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(Isaiah 2:3)

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The Model for the Messianic Community
What the First Century Messianic Community Looked Like
and Why We Should Look the Same Today

What did Messiah Yeshua expect His Body and Bride to look like,
and how close have we come to His expectations?

MRav Dr. Ari Levitt
ThM, ThD, DMin, MA, MBA, ND

Read it as a flip book

Back to Chapter 12

Chapter 13.
Summary and Conclusions

From our study of the birth and early childhood of Messianic Judaism, we should be able to draw the following conclusions:

 1. Yeshua, His Talmidim, and His Shliachim were all born as Jews, lived their entire lives as Jews, and died as Torah-observant Jews. What other life-style could any of them ever even considered? Not a single one of them ever became a “Christian.”

  2. The only “Scriptures” that any of them knew was the Tanakh, or Hebrew Bible.

 3. The only form of worship that any of them knew was that of the Temple and Synagogues.

 4. Since Israel was the only people on earth to have received revelation from the one true God, the only place to learn about Him was in Israel’s Temple/Synagogue environment.

 5. Neither Yeshua nor His Shliachim had any intention of starting a “new religion,” but only of explaining and modeling (correcting) Biblical Judaism as God intended it to be.

 6. When Ruach HaKodesh came at Pentecost, those upon whom He fell, and those who came to trust in Messiah that day and in the months and years following, did not stop being Jews; neither has any Jew who has ever embraced Messiah stopped being a Jew.

 7. With the possible (though I think very unlikely) exception of Dr. Luke, all the writers of the Apostolic Scriptures were Torah-observant Jews.[138]

 8. Yeshua taught that the entire Tanakh speaks of Him (Luke 24:25-27, 44-47; cp. John 1:45). He also said that if we do not believe (or understand) what Moshe wrote (the Torah), we could not believe (or understand) what He, Yeshua, taught (John 5:46-47). Since the “Church” rejects the Tanakh, and particularly the Torah, as authoritative, how can they possibly understand correctly what Yeshua taught? The letters which His Shliachim wrote about His life and ministry and to explain His teachings that they were commissioned to pass on — and which we have received as the Apostolic Writings (or so-called “New Testament”) — can in a very real sense be considered as God-inspired midrashim (commentaries) on the Tanakh, which enable Believers to properly understand both the Tanakh and Yeshua’s teaching as interpreted by Ruach HaKodesh through the Shliachim.

 9. Since Hebrew was the common language of Eretz Yisra'el [the Land of Israel] in the late Second Temple Period[139], and “Koine” Greek was the lingua franca[140] of all Goyim in the then-known world, and since the Gospel was to be delivered “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek,” the case has been made by some very reputable scholars that the letters of the Apostolic Writings were very probably originally written in Hebrew (the native tongue of all the writers except perhaps Dr. Luke) for transmission to the Jewish Messianic Believers, both in Eretz Yisra'el and in the Diaspora, and were immediately translated into Greek for transmission to the Non-Jewish Messianic Believers. At the very least, the early Church fathers held that the original source document for the Synoptic Gospels was written in Hebrew by Mattityahu[141] (see Appendix B. The reason that we now have no copies of the original Hebrew manuscripts of those letters is that they were most likely destroyed by Constantine and the Council of Nicaea.

10. Though not all Jews believed that Yeshua was the Messiah, the Jews did not categorically reject their Messiah as is commonly taught. Within less than 20 years after Yeshua’s resurrection, perhaps as much as 30 to 40 percent (or more) of the entire city of Jerusalem had become Messianic, as had multiplied tens of thousands of Jews in the Diaspora. There was a far greater percentage of Messianic Believers among first-century Judaism than there is today among the general population of “Christian” America.

11. The Shliachim never established “churches” as we know them, but only declared to all Israel (and to anyone else who would receive the Truth) that Yeshua of Nazareth was the resurrected Messiah promised by God through the Prophets, and that the Goyim (Gentiles) were invited to fully participate in the God, the Covenants, the Torah, the Land, the People, and the Redemption of Israel without any formal “conversion” to Judaism.

