St. Peter's Orthodox Church


Blood Libel Illustration


By Daniel Gruber

Christian Anti-Semitism, by Daniel Gruber, is a series of articles that examines the historical development of the anti-Semitism that has proceeded from the church. This reader, for one, has found the series very informative, and select articles from it are being presented that the reader may gain similar benefit. The studies are being presented in the sequence in which their historical content occurred. Therefore, it is recommended that they be read in the sequence in which links to them are found in our Library.

One thing to note about the present article is this: Whereas previous articles highlighted the origins of anti-Semitism in the Eastern and Catholic branches of the church, this article brings to light the fact that the Protestant branch of the church does not get off Scott free. A significant portion of it carried forward the anti-Semitism it inherited from the Catholic church and reaped a bountiful "harvest" in the Holocaust.

In 1 Corinthians 14:15, Paul said, I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also (ASV). It is the prayer of the Shofar board that the reader may grow in understanding in this matter and pray accordingly. ~ editor


"For someone who claimed to have a faith solely in what the Scriptures taught, it is notable that he rejected all of what the Scriptures clearly taught about the restoration of the Jewish people and the establishment of the Messianic kingdom upon the earth."

~ Daniel Gruber ~

God makes many promises in the Bible, some are what we would call “good,” others are what we would call “bad”. To the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, He promised: I have known only you of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. (Amos 3:2)

For His purposes in all the earth, God established a unique relationship with Israel, one which brought a special measure of both blessing and judgment. Throughout Tanakh, God promises to punish Israel for her sins, and He also promises to then restore her to Himself. Israel is the center and context for God’s government over the earth.

Both before and after his resurrection, Yeshua affirmed that God would restore the kingdom to Israel. In Revelation, Yohanan/John speaks of that restoration. Paul also writes about it. In Rom.11, he explains that God will remove the blindness from those in Israel who cannot see the truth and hope of the good news. Then, at that point in time, all Israel will be saved.

In Rom. 11:25, Paul cautions Gentile believers not to dismiss God’s faithfulness to Israel. For brethren I don’t want you to be ignorant of this mystery — so that you don’t consider yourselves wise — that a hardening has come to part of Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

Luther commented on this verse:

From this passage it is generally concluded that the Jews at the end of the world will be converted to faith. However, it is true that this passage is so obscure that hardly anyone will be persuaded with absolute clarity, unless he follows the verdict of the Fathers (Augustine, Chrysostom, Theodoret) who interpret the Apostle in this sense. The meaning then, is: The Jews who are now fallen, will be converted and saved, after the heathen according to the fulness of the elect are come in. They will not remain outside forever, but in their own time they will be converted.

So all Israel shall be saved... for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (11:26,27) (1)

Luther stated clearly the meaning which others had found in the passage. He could state it, but he was unwilling to accept it.

The ambassadors of the Lord — shlichim/apostolos — believing what the prophets and the Lord had said, wrote of the restoration of the Jewish people in the last days, which would culminate in a Millennial reign of Yeshua upon the earth. He would return to destroy the nations which would come against Jerusalem at the end of this age. Then he would restore the Davidic kingdom to Israel. From Israel he would rule over all the earth.

The disciples of the ambassadors/shlichim/apostolos believed this and taught it. The historical record shows that. That was “orthodox” faith. There is no evidence to the contrary. To depart from it was heresy.

As Justin Martyr said to Trypho:

For even if you yourselves have ever met with some so-called Christians, who do not yet acknowledge this, but even dare to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. . . . But I, and all other entirely orthodox Christians, know that there will be a resurrection of the flesh, and also a thousand years in a Jerusalem built up and adorned and enlarged, as the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah, and all the rest, acknowledge. (2)

According to Luther, the Church Fathers saw the national salvation and restoration of Israel "with absolute clarity." Luther followed Augustine for much of his theology, but not here. Augustine did not find the restoration of Israel obscure. He said,

The belief that in the final period before the judgment this great and wonderful prophet Elijah will expound the Law to the Jews, and that through his activity the Jews are destined to believe in our Christ, this is a very frequent subject in the conversation of believers, and a frequent thought in their hearts. (3)

For Luther, however, the passage was quite obscure. But there are no words in the passage that are difficult to understand. Nor is it difficult to follow Paul's reasoning.

Why did Luther find the passage obscure? His difficulty with the text does not seem to be with understanding it, but rather with believing it. It did not fit in Luther's theology, a theology which cut off the Jewish people. So he dismissed it as "obscure." Later in his life, the obscurity vanished, and he found that it clearly spoke of “the Church,” though “the Church” is not mentioned. For “the early Church,” that would have marked Luther as a heretic.

