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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

Glossary of Unfamiliar Words And Phrases

For a more extensive glossary of unfamiliar terms, go here.

Apostolic Scriptures or Apostolic Writings:
the collection of midrashic letters written by the Messianic Jewish Rabbis of the first century to help Believers in Yeshua the Messiah to properly interpret the Torah. These documents are included in English Bibles as the so-called “New Testament.” I believe that the choice of the term “New Testament” is both historically and theologically unfortunate, in that the term forces an incorrect understanding of the true nature of both the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible, see below) and the Apostolic Writings. The word “New” forces a comparison with something else that is automatically assumed to be “Old,” which in turn suggests related terms like obsolete, passé, superseded, and outdated. This term has produced the incorrect theological interpretation that the “New Testament” or “New Covenant” has somehow replaced and superseded the “Old Testament” or “Old Covenant.”
In His “Sermon on the Mount” Yeshua made it perfectly clear that the Tanakh will never become obsolete or superseded:

Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets.[153] I have come not to abolish but to complete.[154] Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud [the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet] or a stroke [a decorative flourish on many Hebrew letters] will pass from the Torah — not until everything that must happen has happened. So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot [commands] and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)

Just as the Bill of Rights expands, explains, and clarifies the intent of the Constitution of the United States, so the Apostolic Scriptures expand, explain, and clarify the intent of the Tanakh, which is the “Constitution” of the Kingdom of God. Thus, just as the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States become part and parcel of that Constitution, so the Apostolic Scriptures likewise become part and parcel of the Tanakh.
B’rit Hadasha
[lit. Renewed Covenant]: See Apostolic Scriptures.
BCE and CE:
Before the Common Era and Common Era; same as BC and AD, but less offensive to non-Messianic Jews who (rightfully) resent being forced to acknowledge the calendar as being defined by the birth of a Messiah they can’t understand, and therefore can’t accept.
a special kind of bread used for Shabbat and holidays. It is a very sweet, golden, eggy bread. The taste and texture is somewhat similar to egg twist rolls (little yellow rolls that look like knots). The loaf is usually braided, but on certain holidays it may be made in other shapes.
Eretz: #ra
earth, land, ground.
Eretz Yisra'el:
the Land of Israel.
collection of legal and ethical discussions of the rabbis of the third through the fifth centuries, edited about 500 CE; together with the Mishnah forms the Talmud.
Goy: ywg
(pl. goyim; lit. nation) anybody who is not a physical descendant of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya`akov (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). A non-Jewish person.
HaMashiach: xyXmh
the Messiah.
Halakah: h$lh
(alt. halakhah, halachah, chalakah) the way one goes, the walk; the word for Jewish law, or for the legal and regulatory portions of Torah and of the Talmud, and of all Jewish lore.
Havdalah: ldbh
(lit. make a separation) ceremony that marks the end of the Sabbath and the beginning of the week; the blessing over wine to mark the difference between the Sabbath and the weekdays.
Kiddush: Xdq
(alt. Kidush) blessing recited or chanted over wine on Shabbat or festivals emphasizing their holiness: “Barukh atah ADONAI Elohaynu melekh ha-olam, borei p’riy ha-gafen. Amein. Blessed are You, ADONAI, our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Amen.” To pour out the first cup of wine, or the blessing of sanctification; by extension, a light meal after the wine.
Kohen: !hk
(alt. cohen, cohan; pl. kohenim; kohanim, cohanim) descendant of the ancient priestly class, the descendants of Aaron; a priest.
Kohen Gadol: lwdg !hk
(alt. Kohen haGadol, Cohen haGadol, Cohen Gadol; pl. Kohanim Gedolim) the High Priest.