12. From the Exodus out of Egypt up through the end of the Second Temple Period, and even until today, non-Jews have always been welcome to participate in Jewish religious life, as long as certain basic forms of “acceptable behavior” are observed.

13. The decree of the Jerusalem Council did not exempt Gentile prostelites from Torah, only from circumcision. The Talmud, or “Oral Torah,” to which Yeshua referred as the “tradition of men” (Mark 7:5-13), although valuable for our understanding, comes from men and not from God, and has never been binding upon either Jew or Gentile. Pagan Gentiles who were turning to Messiah could either go through the formal “conversion” process (including circumcision) and thereby “become Jews” (Proselytes or Converts) and fully embrace all the requirements of halakah if they desired to, or they could remain in fellowship with the synagogue as Messianic God-Fearers and embrace that extent of halakah they had learned, provided, of course, that the “Minimum Requirements” of decent behavior were observed. Being obedient to at least the moral requirements of Torah, however, was never in question, as God’s divine instruction never changes.

14. For at least the first 45 to 50 years following the Resurrection, Jews, Gentile Converts, and God-Fearers all met together in the same Synagogues. After the Birkat ha Minim was introduced into the liturgy (ca. 89-90 CE), it is likely that the first totally Messianic synagogues began to appear, and this process was most certainly greatly accelerated by the declaration of Simon bar Kochba as the Messiah (ca. 135 CE) and expulsion from the Synagogue of those Messianic Jews who refused to acknowledge him as such.

15. God has never repealed the fourth commandment which establishes the seventh day of the week as Shabbat (the Sabbath), nor has He ever condoned the first day of the week as the “appropriate” day of worship. From the giving of the Torah at Sinai to the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE, the “Lord’s Day” was observed as the seventh-day Shabbat. Yeshua confirmed this by declaring Himself as “the Lord of Shabbat” (Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5), thus demonstrating that the seventh-day Shabbat (and not the “first day of the week”) was His day, the Lord’s Day. Whenever Messianic Believers are spoken of in the Apostolic Scriptures as being together on “the first day of the week” it was for the closing ceremony of Shabbat, the Havdalah observance, which began on Shabbat shortly (about 40-45 minutes) after sunset on Saturday evening (according to the western calendar), marking the end of Shabbat and the beginning of the first day of the week.

16. It was not until Constantine blended Roman Paganism with Messianic Judaism that “Christianity” or “the Church” as we now know it came into being. With this hybrid religion being the official state religion of the Roman Empire, and every citizen of the empire being a part of this religion, Messianic Jews were suddenly a very small minority of what had suddenly become “Christianity.”[142]

Thus we can see that “the church” as we now know it bears almost no resemblance at all to the Body of Messiah as it existed for the first 300 years following the Resurrection, and Scripture tells us that in the Olam Haba[143], or the Messianic Kingdom, Messiah will reign from His throne in Jerusalem, Temple worship will be reestablished, people from all the nations will come up to Jerusalem to worship, and the Jewish people will be the leaders of the religious life.

That is to say, the life-style in the Messianic Kingdom, the Millennium, will be virtually identical to the life-style of the Messianic Community for the first 300 years of its existence, with the addition of the Restored Temple. As the Prophets have written:

But in the acharit-hayamim[144] it will come about that the mountain of ADONAI’s house [the Millennial Temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem from which Yeshua HaMashiach will rein physically for a thousand years] will be established as the most important mountain. It will be regarded more highly than the other hills, and peoples will stream there. Many Gentiles will go and say, “Come, let’s go up to the mountain of ADONAI, to the house of the God of Ya`akov! He will teach us about His ways, and we will walk in His paths.” For out of Tziyon[145] will go forth Torah, the word of ADONAI from Yerushalayim.[146] He will judge between many peoples and arbitrate for many nations far away. Then they will hammer their swords into plow-blades and their spears into pruning-knives; nations will not raise swords at each other, and they will no longer learn war. Instead, each person will sit under his vine and fig tree, with no one to upset him, for the mouth of ADONAI-Tzva’ot[147] has spoken. … I will make the lame a remnant and those who were driven off a strong nation.” ADONAI will rule them on Mount Tziyon from that time forth and forever.” (Micah 4:1-4,7; cp. Isaiah 2:2-4)

