The Council of Niacea vs. The Jerusalem Council
While it is commendable that we, as believers look to our roots, as well as to those who have come before us regarding certain traditions and practices of our faith - we must always be careful that these traditions and practices are not contrary to Biblical teaching, or in violation of Scripture. Such traditions and practices would include the Sabbath and the Feasts - of which over the years have been unfortunately resigned by many believers to the interpretations of men rather than Biblical understanding. In other words, they have been changed by the order of men (and some cases outrightly done away with), rather than upheld and observed by the commandment of G-D. Therefore, even the roots that many believers stand by in regards to the Sabbath and the Feasts have no semblance to the Biblical instructions of our early Messianic Jewish fathers, but rather to consensual understanding of other "fathers" who decidedly removed themselves from their Messianic Jewish roots, as well as separated themselves (and by extension others), from Israel, and the Jewish people as a whole. This specifically occurred at the Council of Nicaea, which is considered one of the most anti-Semitic councils ever convened.
The Council of Nicaea
Today, the common understanding regarding the Council of Nicaea is that it was convened in 325 AD by the order of the Roman emperor Caesar Flavius Constantine in order to define the nature of G-D for all of Christianity. According to most Christian scholars, it was also done to affirm the deity and eternality of Jesus Christ, and the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, otherwise known as the "Trinity." The Council of Nicaea was also considered the "birth" of the Catholic (Universal) Church, which was intended to bring "all Christians" together in unity, with the "Holy See" as the head, the Pontifex Maximus as its overseer, and Vicar of Christ, and the Holy Catholic Church as the final authority of Heaven on earth. The Catholic Church even went as far to name the Apostle Peter as its first "Pope" - then apparently establishing the apostolic order, to include Constantine - "Constantine in convoking and presiding over the council signaled a measure of imperial control over the Church" - First Council of Nicaea 325 AD.
Constantine had invited all 1800 bishops of the Catholic Church to attend the Council of Nicaea. However, any Messianic Jewish leader was excluded.
While many Christians don't actually consider themselves Catholic, the majority of Christians continue to defend the Council of Nicaea, its affirmations and its creeds as a confession of their Christian faith.
However, there was also another, a more intentional purpose for convening the Council of Nicaea. Unfortunately, this purpose is either not known by the majority of Christians or is simply ignored - the Council's separation and rejection of the Jewish roots of the faith as well as the replacement and rejection of Israel and the Jewish people, in favor of "another way," according to newly formed Catholic doctrines and creeds.
It has long baffled me that while many Christians (non-Catholic), reject the majority of Catholic doctrines, and even go as far as to denounce Catholicism as a false religion (because of their veneration of the Virgin Mary and saints, as well as the doctrine of Transubstantiation), they have no problem embracing Catholic doctrines and creeds, such as the Nicene Creed and the Apostle's Creed, both of which confess belief in "One Holy Catholic Church." Sadly, these "Creeds" are in many cases considered equal with Scripture, and are defended as such. In case you don't know what Transubstantiation is, it is the belief that the communion wafer, and the wine are turned into the actual flesh and blood of Messiah, which is then offered as a "sacrifice" by a reverent father (priest).
The majority of mainline denominations, which include Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Episcopalians and even some Baptists, include this confession among their creeds of faith. Unfortunately, these creeds did not originate as a means to remain faithful to Scripture, but instead originated as means to separate and remain separated with the "detestable" Jews - "Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Savior a different way" - Council of Nicaea, Constantine to the Churches 325 AD.
Yet, even more unfortunate, it that many believers today rely on the decision of the Nicene Council to defend the changes and the observance of (as well as the abolition of the Seventh Day Sabbath and the Biblical Feasts) non-Biblical feasts, such as the Sunday Sabbath, Christmas and Easter.
The Catholic Church has always understood that the decision of the Nicene Council was done solely on the authority of the Catholic Church, and not the Bible:
"It is well to remind the Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and all other Christians, that the Bible does not support them anywhere in their observance of Sunday. Sunday is an institution of the Roman Catholic Church, and those who observe the day observe a commandment of the Catholic Church." Priest Brady, in an address, reported in the Elizabeth, NJ ‘News’ on March 18, 1903.
