Can a Jew believe in Jesus and still be Jewish?
It all depends on who Yeshua is!
by Sam Nadler
The New Covenant presents Him as the Jewish Messiah (John 1:41,45,
If He’s not the Jewish Messiah, then no one should believe in Him
because His credentials as “Savior of the World” are based on
His credentials as the “Messiah of Israel”.
If He is the true Messiah, then it is correct that I believe in Him;
and I would be a Jew in good standing with God, even if no one else
agreed. But, let’s say for argument’s sake, that Yeshua is a
false Messiah. Still, I must be seen as a Jew in the eyes of
rabbinical authority. Why?
Because, believing in a false Messiah does not make any Jew a
For example, in 132 A.D./C.E., during the Jewish revolt against
Rome, Rabbi Akiba (a very famous Rabbi) declared Bar Cochba to be
the Messiah. Although Bar Cochba was the rebel leader of the revolt,
he had none of the accepted credentials to be the Messiah! It
appeared to be merely Akiba’s pragmatic attempt to unite all Jews
against Rome. Since that time, however, no Jewish authority has ever
said, “Akiba is no longer Jewish for believing in a false
Messiah”. If Akiba is still ‘a Jew in good standing’, then a
Jew who believes in Yeshua as the Messiah, cannot be considered
In a synagogue on Long Island, New York, following my presentation
regarding why I believed Yeshua is the Messiah, the senior Rabbi
stood up and declared “Nadler, you’re no longer a Jew because of
your belief in Jesus!” “Rabbi,” I responded, “If the
Bostoner Rebbe says I’m still a Jew, though a wayward Jew, and if
the Encyclopaedia Judaica declares I’m still a Jew, though a
wayward one, then how can you say I’m not a Jew”? “Well,”
the Rabbi said, “perhaps I’m wrong”. “Rabbi”, I quietly
responded, “maybe you’re wrong about more than just that?” To
my astonishment, the synagogue audience of more than 100 Jewish
people erupted into applause. It was apparent to all who would
consider the issues objectively that a Jew who believes in Yeshua is
still a Jew, whether the Rabbi approves or not.
In the book of John, the early believers in Yeshua described him as
“the Messiah”, “the One spoken of in Moses and the
Prophets”, “the King of Israel", "the Son of God”,
etc. Please notice as well how these believers understood
themselves. In both Acts 21:39 & 22:3, Paul declares first to
the Romans, then again to his own Jewish people, “I am a Jew from
Tarsus”. Now at this time, Paul had been a believer in Yeshua for
well over twenty years. So, it’s not that he’s confused or that
trying to say one thing to the Romans and something else to the
Jews. He doesn’t say he “was a Jew”, or “an ex-Jew from
Tarsus”, or “former Jew”, etc. He is a present tense Jew.
In Romans 11:1, Paul reiterates his Jewish identity when he raises
the rhetorical question “Has God forsaken His people (Israel)?”
He answers, “God forbid! For I am an Israelite, of the seed of
Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin”. His first “proof”that God
has not forsaken Israel is himself. God chose a “Hebrew of
Hebrews” (Phil.3: 5) so that the Gentile world would never think
that God would be unfaithful to “a people He foreknew”. For if
the Lord would break His promises to Israel, why should anyone else
think Him trustworthy regarding the Good News of Yeshua?
Today it’s the same story. Every Jewish believer maintaining
his/her present tense Jewish identity testifies: “Am Yisrael Chai
b’Yeshua Hamashiach: The people of Israel live in Yeshua the
Messiah!” Many Jewish people (and many non-Jews) are unaware that
the New Covenant does not restrict in any fashion Jewish believers
from identifying themselves as Jewish, and living their lives as
Jewish people. There’s nothing about Jewish life that conflicts
with faith in Yeshua or with any of the New Covenant imperatives,
teaching, or counsel. Rather, the New Covenant builds upon and
fulfills the ethical, moral and spiritual teaching and revelation of
God in Tenach (the Old Covenant). In the New Covenant we read that
the Jewish believers:
- continued attending Temple (Acts 3)
- kept the feasts of the Lord (Acts 20:6; 16; 1 Cor. 16:8)
- circumcised their Jewish children (Acts 16:1-3)
- kept other aspects of the Law, though not being under it’s yoke
authority (Mt. 11:29; Acts 15:10) but for the sake of
and for a testimony towards their own people (1 Cor.
There’s a lot of “stinking thinking” on this subject even
among “Christians”. A few years back, I was invited to speak on
a secular radio call-in show in Miami, Florida. I received a number
of “you’re-no-longer-a-Jew” calls from Jewish listeners.
Suddenly a call came in from a more polite gentleman: “Mister
Nadler, now that you’re a believer in Jesus, you’re no longer a
Jew, for the Bible says ‘that in Messiah there’s neither Jew nor
I recognized the portion and responded over the air “Oh, do you
mean Galatians 3:28, ‘There’s neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor
free, male nor female; for are all one in Messiah Jesus.’”
“Exactly”, the caller replied.
“Well”, I quickly said, “then let me ask you a question,
please. Are you a believer?”
“Yes, I am”, he answered.
“Great. Are you married?” I asked
“Well, yes, I’m married”, he slowly answered.
I asked again, “Is your wife a believer?”
“Yes, she’s a… believer”, he responded with a longer pause
“Well”, I said, pausing to catch my breath. “If you’re a
believer and still a male,
and you’re wife is a believer and still a female, then I’m a
believer and still a Jew. The verse in Galatians is not teaching
that we lose our identities in Messiah,
but that there’s only one way to God for all people.”
An extremely long pause, then, “You mean I’m still Jewish,
“If you were born a Jew”, I responded, “then you’re still a
“Hallelujah!” he shouted over the airwaves, “they told me I
was no longer Jewish”.
So, if someone says “you can’t believe in Jesus and still be
Jewish”, they need to read what the Jewish Bible teaches:
Yeshua is our Messiah, and trusting in Him is the most Jewish
you can ever make!
Sam Nadler - Word of
PO Box 21148 Charlotte, NC 28277
Phone/Fax (704) 362-1927