ADONAI-Tzva’ot says, “The fast days of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months are to become times of joy, gladness and cheer for the house of Y’hudah[148]. Therefore, love truth and peace.” ADONAI-Tzva’ot says, “In the future, peoples and inhabitants of many cities will come; the inhabitants of one city will travel to another and say, ‘We must go to ask ADONAI’s favor and consult ADONAI-Tzva’ot. I’ll go too.’” Yes, many peoples and powerful nations will come to consult ADONAI-Tzva’ot in Yerushalayim and to ask ADONAI’s favor.” ADONAI-Tzva’ot says, “When that time comes, ten men will take hold — speaking all the languages of the nations — will grab hold of the cloak[149] of a Jew[150] and say, ‘We want to go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zechariah 8:19-23)

Although it is clearly evident that Micah, Isaiah, and Zechariah were writing of the Olam Haba, the Messianic Kingdom, since the liberation of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War we have seen the beginning, or the birth pangs, of the Kingdom Age.

When attacked by four Islamic nations (Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Jordan), against over-whelming odds, Israel was miraculously preserved by God’s intervention. In just six days, out-gunned by nearly 24 to 1 (based on total estimated population of all countries involved), tiny Israel had soundly defeated all her surrounding nations and nearly doubled her geographical area, having driven back her enemies far into their own countries.

Since that war, Jewish people from all over the world have been flooding into Israel in fulfillment of God’s promise to return His people to His land. According to a Zola Levitt Presents broadcast in May of 2004, slightly over half of the world’s Jewish population now resides in Israel. In 2000 and 2004, symbolic Paschal Lamb sacrifices were offered on the Hill of Hananiah and the Mount of Olives, respectively, both within view of the site of the Holy of Holies.[151] And the list goes on.

Many have said that the olam hazeh (the world which now is) is provided as a “school” in which each person is given the opportunity to decide whether or not he or she chooses to live forever under the Kingship of God in the Olam Haba (the world which is to come) and, if so, to learn the proper way to live there.

If the lifestyle of the Messianic Kingdom, when Messiah reigns physically from His throne in Jerusalem, is going to be the same as the lifestyle of the early Messianic Community, does it not stand to reason that this is the lifestyle that He would prefer us to live now? And if we plan on living forever in the Olam Haba, the future Kingdom of God, in the lifestyle of the early Messianic Community, doesn’t it only make good sense to start learning how to live that lifestyle right now, right here in the olam hazeh?

As I said at the beginning of our journey together, much of the information I have presented here is highly speculative and is certainly open to interpretations other than my own. But still, to my mind, it would have been a very strange thing indeed for Jewish believers in a Jewish Messiah, steeped in centuries of Jewish culture and led by Jewish Rabbis (the Apostles) equipped with Jewish Scriptures and meeting in Jewish synagogues, to have constructed anything remotely resembling today’s predominantly Gentile church.

Many Christian congregations like to refer to themselves as a “first-century church” and they earnestly strive to live that lifestyle as they understand it. If you are a Believer in Yeshua as Israel’s Messiah who earnestly wishes to live as a true “first century Believer,” it my hope and prayer that this brief study would encourage you to carefully reevaluate your faith and practice in light of what the first-century Messianic Community actually looked like, and what the Messianic Kingdom and the Olam Haba is also going to look like. The answers you seek, the “first century church” that you are looking to be like, may be found in the pages of the Torah!

If you have read this far, you may well be asking yourself, “Why is this fellow making such a big deal out of all this? Just who does he think he is, anyway, telling us that so much of what we hold dear — what the Church has been teaching for nearly two thousand years — is wrong? So what if the Church chooses to ignore God’s Sabbath and worship on Sunday instead? So what if the Church chooses to ignore God’s seven eternal Appointed Times and celebrate Christmas and Easter the way they want to? So what if the Church chooses to elect unqualified elders and deacons who do not live up to the Biblical standards for leadership? So what if the Church chooses to hire “preachers” to tickle their ears and fire them when they teach what they think the Scriptures actually say instead of what the parishioners want to hear? So what if the Church chooses to be inclusive and welcome into full membership those who live a lifestyle that God calls an abomination? What’s the difference, anyway?