Mashiach: xyXm
(alt. moshiach, mashiyach, mashiyakh) lit. “the Anointed One.” Messiah. The Jews anointed three classes of people: prophets, priests, and kings. Yeshua HaMashiach was all three. The equivalent Greek term is Christos, translated as “Christ.”
Messianic Community:
the called-out community of Believers in Messiah; used to refer to the entire Body of Messiah as a whole, as well as to the local congregation. I personally use the terms Miqra, Messianic Community, Body of Messiah, and Commonwealth of Israel interchangeably. The Messianic Community is to be distinguished from the organized Gentile “Christian church” in that I believe “the church,” as it presently exists, is seriously contaminated with pagan beliefs and practices[155] and, because of a theology of “cheap grace” and a basically “open door policy” of admitting members, consists of only perhaps as many as 10-20% truly born-again Believers in Messiah. For more information on this idea see John Warwick Montgomery, Damned through the Church, Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1970. ISBN: 0871230909 (currently out of print, but you may find copies on the Internet or in used book stores).
Midrash: Xrdm
(pl. Midrashim) (1) homiletic interpretation of the Scriptures; exegesis; commentary; (2) a collection of works compiled between the third and twelfth centuries that seeks out underlying truths and meanings of the Bible; they are the result of the process of delving into the ramifications of a biblical verse and of the ancient rabbis’ practice of reading “between the lines” of Scripture.
Mikvah: hwqm
(1) a pool of water conforming to certain dimensions and specifications, and connected to “living” water, used for legal and spiritual purposes; also called in Latin a ritulariumn; (2) tevilah, the ritual act of bathing or of being immersed in the mikvah pool. Christian “baptism” by immersion is an equivalent practice.
Miqra: arqm
(alt. miqrah, mikra, mikrah) a calling together; convocation, assembly, especially for worship and for the performance of sacred rites; indicates something or someone “called out” [for that assembly]; a public meeting (the act, the persons, or the place); also a rehearsal, assembly, calling, convocation, reading; in the NASB translated as assemblies (2 times), assembly (2 times), convocation (14 times), convocations (3 times), reading (1 time), summoning (1 time). Similar to Greek ekklesia (ekklesia), called-out ones, which is erroneously translated “church” in the King James Version, and which error has continued in later English translations of the Scriptures. There is simply no valid linguistic reason for either translating the word ekklesia or for referring to the people of Messiah as “the church” — it is only a Gentile tradition with roots in Roman paganism.
code of Jewish oral law edited by Rabbi Judah HaNasi (c. 135 to 220 C.E.) about 200 C.E.; together with the Gemara forms the Talmud.
Mishpachah: hxpXm
 (alt. mishpocha) clan, family, tribe, people, nation.
Olam Haba: awbh ~lw[
the world to come; in Hebrew thought refers both to the afterlife and to the Messianic Kingdom. There is no formal Jewish “doctrine” concerning either the Messianic Kingdom or the afterlife, because traditional Judaism is more about living righteously in the here and now than it is about what happens after we die. Many Jews believe that when Messiah comes there will be a general resurrection of the dead, and all Israel plus the righteous from all the nations will have a share in the Olam Haba, but mostly they just don’t think in terms of a “heaven or hell” afterlife as most Westerners do.
Pilgrim Festival/Feast: Shalosh Regalim
Three times a year (Pesach, Shavu`ot, and Sukkot) the Torah requires all Israel to go in joyous celebration to Jerusalem. [If anyone would try to coerce you into being overly “Torah-observant,” simply remind him/her that in order to be completely “Torah-observant” he/she must attend these three Feasts in Jerusalem every year.]
(alt. Pesah; pl. Pesachim) Passover. Memorializes the night when the Hebrews were protected by the blood of lambs, a type of when God’s people are redeemed by the blood of The Lamb of God. One of three pilgrim festivals to Jerusalem.
Principles of Faith:
