This is pretty easy as I am one myself! We are not just “Jewish Christians”. We are observant Jews who live out our Jewish heritage and Jewish identity while following the Jewish Messiah of Israel, Yeshua.
However, I am going to use the definitions crafted by people I respect to make defining it easier.
The Basic Statement by the UMJC (Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations) states:
Their Expanded Statement, should you choose to read more…
So that defines Messianic Judaism quite clearly. I could quote many more definitions but this post is about Messianic Gentiles so I will move along.
What is a Messianic Gentile?
So now that we know what a Messianic Jew is, what is a Messianic Gentile? Aren’t Messianic Gentiles just gentile Christians?
Well, not exactly. There are some fairly significant differences, just as there are some significant differences between Messianic Jews and Jewish believers who are of Jewish descent but who enjoy attending church. Maybe they have intermarried and decided the church environment is better suited for their family. Perhaps they grew up in a home that didn’t have that Jewish identity and so the church is all they have known.
So again, I am going to turn to some scholars and organizations to help define what a Messianic Gentile is and what they are not!
We saw in the UMJC’s Basic Statement above that they said:
Keep in mind the words “confirmed call” and “participate FULLY” in the life and DESTINY of the Jewish people.
Let’s look at what my two favorite YouTubers, Two Messianic Jews, say about the definition because I think theirs is my favorite one of all:
I bolded the words “live according to the norms of the synagogue they have joined” because I think this is SO key to being a Messianic Gentile vs what we see in Hebrew Roots or One Law or just someone who wants to live out the Jewish roots of their faith.
There are no standards, no order to Hebrew Roots. There’s no structure. One group may do something completely different from the next!
Messianic Gentiles are gentile believers who have the covering of Messianic Jewish synagogues and the leadership of a Rabbi.
They are being taught and led. They are not just picking and choosing things to follow that they THINK come from Torah but are in fact coming from the cultural identity of the Jewish people.
Having good, solid leadership and learning and MODELING the Jewish norms of their synagogue is what makes a Messianic Gentile FULLY participate in the life and destiny of the Jewish people.
Let’s look at another definition by one of my own MJTI teachers, Rabbi Elliot Klayman, along with Dr. David Rudolph from one of my textbooks from my Introduction to Messianic Judaism course with Dr. Jen Rosner….“Messianic Jewish Synagogues” in Introduction to Messianic Judaism. 47-48:
So Who is NOT a Messianic Gentile?
So a Messianic Gentile is NOT Hebrew Roots or One Law.
To quote Two Messianic Jews:
The key difference here between Hebrew Roots and Messianic Gentiles is found in the words I bolded…who are in the church.
These are people who believe gentile Christians are obligated to follow Torah from within the church. The guys from Two Messianic Jews go on to say:
So the key differences here are Messianic Gentiles are under the covering of a synagogue and a Jewish Rabbi and are learning Jewish practice in Jewish space from Messianic Jewish leaders and the other is in church, following Torah without proper instruction in Torah and without an understanding of the Jew’s unique role in keeping Torah.
Understanding and learning here are key. When you do not have those from the proper place, you risk teaching and spreading false doctrine rather than Biblical truth and sound doctrine.
One’s expression of faith needs to be rooted in sound doctrine and these movements are often steeped in replacement theology which teaches that the church has now replaced Israel as the people of God rather than joined WITH Israel through the Messiah of Israel, our Messiah Yeshua.
Many, while not all, believe the Christian faith is now the one true faith and that the Jewish festivals and Torah belong to them, even going to the extent of appropriating Jewish culture.
While I believe these people are well-intentioned and have a desire to follow God, they are doing great damage and alienating their Jewish brothers and sisters in the Messianic movement.
As noted in the definitions above, if one has a true calling to participate fully in the life and destiny of the Jewish people and are called by God to participate in the life and destiny of the Jewish people and live according to the norms of the synagogue they have joined then one is welcome!
The UMJC has a list of congregations you can attend and speak with a Rabbi about becoming a part of that community.
For much greater detail on what is a Messianic Gentile, I highly encourage you to watch this video from my friends at Two Messianic Jews. It is very informative and could even be life-changing for some with topics such as:
- Distinguishing from Hebrew Roots/One Law
- Other Hebrew Roots Errors
- Unhealthy and Healthy Messianic Gentile Attitudes
- Are you led to join a Messianic synagogue as a non-Jew?