That’s a fair enough question and it deserves an answer. I am not in any way condemning those who choose to live a Gentile life-style, to worship on the first day of the week, and to observe Easter and Christmas as religious holidays; it is not my place to either judge or condemn.[152] It is far better that you worship the Creator of the Universe on those days than to not worship Him at all!

However, Yeshua taught us, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). It is obvious that it was His intent for His followers to know and obey “the truth.” But in recent decades our society has been taught that there is no such thing as “objective truth,” that “truth” is “whatever works for you.” In a popular motion picture of the late 1990’s there is a scene in which an older, experienced attorney tells a younger attorney, “The only truth that matters is the truth that I create for the jury in that court-room.”[153] Many, or perhaps even most, people today feel that every individual is responsible for creating his or her own version of “truth” — the Buddhist, the Hindu, the Moslem, the Christian, or the Jew is each entitled to his own “truth.” And even within Christianity each of the more than 43,000 denomination is entitled to create its own “truth,” just like the lawyer in the movie.

But for the person who would be faithful to the God of the Universe, faithful to Him Who is revealed in the pages of Scripture, there can be one, and only one, single, absolute “Truth.” And it is up to each Believer to strive for the knowledge and understanding of that one absolute Truth (see Appendix I).

The Truth is either that the God of the Universe has different standards of righteousness for different groups of people, or that he has one standard of righteousness for everybody. The Scriptures say that God is no respecter of persons (does not play favorites, Acts 10:34, 35).

The Truth is either that the God of the Universe has repealed all of His commandments or that He has repealed none of them, not even the Fourth Commandment. The Scriptures say that His word is absolutely true, that every single one of His righteous ordinances is everlasting, and that not even the smallest letter or smallest portion of a letter of His instruction will be done away with until all Scripture has been completely fulfilled (Psalm 119:160; Matt. 5:18).

The Truth is either that the God of the Universe has given us His “grace” to free us from the requirements of His divine instruction for righteousness (Torah) so that we may live any way we wish to and to set our own standards for coming into His presence, or that His “grace” frees us from the penalty of sin and from the power of sin and gives us the ability to live in obedience to His divine instruction for righteousness and fellowship with Him (Torah).

The Truth is either that the God of the Universe has decreed that anyone may come into His presence in any way they see fit, or that there is only one way to come into His presence. Yeshua taught that nobody may come to the Father except they come through Him (John 14:6), and the Biblical record demonstrates what happens to those who try to approach God in their own way (Lev. 10:1-2; 1 Sam. 8-14).

The Truth is either that that we may replace God’s appointed times and seasons with festivals that are rooted in paganism and expect God to bless them, or that the God of the Universe has established certain “appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies” (Lev. 23:1-2) and He expects us to observe them just as our Messiah did (Luke 2:41; Luke 4:16; Luke 22; John 5:1; John 7:1-13; John 10:22-23).

If the President of the United States sent you a letter asking you to come to the White House at 6:00 p.m. Friday evening to have dinner, stay overnight, and spend all day Saturday with him, would you show up at the appointed time or would you just pop in on him at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday morning? If your elder brother’s birthday were in mid-September, would you insist on sending his birthday card at the end of December? If your best friend’s name were Fred, would you insist on calling him Bob? Does the God of the universe deserve less respect than the President of the United States, or your elder brother, or your best friend?

If you are a Gentile Believer in the Messiah, the Scriptures declare that you have been adopted into the family of Avraham (Israel) and have been invited to fully participate in the God, the Covenants, the Torah, the Land, the People, and the Redemption of Israel. I heartily encourage you to fully embrace that invitation and participate in that wonderful experience. It will change your life, your understanding of the Scriptures, and your relationship to your Savior and to His Bride.