Unbeknownst however, to many believers is that the affirmation of the Nicene Council may have indeed fostered the anti-Semitism that resided within the majority of the early "Church Fathers," which has been carried on even until today. The early "Church Fathers" continued to foster what was first initiated at Nicaea in their writings as well convey it in their teachings. John Chrysostom wrote in response to Christians observing the Jewish festivals that, "The duty of all Christians is to hate the Jew." Undoubtedly, he shared his sentiments with another "Church Father," who wrote, "The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver. The Jew can never understand the Scriptures and forever will bear the guilt for the death of Jesus" - St. Augustine.
This is why one must be very careful of who they call "father(s)" - as it is written, "And call no man on earth your father; for One is your Father, who is in heaven" - Mt 23:9.
Even the most celebrated Christian Martin Luther did not exempt himself regarding his feelings towards the Jews, when he wrote - "First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians" - On The Jews and Their Lies, Martin Luther 1543.
Contrarily, the Bible has something much different to say regarding how Adonai's people should feel about the Jewish people - "For I am not ashamed of the Good News, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who trusts—to the Jew first and also to the Greek" - Rom 1:16.
The decision of the Council of Nicaea had truly fostered much of the anti-Semitism that exists within Christianity today. Not only did the Nicene Council affirm certain doctrines, but they also affirmed that the Jewish people were the murderers of Christ. It was for this reason that Christians should have nothing to do with the Jewish people, despite that the fact that the first believers in Messiah, were almost all exclusively Jewish:
"And first of all, it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul" - Constantine to the Churches (Nicene Council, 325 AD).
"Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Savior a different way. A course at once legitimate and honorable lies open to our most holy religion. Beloved brethren, let us with one consent adopt this course, and withdraw ourselves from all participation in their baseness. For their boast is absurd indeed, that it is not in our power without instruction from them to observe these things" - Constantine to the Churches (Nicene Council, 325 AD).
Did you know that Messiah Himself observed the Seventh Day Sabbath? He even declared Himself "Lord of the Sabbath" (Mt 12:8). Messiah also observed the Feasts, to include Passover, and taught His disciples that Passover specifically pointed to Him (Lk 22:19-21). His Apostles and disciples continued to observe not only the Seventh Day Sabbath, but also the Feasts, to include the Jewish Passover, because it pointed to the Messiah and His Resurrection (I Cor 11:24-26). Rav Shaul went on to teach that all of the Feasts as well as the Seventh Day were shadows of Messiah, and the Messiah Himself was the substance. He also encouraged Messiah's believers not to concern themselves with those who would judge them for observing these days (Col 2:16-17). It's a tragedy that many Gentile believers have no idea about the Feasts and Shabbat, and how they point to Messiah.
Interestingly, the Council of Nicaea was one of many councils that gathered in order to establish doctrine, as well as reject the Jewishness of Messiah, the Jewish roots of the Christian faith, and to condemn the Jewish people. These include, the Council Elvira (306 AD), the Council of Nicaea (325), the Council of Antioch (341 AD) and the Council of Laodicea (434 AD). It was these councils that went on to establish Canon Law, which forbade intermarriage between Jews and Christians, the observance of the Seventh Day Sabbath, Passover, and all other "Jewish" Feasts.
One of the many tragic events that resulted from these councils took place in 1215, after the Fourth Lateran Council, when it was decreed that the Jews should wear distinctive clothing (yellow sashes), to identify them as Jews. The Jews were also moved into ghettos, which were built by Roman Catholic Bishops, in the hopes of converting the Jews "more quickly." Of course, this practice was echoed by Adolf Hitler and his Nazis during the Holocaust. Unfortunately, this wouldn't be the only practice that Hitler would adopt as a result of Canonical Law.
Here's a summarized comparison of only a few of the Canonical Laws and Nazi Laws that were instituted against the Jewish people. Unfortunately, Adolf Hitler was not the first to impose restrictions upon the Jewish people. Sadly, the first to do so was the "Church."
Canonical Law Nazi Law
Prohibition of Intermarriage Laws for the Protection of German
between Christians and Jews Blood and Honor, Sept 15, 1935
(Synod Elvira 306 AD). (RGBI I, 1346).
Jews not permitted to show themselves Decree authorizing local authorities in the streets during the Passion Week, to bar Jews from the streets on
(3rd Synod of Orleans, 538 AD). on certain days (ie., Nazi Holidays)
(December 3, 1933, RGBI I, 1676)
Burning of the Talmud and other Burning of Talmud, and any books
Jewish Holy Books (12th Synod of written by Jewish authors (Berlin,
Toledo, 681 AD). May 10, 1933).