Rambam’s thirteen principles of faith, which he taught were the minimum requirements of Jewish belief, are:
  1. God exists
  2. God is one and unique
  3. God is incorporeal
  4. God is eternal
  5. Prayer is to be directed to God alone and to no other
  6. The words of the prophets are true
  7. Moses’ prophecies are true, and Moses was the greatest of the prophets
  8. The Written Torah (first five books of the Bible) and Oral Torah (teachings now contained in the Talmud and other writings) were given to Moses
  9. There will be no other Torah
  10. God knows the thoughts and deeds of men
  11. God will reward the good and punish the wicked
  12. The Messiah will come
  13. The dead will be resurrected[156]
Rabbi: ybbr
a Torah-teacher; technically, a Jewish teacher or religious authority (pl. rabanim); the spiritual leaders of most Messianic Jewish congregations are referred to as “Rabbi” if they are Jewish and as “Pastor” if they are non-Jewish; although there is no practical difference in their function, most non-Jewish Messianic congregation leaders defer to a Rabbi in matters of halakah (interpretation of Jewish law or tradition). Additionally, many of the Messianic Pastors voluntarily defer to a Messianic Rabbi to function as their advisor or mentor.
(Maimonides; Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, 1135-1204 CE) A physician born in Moorish Cordoba, Rambam lived in a variety of places throughout the Moorish lands of Spain, the Middle East and North Africa, often fleeing persecution. He was a leader of the Jewish community in Cairo. He was heavily influenced by Greek thought, particularly that of Aristotle.
Rambam was the author of the Mishneh Torah, one of the greatest codes of Jewish law, compiling every conceivable topic of Jewish law in subject matter order and providing a simple statement of the prevailing view in plain language. In his own time, he was widely condemned because he claimed that the Mishneh Torah was a substitute for studying the Talmud.
Rambam is also responsible for several important theological works. He developed the 13 Principles of Faith, the most widely accepted list of Jewish beliefs. He also wrote the Guide for the Perplexed, a discussion of difficult theological concepts written from the perspective of an Aristotelian philosopher[157].
Rav: br
shortened form of Rabbi; (lit. great, strong, captain, chief) a Sage of the Talmud.
Ruach HaKodesh: Xdqh xwr
Holy Spirit (lit. the Holy Breath); the Spirit of Mashiach.
Shabbat: tbbX
(lit. end, cease, rest) the Sabbath, a day of rest and spiritual enrichment. The day that HaShem has set aside for fellowship with all His people, not just the Jews.
Sha’ul: lwaX
probably best-known and least understood of all Messianic Rabbis, he was Yeshua’s Shliach sent primarily to the Goyim [Gentiles], and was the writer of approximately half of the Apostolic Scriptures. Also know as the Apostle Paul of Tarsus. Also the name of the first king of Israel
Shavu`ot: [wbX
(alt. Shavuoth, sg. Shavuah; lit. weeks) The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (50 days); one of the three Pilgrim Feasts. The 50th day from Yom Habikkurim memorializes the receiving of the Torah, and the beginning of the wheat harvest. Also, it represents the betrothal between Israel and the Lord. It was on this day that Ruach HaKodesh came to permanently indwell the Miqra (Acts 2) as the “down-payment” or the “bride price.”
Shem Kodesh or Shem HaKodesh: Xdqh ~X
religious name; most Jewish males have two names—a religious name, called the shem kodesh (or hakodesh), and a secular name, called the kinnui in Hebrew. The religious name is a Hebrew name, and the secular name is in whatever vernacular language is in use. Observant American Jews today, for example, have both a religious Hebrew name and a secular English name. Among the Jews of Eastern Europe, Yiddish was the everyday or secular language, so they had a religious Hebrew name and a secular Yiddish name, the kinnui. In France, the secular name is in French; in ancient Babylonia, the kinnui was in Babylonian; etc.
Shemoneh Esrei: hrX[ hnwmX
(lit. eighteen) a prayer that is the center of any Jewish religious service. Also known as the Amidah [standing] or the Tefilah [prayer].
Shliach: xlX
