So you have heard the term “Messianic”. Maybe someone you know stated that they are Messianic or maybe you ran across someone in your daily travels that said they are Messianic. But what IS Messianic? What do Messianics believe? How are Messianics different from Christians or are Messianics different at all? During this article we are going to explore and go over the Messianic movement, what it is, and what Messianics believe. So keep reading.
First it would be prudent to define what Messianic means and go over some terminology to lay the foundation for the rest of the article. At it’s core “Messianic” means “follower of Messiah”. The english word “Messianic” coming from the word “Messiah” which itself comes from the Hebrew word “Meshiach” (מָשִׁ֣יחַ). And this of course relating to the Messiah Yahushua or as some know Him by, Jesus.
This is exactly the same as the term “Christian” which at it’s core comes from the english word “Christ” which itself comes from the greek word “Christos” (Χριστός). Christian means “follower of Christ” just like Messianic means “follower of Messiah”. Most Messianics use the term “Messianic” simply to denote a more Hebraic way of thinking as opposed to a Greek or Hellenistic way of thinking. As such they use a word that comes from a Hebrew root instead of a word that comes from a Greek root. It is just that simple.
Many years ago there were people who went by the term “Hebrew Roots”, “Hebraic Roots”, or “Jewish Roots”, but those terms have gradually given way to the term “Messianic”. Still, today there are some who use the term “Messianic Jew”, but this can often be a misnomer.
The term “Jew” can mean one of three things: 1) Someone of the lineage of the tribe of Judah, 2) Someone of the lineage from the southern kingdom of Judea, or 3) Someone of the Jewish faith. So for example, this author has been saved by grace through faith in our Messiah Yahushua. Therefore I am not a Jew, meaning of the Jewish faith. I have not had a DNA test done, but as far as I know I am not of Jewish ethnicity either of the tribe of Judah or of the southern kingdom of Judea. So it would be completely inaccurate to call myself a “Messianic Jew”. I am just Messianic.
The term “Messianic Christian” is one that I have rarely seen or heard used, but it would be accurate if not redundant. It is definitely helpful when speaking to someone who does not know or understand what Messianic is. It still conveys belief in the Son of God, the one God Creator of heaven and earth, and the Bible/scriptures which helps the uninitiated when they first hear the term or come into contact with the concept.
What is Messianic?
Other than the basic terminology that we just went over, Messianic is rather diverse within the community. That is not to say that Messianics are completely different from every other Messianic, but rather that it is impossible to list out all the doctrines that every Messianic could hold to or does hold to. Saying Messianic is a lot like saying “Protestant”. Every Protestant is different from every other protestant, but all hold to a certain set of core beliefs even though there are different sects/denominations within protestantism.
Messianics are similar in that aspect. Most, if not all, Messianics hold to a certain set of beliefs:
- The seventh day, as laid out in scripture, is the sabbath: not sunday.
- Love/respect/admiration for the nation/land of Israel. Yes, the current nation of Israel is not perfect and they definitely have some things to get corrected, but it is still the promised land of the people of Yahuweh, His kingdom.
- Respect for the Torah. Unlike Protestants, Messianics respect and hold to the entire bible, not just the Brit Chadasha (aka New Testament). Messianics respect the Torah, the Tanakh, and the Brit Chadasha all as inspired and still relevant in our lives today. Messianics understand the Torah and the whole Tanakh as instructions for our lives here on Yahuweh’s creation.
- The feast days are still relevant to us today. Messianics understand that the feast days of Yahuweh (which the Bible NEVER refers to as “Jewish Holidays”) are shadows of the Messiah and future events. As such, the partaking in the feast days educates us in further understanding Messiah and future events.
- Holidays, beliefs, and traditions which originate in paganism are to be avoided. These include Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc.
- The Bible is the inspired word of Yahuweh. Messianics hold to the same Bible as Protestants and Catholics.
- Messianics worship the same God, whose name is Yahuweh, and the same Messiah, whose name is Yahushua and also known as Jesus, as Protestants and Catholics.
- Messianics agree with scripture when it states that sin is defined as breaking of the commands of Yahuweh (Torah) and that sin is not defined by ecumenical councils, preachers, or rabbinic councils.
“Everyone doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”
Yoḥanan Aleph (1 John) 3:4 TS2009
- Messianics hold to circumcision, not for salvation, but because our Creator, Yahuweh, told us to and for the medical benefits that we now know about in our day and age.
- Kosher eating is still relevant for today. Yahuweh who created everything and who knows everything directed us what to eat and what not to eat and all for our benefit. As a result of our trusting in Yahuweh and His direction for our lives, Messianics place our faith in Yahuweh and His guidance on food.
- Tzitzits are a commandment as found in Numbers 15:38-40. As a result, Messianics wear tzitzit as Yahuweh has commanded us.
