Q: Dear Kevin, an old friend of mine discovered that he and his family were actually descended from Jewish bloodlines, and he dropped out of the Gentile churches and became a Messianic Jew. He suggested that I myself may also be descended from Jewish roots. In fact, he seems convinced that I am, based upon the calling and anointing that he sees in my life. I prayed about this issue, then slowly but surely, the “Jewish-magnet” began pulling on my heart. I would not want to pretend or assume to be something or somebody that I am not. But if I am, in fact, Jewish, and not Gentile, then I would be honored and rejoice with great joy! What would you suggest that I do at this point?

A: Thank you for your question. I hear your heart!

Based on my experience, it sounds like your friend has discovered a very distant Jewish relative. However, determining Jewish lineage (according to Scripture) requires more than finding remote Jewish ancestry. Don’t misunderstand—I very much want to see Jews whose lineage and heritage have been lost begin to fully embrace their true identities, but for your friend to now call himself a Jew seems inaccurate—like if Yeshua had called Himself a Gentile because Ruth and Rahab were His ancestors. So, unless your friend has found out that one of his grandparents was Jewish (or he has equivalent lineage—see “Who Is a Jew”), then I would question the idea that he is no longer Gentile (of course, by using the term “Gentile,” I don’t mean “pagan,” but simply a person not of Jewish descent) and has “become” a Messianic Jew.

As disciples of Messiah, we are called to be separate from the world, not to renounce our heritage whyand bloodlines—and that goes for Gentiles as well as Jews. A Jew is no better than a Gentile, anymore than a man is better than a woman. The Scriptures make very clear divisions between men and women—husbands and wives, fathers and mothers—and yet, we are to be one (Mk. 10:6-8, Gal. 3:28). I believe the same is trueof Jew and Gentile: different, yet united (1Co. 7:19-20,Ep. 2:16-17). There is no shame, but only honor in that!

So, unless one or more of your grandparents is Jewish (or your lineage includes the statistical equivalent), I would ask you to seriously consider why you feel led to search out even a hint of Jewish blood somewhere in your family tree. To find such lineage would not change your standing with God, nor validate the pull you are feeling. That pull is either from Adonai, or your flesh—not a far-off forebearer.

You say that if you are “Jewish, and not Gentile, then [you] would be honored and rejoice with great joy!” I would exhort you to be “honored and rejoice with great joy” that you are Gentile! Yes, there’s honor in being Jewish, selected from the people of the earth to be a blessing back to the nations. But there is also honor in being Gentile, because it was for the Gentiles that Adonai called out Israel! (Genesis 12:1-3, Isaiah 42:6) If Adonai did not love the nations so much, He would not have set Israel apart—nor sent His Son, Yeshua. He didn’t call out Israel because we are “so special”—He called Israel out to serve the nations because of His great love for them… for you! Isn’t there joy and honor in that?

What should you do now? My advice would be to concern yourself more with the salvation of the Jewish people than the determination of your own Jewishness. Perhaps that pull you are feeling is Adonai calling you as a modern-day sojourner (like Caleb, Rahab and Ruth)—calling you to give your life to the restoration of the Jewish people. If you are, in fact,called to sojourn with us in this way, then you are welcome to assimilate fully into our peoplehood and communities, as the Torah permits. But if your heart is wrong, and your interest is self-serving, you will be nothing but a poseur—indeed, the Scriptures call those “saying themselves to be Jews and are not” a “synagogue of HaSatan”! (Revelation 2:9, cf. 3:9)

I would encourage you in this: to weigh your love for the Jewish peoplenot a love for being (or appearing) Jewish. Living for Messiah is not about Jewishness—it’s about doing what is necessary to hasten Yeshua’s return (2Pe.3:12)… and Israel’s restoration is at the heart of that. Consider yourself invited to take part in this glorious restoration… just remember that you don’t need to be Jewish to join the team!

This “Gentile Chronicles” article was originally published in Messianic Jewish Issues. The Gentile Chronicles is a recurring feature in Messianic Jewish Issues, and is part of Perfect Word’s developing “Gentile Initiative” designed to explicitly build up Gentile believers in Yeshua.