(pl. shliachim, shlichim, shluchim) to send or to be sent; an emissary, one sent forth with the full power and authority of the sender; the Greek equivalent is Apostle. Today’s ambassadors from Israel to other countries or to the United Nations are sometimes referred to as Shliachim in Hebrew. In modern usage, shlichim are Israel community representatives that serve in Jewish communities throughout the world and serve as a cultural and educational link between the people in local communities and the people of Israel. The Jewish Agency for Israel recruits and trains dynamic young and talented shlichim (emissaries) from Israel for educational placement in Jewish communities, youth movements, schools, Jewish organizations and campuses around the world as Areivim. This term comes from the Hebrew saying, “Kol Yisrael areivim zeh bezeh” — all Jews are mutually responsible — and these highly motivated young educators from Israel are imbued with a sense of responsibility towards Jewish communities in the Diaspora.
Sukkot: tkk o
(alt. Sukot; sg. sukkah, sukah) booths, temporary dwellings; name of the festival that commemorates the Israelites’ wanderings in the desert after leaving Egypt; the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths); One of three Pilgrim Feasts.
Talmid: dymlt
(fem. talmidah; pl. talmidim) disciple, student; a true talmid does not only want to know what the teacher knows, he/she wants to become what the teacher is [this of course presupposes that the teacher is worth emulating].
the two commentaries on the Mishnah, one produced in the Eretz Yisra'el about 275 CE, the other in Babylonia about 500 CE; the designation for both the Mishnah and the commentaries on it (Gemara). The Talmud is the collected legal and ethical discussions of the rabbis.
Tanakh: knt
(alt. Tanach or Tenakh) an acronym (TNK) for the three divisions of the Hebrew Bible; Torah (Instruction), Nevi’im (Prophets), and K’tuvim (Writings).
Torah: hrwt
(1) teaching or instruction, but usually erroneously translated “law’; (2) divine instruction from God; (3) in its most narrow sense, the Five Books of Moshe (Moses), the Pentateuch — B’resheet (Genesis), Sh’mot (Exodus), Vayikra (Leviticus), B’midbar (Numbers), D’varim (Deuteronomy), called the “Written Torah” and hand written on a parchment scroll; (4) the Torah plus the Prophets (Nevi’im) and Writings (K’tuvim) are together called the TaNaKh (Tanakh, above), the Hebrew Bible, or the so-called “Old Testament”; (5) in a broad sense, the whole written Word of God is the Torah, including both the Tanakh and the B’rit Hadasha; (6) in its broadest sense, “Torah” is all of Judaism, which flows from those books. Additional material called the “Talmud” or “Oral Torah” is considered in varying degrees as authoritative in traditional Judaism. Uncapitalized, the word can be understood as “principle.”
walking in yielded obedience to the teaching of the Scriptures; in traditional Judaism this includes obeying the complex instructions of the Talmud as well.
Yeshua: [wXy
Literally “salvation” or “YHWH saves.” Rabbi Yeshua ben Yosef. Son of the Most High, and Messiah of Israel; Jesus of Nazareth.
Here is how the birth of Yeshua the Messiah took place. When his mother Miryam was engaged to Yosef, before they were married, she was found to be pregnant from the Ruach HaKodesh. Her husband-to-be, Yosef, was a man who did what was right; so he made plans to break the engagement quietly, rather than put her to public shame. But while he was thinking about this, an angel of ADONAI appeared to him in a dream and said, "Yosef, son of David, do not be afraid to take Miryam home with you as your wife; for what has been conceived in her is from the Ruach HaKodesh. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means “salvation” or ‘ADONAI saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins. (Matt 1:18-21)
Yom haBikkurim: myrwkkbh mwy
The Day of First Fruits, barley harvest, the day from which we start counting the Omer 50 days to Shavu`ot (Pentecost). The first day of the week following the Shabbat of Passover.
Yom ha-Kippurim: myrppk mwy
Yom Kippur (alt. Kipur) The Day of Atonement; The Great Fast.
Zaken: !qz
(alt. zaqen, zeken; pl. zakenim or zekenim) elder (-est), aged, old or ancient man or woman, senator; leader of a local Messianic Community; pastor.