Jews obliged to pay taxes for support The "Sozialausgleichsabgabe," of church to the same extent as Christians, which provided that Jews pay a
but not allowed to attend, special income tax in lieu of
(Synod of Gerona, 1078). donations for Party purposes
imposed on Nazis, (December 24,
1940 (RGBI I, 1666).
Jews not permitted to be plaintiffs, Proposal by the Party Chancellery
or witnesses against Christians in the courts, that Jews not be permitted to
(3d Lateran Council, 1179, Canon 26). institute civil suits, (September 9,
1942, Bormann to Justice Ministry).
The marking of Jewish clothes with a badge, Decree of September 1, 1942 (RGBI, I
(4th Lateran Council, 1215, Canon 68). 547) decreed that all Jews in the Reich
(Copied from the legislation by six years of age or older wear a badge
Caliph Omar II [634-44], who had decreed which consisted of a yellow Star of
that Christians wear blue belts David on a black field to worn on the
and Jews, yellow belts.) chest, with the word "Jew" inscribed
inside the Star in the German language or in the local language.
Construction of new synagogues Destruction of synagogues in entire
prohibited, (Council of Oxford, 1222). Reich, (November 10, 1938 PS 3058).
Jews placed in compulsory ghettoes, Order by Heydrich to place all Jews in
(Synod of Breslau, 1267). Ghettos, (September 21, 1939,
Jews not permitted to obtain academic Law against Overcrowding of German
degrees, (Council of Basel, 1434, Schools and Universities, which was
Sessio XIX). used to prohibit Jewish enrollment, (April 25, 1933, RGBI I, 225).
These are but a few of the Nazi measures instituted against the Jews, which were first established under Canonical Law - fostered by the Councils of the Catholic Church, to include the Nicaea Council. One may say, "Well, the Council of Nicaea did affirm Biblical doctrine that is continued to be affirmed today." Yes, but didn't the Bible already do just that? The Bible, also teaches that the gospel of Messiah Yeshua is to go to the Jew first (Roman 1:16). Yet, nowhere in all of the Catholic Councils does it mention the gospel going to the Jew. In fact, these Councils affirmed quite the opposite - they condemned the Jewish people as "Christ Killers," and "detestable people." Why would anyone, (especially Christians), want to align themselves with, or defend such doctrines and adopt days, that were established not only to separate Gentile believers from their Jewish roots, but to also condemn the Jewish people as a whole. Not only did the Catholic Church separate itself from the Jewish people but also Israel - going so far, as to even replace it. Such, thinking is not only anti-Semitic, but unbiblical - remember, "Its the root that supports you, not you who supports the root" - Rom 11:18b.
Sadly, the majority of Christians today, have no idea how anti-Semitic the Council of Nicaea actually was in the ideology and intent. Many are either ignorant to this fact, or choose to ignore it. However, for the Jew, the Council of Nicaea is how Christianity was defined - and therefore, Jesus Christ is simply a "dead issue" for the majority of Jews. This is because so much was done in the Name of Jesus Christ, as a result of the Council of Nicaea (and other councils), as well as the teachings of the early "Church Fathers" against the Jewish people. Whole sermons were dedicated by Christian Gentile leaders to condemn the Jew. This hatred not only carried on into the Spanish Inquisition, and Nazi Germany, but also into the Church.
So far removed did the Catholic Church (and by extension the rest of Christendom) remove itself from their Jewish roots, that when the early Reformers, tried to return to their roots, it sadly did not involve a return to their Jewish roots - but their Catholic roots. The main reason of course, was because of the anti-Semitism that was already permeating within the Church. For example, Martin Luther, became so frustrated with the Jewish people that he eventually became one of the greatest anti-Semites in history - declaring that the Jewish people were beyond G-D's help and His Salvation. He even went as far to describe them as "worse than devils," "murderers," "vermin," and "parasites." Luther, went on to encourage people that they should gather together the Jews of the land and burn them alive in their synagogues. He even encouraged Christians to expel Jews from Germany, and to burn all of their holy books. Adolf Hitler later on, would confess that he believed that he was carrying on what Martin Luther had begun through his "Final Solution." Remember, Germany professed to be a Christian nation - "Got Mit Uns" - God with Us" was their motto. Many Nazis believed that they were actually doing the work of G-D, by exterminating the Jewish people:
“Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. Be defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord" - Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf.
It should be of no surprise why so many Jews have a very difficult time coming to faith in Messiah. It should also be of no surprise why so many Christians have a difficult time with Jews, to include the Messianic Jew. There is in fact an anti-Semitic spiritual hatred for the Jews that crept into the Church, that has been fostered over centuries by anti-Semitic teachings and sentiments. The Bible clearly teaches that the roots of Gentile faith in Messiah are Jewish and not Catholic (Universal) - the roots of the Gentile Church are in Israel, and not Rome.
Rav Shaul's teachings regarding the Olive Tree (Israel), clearly indicate that Gentile believers have been incorporated in (grafted into) the remnant of Israel, and not the other way around (Romans 11:16-21). The Jewish people and Israel do not exist because of the "Church." They exist because of G-D's promise for us to remain as a Chosen People:
"Thus says Adonai, who gives the sun as a light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars as a light by night, Who stirs up the sea so its waves roar, Adonai Tzva'ot is His Name - 'Only if this fixed order departs from before Me' - it is a declaration of Adonai - "then also might Israel's offspring cease from being a nation before Me - for all time" - Jer 31:35-36.
Historically, early believers continued to observe and celebrate both the Seventh Day Sabbath and the Feasts according to the Biblical Calendar set forth by Adonai, and upheld by the early Messianic Jewish leaders:
“Down even to the fifth century the observance of the Jewish Sabbath was continued in the Christian Church” – Ancient Christianity Exemplified, by Lyman Coleman, chapter 26, Section 2, page 527.
“…by keeping the Sabbath holy they followed not only the example, but the command of Jesus.” - Geschichte des Sonntags Vornehmlich in der Alten Kirch: Theodor von Zahn, 1878, pg.13-14.
“The ancient Christians were very careful in the observation of Saturday, or the seventh day.” - Antiquities of the Christian Church; 1138, Vol. II, Book XX, Chap 3, Sec 1, 66.1137.
“The seventh-day Sabbath was…, solemnized by Christ, the Apostles, and primitive Christians, till the Laodicean Council did in a manner quite abolish the observation of it.” – Dissertation on the Lord’s Day, pages 33-34, 44.
Not any place in all of Scripture was there any command given by Adonai or any authority given to any man (including the Messianic Jewish leaders) to change or abolish the Sabbath Day or any of the Feasts of Adonai. The Catholic Church knew this very well, yet they did the very thing that was not in their authority. Sadly, the rest of Christendom followed suit, to include the majority of Protestant religions:
“Sunday is a Catholic institution of the Catholic Church and its claims to observance can be defended only on Catholic principles…From beginning to end of Scripture there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day of the week to the first” – Catholic Press, Sydney Australia, August, 1990.
“If Protestants would follow the Bible, they should worship God on the Sabbath Day. In keeping the Sunday they are following a law of the Catholic Church” – Albert Smith, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, 1920.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with worshiping Adonai on Sunday, understand that Sunday is not the Sabbath. The Sabbath is specific day, which actually pre-dates the written Torah that is considered holy because Adonai Himself sanctified it and separated it as Holy (Gen 2:3, Ex 20:8).
In Scripture, Adonai warns us not to take away or to add to His Word. He does this in the Torah and Writings, and even reiterates it in the Brit Chadashah (New Covenant):
"You must not add to the word that I am commanding you or take away from it—in order to keep the commandments of Adonai your God that I am commanding you" - Deut 4:2.
"Do not add to His words, or else He will rebuke You and prove you a liar" - Pr 30:6.
"I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book" - Rev 22:18.
The Council of Nicaea had indeed established another way. Yet, the way that was established, and primarily adopted (to this day) by the majority of Christendom is not the way of Adonai. To exclude the Jew and to separate itself from Israel, the Catholic Church acted on its own authority and apart from Scriptural authority. Sadly, the majority of Christendom (Protestantism and other denominations included) have had no problem defending the Nicene Council's anti-Semitic affirmations and creeds to exclude the Jew, and separate themselves from Israel as well. Such actions are not Biblical and are actually contrary to the Biblical mandate set forth by our L-RD Messiah Yeshua Himself regarding the Great Commission:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit)" - Mt 28:19.
Israel and the Jewish people were considered to be among "all nations" in regards to the Gospel of Messiah Yeshua. As a matter of fact, Rav Shaul expounded upon this command when he wrote;
"For I am not ashamed of the Good News, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who trusts—to the Jew first and also to the Greek" - Rom 1:16.