9 replies
  1. Tim
    Tim says:

    Several years ago I began feeling a “pull” toward learning more about the Messianic Jewish movement. I was drawn to it to the point that I wondered if I might have some Jewish ancestry, As time went on I have come to realize that period of my life was very important in making me who I am now in Yeshua. I learned a lot about Judaism and the Jewish roots of Christianity and I have gained a certain appreciation for the differences between Jewish people and Gentiles. I know Yeshua had a purpose for leading me they way he did but I don’t pretend to understand it all. During that time in my life I felt Adonai leading me to stop eating pork and shell fish and other seafood that doesn’t have scales and fins. Twelve years later I still observe these standards that I know Adonai has called me to observe. This is hard in Kentucky; it seems they put bacon bits on everything from salads to banana pudding (just kidding about the pudding, I haven’t seen that yet). I do this because I know in my heart Adonai called me to do this not because I am trying to become something I am not. I am trying to please Adonai and be obedient to his command for me.

    So, I guess what I am saying is I still feel ‘drawn” to learn and pray about Jews coming to know Yeshua as Messiah and I know Adonai has a purpose for me in this but I don’t feel the desire to become Jewish (but I did for a while). Looking back I believe that was my flesh trying to hastily make sense of that Adonai was doing in me spiritually.

    I am what I am. I still think it’s possible I have some Jewish ancestry (maybe, who knows?) but even more important I am a co-heir with Yeshua.

    Blessings
    Tim

    Reply
  2. Tirzah
    Tirzah says:

    “Am I Really a Gentile?”

    I do not Agree with Mr Kevins answer as My FamilyTreeDNA Project Website has proved thru DNA of lost Tribes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Lost_Tribes. I recently tested my dad and I am of Mesican American decent. He tested positive for the Dutch Ashkenazi Jewish descendents and was high enough in the DNA that I was able to join a Jewish DNA project R1b_Jewish being researched only for Jewish descendents. No one else except those in matching specific Haplogroup. Who can wipe out your Jewish blood out of your body? Is my question? Weather it is your mother or father who has the DNA. In My case both of my parents are Jewish. When some one can do this then I will believe what you are stating. Those rule are set by the Jews as traditional laws, not biblical. Please send the the specific scripture that states (So, unless one or more of your grandparents is Jewish) And I do believe that it does make a difference as the 12 tribes of Israel have 12 doors and each one will enter the door that they belong to, and Gentiles that except Yeshua will be invited thru the Judah Door.

    Please do not see this comment as rude but I am very direct. So Tim Please go with your heart and what Hashem has brought you out of, we are like the grains of the sand, you cannot count them. We are all coming home to who we really are and will not be Accepted. Just like Yeshua.

    Shalom Tirzah

    Reply
  3. tonya
    tonya says:

    I have never heard such a beautiful explanation! It was moving to read this response because I myself have questioned Adonai on numerous occasions as to why I am not Jewish! Did He make a mistake? Am I really Jewish and just don’t know it yet? After reading this, it was so nice to let it sink into my heart that it really doesn’t matter. We all know that, yet I know personally that we don’t all believe it. How many times have I read the scripture that says Israel was to be a light to the nations, but I never really GOT IT! I do now, and I really loved that response! Thank you-I hope the poster got the answer he was looking for because I know I did!

    Reply
  4. Mike
    Mike says:

    I was once told that someone who had a Jewish grandparent but was raised as a Gentile was ethnically Jewish but considered Gentile for the purposes of halacha. Can somebody comment on this please?

    Reply
    • Kevin
      Kevin says:

      Shalom Mike,

      I can’t say I’ve heard this particular one with regard to the halachah of Judaism, however, Scripture doesn’t appear to support the idea. Clearly, Paul considered Timothy Jewish, since he circumcised him (Acts 16:3), yet “all knew that his father was a Greek.” If Timothy, who had a Gentile father was considered fully Jewish, how much more so a child with two Jewish parents, regardless of who raised him?

      Blessings,

      Kevin

      Reply
  5. Mike
    Mike says:

    Shalom b’Shem Yeshua Kevin,

    Thanks for the reply. One more dumb question if I may? I have also heard that rabbinically, one’s ethnic status as Jew or Gentile depends on the mother’s status. Thus Timothy would today still be considered Jewish on the basis of his mum. Had his sole Jewish parent been his father he would today be considered Gentile. Is that true?

    Blessings,

    Mike

    Reply

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