153. The three divisions of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) are Torah (“Law” or Pentateuch), Nevi’im (Prophets), and Kituvim (Writings). The phrase “Torah and Nevi’im” (the Law and the Prophets) is a Hebrew idiom used to refer to the entire Tanakh. [RETURN]

154. The phrase “I have come not to abolish but to complete” is translated in many English versions as “I did not come to abolish but to fulfill,” an idiomatic Hebrew phrase frequently used by both ancient and modern rabbis in which “fulfill” means “interpret correctly.” When a rabbi asks one of his students to interpret a passage of Torah, if the student interprets it incorrectly the rabbi says, “You have just abolished the Torah.” If, however, the student interprets the passage correctly, the rabbi says, “Congratulations, you have just fulfilled the Torah.” Yeshua was telling His disciples that He had not come to interpret Torah incorrectly, but to interpret it correctly.  [RETURN]

155. The following are but a few examples of paganism in “the Church:”

• At creation, God specifically ordained the Shabbat, the seventh day of the week, as a perpetual day of worship to be observed by all His people. With extremely rare exceptions, “the Church” has replaced the God-ordained day of worship with the pagan “Sun-day”—the day the pagan Roman religion dedicated to the Roman sun god. “The Church” generally refers to this pagan observance as “the Lord’s Day,” and some actually consider those who faithfully observe the LORD’s true Shabbat as heretics, legalists, and/or “Judaizers.”

• God ordained the feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits as Biblical symbols of the Messiah’s death, His sinless life, and His resurrection, and He established specific dates on which they are to be observed. Not only does “the Church” disobediently fail to observe these sacred days, they have been far removed from their biblical dates and replaced with the pagan Feast of Ishtar (Easter) with all of its fertility symbolism and passed off as a so-called celebration of Messiah’s resurrection. Even in that, they have moved the observation of “Resurrection Day” far from the anniversary of the date on which the Resurrection actually occurred.

• The celebration of Messiah’s birth has been moved from its rightful place during the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) to Saturnalia, the feast day of the false Roman god Saturn, on what is now December 25 on the modern calendar, and has given it the name “Christ-mass” which, according to Roman Catholic theology, is a ritualized repetition of Messiah’s murder.

• The night of the annual high holy day of Satan worship has been renamed “Halloween,” which is a contraction for Hallowed (or Holy) Evening, and the observance of this Satanic holy day is permitted by most churches, and actually promoted by many of them.

• Many congregations “vote” on the admission of new members, or permit new members to join, with a total disregard of the spiritual status of those new members; as a result, many congregations are composed mostly of non-Believers.

• The Apostolic Scriptures specify that all congregational leaders are to be appointed to their positions by other spiritually-qualified leadership based upon their spiritual qualifications; see Acts 14:23; 15:22; Titus 1:5-7, 1 Timothy 3:1-7, 1 Timothy 3:8-13. However, leadership in most congregations is elected by the members based on popularity or as a reward for services rendered, such as for being a generous contributor, or simply based upon who happens to be willing to assume the responsibility of the office at the time.

• Most congregations are operated as democratic organizations with the congregation voting on most decisions. In the Apostolic Scriptures, the appointed leaders (Pastor/Teachers or Elders) are to provide benevolent leadership that is in the best spiritual interest of the congregation, and the members are to follow that leadership; see 1 Tim. 5:17; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet. 5:1-5; Heb. 13:17; 2 Cor. 2:9, 1 Thess. 5:12-13. Most congregations in America simply “hire” a pastor or minister to “tickle their ears,” based on academic or professional qualifications or recommendations while giving little, if any, attention to spiritual qualifications, and make that hireling subject to the whims of boards, committees, and even the membership in general.

The list of pagan and humanist practices in “the Church” goes on and on. [RETURN]

156. [RETURN]

157. Rich, op. cit., [RETURN]

Page last updated on Wednesday, 13 January 2021 01:32 PM
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Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)