- Many Messianics make use of tallits, otherwise known as prayer shawls. This is not a commandment found in the scriptures, but rather a tradition that has come down through the centuries. With this in mind, it is therefore not required, but still something that a lot of Messianics partake in.
- Messianics prefer to use the original name of our Messiah which is Yahushua (sometimes spelled Yeshua or Yahshua) instead of the anglicized name “Jesus”.
Outliers within the Messianic movement/faith
While the above section is a list of beliefs that most if not all Messianics hold to, the following is a list of beliefs that a much smaller group of Messianics hold to.
- Lunar Sabbath: This is the belief that the sabbath is determined by the phases of the moon. In general, they hold that the month (Hebraic month) starts with the first new moon and so does the counting of the sabbath. For instance, regardless of when the last weekly sabbath was, if there is a new moon then the next sabbath, they believe, is 7 days from the first new moon and then the next sabbath is 7 days after that and so forth until the next new moon appears when the counting for the weekly sabbath starts all over again.
- The godhead: Not all Messianics agree on the godhead. Some hold to trinitarianism, others to binitarianism, others to biblical unitarianism, and still others to oneness (or what used to be called modalism). However, in this author’s experience, the majority of the Messianics that I have come into contact with either hold to trinitarianism or biblical unitarianism.
- The roles of men and women can vary between different Messianic groups. Some groups do not allow women to wear tzitzit and tallits while others do. Some groups do not allow women to read from the Torah portions while others do. And still some require women to wear physical head coverings while in service while others do not. This is something that really depends on the individual congregation and does not have a widespread consensus among Messianics.
- Jewish requirement: Some congregations require that anyone in a leadership position to be of Jewish descent. However, this seems to be a minority amongst Messianics.
- Sacred name: Some congregations believe that it is necessary to say and pronounce the sacred names of our God and Messiah (and sometimes in a specific pronunciation). However, this seems to be a minority amongst Messianics.
- Torah portions: Most, if not all, Messianics read from particular portions of the Torah, the Haftarah (the writings and the prophets), and the Brit Chadasha (aka New Testament) each week. However, there is not widespread consensus on whether this should be done according to a one year schedule where the entire Torah is read within the span of a year, or a three year schedule where the entire Torah is read during the span of three years.
What Messianics DO NOT Believe
We have previously examined what most if not all Messianics believe and then we examined what minor sections of Messianics believe. Now we will list out what Messianics DO NOT believe in order to set the record straight.
- Messianics do not believe that salvation comes by works. Messianics believe that works are important though and that works are the fruit which illustrate our belief and our faith. Those works are the works of scripture: the works of Torah.
‘knowing that a man is not declared right by works of Torah, but through belief in יהושע Messiah, even we have believed in Messiah יהושע, in order to be declared right by belief in Messiah and not by works of Torah, because by works of Torah no flesh shall be declared right.’
Galatiyim (Galatians) 2:16
‘My brothers, what use is it for anyone to say he has belief but does not have works? This belief is unable to save him. So also belief, if it does not have works, is in itself dead. But someone might say, “You have belief, and I have works.” Show me your belief without your works, and I shall show you my belief by my works.’
Ya‛aqoḇ (James) 2:14,17-18
- Messianics do not believe that following the Torah is a requirement for salvation nor that salvation can be obtained through following the Torah. Messianics follow the Torah both because it is good for us and because we love Yahuweh. We follow the Torah out of gratitude for what Yahuweh and Yahushua have done for us.
‘See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, when you obey the commands of יהוה your Elohim which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commands of יהוה your Elohim, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other mighty ones which you have not known.’
Deḇarim (Deuteronomy) 11:26-28
‘By this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim and guard His commands. For this is the love for Elohim, that we guard His commands, and His commands are not heavy, because everyone having been born of Elohim overcomes the world. And this is the overcoming that has overcome the world: our belief.’
Yoḥanan Aleph (1 John) 5:2-4
So it basically boils down to this. Messianics generally come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some come from Catholicism, the Baptist church, Seventh Day Adventist, Methodist, etc. But just about all Messianics came into the Messianic way of thinking by having a desire to follow and worship the God of the bible as closely to the way that scripture lays out, as possible. We started by asking questions about doctrines, traditions, and beliefs and comparing those to what scripture states like the Bereans did in Paul’s time (Ma`asei (Acts) 17:11).
Messianics do not believe that salvation is by works or that salvation is acquired by keeping the Torah. Messianics still follow and worship the same God as Protestants and Catholics, still have the same Messiah as Protestants and Catholics, and still use and respect the same set of scriptures as Protestants and Catholics.
We hope this helps clear things up and gives you a better understanding of Messianics and what Messianics believe. As always if you have any questions or comments, then please feel free to contact us through our email by writing to Team@GodHonestTruth.com . Take care, have a great day, and shalom!