Heiko A. Oberman presents Luther's position this way:

"The promises made to Abraham do not refer literally to Abraham's blood and seed, nor is the biblical prophecy of salvation addressed to the Jews as Jews: Christians may 'despair of the Jews with a clear conscience.' The Jews have been rejected by God. The homelessness of the Jews provides Luther with such overwhelming proof of this that he feels safe to take an oath: If it should happen that the diaspora comes to an end and the Jews are led back to Jerusalem, then we Christians will follow on their heels and ourselves 'become Jews.'" (4)

A natural question arises about Luther’s manner of interpretation, which others have adopted as well. If the biblical promises of blessing and salvation which are addressed to the Jews are not addressed to the Jews as Jews, then what about the biblical promises of judgment that are addressed to the Jews? For some reason, Luther did not appropriate those for the Church. He did not explain by what rule of interpretation he appropriated one for the Church and not the other.

But if "The promises made to Abraham do not refer literally to Abraham's blood and seed,” that would include the promises of judgment also. That would include, for example, God’s promise to Abraham:

Know for a certainty that your seed will be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they serve, I will judge; and afterward they will come out with great wealth. . . . But in the fourth generation they shall come here again; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. (Gen. 15:13-16)

Luther had to stay far away from promises like that, which include both judgment and blessing. The same holds true for those today who believe as he did. Nor do they know what to do with the literal fulfillment of such promises.

Luther saw confirmation of his theology in the Diaspora.

"In brief: Because you see that after fifteen hundred years of misery (when no end is certain or will ever be so) the Jews are not disheartened nor are they even cognizant of their plight, you might with a good conscience despair of them. For it is impossible that God should let his people (if they were that) wait so long without consolation and prophecy." (5)

"Or if such an event fails to come about, then let them head for Jerusalem, build temples, set up priesthoods, principalities, Moses with his laws, and in other words themselves become Jews again and take the land into their possession. For when this happens, they will see us come quickly on their heels and likewise become Jews. But if not, then it is entirely ludicrous that they should want to persuade us into accepting their degenerate laws, which are surely by now after fifteen hundred years of decay no longer laws at all. And should we believe what they themselves do not and cannot believe, as long as they do not have Jerusalem and the land of Israel?" (6)

Luther needed the degradation of the Jews to confirm his doctrine and method of interpretation. For someone who claimed to have a faith solely in what the Scriptures taught, it is notable that he rejected all of what the Scriptures clearly taught about the restoration of the Jewish people and the establishment of the Messianic kingdom upon the earth.

According to Luther's own words, a faith such as his, based on the appropriation by the Church of the “good” promises, would have to be abandoned with the return of the Jews to Jerusalem and the land of Israel. That visible return, in our generation, is sufficient reason to abandon Luther's denial of the plain meaning of the text. Those for whom either the Scriptures or Reason are decisive will no doubt do so, if they haven’t already.


1. Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans, Translated by J. Theodore Mueller, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, 1976, P. 162
2. Justin Martyr, The Dialogue with Trypho, trans. by A. Lukyn Williams, P. 169, Sec. 80.1-5
3. Augustine, City of God, Bk. 20, Ch. 29, P. 957
4. Heiko A. Oberman, The Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Age of Renaissance and Reformation, Fortress Press, 1984, P. 49
5. Weimarer Ausgabe 50:336, 1-6 in ibid., P. 64
6. Weimarer Ausgabe 50:323, 36-324, 8 in ibid., P. 64

Christian Anti-Semitism
© Daniel Gruber


Daniel's complete Anti-Semitism series may be read in its original form at Note, however, that the studies that appear in The Shofar are the most up to date as Daniel updated them specifically for The Shofar. Links to all of Daniel's articles that appear in Shofar editions may be found in our Library.


Daniel Gruber has taught in numerous countries on five continents with a focus on the intersection of government and faith including Judaism, Christianity, and contemporary international law. His latest book is a unique annotated translation of the Jewish-Greek of the Messianic Writings (Matthias through Revelation). He has authored six books, some or all of which have been translated into Hebrew, Polish, Dutch, Spanish, German, and Russian. They are: The Messianic Writings: The First-Century Jewish Scriptures that Changed the World; The Children of Abraham; The Church and the Jews: The Biblical Relationship; The Separation of Church and Faith, Vol 1: Copernicus and the Jews; Torah and the New Covenant; Rabbi Akiba's Messiah: The Origins of Rabbinic Authority. Daniel's books are available at

One book in particular which Daniel recently published and would like to be brought to your attention is entitled, That Man! His Story. "This story presents Yeshua, 'That Man!' as the prophesied Messiah of Israel. It combines the four different accounts [Gospels] into one." That Man is available for purchase at, where a much fuller description will also be found.


All articles that appear in The Shofar have been reviewed and approved by the AMC Board. Inclusion of an author does not imply approval of all views of that author, some of which may be unknown to the Board. ~ AMC Board

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