Jews write a document recording Jews persecuting Jews, and now Jews call this document the origin of anti-Semitism and blame it on the Gentiles. It is called the New Testament. Pieter van der Horst, though not a Jew that we know, only serves to support this irony.
This is a refutation of the error and misunderstandings proclaimed by Pieter van der Horst concerning the origins of anti-Semitism.
My primary objection is that Pieter traces the origin of anti-Semitism to the New Testament. It is obvious that many statements about Jews in the Bible can easily be used as justification or ammunition to foster anti-Semitism; however, neither the New Testament nor its writers are the culprits, any more than a bathtub of water or the person who filled it for bathing is responsible if someone decides to drown people in it.
It must be acknowledged that there has been much persecution and enmity from nominal orthodox Christianity, throughout most of its history, toward Jews. However, there is also much falsehood published by both Jews and Gentiles confusing what is truly dishonest and unwarranted anti-Semitism with what is legitimate, undeniable, factual, historical information on record about Jews and their past antiChrist deeds.
There can be no doubt that Jews refuse to acknowledge their vicious opposition to the original Messianic Jews, known as “Christians” (more accurately called “spiritually fulfilled Jews”). These historical crimes can no longer be denied or ignored by Jews, if they are to be reconciled with God and mankind.
We also know that today, in Israel primarily, but also throughout much of the world, unbelieving Jews, particularly the orthodox religious, continue to viciously oppose many of those Jews who embrace the Messiah, Yeshua HaMashiach, commonly known as Jesus Christ.
Let me declare these three facts from the outset:
One, it is not my purpose to vilify or oppose Jews, as easily confirmed by anyone examining our section Israel and the Jew. Rather, my purpose is to address the lies Jews (and others) believe and disseminate about themselves, about Christians, and about the origins, essence, and alleged proponents of anti-Semitism.
I hate lies; all men should hate lies; they are destructive to both those lied about and those telling the lies. I don’t want to see anybody causing hurt or being hurt by lies, be they Jews or Gentiles.
It is ironic that while Jews vehemently protest against lies told about them (and there are many wicked ones told, blood libel stories, for example), Jews nevertheless demand and reserve the right to tell libelous lies about others. It is time they displayed the honesty they demand of others and ‘fess up. Read The Key for Israel and the Jew.
Two, it is not, nor was it ever, true followers of Jesus Christ, those who believe and obey Him, who persecute Jews. Rather, it has been those who have taken the Lord’s Name in vain, contrary to the Third Commandment. Of course, I do not expect Jews, or most Gentiles professing faith in Christ, to know a true Christian from a false one.
Three, in the beginning, it was the unbelieving Jews who persecuted Jesus Christ and His followers, true Christians (spiritually fulfilled or “completed” Jews), even to death. The New Testament shows that fulfilled Jews, those who believed on their Messiah, did not persecute unbelievers at any time. Indeed, they rarely resisted, sometimes even yielding as lambs to the slaughter by those who persecuted them in almost all places where both parties were found. Stephen, the first recorded martyr of Yeshua HaMashiach, is such an example (Acts 7).
It is manifest that the cry of unbelieving Jews as they called for their Messiah’s crucifixion – “His blood be upon us and upon our children” (Matthew 27:25) – is a curse that has come to be fulfilled for the past nearly 2,000 years. His blood has been upon their heads to this day, even as they adamantly insisted. Nevertheless, they bitterly resist the consequences of their oath, crying “Foul!” They fret against their God for the just consequences of their actions and attitudes.
As they have sown, so have they reaped. This is not anti-Semitism speaking; this is fulfilled prophecy, a reality in historical record, the primary source being the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. I say both Testaments, because the prophets of Judah and Israel have, on Old Testament record, often and at length declared the sins and evil ways of the nation of Israel, and foretold what they, the Jews, would do to their Messiah.
If Pieter van der Horst and the Jews who agree with him deny the heavenly inspiration and divine authority of the New Testament (and they do), they deny the Old, their own Torah, their prophets, and their God, Who sent those prophets to warn the Israelites of dire consequences should they continue in their wicked ways.
The words of the Old Testament prophets have been fulfilled, proving them to be true prophets sent of God. The Israelites persecuted and killed these prophets, condemning them as blasphemers and heretics, long before their Messiah showed Himself to Israel.
Jew, Dutchman, or whatever he may be, Pieter van der Horst gave an interview entitled “The Origins of Christian Anti-Semitism,” apparently laying the blame primarily on the New Testament. He is wrong, not because evil people, primarily nominal Christians, have taken the New Testament and used It to justify evil against Jews, but because he chooses to conclude that the New Testament Itself is evil, and the writers of It misguided and anti-Semitic.
Van der Horst believes that Jewry would be much better off without the record of Jews in the New Testament, which truthfully records, without evil intent, the historical facts about how the Jews viciously opposed and slew Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus, known as the Christ, the Anointed One) and vehemently opposed the early Church thereafter.
Let this be clearly understood: The issue is not one of picking on Jews or recording their faults. The issue is that when Christ, Who happened to be Jewish, appeared in Israel, those in religious authority of that nation opposed Him and later persecuted those who believed on Him. Indeed, they turned their Messiah over to the Romans to be crucified, falsely charging Him as a blasphemer, not according to Roman law, but according to their willful interpretation and execution of their own law, which was contrary to the Law of Moses and of God.
Pieter van der Horst’s interpretation and conclusions about what the New Testament record shows are in great error. This is nothing new. Simon Peter, one of the principal Jewish apostles of the Lord, says this of those misinterpreting the Scriptures, which certainly applies to Pieter van der Horst and those who receive his assessment on Them:
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given to him has written to you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15-16 KJV).
So there are two factors to be mentioned here:
One, the record of the New Testament is historically accurate and valid, even though many insist otherwise and have unsuccessfully attempted to prove it to be generally a work of fiction. It is foolish of anyone to deny the historical record, though it shames them in its telling of the undesirable truth.
We deny nothing of the New Testament testimony against Jews and make no apology for it. We know the record, for the most part, to originate with the God of the Jews, Who inspired the writing of the New Testament by Jews, for all men, both Jews and Gentiles. We know the Record is true because we have experienced Its doctrine personally in our lives and found it to be sound beyond our imaginations. Also, God has born witness to us of Its veracity.
Two, Pieter attributes blame and falsehood to the New Testament, and he must be shown to be in error. It is not the New Testament that is to blame, but those who misinterpret Its content and intent, and who refuse the truth of It.
One more preliminary and peculiar point: Is it not ironic that while Jews condemn as false and unjust the historically, morally accurate New Testament as the origin of anti-Semitism, Jews are on record in that very document as the prime, albeit unwitting, perpetrators of hatred against their fellow Jews (those believing in their Messiah)? This hatred was planted, watered, and came back to them in the form of anti-Semitism. Are the Jews, then, not primarily guilty of fomenting anti-Semitism? Is it not ironic that a record of Jews who are persecuted by other Jews should be denounced by Jews as the origin and source of anti-Semitism? Have the Jews not set an example to Gentiles of, and set the pace for, their self-destruction?
We will now address Pieter van der Horst’s error, as expressed in an interview and recorded by MidEast Truth at: http://mideasttruth.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9088
Interview with Pieter van der Horst
Van der Horst: “Christian anti-Semitism began much later than Jesus’ life.”
This is true; however, Jews were already persecuting other Jews for becoming complete in their Messiah by believing on Him and being born again of His Spirit from the time of their first Feast of Shavu’ot after the resurrection. The Jews had crucified the Christ, and their religious establishment continued persecuting His followers for decades afterwards.
Within 40 years of Christ’s death, God’s wrath was poured out on Israel, as prophesied by the prophets of the Tenach (Old Testament) and by Jesus Christ when yet in His flesh. Rome marched in, destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the Temple, and scattered the Jews, dismantling the nation altogether. Only in our generation, nearly two millennia later, has God seen fit to raise Israel up again, to His glory.
Van der Horst: “In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which are the historically more reliable ones, Jesus views himself as a messenger of God to the Jews and as a member of the Jewish people.”
I will correct everything in this article that I deem expedient to correct, not only for the more specific subject at hand, but in general.
Jesus did not view Himself as a mere messenger of God to the Jews. He knew He was the Lamb sent of God to lay down His life for all sinners, Jews and Gentiles. He knew Himself to be the Incarnate Anointed One, the One foretold by the prophets to redeem Israel and the world. Though He was a messenger, He was much more.
All of the Gospels, except for some small spurious additions, are not only historically reliable, but are truth of Truth.
Pieter van der Horst: “The New Testament has several anti-Semitic elements in its chronologically latest documents. The Gospel of John has Jesus call the Jews ‘sons of the devil.’”
Jesus did not call all Jews “sons of the devil,” and He did not call Jews “sons of the devil” because they were Jews. So, Pieter, cease your bias and false accusation right there.
Pieter: “There is also a case of an anti-Jewish outburst by the Apostle Paul.”
As with Jesus, so it is with Paul. To say Paul was anti-Jewish is to be dishonest and defamatory. Jesus and Paul were both Jews themselves and found no fault with men because they were Jews. Such innuendoes are inane and criminally irresponsible.
Paul spoke against only certain Jews, and when he did, it was because they were persecuting Christians, not the reverse. Furthermore, he was not speaking to hurt Jews, but to encourage his flock to endure the same persecutions at the hands of their countrymen as the Jewish believers in Judea endured at the hands of their Jewish brethren who rejected the appearing of God.
Here is the specific Scripture van der Horst refers to:
1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 MKJV
(14) For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also have suffered these things by your own countrymen, even as they also by the Jews;
(15) who both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, also driving us out and they do not please God and being contrary to all men,
(16) forbidding us to speak to the nations that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always; but the wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.
Paul, a Jew, was once among those who persecuted Jewish Christians, like Stephen whom they stoned to death with trumped-up charges declared by false witnesses who were Jews (Acts 7). Once converted by the risen Christ, Paul ceased to persecute any man, Jew or Gentile. On the contrary, He began to love all men as did Jesus Christ, Who laid down His life for them and specifically forgave the Jews at the cross. Hear Paul’s words concerning unbelieving Jews:
Romans 9:1-5 MKJV
(1) I tell the truth in Christ, I do not lie, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,
(2) that I have great heaviness and continual pain in my heart.
(3) For I myself was wishing to be accursed from Christ for my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh,
(4) who are Israelites; to whom belong the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises;
(5) whose are the fathers, and of whom is the Christ according to flesh, He being God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
Why not quote those words of Paul (formerly known as Sha’ul of Tarsus, a Pharisee), Pieter, and give a more honest report than you do? Are you not guilty of something the Lord hates?
“Divers weights are an abomination to the LORD; and a false balance is not good” (Proverbs 20:23 JPS).
But I think your problem is that you do not believe the Bible to be written by God through men. Let me ask you a question: If you cannot believe any record, what can or should you believe? How does one know whether something is the truth or not? The answer is that you must know God.
Van der Horst: “The split between Jewish and Gentile Christians brought with it the beginning of Christian anti-Jewish sentiments.”
This simply is not true if you speak in real terms. Those who received the Messiah were of the same mind and heart, because they were new beings in Jesus Christ. He transformed them by removing their stony hearts and replacing them with hearts of flesh, even as the Hebrew prophets declared would come to pass (Jeremiah 31:33-34). As Paul wrote by revelation and experience:
2 Corinthians 5:16-19 MKJV
(16) So as we now know no one according to flesh, but even if we have known Christ according to flesh, yet now we no longer know Him so.
(17) So that if any one is in Christ, that one is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
(18) And all things are of God, Who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
(19) whereas God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and putting the word of reconciliation in us.
This new creation in Christ brings harmony to all who believe, particularly between the Jew and the Gentile:
Ephesians 2:13-22 EMTV
(13) But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away have come to be near by the blood of Christ.
(14) For He Himself is our peace, Who has made both one, and Who destroyed the dividing wall of separation,
(15) having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,
(16) and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, putting to death the enmity in Himself.
(17) And having come, He preached peace to you who were far away and to those near.
(18) Because through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
(19) So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
(20) being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
(21) in Whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
(22) in Whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.
Van der Horst: “In creating a new identity for itself, Christianity attacked the old religion as fiercely as it could, including demonization.”
I now address the great lack of understanding on Pieter’s part. Christianity created no new identity for itself. It was new and was what it was – men and women spiritually fulfilled in the Messiah of Israel. They did not “attack the old religion” that was legitimate before God any more than the prophets of old “attacked the old religion” when they confronted Israel on its sins, as the God of Israel said to Isaiah:
“Cry aloud, do not spare, lift up your voice like a ram’s horn, and show My people their rebellion, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1 MKJV).
And what did the Jews do with Isaiah? They killed him – sawed him in two, so Jewish tradition tells us. Why was he murdered? Because he was “attacking the old religion” or confronting them on their sins? Was Isaiah anti-Semitic?
Yet, in time to come, the sons of those who slew Isaiah garnished his tomb and carnally revered him as a true prophet after all. Of such as these, Jesus said:
Matthew 23:29-33 MKJV
(29) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets, and decorate the tombs of the righteous,
(30) and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
(31) Therefore you are witnesses to yourselves, that you are the sons of those who killed the prophets;
(32) and you fill up the measure of your fathers.
(33) Serpents! Offspring of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?
Van der Horst: “Toward the end of the fourth century, much-publicized sermons of the church father John Chrysostom combined Christian anti-Jewish elements derived from the New Testament with earlier pagan ones. These themes were gradually integrated into the anti-Jewish discourse of the church.”
About this time to which Pieter refers, false Christianity was taking control of the Western world under the pagan Roman emperor Constantine and the Roman Church. This has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with true Christians. John Chrysostom was a father of the false church, not of the true, a mentor of false Christians, not of the true. He was a Christian in name only, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as were Augustine, Constantine, and any others who were a part of the “Holy Roman Catholic Church.”
Now was the harvest ripening in the fields to bring about the fruits or consequences of the persecution of real Christians in their early days by the Jewish religious establishment. The Jews had no idea how much they would reap for what they had sown. As they were fierce, implacable savages toward innocent saints, so now cruel, implacable brutes would have the mastery over them, even to their demise. Both of these cases of persecution were in the name of righteousness, of defending God and their religion, with which God had nothing to do, except that He presides over both good and evil, working both for good.
Speaking of Jesus, van der Horst says: “He wanted to prepare them for what he saw as the approaching end of time and God’s imminent kingdom. Jesus was not planning to initiate a new religion.”
I can’t argue with that – very true. Those who received and entered into the Kingdom of God published the good news of God’s Kingdom with all boldness and joy. And the end of Israel, Jerusalem, the Temple, the Levitical priesthood, and sacrifices did come, about 40 years after Christ’s physical departure from the earth.
Van der Horst: “The writer of a later book, the Gospel of John, has Jesus make anti-Semitic remarks. That book, however, is much less historical.”
Again, Jesus made no anti-Semitic remarks at all, nor did John put any in His mouth. While the fathers slew their Messiah by false accusation, their sons, both Jew and Gentile, continue to resist, accuse, and persecute Him to this day, as does Pieter with his slander.
Of Van der Horst, the interviewer writes: “Prof. Pieter van der Horst studied classical philology and literature. In 1978, he received his PhD in theology from Utrecht University. After his studies, he taught the literature and history of early Christianity and Judaism. Prof. Van der Horst is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.”
It is a marvelous thing how supposedly intelligent and educated men can be so darkened in understanding, but this is nothing unusual. The apostle Paul confessed himself to once having been such a one until his Messiah stopped him in his murderous tracks on the road to Damascus and turned him 180 degrees, giving him a new heart of love and wisdom, replacing his dark and murderous heart of stone. So it will be with Pieter van der Horst when his time comes.
He (Pieter) remarks: “In the three more historically based earlier Gospels, one sees Jesus in fierce dispute with leaders of the various Jewish groups, such as the Pharisees and the Sadducees. It is clear from these texts that this is an internal Jewish debate. When, according to the Gospels, the Pharisees attacked Jesus because of his behavior, there followed a dispute of a halachic [Jewish law] nature. Jesus reasons in this context, remaining within the fold of Judaism. The debate, however fierce it may be, is less so than, for instance, the internal Jewish dispute between the Qumran sect and the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
Non-Jews Become Christians
[Van der Horst’s headings, such as this, will be bolded throughout the rest of the paper.]
Van der Horst says it is difficult to determine where to place the beginning of Christian anti-Semitism. He writes: “It varied from location to location. In the Jerusalem Christian community it started much later than in the communities in Asia Minor, Greece, or Rome, or wherever else Christian communities came into being.”
I think it should be recognized that the issue is not so much “where” or “when” “Christian” anti-Semitism began as with “whom.” As long as it is understood that it was purely nominal, and not genuine, Christians that persecuted Jews, I have no comment to make at this point. True Christians are not responsible for what the Roman Catholic Church is and does or did. Neither are they responsible for any other monolithic formal religious denomination using Jesus Christ’s Name as their authority.
Truly, there is no greater oxymoron than “Christian anti-Semitism.”
Van der Horst: “The earliest Christian generation in Jerusalem consisted almost entirely of Jews. These people believed in Jesus as the Messiah, but saw themselves as true Jews. The book of Acts of the Apostles makes it clear that the first Jewish Christians went to the Temple in Jerusalem, attended synagogue services, and wanted to remain Jews. There were tensions with mainstream Jews, who looked askance at the belief that a crucified person was the Messiah. There was, however, no breaking point or even a discussion of excommunicating the Jewish Christians.”
Pieter does not have it quite right. The early Christians were true Jews; they had never ceased to be Jews in the flesh, of course, only now they were Jews in the heart, in the spirit, Spirit-filled, God-fulfilled true sons of Abraham by faith, a faith that was accounted to Abraham for righteousness, that faith being a gift of God. As it is written in the Torah:
“And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6 KJV).
Pieter is deceptive, ignorant, or careless to say, “The Jews looked askance at the belief that a crucified person was the Messiah.” Wow! What an innocent portrayal of those who crucified their Messiah! It would be true that many Jews were in the dark about what happened, including the fact of the resurrection, about which the Jewish authorities lied; however, van der Horst’s report is nothing less than an ignorant, if not willful, denial of the guilt of Jews concerning their crime against the Messiah!
Contrast Pieter’s remarks to the New Testament testimony against the Jews, which many faithful men and women gladly and solemnly laid down their lives to defend (at the hands of the Jews), for the sake of the truth preserved in Its sterling record.
Of course, it is Pieter’s agenda to discredit the New Testament. Now which shall we believe? The New Testament or Pieter? That is the question and choice for those who witness this debate.
Pieter also says, “There was, however, no breaking point or even a discussion of excommunicating the Jewish Christians”?
Pieter holds the New Testament in utter contempt (which, of course, is nothing new or strange). Saul of Tarsus, a Jew, as Paul the apostle of Jesus Christ, confessed repeatedly with his own mouth how savagely he persecuted Messianic Jews. The New Testament clearly shows that not only was there a “breaking point,” but the Jews were imprisoning, scourging, beating, and even stoning to death Christians.
Stephen is a case in point (Acts 7), in whose murder Saul of Tarsus participated. The apostles James, Peter, and John are still others (Acts 4 and 12) who suffered persecution by the Jews. For someone supposedly educated and knowledgeable, van der Horst is without understanding.
Furthermore, there were many Jews who knew that “the crucified person” was also resurrected from the dead, a fact that even the Pharisees taught as their doctrine in that day, though they did not believe and denied its occurrence with the Messiah when it finally happened.
There was also this, however, which shows that the general Jewish population did accept the Jewish believers in Christ as followers of the God of Israel, for a time:
“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46-47 KJV).
Speaking of His church, the body of believers, this is also recorded: “And of the rest no one dared to join himself to them, but the people magnified them” (Acts 5:13 MKJV).
The time of limited accommodation ended when, by persistent persecution and denial of their Messiah, the religious establishment hounded the majority of believers out of Jerusalem, and by such behaviors, eventually led Israel into complete overthrow and dispersal by Rome into the wilderness of their persecution, to this very day.
Van der Horst: “The situation changed slowly in the second generation of Christians. This was directly related to the missionary activities of people like the Apostle Paul and his collaborators. Their vision was that ‘salvation,’ as they called it, was intended by God not only for the Jewish people but also for others. They began to preach their message to non-Jews outside the Land of Israel as well.”
First, there is no such thing as a second generation Christian. As the saying goes, “God has no grandchildren.” Paganism in the Name of Christ gained ascendancy when unregenerate people took control of matters and the tables began to be turned on the persecuting, unbelieving Jews in terms of carnal warfare. Now the unbelieving Jews had no true Christians with whom to contend, but opponents of their own ilk, returning evil for evil. Whereas they had persecuted, now they were the persecuted.
Outnumbered and outranked, it turned for the worse for unbelieving Jews. While true Christians (spiritual Jews) continued apart from the pagan Christian church, they exercised no physical warfare against Jews in the flesh, unless perhaps defensively, but I know of no record of such.
Going on, Pieter seems to display cynicism and prejudice by his choice of the word “collaborators.” He falsely accuses true Christians for the faults of the false ones, condemning them for their vices. Your brush is too large, Pieter.
It is also written by the prophets of old that God would send His salvation by messengers to the Gentiles:
“And He said, It is a light thing that you should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give you for a light to the Gentiles, that you may be My salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6 KJV).
If you are using the word “collaborators” in the negative sense, Pieter, I ask you, Where is the “collaboration”? Is the God of Israel a “collaborator”? While the Torah was being fulfilled by Christians, according to Jewish prophets, you find fault. Were those prophets also “collaborators,” before their time?
Van der Horst: “These earliest missionaries wanted to facilitate the entrance of non-Jews into the growing Christian community. They therefore began to downgrade the Torah (the Pentateuch) and its commandments.”
Did the saints of God “downgrade the Torah and its commandments,” or did they shed new light on what the substance and purpose of the Torah were, which were hidden from Israel until the time? For example, to the Romans, a Gentile church, Paul wrote in defense of the Law of God, as recorded in the Tenach:
Romans 3:28-31 MKJV
(28) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the Law.
(29) Or is He the God of the Jews only, and not also of the nations? Yes, of the nations also,
(30) since it is one God Who will justify circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
(31) Do we then make the Law void through faith? Let it not be! But we establish the Law.
Van der Horst: “Later they started to toy with the idea that, if God wanted non-Jews to be part of the community as well, the commandments of the Torah should be solely for the Jewish members.”
The Decalogue was non-negotiable for Jew or Gentile (I just quoted words from a letter to Roman Gentile believers by the apostle Paul to that effect). The Law of God was never taught by early Christians to be dispensable for Gentiles, except for the types and shadows of ceremony and ritual, which pointed to a day of fulfillment in the Messiah, as scaffolding would serve temporarily until the intended structure was complete. Therefore, the types and shadows were no longer needed by Jews either. And God took care of that within 40 years of the fulfillment, sending in General Titus to do the job.
So even orthodox Jews can no longer practice those things they once observed. Jesus prophesied these things would come to pass before He was crucified:
“Jerusalem! Jerusalem! the one killing the prophets, and stoning those having been sent to her; how often I desired to gather your children in the way a hen gathers her brood under the wings, and you did not desire it. Behold, your house is left to you desolate. And truly I say to you, You will not see Me until it come when you say, Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord” (Luke 13:34-35 MKJV).
Luke 19:41-44 MKJV
(41) And as He drew near, He beheld the city [Jerusalem] and wept over it,
(42) saying, If you had known, even you, even at least in this day of yours, the things for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
(43) For the days will come on you that your enemies will raise up a rampart to you, and will surround you, and will keep you in on every side.
(44) And they will tear you down, and your children within you, and will not leave a stone on a stone because you did not know the time of your visitation.
So was that anti-Semitism, Pieter? Do you simply ignore the New Testament as fictional garbage not worthy of attention? If so, how is it you use It as a source of authoritative information for your accusations and misled conclusions?
Van der Horst: “That gave rise to the first tensions between Jewish and gentile Christians.”
Insignificant tension between Jewish and Gentile Christians began some time after tensions between unbelieving Jews and believing Jews. The former (speaking of true Christians) never resulted in persecution and murder, not remotely. In the Messiah, Who was their Lord and Savior, they were one, united by a bond not easily broken by any power.
Van der Horst: “Later on, as is also made quite clear in the New Testament, gentile Christians began to claim that their communities were the true Israel.”
It is true that Paul defined the true Jew as one circumcised in the heart, be he Jew or Gentile in the flesh:
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that outwardly in flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart; in spirit and not in letter; whose praise is not from men, but from God” (Romans 2:28-29 MKJV).
This does not make Paul or true Christians, Jewish or Gentile, anti-Semitic. By revelation of God, they were making known to all the true essence of Abraham’s calling and purpose, one of faith, which is what made Abraham a Jew. Abraham believed and was therefore a Jew, not because he was circumcised.
Yes, a Jew in the flesh is of Judah and associated tribes, but Abraham is the father of all Jews and therefore a Jew himself. We must all come to understand that God’s intent was not a matter of leaving us in the flesh, trusting in ourselves and our virtues and abilities or physical lineage. His intent was that we would be the manifestation of Him and His Law, which can only come about by a miraculous change of heart, through faith. It must be remembered that He is in the process of creating man in His image.
But God also honored Abraham, determined to bless his earthly seed by Isaac (through Jacob) in the fullness of time.
Van der Horst: “They asserted that in neglecting many of the Torah’s commandments, they-and not the Jews-knew what God wanted from His people. The issues of the centrality and the remaining value and validity of the Torah were among the first reasons for tensions. Here one sees the beginnings of a split between Judaism and Christianity.”
The New Testament record shows that the unbelieving Jews falsely accused Stephen, Paul, and other disciples of doing away with the Law and wishing to do away with the Temple, neither of which was true.
What is true is that the true Israel is comprised of sons of Abraham who became so by faith in God and not by the works of the Law or religious practices or bloodline (which is all self-righteousness). The sons of Korah were descendants of Levi and members of the priestly tribe, but what good did it do them to be of Israel? Were they the true Israel?
Because one is circumcised means nothing. Bernie Madoff was most likely circumcised, as would have been the several rabbis who recently defrauded investors, including fellow Jews, of their financial assets. Are these of the true Israel? God would say of such, “Out of My sight! You are cut off from My people, Israel, who know and fellowship with Me. I never knew you!”
No, Pieter, if you are suggesting that a flesh and blood Jew is a true Jew, that is where you and any who think like you are gravely (not a loose word) mistaken. Abraham was a man of faith, and that faith was what gave him his favor with God, not his circumcision. Those who think physical descent from Abraham is good enough and who look down their noses at those who are not physically descended from Abraham, by Isaac and Jacob, are indeed, as Jesus called them, sons of the Devil, be they Jews or Gentiles. They are reveling in a nonexistent virtue and rejecting the righteousness of God.
That is not to say, however, that God does not have a plan to bring the physical descendants of Abraham through Isaac into the Kingdom in due time. We have already pointed to that fact in the New Testament record.
As for the alleged debate and division between unbelieving Jews and believing Jews about the centrality of the Tenach (Old Testament), it was the believing Jews who discovered that the entire Tenach pointed to the Messiah and that Jesus Christ’s birth, life, works, death, burial, and resurrection fulfilled dozens and dozens of prophecies from Moses to Malachi. Acknowledging this wonderful historic fulfillment indeed brought division, but that was not the fault of those who believed and understood and embraced the Essence of the Torah.
Van der Horst: “With this came the beginning of anti-Jewish sentiments in Christianity.”
Not true at all, as already discussed. Pieter, you make a fatal mistake here and tar everyone with the same brush by confusing true believers and false believers (those who actually believe in the Messiah and those who only profess faith in Him). Thus you do great injustice, even as you protest great injustice done against Jews.
Van der Horst: “It was also aggravated by a second factor. In the same period, perhaps in the second and certainly in the third generation of Christians-by the end of the first century of the Common Era-they began to explicitly call Jesus God. He, as a Jew, had never done so. In the four chronologically latest books of the New Testament, Jesus is called God, though only incidentally. These documents are all from around the turn of the first to the second century: the Gospel of John, the Epistle of the Hebrews, the Second Epistle of Peter, and the so-called Epistle of Titus.”
Van der Horst needs to add to his list of New Testament books referring to Jesus Christ as God. They are the other three Gospels, the Book of Acts, Paul’s epistle to the Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Philemon, James, 1 Peter, 1 and 2 John, Jude, and Revelation.
They all declare Jesus Christ to be God!
Van der Horst: “In the Gospel of John it is clear that this is going to be a breaking point between Jews and Christians. The Gospel’s author has Jews saying about Jesus, ‘He makes himself equal to God.’ We have to interpret this to mean that it is the Christians who are equating Jesus with God.”
Yes, the Christians (Jewish or Gentile) believed Jesus was God in the flesh, and the Jews accused Him of the same and charged Him with blasphemy, punishable by death because He said, “Before Abraham was, I Am” (John 8:58). Here was their reaction:
“Then they took up stones to throw at Him. But Jesus hid Himself and went forth out of the Temple, going through the midst of them, and passed on by” (John 8:59 MKJV).
Van der Horst says, “From a Jewish viewpoint this is terrible. Once the Christians began to declare Jesus as equal to God, the core of Jewish monotheism was in danger.”
“The core of monotheism” was not at all in danger, not in truth. If God should choose to manifest Himself in the flesh, as He already had with Abraham (Genesis 18), how does that make Him more than one?
Van der Horst: “The Jewish leaders decided that they could no longer live under one roof with this group, which led to the break.”
The Jewish leaders did much more than decide to part ways with “this group.” They decided from the beginning that the followers of Messiah were guilty of blasphemy and were therefore obliged to part with their bodies and the earth, even as they judged the Messiah unworthy of life and crucified Him.
Van der Horst: “The Christians then claimed that the Jews said they had to throw Jesus’ followers out of the synagogue. That is not historical, because it was not said in Jesus’ time but probably later, in the time of the writer of the Gospel of John.”
Van der Horst’s problem is that he does not accept the New Testament as a worthy document, much less a source of divine inspiration and authority. But for sparse and insignificant portions, the New Testament is historically accurate and cites examples of the Jewish religious establishment grievously opposing Jesus Christ and those who considered following Him:
“Still, however, even out of the rulers, many did believe on Him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God” (John 12:42-43 MKJV).
Jesus also prophesied that His followers would be cast out of the synagogues:
“I have spoken these things to you so that you should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogue. But an hour is coming that everyone who kills you will think that he bears God service. And they will do these things to you because they have not known the Father nor Me” (John 16:1-3 MKJV).
Only days after Jesus was taken up into heaven, the Jews set out to eliminate the Judeo-Christian faith by any possible means, including false witnesses, beatings, threatenings, and murders. Peter and John were beaten for preaching Christ and forbidden to do so; James, John’s brother, was beheaded by Herod, who was moved by the Jews, and Stephen was stoned to death by the Sanhedrin, a death a murderous Jew named Saul at least condoned, if not participated in:
“And throwing him outside the city, they stoned him. And the witnesses laid their clothes down at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen, who was calling on God and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And kneeling down, he cried with a loud voice, Lord, do not lay this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:58-60 MKJV).
“And Saul was consenting to his death. And in that day there was a great persecution on the church at Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men buried Stephen and made a great mourning over him. But Saul ravaged the church, entering into every house. And dragging men and women, he delivered them up to prison. Then, indeed, the ones who had been scattered passed through, preaching the Gospel, the Word” (Acts 8:1-4 MKJV).
This same Saul was stopped in his tracks by the resurrected Jesus, converted, and was soon to become a powerful preacher for the faith he once viciously opposed. Read all about it in Acts 22, a book van der Horst denies is of God.
Van der Horst says, “The Gospel of John is the only one to use the Greek word Aposynagogos. It means ‘thrown out of the synagogue’ and reflects the situation around the year 100 CE. Here one sees for the first time that Judaism and Christianity have split apart completely. It was probably in more or less the same period-which began after the year 70 CE-that the early rabbinical authorities inserted the additional benediction, the birkat haminim, into the Amidah [the main daily Jewish prayer].”
As a tree blossoms and brings forth fruit, so there were some Jews who believed in the Coming One when He came, as prophesied since the beginning of time. These who believed became “Christians” – fulfilled or completed Jews. They now had the new heart and spirit that God had promised them by the prophets such as Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel. The Messiah fulfilled the Law and the prophets in those who believed.
Therefore, there was no break at all between true Judaism and true Christianity. They are one and the same. The split came between those Jews who did not have faith in the Messiah and those who did. As time went on, the Jews who did not believe were persecuted by Gentiles who did not believe, though they professed faith in Yeshua HaMashiach.
Van der Horst says, “This birkat haminim consists of a curse of the heretics. Without doubt the Christians at this time held beliefs that contradicted Jewish religious precepts. They were heretics because they no longer lived according to the Torah and they regarded a human being as God. These two major factors caused the definitive split between Judaism and Christianity.”
Fulfilled Jews in the Messiah were condemned as heretics by those Jews still in unbelief and unfulfilled, not because the believing Jews “no longer lived according to the Torah,” but because they lived according to the Torah for the first time. The reason they lived according to the Torah for the first time is because no Jew was ever able to do so until the Messiah enabled them by His Spirit, which was given at Shavuot.
The testimony of the Tenach is very clear on this point.
Their miraculous change of heart from an old and stony one to a new heart of flesh, wherein was written the Law of God, was only possible because God gave it to them to believe that the Man before them was no ordinary man. He was YHWH incarnate, the Coming and Anointed One, Yeshua (“YHWH saves”). Of Him, Isaiah declared by His Spirit:
Isaiah 59:16-18 MKJV
(16) And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor. Therefore His own arm brought salvation to Him; and His righteousness sustained Him.
(17) For He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head. And He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was covered with zeal like a cloak.
(18) According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay; fury to His foes, deed for deed to His enemies. He will repay their deeds to the coastlands.
The Jews who did not know Jesus was the Messiah thought he was only a man, so they condemned those who knew better.
Van der Horst: “There were some lesser reasons as well. One was that in the Jewish wars against the Romans in 66 and 132, the Christians did not fight against the Romans. The Jews reproached them for this.”
“They that live by the sword, die by the sword,” said Jesus to His followers. “You shall not murder,” is one of the commandments of Moses. True Christians knew this and also knew that the Roman onslaught was the judgment of God against Israel for its sins, of which the prophets sent of God warned against, and for which warnings, the Jews bitterly persecuted and slew them. Why should those who believed God interfere with His judgment and thus be found as guilty as those righteously judged?
They also had Jesus’ warning in advance not to fight, but to remove out of the way of God’s vengeance:
Luke 21:20-22 MKJV
(20) And when you see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that its destruction has come.
(21) And let those in Judea flee to the mountains. And those in its midst, let them go out. And those in the open spaces, let them not go into her.
(22) For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
Jesus, Son of God
The interviewer continues: “Van der Horst adds that one should not confuse Jesus’ being considered God with his being called, earlier, ‘the Son of God.’ He observes: ‘This is far less explosive. In the Jewish parlance of the first century the expression ‘Son of God’ had connotations that differ widely from what we are inclined to think of now. In those days the usage of the Hebrew Bible was still quite present in the minds of Jews. There the term ‘Son of God’ is used for the Jewish people as well as for the kings and prophets of Israel.’”
There are but two instances of reference in the Tenach (Old Testament), that I know of, to a son of God. The people of Israel were referred to as God’s son (Hosea 11:1), and there is a reference to a son of God in Daniel:
“And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was amazed. And he rose up in haste and spoke and said to his advisers, Did we not throw three men bound into the middle of the fire? They answered and said to the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Behold! I see four men loose, walking in the middle of the fire, and there is no harm among them. And the form of the fourth is like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:23-25 MKJV).
In the New Testament, the first man Adam, an Old Testament figure whom God created, was referred to as the son of God. I know of no other passages in the Old Testament that refer to a specific person as a son of God – “son of man,” as with Ezekiel, but not “son of God.” Even Moses was not known as such; Enoch and Elijah, who did not see death, were not known as sons of God, and no angels, not Gabriel or Michael, were known as sons of God.
One other passage in the Old Testament refers to “the Son,” Who is no ordinary son or human being, for God says no flesh is to be trusted:
“Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled in but a little time. Blessed are all who put their trust in Him” (Psalms 2:12 MKJV).
Van der Horst makes reference to this psalm, but particularly to verse 7, claiming it referred to human beings, such as kings and prophets. No, that passage refers to none other than the Messiah, the Son of God:
“I will declare the decree of the LORD. He has said to Me, You are My Son; today I have begotten You” (Psalms 2:7 MKJV), referring to the resurrection from the dead:
Acts 13:30-35 MKJV
(30) But God raised Him from the dead,
(31) Who appeared for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people.
(32) And we preach the gospel to you, the promise made to the fathers,
(33) this God has fulfilled to us their children, raising up Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “You are My Son, this day I have begotten You.”
(34) And that He raised Him up from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He spoke in this way: “I will give you the holy promises of David.”
(35) Therefore He also says in another psalm, “You shall not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”
1 Corinthians 15:20-24 MKJV
(20) But now Christ has risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruit of those who slept.
(21) For since death is through man, the resurrection of the dead also is through a Man.
(22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all will be made alive.
(23) But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruit, and afterward they who are Christ’s at His coming;
(24) then is the end, when He delivers the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He makes to cease all rule and all authority and power.
Van der Horst doesn’t know what he is talking about, yet some listen to him as though he does, a case of the blind leading the blind and both falling into the ditch.
He goes on: “No one thought at that time that God was, so to speak, physically the father of prophets or kings. It was a metaphor for being in a very close relationship. That is why, for instance, the prophets’ disciples in the Hebrew Bible are called ‘Sons of the Prophets.’ Everyone knew that the prophets were not the fathers of their disciples.
We do not know exactly when the expression ‘Son of God’ was used for the first time. In the New Testament it appears from very early onward, but not everyone meant the same by it. When the Apostle Paul called Jesus ‘the Son of God’ it was in the 50s CE, about twenty to thirty years after Jesus’ activities in the Galilee.”
The important thing is what those “in the know” knew and not those ignorant of the new thing God was doing. While van der Horst uses ignorant and unenlightened souls as his authoritative sources – those who killed to maintain their power and status quo – we have those who met God personally and bore witness with their lives, sacrificing themselves for those who were taking their lives:
1 John 1:1-3 MKJV
(1) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of Life,
(2) (for the Life was revealed, and we have seen It and bear witness, and show to you the everlasting Life, Who was with the Father and was revealed to us),
(3) that which we have seen and heard we declare unto you, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
Reader, judge for yourself whom you ought to believe.
Van der Horst says, “Paul speaks of Jesus as being born from a woman. If he had thought Jesus was born from a virgin, he would have said so. Jesus’ immaculate conception does not appear in the earliest Gospel either, that of Mark.”
Jesus was indeed born of a woman. Would it not be a strange thing in itself for God to be conceived of a woman, even if she was not a virgin? Paul’s point was not about the virgin birth; it was about God’s way of entry into this world by the Son, “made under the Law to redeem them that were under the Law.”
Centuries before the Messiah came, it was prophesied by Isaiah that He would be born of a virgin:
“Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His Name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 KJV).
There are those who do not believe God’s power to cause a virgin to conceive; they do not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ and have sought to deny or conceal this fact, as when they misconstrue the meaning of the Hebrew word “almaw” in this Isaiah verse, which means, “a lass, as veiled or private, damsel, maid, virgin” (Strong’s Hebrew # 5959).
Of course, as in other languages, like English, the Hebrew has other words for a girl, damsel, maid, or young woman, that being, “naaraw.” The usual word for a woman that is a wife or one having known a man is “ishshaw,” used about 200 times.
But let’s look to the Old Testament Itself to define the meaning of the word “almaw.” In each case where it is used, it was plainly used for a virgin, not for a woman who was married or who had lost her virginity. Speaking of Rebekah, who would come to be Isaac’s wife:
“Behold, I stand by the well of water. And it shall be when the virgin comes forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, please, a little water from your pitcher to drink, and she says to me, Both you drink, and I will also draw for your camels, may she be the woman whom the LORD has appointed for my master’s son” (Genesis 24:43-44 MKJV).
It was used in the Song of Solomon, a godly love story and not an expression of adultery, ungodly lust, or perversity, which would be contrary to God’s Law:
“For Your ointments have a lovely fragrance; Your name is as oil poured out; therefore the virgins love You” (Song of Solomon 1:3 MKJV).
“There are sixty queens, and eighty concubines, and virgins without number” (Song of Solomon 6:8 MKJV).
Those trying to discredit the word “almaw” as meaning a maiden or virgin show themselves to be prejudiced and disingenuous.
Besides all of this, the fact that Christ was born of a virgin is not the same as the Catholic doctrine of the “immaculate conception,” which is a fanciful notion applied to Mary, a human being like any other, declaring that she was kept free of sin from her conception to her death. The whole point of the New Testament, however, is that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Yet it is sinners who receive the grace of God through Jesus Christ, born again of His Spirit, that are set free from sin.
Van der Horst continues: “It is only in the Gospels-more or less one generation later-of Matthew and Luke that one reads that Jesus is the ‘Son of God’ in a different sense. In this context it has to be interpreted in terms of Jesus being begotten by the Holy Spirit, which means by God. So it is only in these later texts that ‘sonship of God’ is understood in a more physical sense, that is, in a sense different from what it means in the Hebrew Bible.”
“Abraham saw My day and was glad,” testified Jesus. His coming and Person is revealed to very few, and only those to whom it is revealed can testify. As to van der Horst’s surmisings about the process of composition of the New Testament and speculation as to what was included or changed, we can only say he has already demonstrated that he is not one to be trusted with our souls’ keeping and instruction in godliness.
Van der Horst: “When asked about the anti-Jewish texts in the Gospel of Matthew, van der Horst answers: ‘That fits into another picture that is not in itself anti-Semitic. Only in this Gospel’s passion narrative of Jesus does one find that Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, says ‘I do not see anything evil in this man.’ Pilate then washes his hands as a token of his wish to have nothing to do with Jesus’ execution. Pilate’s wife says, ‘I had a dream about this man. Don’t touch him because he is completely innocent.’ This text is blatantly unhistorical. Everything we know from other sources tells us that Pilate was thoroughly unscrupulous and ruthless. The idea that he would save a person from capital punishment because he thought him innocent is almost ridiculous.’”
This is foolish speculation on van der Horst’s part. He puts forth nothing more than opinion and conjecture. How does he know Pilate was not moved by his wife in this instance, as the Matthew Gospel records?
While van der Horst may conclude Matthew’s record (Matthew 27:15-26) is “blatantly unhistorical,” we can certainly judge that commonly-known traits of human nature and of the man-woman dynamic are plainly at work in this record. Are not many men moved to do almost anything their wives may strongly desire, good or bad, and act uncharacteristically in times of temptation or stress? So how is it “almost ridiculous” for Pilate to have made the decision he made?
Besides, did Pilate not finally hand over to the Jews one he judged to be innocent? With an army at his command, was that the act of a just man? It could be argued that in spite of his inclination to heed his wife, he still handed Jesus over to execution, declining to please even her. Would that be “unscrupulous and ruthless” enough for van der Horst?
He continues: “Why then does Matthew exculpate the Romans from the death of Jesus? The text has to be understood in the context of his time, around the 80s of the first century. In the middle of the 60s CE, under the Emperor Nero, the first persecutions of Christians had begun. There are indications that after that period there were further minor persecutions on a local level. This frightened the Christians.
For political reasons Matthew was keen that his writings should give the Romans the impression that Christians were not a danger to their empire. If a highly positioned person like Pilate says about Jesus ‘This man is completely innocent,’ it implies that Christianity is not something Romans have to fear.”
Van der Horst has ascribed motivations he might have had as a corrupt man, but does not understand the mindset or spirit that the apostles received from Jesus Christ. They knew the danger they faced for their testimony of Him and gladly accepted it. Van der Horst fails to acknowledge that the apostles and ministers of Christ willingly went to their deaths in proclamation of the good news of Christ’s sacrifice for us. How and why could they do so? Only because His Life took over theirs. They were not there to please man, but God:
Acts 5:27-33 MKJV
(27) And bringing them, they stood in the Sanhedrin. And the high priest asked them,
(28) saying, Did we not strictly command you that you not teach in this Name? And behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine and intend to bring this man’s blood on us.
(29) And Peter and the apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
(30) The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, Whom you killed and hanged on a tree.
(31) This One God has exalted to be a Ruler and Savior to His right hand in order to give repentance and remission of sins to Israel.
(32) And we are His witnesses of these things. And so also is the Holy Spirit, Whom God has given to those who obey Him.
(33) But those hearing were cut to the heart, and they took counsel to kill them.
The disciples could only stand as they did because they were transformed by the Holy Spirit, united in heart and mind; they joyfully forsook all and followed in the Messiah’s steps. And what were those steps? Jesus said:
“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11 MKJV).
And: “Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you. As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21-22 MKJV).
And: “It is enough for the disciple that he is like his master, and the servant like his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more those of his household? Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, and nothing hidden which shall not be known” (Matthew 10:25-26 MKJV).
Now van der Horst and Jews should take note of the next portion of Scripture, which serves to not only indict Jews, but also exonerate at least one of them (Gamaliel), and also all of them in that they accepted his counsel to spare the apostles:
Acts 5:34-42 MKJV
(34) Then there stood up one in the Sanhedrin, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a doctor of the Law honored among all the people. And he commanded the apostles to be put outside a little space.
(35) And he said to them, Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.
(36) For before these days Theudas rose up, boasting himself to be somebody; a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves to him; who was slain. And all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered and brought to nothing.
(37) After this one, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the Registration, and drew away considerable people after him. Yet that one perished; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered.
(38) And now I say to you, Withdraw from these men and let them alone. For if this counsel or this work is of men, it will come to nothing.
(39) But if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest perhaps you be found even to fight against God.
(40) And they obeyed him. And calling the apostles, beating them, they commanded not to speak in the Name of Jesus, and let them go.
(41) Then indeed they departed from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be shamed for His Name.
(42) And every day in the temple, and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching the gospel: Jesus Christ.
Paul, the apostle of Christ, once the Pharisee who persecuted His followers, declared to those who pleaded with him to avoid danger: “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13 MKJV).
Of the apostles who were beaten by the religious council, it is written: “Then indeed they departed from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be shamed for His Name” (Acts 5:41 MKJV).
Van der Horst has never known the love of, and for, God that burns in the heart of all those who are His. History records that all but one of the apostles were willingly martyred in the end, as have been countless souls over the centuries for the sake of Jesus Christ. One apostle was exiled to the Isle of Patmos, where it is reported he died. It is men like the educated van der Horst who deny them their right to declare the truth, and thus he is close to being guilty of their blood.
He says: “This in turn leads to the story of the Jews supposedly shouting ‘Let his blood come over us’ – which means, ‘We take the responsibility for his death.’ Shifting the responsibility for Jesus’ death to the Jewish people is at odds with what Matthew says in the earlier parts of his Gospel to the effect that Jesus enjoyed immense popularity with the masses, that is, with the majority of the common Jewish people.”
Is it not remarkable that men with their devices will use the Scriptures as authoritative when they appear to support their arguments, yet deny Them when their opinions are contradicted by the Scriptures they reject? So which is accurate, that Jesus enjoyed immense popularity with the majority of the common Jewish people (which He did), or that the Jews called for His execution (which they did)? If van der Horst has so little use for the integrity of Matthew, why does he use any of it to support his arguments?
Is his condemnation of Matthew’s Gospel credible? One may argue that he only points out contradiction, but this is not so. There is no contradiction but what he deems to be contradiction in his lack of understanding of the record. More importantly, he lacks the objectivity to see the possibility of its true meaning.
Concerning the Jews in the case of Jesus Christ, and human nature in general, has van der Horst never heard of fickleness? Has he never witnessed modern-day politics and how one day people will praise a man, if they think he will give them what they want, and the next day rail on him for breaking promises or failing to perform them?
The fact is that while the masses did follow after Jesus, they did it for the wrong reasons. He told them so:
“Jesus answered them and said, Truly, truly, I say to you, You seek Me not because you saw the miracles, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for that food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you. For God the Father sealed Him” (John 6:26-27 MKJV).
If they did it for the wrong reasons, can one expect their constant support, especially when Jesus was unwilling to satisfy their desires?
Jesus knew He could not depend on the support of men:
“But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man” (John 2:24-25 KJV).
Would van der Horst hesitate to admit that people can, will, and have turned about in short order when incensed by lies and false testimonies? Will he deny that apparently peaceful individuals can be suddenly engaged in mass hysteria and incited to violence? Has this not happened against Jews over the last two millennia in many parts of the world? History records it countless times.
“What goes around comes around.” Could it be that their declaration, “Let His blood come over us” – which means, “We take the responsibility for his death” – has come to pass? Is it not a law of the universe that what is sown, and only that which is sown, is reaped? Did they not sow for sorrow, persecution, and destruction? Can they deny what has happened to them? Why did it happen if they did not sow for it?
Paul’s Anti-Semitic Outburst
Van der Horst: “There is also an isolated case of an anti-Jewish outburst by the Apostle Paul. In one of his letters to the Thessalonians, the Christian community in the Greek town of Thessalonica, he reports that the Jews strongly oppose his preaching. Paul then works himself into a fury and says, ‘These Jews killed Jesus and the prophets and for that reason they displease God and are the enemies of all mankind.’”
The Scriptures van der Horst refers to:
“For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also have suffered these things by your own countrymen, even as they also by the Jews; who both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, also driving us out and they do not please God and being contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the nations that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always; but the wrath has come upon them to the uttermost” (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 MKJV).
Why does van der Horst falsely accuse Paul? How can he judge Paul to have worked himself into a fury? Says who? Says only Pieter. Paul was speaking the truth. Because the truth happens to indict Jews, or a certain group of Jews, does not mean that Paul was in fury or hatred or bitterness of any kind.
Van der Horst, you err, it is that simple; and you err because you have not understood the divine inspiration of the Record. Education and knowledge do not take away error; indeed they only give more opportunity and ability to err and to propagate error more skillfully.
We have already quoted the apostle Paul’s sentiments toward his fellow Jews, that he would gladly be accursed for their sakes if it might mean their salvation.
Was he speaking of all Jews to the Thessalonians? He himself was a Jew, his co-workers in Christ were Jews, the apostles, for whom he had great respect, were all Jews, Jesus came as a Jew, and many who believed were Jews, they being one in heart and mind with him. So why would he speak as an anti-Semite? The plain answer is that he wouldn’t do so.
Pieter says: “This is the only text in the New Testament that says the Jews are the enemy of the rest of mankind. This motif derives from pre-Christian pagan anti-Semitism, where it appears many times. It stands in complete opposition to what Paul says at length about the Jewish people in his Epistle to the Romans. In three chapters-9, 10, and 11-Paul paints a far more positive picture of the Jewish people. There is no mention of their being the enemy of humanity; nor is there any in Paul’s other letters.”
Paul wasn’t inconsistent. He spoke the truth, as I have explained for those who are willing to hear the truth. Neither did “this motif” derive from men, but it is the revelation of God, spoken by Paul by inspiration of the Spirit of God. This is something Pieter cannot understand, never having been in the Kingdom of God. (This is, of course, not to say there was no anti-Jewish sentiment in the world before Christ.)
Pieter says, “In his later letter to the Romans, Paul says: ‘We Christians should realize that the olive tree is the people of Israel and we are only grafted into this olive tree.’ His one case of an anti-Jewish outburst seems to be that of someone who did not always control his emotions.”
Sorry, Pieter, but you are wrong. There was no outburst. He happens to be speaking objective truth from God. Many times have we been judged as angry and bitter, but when we confront those who accuse us of such and ask them to quote our words showing we are so, they never reply. No one has replied with our hundreds of letters and articles – not one.
We have concluded that the only reason they think we have a carnal anger bred of emotion is because they are judged by the truth we speak, and they don’t like it, finding it very uncomfortable, even threatening. Therefore, they count it as unjust, emotional anger, at least initially. Under re-examination, the wind is taken out of their sails.
While to van der Horst, Paul seems to be emotionally unstable at times, this record to the Romans is yet another proof that van der Horst is wrong in judging Paul to be anti-Semitic. Here is the passage to which he refers:
Romans 11:24-28 MKJV
(24) For if you were cut out of the natural wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more these being according to nature will be grafted into their own olive-tree?
(25) For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, lest you should be wise within yourselves; that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the nations has come in.
(26) And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, “There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
(27) For this is My covenant with them, when I have taken away their sins.”
(28) Indeed as regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes. But as regards the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
Does that sound anti-Semitic to the reader? Van der Horst, are you not greatly, even criminally, mistaken? Instead of taking into account the whole record, of not only words, but also of deeds, you have taken a sentence or two you don’t understand and used it to overthrow Paul’s testimony by an interpretation that is entirely contrary to the record. That is unjust, and according to the Law of God, you commit the sin of bearing false witness, because you have no supporting witnesses of your interpretation.
Is the New Testament Anti-Semitic?
The writing continues: “Van der Horst relates to the often asked question whether the New Testament itself has anti-Semitic elements. ‘I would say yes, but again only in the chronologically latest documents. The clearest instance is that of the Gospel of John. There one sees that the split between Christians and Jews has occurred. It has happened recently and that is also why the language is so vehement. The anti-Jewish sentiment permeates the whole book, and it contains the most anti-Semitic verse in the New Testament.’”
Again, I say that those who understand the New Testament substance will find it does not contain anti-Jewish sentiment. It does record what certain Jews did, but it is not a book against Jews. It is interpreted that way, however, especially by Jews who do not believe or understand.
Van der Horst: “The author has Jesus distance himself completely from the Jewish people. He lets him speak about the Jews, their laws and festivals, as if he himself is no longer one of them. Worst of all, in a dispute between Jesus and the Jewish leaders, John has him say: ‘You have the devil as your father.’ In later Christian literature, that expression is picked up. This fatal short remark has had lethal consequences over two millennia. It cost tens of thousands of Jewish lives in later history, especially in the Middle Ages. This verse was taken by Christian Jew-haters as a license to murder Jews. These murderers thought: ‘If Jesus says that Jews have the devil as their father, we should eradicate them as best as we can.’”
Jesus distanced Himself from nobody, except to hide at times from His would-be murderers, whom He was addressing in the passage to which Pieter refers:
John 8:42-59 MKJV
(42) Jesus said to them, If God were your father, you would love Me, for I went forth and came from God; for I did not come of Myself, but He sent Me.
(43) Why do you not know My speech? Because you cannot hear My Word.
(44) You are of the Devil as father, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and did not abide in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it.
(45) And because I tell you the truth, you do not believe Me.
(46) Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do you not believe Me?
(47) He who is of God hears God’s Words. Therefore you do not hear them because you are not of God.
(48) Then the Jews answered and said to Him, Do we not say well that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?
(49) Jesus answered, I do not have a demon, but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me.
(50) And I do not seek My own glory, but there is One Who seeks and judges.
(51) Truly, truly, I say to you, If a man keeps My Word, he shall never see death.
(52) Then the Jews said to Him, Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham and the prophets are dead, and you say, If a man keeps My Word, he shall never taste of death.
(53) Are You greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets are dead; Whom do You make Yourself?
(54) Jesus answered, If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father Who glorifies Me, of Whom you say that He is your God.
(55) Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I should say I do not know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I know Him and I keep His Word.
(56) Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw and was glad.
(57) Then the Jews said to Him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?
(58) Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham came into being, I AM!
(59) Then they took up stones to throw at Him. But Jesus hid Himself and went forth out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and passed on by.
Was Jesus speaking to all Jews or only to those who stood against Him? Is it not obvious He was speaking to a select group?
Eventually, when it was time, He laid down His life for His fellow Jews, excluding none, not even those who were His murderous enemies. On the cross were His words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Stephen, a young Jew full of the Spirit of Christ, prayed a similar prayer on their behalf when he was stoned by the Sanhedrin years later, before succumbing to death, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 9).
The completed Jew, Paul, once the persecutor, now apostle of Christ, testified:
“For one will with difficulty die for a righteous one, yet perhaps one would even dare to die for a good one. But God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8 MKJV).
Jesus did say what is recorded in John, and what He said was true. Those coming against Him in the Name of God were indeed of their father the Devil. Why else would they oppose the Son of God? But because He spoke the truth about them does not make Him or His followers or His doctrine responsible for sons of the Devil who use His words and kill others. “Put away your sword,” He said to Peter. “They that live by the sword, die by the sword.” This is recorded in the very Gospel van der Horst condemns as the work of those hateful toward Jews:
“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. And the servant’s name was Malchus. Then Jesus said to Peter, Put up your sword into the sheath. The cup which My Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:10-11 MKJV).
Jesus’ words were not fatal to Jews, but their hatred of Him was fatal to them, having long-lasting negative consequences. Those who took His words and used them for evil were fulfilling the words of the Jews who cried out, “His blood be upon us and upon our children!” Theirs were the fatal words, and not the Lord’s.
Van der Horst: “All New Testament scholars agree that Jesus did not say what John puts into his mouth, but that it is the position of the Gospel’s author.”
“All” is simply not true. Jesus said those words, and John accurately recorded their essence. As for those New Testament scholars who judge otherwise, they have never understood Jesus or John or any portion of the Bible. They are as the scribes and Pharisees of old who, notwithstanding their positions of authority, education, and religious indoctrination, opposed the truth.
Van der Horst continues: “When one religious group breaks away from its mother religion, it has to create its own new identity. The sociology of religion teaches us that, in its first phase, the new group always begins to attack the old religion as fiercely as it can and to demonize it. The most effective demonization is calling the Jews ‘children of the devil’ and having Jesus, the most important person in the new religion, say this himself.”
There was no “new religion,” and saints of God, in whom His law is fulfilled, do not demonize. Van der Horst does not realize that the New Testament is not talking about mere religion or the startup of another work of man. The coming of the Messiah was the work of God. It was the fruition of the Torah, the Law, and the prophets, and many of the prophecies spoke concerning that day when the Messiah appeared in the flesh for the first time.
There was no need for God to discredit men; He came to save them. He is independent of them or their machinations. Jesus demonized nobody, and neither did John. To accuse John of demonization is demonization.
Consider that within 40 years of Christ ascending to Heaven (40 being an important number in Scripture), Rome destroyed Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple, even as Jesus prophesied. The priesthood and sacrifices ceased 2,000 years ago and have not resumed to this day. Coincidence? Pieter ought to seriously consider.
He says, “I once argued before an audience of Christian ministers that if we were to confront John with the consequences of what he wrote, he would deeply apologize and say, ‘Please, delete it from my Gospel.’ Until the present day these words have their influence, because the average Bible reader cannot contextualize them in the first century when they were written. The Gospel of John unfortunately is also one of the most popular books in Christianity.”
The problem is not with John’s words, and he most certainly would not apologize, not because he did not care for the Jews, but because he did care for them, and because he spoke the truth, so it would be foolish, even wicked, to apologize; it would be counterproductive to their welfare. The problem is with those who pervert what they handle. Peter, another Jew and follower and apostle of the Lord Jesus wrote:
2 Peter 3:14-18 MKJV
(14) Therefore, beloved, looking for these things, be diligent, spotless, and without blemish, to be found by Him in peace.
(15) And think of the long-suffering of our Lord as salvation (as our beloved brother Paul also has written to you according to the wisdom given to him
(16) as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable pervert, as also they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction).
(17) Therefore, beloved, knowing beforehand, beware lest being led away with the error of the lawless, you fall from your own steadfastness.
(18) But grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Peter was encouraging the saints not to do evil and not to kill. He also warned that there would be those who would abuse the Scriptures for their own selfish gains or simply because they did not understand Them, even as Pieter does not understand Their Essence and Meaning.
Nevertheless, while men devised their ways, God directed their steps, for both good and evil. The Jews would suffer for rejecting their Messiah, as Jesus and the prophets of old prophesied they would, and they have suffered to this day. Until they repent of the greatest evil of mankind, slaying their Messiah, they will continue to suffer.
Even so, it was meant that they should slay the Lamb of God as the Perfect and Final Sacrifice for sin, not only on behalf of Israel, but on behalf of all mankind. All these things were meant to be. Peter spoke the following words at Pentecost, after Jesus initially poured out His Holy Spirit upon the 120 or so awaiting disciples in Jerusalem:
Acts 2:14-24 MKJV
(14) But Peter, standing up with the Eleven, lifted up his voice and said to them, Men, Jews, and all who dwell at Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to my words.
(15) For these are not drunk as you suppose, for it is the third hour of the day.
(16) But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel:
(17) “And it shall be in the last days, says God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.
(18) And in those days I will pour out My Spirit upon My slaves and My slave women, and they shall prophesy.
(19) And I will give wonders in the Heaven above, and miracles on the earth below, blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
(20) The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before that great and glorious Day of the Lord.
(21) And it shall be that everyone who shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.”
(22) Men, Israelites, hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by powerful works, and wonders and miracles, which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know,
(23) this One given to you by the before-determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken and by lawless hands, crucifying Him, you put Him to death;
(24) Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
It was all meant to be, and the day is coming, very soon now, when as a nation, flesh and blood Jews will believe, too. No, they will not become “Christians,” as the world knows “Christians,” they will not become Catholics (heaven forbid!); they will become completed Jews, worshipping God in spirit and in truth, even as Jesus said they would:
John 4:21-26 MKJV
(21) Jesus said to her, Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you shall neither worship the Father in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem.
(22) You worship what you do not know, we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
(23) But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him.
(24) God is a spirit, and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.
(25) The woman said to Him, I know that Messiah is coming, Who is called Christ. When He has come, He will tell us all things.
(26) Jesus said to her, I AM, the One speaking to you.
The Jewish Christians
Van der Horst continues: “In the final decades of the first century, Jewish Christians no longer felt at home in mainstream Christianity. It had, by that period, become dominated by gentile Christians who disregarded the Torah and its rules of life. They also began to talk more and more easily about Jesus as being equal to God.
Hence the Jewish Christians broke away and formed their own communities. They lived according to the laws of Moses, kept Shabbat, circumcised their children, and followed kashrut [the dietary laws]. At the same time they were believers in Jesus as the Messiah.”
It is true there came to be many Christian communities, many of which were not true followers of Jesus Christ (because not born again), and few of the genuine. It is true that historically, religiously, and socially speaking, false Christianity was recognized as the official Christianity by the world, but not by God and not by true spiritual Jews (Christians), whose circumcision was not of the flesh, but of the heart.
The division was not between Jewish and Gentile Christians, but between true and false Christians. All those in Christ will love one another, whether they are male or female, slave or free, Jew or Gentile:
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29 EMTV).
Our community is taught to honor the Law of Moses, keep the Shabbat, and keep the dietary laws of clean and unclean meats, but we do not circumcise the flesh or keep the Feasts, knowing that circumcision or physical ordinances profit nothing (the Sabbath is part of the Law of Moses and one of the Ten Commandments, therefore it is not an ordinance, and the separation of clean and unclean meats is not an ordinance, but a diet, which even secular dieticians today confirm to be a wise one).
Only those who did not have faith in Jesus Christ held steadfastly to religious or ceremonial works of flesh, placing trust in things like circumcision and other rituals and ceremonies, all of which were to pass with the entrance of the spiritual reality.
Jesus Christ came and died so that we might have that inner reality, which is true godliness and eternal life, which the God-ordained rituals and ceremonies once represented and foreshadowed.
Van der Horst says, “There were by that time a variety of Jewish Christian movements, with different names. They survived for several centuries, but did not matter very much. In the fifth century we hear for the last time about the tiny, minority churches of Jewish Christians in the Middle East. Thereafter they must have died out.”
Those who were genuinely the Lord’s, Jew or Gentile, continued on, but they were not officially recognized or discerned by the world. Church history is almost entirely a history of the false church, not the true.
A Global Christian Church
The interview continues: “Van der Horst explains that by the end of the first century, all or most of the documents that would form the New Testament had been written, but had not yet been canonized. ‘Deciding what belonged to the Christian canon took several centuries. Only by the end of the second century do we find for the first time a list of books of the New Testament. Several documents that nowadays are part of it were not yet included.
It would take two more centuries before there was a complete New Testament. Until then there were disagreements about what was authoritative between, for instance, the communities in Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt. One needed an overarching organization to unify the texts. The definitive canon of the New Testament as we now know it dates from the fourth century.”
By whom was it decided what should be in the Bible canon, particularly the New Testament? Was it not decided, for the most part, by carnal men, “official” Christians who exercised worldly dominion, rather than Heavenly authority? Was it not decided by persons such as Constantine, the pagan emperor?
But those who are truly Christ’s, not in Name only, knew what was of God and what was not, because God revealed it to them. I have no doubt there were inspired writings by men of God that were not included in the present canon, yet are as valuable for the spiritual pilgrim in Christ. Granted, carnal men recognized the letters that were commended and treasured by the apostles and early saints, and so, by and large, chose that which was good, by God’s design.
I also believe that present day writings by men of God are no less valuable, provided they are inspired of God. Is one word from God’s mouth any less than another, only because it is not in the canon determined by Christian officialdom? One must consider that those who oppose such a view are Bibliolaters.
Van der Horst: “Predominantly gentile Christianity slowly began to organize into what one would call a global church. Quite soon, the anti-Jewish sentiments and doctrines became part and parcel of the official doctrine of the mainline church. This occurred from the middle of the second century onward. In Sardis in western Turkey, Bishop Melito, in his so-called Peri Pascha [Passover sermon], says many negative things about the Jews and accuses them of having killed Jesus. Because Jesus is now clearly considered a God, the motif of deicide becomes one of the main elements in the anti-Jewish doctrines of the church.”
It is entirely antiChrist doctrine to condemn the Jews for killing the Christ. It is antiChrist doctrine to persecute or execute temporal judgment on any unbelievers. It is not antiChrist doctrine to speak the truth and to say the Jews killed their Messiah. The “mainline Christian church” to which van der Horst refers is antiChrist, for which true Christians need take no responsibility; indeed, the “mainliners” persecute not only Jews of the flesh, but Jews of the Spirit (true Christians), even as the Jews of the flesh persecuted them in the beginning. In other words, these phony Christians are doing the very thing they condemn the Jews for doing, persecuting the Christ, which makes them hypocrites in the sight of God and all those with eyes to see.
Because the Jews denied Jesus was the Christ, which He claimed to be, they killed Him, charging Him with blasphemy. Facts are facts, and their dissemination calls for no apologies from those who state the facts. What wicked people do with the facts is another matter altogether. It is impossible that there would be no perversion of truth. According to their own prophets and their God, the Jews are as guilty of perverting the truth as any Gentile.
All men are sinners; all men are responsible for Messiah’s death; all men must repent. The difference between the Jews and the Gentiles is that it was the Jews who, in their priestly role in the earth, laid their hands on the Lamb of God and slew Him, as ordained by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God Who willingly gave His Son for the salvation of all men. It had to happen. Had it not happened, we would all be without hope. The Jews had a job to do, and they did it, meaning it for evil. Still, I cannot and do not condemn them for it, because God meant it for good, a truth Joseph, a son of Israel, once expressed:
“But as for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save a great many people alive” (Genesis 50:20 MKJV).
But the real problem is that the Jews deny their sin and guilt, which bars them from redemption. The priest must lead the way for the nations to repentance, beginning with himself.
Israel, national priest of the earth, the time of your universal, everlasting Jubilee has come! The time has come to repent and to confess that you are directly responsible for the crime, not only of the year or decade or century or millennium, but of all time and of all places.
Without knowledge or understanding, Van der Horst mentions Deicide, an impossible crime. What happened was that God formed a Man and dwelt in Him to manifest Himself, first to Israel, then to the Gentiles. God was not contained or limited to this body of flesh, but He dwelt in it as in no other before or since. Why should He not be able to do such a thing? He did it.
Pieter continues: “In Sardis there was a major synagogue, the ruins of which exist till today. The Jewish community there went on to flourish so much that even by the end of antiquity, or the early Middle Ages, i.e. the sixth and seventh centuries, this synagogue was still the largest religious building in town, larger than the main church.
Gradually the motif of Jews being Christ-killers assumed a major role in the church’s anti-Jewish preaching. This is still very much alive in our day. Only many years after the Holocaust has the accusation that the Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus been officially rescinded by mainstream Protestantism and the Roman Catholic Church. It is, however, still adhered to by many of their followers.
The motif of deicide committed by Jews is very much alive in other major churches, especially Orthodox ones such as the Russian, Greek, Serbian, and Bulgarian Orthodox Churches. The poisonous combination of the Jews being both guilty of deicide and children of the devil flourishes there. The two elements reinforce each other.”
This is all part of the judgment of God, bringing upon the heads of Jewry that which they declared should be, reaping what they have sown. In the end, God will reverse the tide, and Israel’s judgment will be fulfilled and its suffering complete. Then will peace and restoration begin to take hold in the earth for all peoples, Jews and Gentiles everywhere. Paul wrote:
“For I speak to you, the nations [the Gentiles]; since I am the apostle of the nations [the Gentiles], I glorify my ministry; if by any means I may provoke those who are my flesh [the Jews] to jealousy, and might save some of them. For if their casting away is the reconciling of the world, what is the reception except life from the dead?” (Romans 11:13-15 MKJV).
We all await the redemption of the Jews for all our sakes. Those who try to accomplish or hasten it are in error. It is God’s work, though He sends His anointed to speak the timely truth that brings the necessary changes He wills.
Romans 8:19-23 MKJV
(19) For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.
(20) For the creation was not willingly subjected to vanity, but because of Him Who subjected it on hope
(21) that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
(22) And we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.
(23) And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruit of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, awaiting adoption, the redemption of our body.
Van der Horst: “Among the church fathers, some are quite mild in their position toward Judaism while others are fiercely hostile. John Chrysostom, one of the best- known church fathers, is one of the most anti-Jewish.
This bishop of Antioch, Syria, lived in the second half of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth century. His name means ‘man with the golden mouth,’ but much venom came from this mouth. He is not the first, but certainly the most outspoken, church father who combined horrific Christian anti-Jewish elements derived from the New Testament with originally pagan ones.
John Chrysostom’s most notorious writings are a series of long anti-Jewish sermons, which he delivered in the main church of Antioch in 386 and 387 CE. They belong to the worst Christian anti-Semitic documents in antiquity. Besides calling the Jews ‘Christ-killers’-claiming they killed the person who was sent to them by God to save them in the Final Judgment-and ‘children of the devil,’ he also adopted various anti-Jewish clichés from pre-Christian pagan antiquity. These include motifs such as the Jews as haters of the rest of humanity and as nonbelievers in any god whatsoever.
John Chrysostom and others could also reach back to the one statement where the Apostle Paul said the Jews were enemies of mankind. Through John Chrysostom these themes began to be integrated into the anti-Jewish discourse of Christianity. His anti-Jewish sermons have since become very influential.”
Because the good that Jews do and have done has been of benefit to all mankind, so the evil they do is of detriment to all mankind, and if they insist on opposing the truth that God sent His Son to redeem the earth, then are they not enemies of all mankind? Let’s call a spade a spade.
The question is, “What do we do about it?” Do we kill Jews for it, or do we speak the truth to all who need to hear it? Do we placate the Jews in their enmity? Do we ignore their enmity or pretend they are innocent? Do we lie, or do we speak the truth? