Friday, October 19, 2012

Did Paul Care if You Went to Non-Messianic Shul?


Why did Paul spend so much time and energy in establishing elder-led Messianic synagogues in the first-century?  When we look at Acts 14:23 and Titus 1:5 we see Paul's strategy was extremely ambitious:  planting elder-led assemblies in EVERY town.

But why establish Messianic synagogues?  Couldn't the gentiles have just attended a non-Messianic shul?  But if a non-Messianic shul was sufficient then why even bother with the ambitious congregation-planting mission?

15 comments:

  1. Why did Paul spend so much time and energy in establishing elder-led Messianic synagogues in the first-century? When we look at Acts 14:23 and Titus 1:5 we see Paul's strategy was extremely ambitious: planting elder-led assemblies in EVERY town.

    In reading Acts 14, it is clear, go back to verse 1 where Paul goes to the local synagogue to share the message of Messiah.

    verse 5-6:

    And when an attempt was made by both the Gentiles and the Jews with their rulers, to mistreat and to stone them, they became aware of it and fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region;

    The Jews and the Gentiles in the synagogue were going to stone them, there would not be many believers left if they were all stoned, so there needed to be a safe haven from persecution. Of course, not everyone in the synagogue wanted to stone them, as it says many came to believe what Paul was preaching, both Jew and Gentile. Also in the account of Acts 13:43 he had a much better experience in the Synagogue with both the Jews and Gentiles. Acts 17 and Acts 18, both record Paul's continuing purpose and fellowship in Synagogues towards Jews and Gentiles. So he did not create separate groups in order to leave the synagogue, he still continued to attend and teach on Shabbat in the local synagogues. But even if he did, it was a group of Jews and Gentiles, either way, together, not something these BE doctrines espouse today.

    But why establish Messianic synagogues? Couldn't the gentiles have just attended a non-Messianic shul? But if a non-Messianic shul was sufficient then why even bother with the ambitious congregation-planting mission?

    As you can see above, there was no need to in some cases, it was more or less for Synagogues that did not accept him, or his teachings (where both Jew and Gentile might be stoned). But there were Synagogues that did accept his teaching, and thus a safe environment for both Jews and Gentiles who trusted in the Messiah.

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    1. I wanted to add, that I don't believe it was Paul's goal to separate the community of believers(Jew and Gentile) from the non-believers(Jew and Gentile), or from the majority of the synagogues. I think it is clear, just from the Apostles still attending the Temple and Synagogues, that they considered that these places were for Godly fellowship and worship. That these places were put in place and/or orchestrated by God. Plus you would not have the instruction from the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 for these newly converted gentiles, to go and learn the Law of Moses in the Synagogues on Shabbat, they could have said, just wait and we will create our own meeting places, they still saw a connection that they never purposed to be separated.

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  2. Zion,

    I wonder if James in the Jerusalem Council thought of non-Messianic synagogues in Acts 15:21. I'm not sure that he did. It may have been a given to them that they needed to establish their own communal structures and that the gentiles would be included in that. For example, why was Antiochan v. Pharisaical dispute even brought before the Jersualem Council, a Messianic judicial body? It seems that they took it for granted that everything was to be handled within the Messianic community. But, hey, I could be wrong.

    You brought up a lot of good points that I need to spend time thinking about...

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    1. And I realize that James was talking about synagogues from ancient times to the present which, taken literally, couldn't refer to only Messianic synagogues. What I mean is that James might've seen the Messianic synagogues as a natural extension of this ancient paradigm of synagogues serving as batei midrash.

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    2. Good points, I agree, there is also, as you stated, the issue of some doctrines that simply disagree, that being of the dispute over proper conversion, the Messianic community differed on how gentiles were viewed in Messiah, being part of the covenant, and now fellow heirs, which was clearly different than the God-fearers, yet sharing a status possibly greater than that of the proselyte, if not equal.

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  3. Simple. Any shul where the Torah is read, beats any place it is denigrated. That means any orthodox or even most conservative shuls are better than some so-called messianic ones, IMHO.

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    1. I wish I could be so sure. I've been internally debating whether to start attending a local synagogue in addition to the church we've been visiting. Just not sure... : /

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    2. I wish I could be so sure. I've been internally debating whether to start attending a local synagogue in addition to the church we've been visiting. Just not sure... : /

      I do both, and I recommend everyone do so, I also recommend that you respect what they believe, and that goes for everyone(whether Christians, Agnostics, Judaism, etc), if they ask share, if they are interested share more. My local Jewish community is very friendly, they know what we believe and are very friendly to us, in fact we have been welcomed to participate in many of the festival plays and singing groups, my wife may participate in this years Purim play, I think I will just watch again. :P I do not go around telling people what to believe, but I have shared what I believe on occasion, I also do not do that in a church, I like to look for opportunities and I take them when they arise, I don't force the situations (which will end in failure every time). Don't hide who you are, if someone ask, be honest with everyone, both in Church and Synagogue, and let people know you respect them, if people truly feel like you respect them, they will respect you in return, of course some will still feel threatened, nothing you can do in that case.

      Sometimes a local synagogue will offer Hebrew Classes, this is a great place to step in, from there many have been invited to attend a Shabbat service, that way at least you were invited to check it out.

      Always pray about it, if you feel uncomfortable, maybe it is not time yet, I say the same for those who think about going to Church.

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  4. Hey guys, are you forgetting? THEY DENY OUR MESSIAH...Do we want to be denied by Him?

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  5. I'm with Dan again....all of our attempts to coexist, even with the best of intentions, will ultimately fail. It does hurt the heart though "sorrow endures for the night".

    "He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathers not with me scatters." Yeshua

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  6. @Dan, are you saying that its OK to attend anywhere they CLAIM loyalty to Jesus, but in practice call Him a liar? Isn't that "denying" Him?

    I thinks we should be more concerned with actions than some creedal system.

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    1. Well, Rick, please show us any Jewish group that in their actions proclaim Yeshua?

      I made the mistake, thinking like you, and accepted a Mormon friend invitation yo use his LDS Church facilities for our Messianic Community. God dealt with us, and our community disintegrated in two years. God surely showed us.....

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    2. Well, Rick, please show us any Jewish group that in their actions proclaim Yeshua?

      I made the mistake, thinking like you, and accepted a Mormon friend invitation yo use his LDS Church facilities for our Messianic Community. God dealt with us, and our community disintegrated in two years. God surely showed us.....


      Dan, so do you now sit in a closet away from all the world who does not believe the same as us? Paul did not stop attending synagogues because they did not believe in Messiah, he also continued to go the synagogue even after being stoned, didn't Paul get the message after the first stoning, I guess not. You can't reach anyone by cutting yourself off from everyone.

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  7. Torah reveals Messiah. IMHO, Torah, with Messiah's name not articulated, beats anti-nominism in "Jesus'" name.

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