The most anti-Semitic thing that can be done against the Jew, is to keep the Jewish Messiah away from us. Sadly, it seems that this was the intent of the Council of Nicaea, and many other that followed to include the majority of the early "Church Fathers."
The Jerusalem Council
There is an interesting paradox that has taken place regarding faith in Messiah Yeshua since the beginning of His Messianic Community. At one point, it was questioned whether or not, the Holy Spirit could come upon the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48). After Peter went to the house of Cornelius many Gentiles were being saved, and this actually puzzled the Messianic Jewish believers, that they convened a council in Jerusalem to discuss these things - "All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were astonished, because the gift of the Ruach ha-Kodesh had been poured out even on the Gentiles" - Acts 10:45.
Why would the early Apostles be surprised that the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) would be poured out upon the Gentiles? Did not Messiah Yeshua come to save both the Jew and the Gentile? Yes. However, the primary mission of His early Apostles was in fact directed strictly to the House of Israel - the Jewish people. As a matter of fact they were strictly instructed not to even go to the Gentiles, by the Messiah!
"Yeshua sent out these twelve and ordered them, “Do not go to the Gentiles, and do not enter into any Samaritan town. But go instead to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. As you go, proclaim, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near!’" - Mt 10:5-7.
Why would Messiah Yeshua instruct His Apostles in such as way? Did He not want to save the Gentiles? Yes. However, His primary mission was to bring salvation to the Jewish people, and then to the Gentiles, which was taking place after Peter was sent to them. Salvation was always meant to go to the Gentiles as well. In fact if the Jewish leaders hadn't rejected the Messiah, Salvation may not have been available to the Gentiles - "I say then, they (Israel) did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their false step, salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke Israel to jealousy. Now if their transgression leads to riches for the world, and their loss riches for the Gentiles, then how much more their fullness!" - Rom 11:11-12. Yet, Salvation would not stay away from Israel and the Jewish people. It was always meant to return and remain:
"For I do not want you, brothers and sisters, to be ignorant of this mystery—lest you be wise in your own eyes—that a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,“The Deliverer shall come out of Zion. He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" - Rom 11:25-26.
Rav Shaul warns the Gentile believers not to become arrogant (wise in their own eyes) against the Jewish people regarding their Salvation in Messiah Yeshua. Sadly, arrogance has exactly what has taken place - as many Christians assume that when a Jew comes to faith in Messiah Yeshua, they should no longer remain Jewish. There are also many who assume that Salvation is no longer available to the Jew. I've actually been told this very thing, by a Baptist pastor, who couldn't believe that I believed in Yeshua, since "you Jews had your chance." Thus, the question today is, "Can the Holy Spirit come upon the Jewish people?" This is the paradox that has taken place.
In the days of the Jerusalem Council, it was hard to believe that the Holy Spirit had come upon the Gentiles. However, instead of convening in order to exclude the Gentiles the Jerusalem Council convened in order to include the Gentiles to this Messianic Jewish faith. In addition, although Salvation was now upon the Gentiles the Jerusalem Council did not expect the Gentiles to become Jewish or, to expect what was incumbent upon the Jew, to be incumbent upon the Gentiles - "Therefore, I judge not to trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God— but to write to them to abstain from the contamination of idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what is strangled, and from blood" - Acts 15:19-20. These conditions set upon the Gentiles by the Jerusalem Council however, were not merely any new conditions, but also conditions that Jewish believers had to keep as well. The only thing that seemed not to be a condition upon Gentile conversion was circumcision, which was strictly considered a matter of the Covenant between the Jewish people and G-D (Gen 17:10).
Interestingly, it was not the Jew that was converting to any Gentile faith. Instead, it was the Gentile converting to a Jewish faith - a Messianic Jewish faith in the Jewish Messiah; "So they were sent on their way by the Antioch community. They were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and they were bringing great joy to all the brothers and sisters" - Acts 15:3. Many Gentiles wrongly assume that the Jews convert when they come to faith in Messiah Yeshua. The truth is however, Jews do not convert, because there is no need to convert, since they have found their Jewish Messiah, who is Yeshua.
Because it was understood that Gentiles were converting to this Messianic Jewish faith, the Jerusalem Council simply agreed with what was already taking place among the God-fearers. God-fearers were Gentiles who adhered to everything within the Jewish faith (including the dietary laws, the Feasts and Sabbath), except circumcision. They are specifically mentioned in the Brit Chadashah (New Covenant), in Acts 13:16, 13:26 and 17:17. Before the Jerusalem Council, God-fearers were already expected to adhere to the Seven Noahide Laws, which dealt with idolatry, blasphemy, murder, theft, murder, sexual relations, eating the limb of a living animal and establishing courts of law. God-fearers were considered one step short of proselyte. Proselytes were basically full blown converts to the Jewish faith, and even observed circumcision. Thus, it wasn't surprising for Gentiles to convert to the Jewish faith, but what was surprising is that now G-D was granting salvation to the Gentiles - "When they heard this they became quiet, and they glorified God, saying, “Then even to the Gentiles God has granted repentance leading to life!” - Acts 11:18.
At the Council of Jerusalem, the Apostles were not formulating a way for the Gentiles to separate themselves from their Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters. Instead, they convened in order to decide how the Gentile believer can remain faithful not only to Messiah Yeshua, but to Torah and Israel as well. Therefore, the Jerusalem Council advised the Gentiles to abstain from things that would make them offensive to the Jewish people, and so that they wouldn't violate Torah. They also assumed that Gentile believers would not form their own "religion" but adhere to the Messianic Jewish of Messiah Yeshua, and study Torah of Moses on Shabbat - "For Moses from ancient generations has had in every city those who proclaim him, since he is read in all the synagogues every Shabbat" - Acts 19:21.
Why would the Jerusalem Council expect otherwise? There was no other way at the time, and there was not any expectation of another way to come apart from the Messianic Jewish faith in Messiah Yeshua or apart from Torah - “And it will come to pass, that from one New Moon to another, and from one Shabbat to another, all flesh will come to bow down before Me,” says Adonai" - Is 66:23. The Torah is replete with Scriptures regarding the worship that will take place in the Messianic Kingdom, as well as the observance of the Feasts and the Sabbath - to include the Temple and its ordinances. Therefore, when the Catholic Church came along it was shocking to many Jewish believers that the Gentiles would choose a different way, as well as proclaim that Messiah had shown the Gentiles a different way - to separate themselves from the Jewish people as well as all of Israel by declaration - "Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Savior a different way" - Constantine to the Churches, Council of Nicaea 325 AD.
Throughout Scripture and early Messianic Jewish history it was understood that Gentile believers were not expected to separate themselves from or replace Israel. Instead, the Bible teaches that Gentiles believers would be grafted into Israel as part of the remnant of Messianic Jewish Israel of God (Gal 6:16). This is to mean that Gentile believers would be partakers of the covenants and the promises that were given to Israel by G-D, and that Israel's promises would not be revoked (Rom 11:29).
This does not mean that the Gentile believer would somehow "become Jewish" or, that they would have to adopt certain laws, that were incumbent only upon the Jew (except maybe for the Sabbath, the Feasts and dietary laws, since these pre-date the written Torah). But, that the Gentile believer would become part of the commonwealth of Israel, and its remnant of Messianic Jewish believers. In essence, the Gentile believer would share in the mission as well as the calling of Messianic Jewish Israel through the grace of Adonai, to even be a part of the spiritual priesthood of Messiah Yeshua. This is to mean that the Levitical system of sacrifice and priesthood would be changed in regards to the preaching of the gospel for the means of salvation through the Messiah. Yet, the Torah itself would not be abolished as, promised by Messiah (Mt 5:17), but simply changed:
"Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for based on it the people had been given the Torah, what further need was there for a different kohen to arise—designated according to the order of Melchizedek, not according to the order of Aaron? For whenever the priesthood is altered, out of necessity an alteration of law also takes place" - Heb 7:11-12.
Change in the Torah in regards to necessity is acceptable, because of Messiah's coming. But, to assume that the Torah has been done away with is arrogant and contrary to Scripture and the words of Messiah Himself (Mt 5:17). Righteousness has always been a matter of grace through faith (Hab 2:4, Rom 1:17). It was to be the Levitical system of sacrifice and not the whole of Torah that had ended not, mainly because that it was no longer needed, but that there is no longer any Temple - as well as Messiah's fulfillment regarding sacrifice (Heb 7:27; 9:26). Messiah would be goal of Torah, and not the abolishment of it:
"For Messiah is the goal of the Torah as a means to righteousness for everyone who keeps trusting" - Rom 10:4.
Biblically, it is understood that Gentile believers were not a replacement of Israel, or the Jewish people (especially the remnant of Israel), but as part of Israel. Gentile believers would be "grafted into" remnant Israel, and not the other way around - "Therefore, keep in mind that once you—Gentiles in the flesh—were called “uncircumcision” by those called “circumcision” (which is performed on flesh by hand). At that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" - Eph 2:11-12. Therefore, as much as the Gentile believer is not made to be Jewish, a Jewish believer is not made to be Gentile, and should have to give up his/her Jewishness to remain faithful to the Jewish Messiah.
It should also be understood that Adonai is not finished with ethnic Israel, but that He continues to have a plan in regards to Israel's national salvation (Rom 11:1-5). Rav Shaul goes on to explain this in his analogy of Israel as the "Olive Tree," to which Gentile believers have been grafted into (Rom 11:16-24). The "Olive Tree" would represent faithful Israel, and Adonai's faithful promise in regards to the salvation of "all of Israel" (Rom 11:26). He goes on to explain that after the "Wild Olives" (the Gentiles), would be grafted into the "Olive Tree" (Israel), then all of Israel would be saved (Rom 11:26). This is Adonai's Sovereign plan. It is not a matter of interpretation. It is what is!
Although, many Jews had rejected the Messiah. This didn't mean that all Jews had rejected the Messiah (Rom 9:6). In fact, until the advent of the Catholic Church, the Assembly of Messiah, was strictly a Jewish Assembly, in both faith and practice. Rav Shaul explains that it is a "partial hardening" (a temporary hardening) that has taken place upon ethnic Israel and not a permanent one (Rom 11:25). This is to mean that Jews would continue to come to faith in Messiah, just as much as the Gentiles would. Yet, Gentile believers would have a specific mission in regards to their Messianic faith - "provoke Israel to jealousy" (Rom 11:11). This mission however, would also be considered to overlap that of the Jewish believer's as well (Rom 11:14).
Rav Shaul would also teach that by simply being a descendant of Abraham didn't mean that one was automatically given admission into the Kingdom of Heaven. Like the Gentile, the Jew also needed to be saved through the Messiah (Rom 3:29).
Unlike the Council of Nicaea, the Jerusalem Council understood, that salvation was not exclusive. Adonai meant that salvation would also include Gentile salvation, and not simply be restricted to the nation of Israel (Hos 1:10). Yet, somehow throughout the course of history, things became turned around, and Israel is no longer Israel, and a Jewish believer can no longer be Jewish.
The roots of the Messianic faith is not a Gentile root, but a Jewish root - "for salvation is from the Jews" - Jn 4:22. The Jerusalem Council did not expect for Gentiles to become "Jewish" and especially Jews to become Gentile. Rav Shaul continued to identify himself as Jew, and even as a Pharisee (Rom 11:1, Phil 3:4-6). For many years both Jewish and Gentile believers worshipped in the same synagogues, and celebrated the same Feasts, and observed the same Seventh Day Sabbath. Yet, this is now considered unique and uncommon - and even heretical in some cases. Why is this? It is because of the spiritual anti-Semitism that has crept into the Body of Messiah, that was fostered at Council of Nicaea and carried on by the early "Church Fathers."
A call for Gentile believers to return to the Messianic Jewish roots of their faith is going out in these last days! It's prophetic -
"Thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot, “In those days it will come to pass that ten men from every language of the nations will grasp the corner of the garment of a Jew saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you" - Zech 8:23.
Yet, in order to for this prophecy to be fulfilled repentance needs to place. Those within the Gentile Body of Messiah who possess arrogance and anti-Semitic attitudes towards the Jewish people need to repent. In addition, Gentile believers need to stand with Israel and not against Israel or, the Jewish people (Gen 12:3). Adonai's plan of salvation is for both the Jew and Gentile. Yet, no one should be expected to give up their ethnicity or heritage - we are all one in Messiah (Eph 2:15, Gal 3:28).
What is incumbent however, upon the Gentile believer is to take the gospel of Messiah Yeshua to the Jew first (Rom 1:16). It is a Biblical mandate. Yet, this must be done with doctrines and teachings as set forth Scripturally, in the Torah, the Prophets and Writings through Messiah and His Holy Spirit (Lk 24:44-46, Acts 1:8), and not through doctrines of men, that exclude the Jewish people rather than include both the Jew and the Gentile as well as separate the faith from the Jewish people and Israel.