Yeshuas followers differed from other groups they were known as the mashiachim or messianics
- Continued from last week
The other area was on how to deal with Gentile converts. All the groups accepted Gentile converts but some believed that they had to undergo ritual circumcision to have righteousness with God, or a place in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Pharisaic school of Shammai was very adamant about this.
The Messianic followers of Yeshua thought that too in the beginning, but by Acts 10 and Cornelius that doctrine was dropped for the most part. Now, it was into this world of traditional versus Hellenistic thought that the disciples were sent into, not to mention plain old paganism.
So, when people from these different groups began to be saved they brought their theology with them, good and bad. You see the concept of ritual circumcision of Gentiles cropping up in Acts 15 because traditionalist Pharisee’s from the school of Shammai began to get saved and brought this concept into their interaction with the others.
Paul, being a traditionalist from the school of Hillel would naturally oppose this view and it came to a head in Acts 15 and the Book of Galatians.
Galatians has nothing to do with keeping the Torah, it has to do with the traditionalist, Pharisaic concept as to whether a Gentile has to be ritually circumcised according to the halakah of the school of Shammai or not.
It was the Lord’s plan to educate Paul in Pharisaic Torah from the school of Hillel and then reveal Messiah to him He was then sent out as a teacher who wrote most of the New Testament scri ptures. The epistles were Messianic commentaries on how to observe the Torah in light of the fact that Yeshua is the Messiah.
So, with that back-round let’s talk about your question. Gentiles who believed in God would be taught the Torah and were called "Yiray Shamayim" or God-fearers. There were several other Hebraic terms they were known by. One was called the "ger t’shav" or stranger in the land. They were believers who lived in the land of Israel like Ruth and Cornelius.
If you lived outside the land you were called a "ger ha Sha’ar" or stranger at the gate. This was important because where you lived determined what commandments applied to you.
For instance, if you lived outside the land you did not tithe. In Greek they were called "phoubemenoi" (God-fearers) and "sebemenoi" (devout ones) and these terms are used in the book of Acts. So, you must understand that there was tension between the traditionalists and the Hellenists in the first century and this had been going on for over 150 years. Paul was a traditionalist from the school of Hillel and you can see why he made war on messianic believers who were Hellenistic by influence. That’s why he was going to Damascus.
There were plenty of traditional messianic believers in Judea but he went after the Hellenists. After Yeshua revealed Himself to him he did not give up the traditional Judaism he learned but now he could interpret it correctly, holding on to the good and discarding the bad. I think the Lord had a sense of humor in sending Paul the traditionalist outside the land to reach Hellenistic Jews and Gentiles.
So, with all that back-round let’s get to the question.
Antioch is a Hellenistic city (remember the Maccabean traditionalists fought the Hellenists who sided with Antiochus) named after the Greek kings. So, the Greek speakers in Antioch called the "mashiachim" (Hebrew for messianics) "christianos" which is the same thing, only coming from a Hellenistic angle. This term eventually was used to insult believers and that is why Peter said not to be ashamed of being called a "Christian" (christianos) in 1 Pet 4.14-16, or "messianic" coming from a Hebraic mindset.
This was not the start of a new religion and has nothing to do with what is called "Christian" today. Peter was talking to Torah observant believers in Messiah who were Jewish and Gentile and they would have never accepted Christianity as it is today. Christianity is based on replacement theology so the term messianic and Christian do not mean the same thing anymore.
Messianic carries the meaning of Torah observant which is seen as applying only to Jews and Christian means non-Torah observant and is seen as applying only to Gentiles. This couldn’t be further from the truth as expressed in the scri ptures.
That is why Jews who believe are often called "Hebrew Christians" and not Messianic Jews today. So, what is it supposed to look like?
God saves a Jew or a Gentile and both groups are part of one Body and both groups were to keep the Torah as it applies. We are all a part of one Bride, one Olive Tree, one congregation and we are to follow one Torah.
We have one Shepherd, one Prince, one King, one Messiah and we all follow one God. Messianic is just the Hebrew word for "anointed ones" and if you said it in Greek it would be "christianos" but both words mean the same thing.
That is what it is supposed to look like but that isn’t what is out there today and that is why there is much confusion about this verse.
That is why we should understand the scri ptures in the way the would have been understood at the time they were written and not according to the understanding and definitions of whatever denomination that happens to be teaching you at the time.