To Appendix A


138. Lukas (“Luke”) is a Greek name. If he was not actually Jewish-born, Dr. Luke was most certainly a proselyte to Judaism. Had he not been a Jew, he would have had no access at all to the Temple environs, and his writings clearly indicate that he spent much time in and about the Temple with Rav Sha'ul. Though we don’t know where he was born, it is possible that he was born in the Diaspora. Just as Rav Sha'ul also had a Greek name, Paul, it is (and was) common for Jews to have both a Hebrew name and a name in the vernacular of the country of their birth. Rav Sha'ul was a Pharisee, and each Pharisee was expected to gain one proselyte each year. Since Dr. Luke was so close to Rav Sha'ul, it is possible that he was one of Sha'ul’s proselytes. [RETURN]

139. “One way that the Jewish people resisted the pagan influence of Greece was by maintaining loyalty to the law of God and by speaking their native language. In the letter of Aristeas, for example, we discover a reference to the language of the people. The language of the Torah, Hebrew, is said to be the language of the people, though some have confused this with Aramaic. While it would not be correct to say that Hebrew was the only language understood and spoken by the Jewish people during the time of Jesus, there is abundant evidence that indeed the people’s holy books, prayers, studies in the classroom, parables, and quite naturally, then, their everyday speech, was conducted in the language of the Bible—Hebrew.” (Young, Brad. Jesus the Jewish Theologian. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999, p. 263.) [RETURN]

140. A common language or medium of communication between peoples of different languages. ( [RETURN]

141. Matthew’s Hebrew name. [RETURN]

142. “Easter,” with its flowers, eggs, bunnies, chicks, and new clothing is nothing but a thinly-veiled observance of the pagan fertility Feast of Ishtar. It has nothing whatever to do with the Resurrection of Messiah, which actually occurred on the Feast of First Fruits that fell “three days and three nights” after the day before the Passover on which Yeshua was executed. “Christmas,” or “Christ-Mass,” which literally means a repeated sacrifice of Messiah, likewise has nothing to do with the Birth of Messiah which, as we have demonstrated elsewhere, actually occurred during the Feast of Tabernacles, thus fulfilling the “type” which is portrayed by this biblical feast.

As every high-school Latin student is taught, December 25 is actually Saturnalia, the feast day of the Roman sun god Saturn. It begs the question why Gentile Christianity has seen a need to create new “holidays” based on pagan beliefs and practices, when the Bible provides detailed instructions for observance of all the special feasts and festivals that God ordained millennia ago. [RETURN]

143. The world to come. [RETURN]

144. Last days. [RETURN]

145. Zion. [RETURN]

146. Jerusalem. [RETURN]

147. YHWH of Hosts. [RETURN]

148. Judah. [RETURN]

149. Tallit, or prayer shawl. [RETURN]

150. Many commentators, particularly within the Messianic Jewish community, believe that this phrase indicates that in the Kingdom Age the ratio of Gentile Believers to Jewish Believers will be approximately ten to one. [RETURN]

151. and [RETURN]

152. For those Gentile Christians who have an interest in “Jewish evangelism,” the burning question is, “how is it possible for a Jew to be saved outside of the Church?” For me, the burning question is, “How is it possible for a Gentile to be saved within the Church?” I believe that “the Church,” having deliberately rejected God’s Torah and His holy Appointed Times and replaced them with their own rules of congregational government and personal conduct and their own liturgical calendar, is in a state of apostasy, and is trying to approach God on their own terms, expecting God to honor their human efforts in spite of the fact that the Tanakh is replete with examples of God rejecting those who failed to approach Him in the prescribed manner; for example, Cain’s unacceptable sacrifice, the death of Aaron’s sons for offering unholy fire, the whole affair of the golden calf, and the kingdom being wrenched from King Saul for offering an unauthorized sacrifice. I cannot help but wonder if the current apostasy of the Gentile Church is what Yeshua was thinking about when He said, “… but the Son of Man having come, shall he find the faith upon the earth?' (Luke 18:8, Young's Literal Translation). [RETURN]

153. “The Firm,” (1993), based on the 1991 novel The Firm by author John Grisham. [RETURN]

A few minor revisions made on 04 November 2019
Page revised on Thursday 28 july 2016

Page last updated on Wednesday, 13 January 2021 01:32 PM
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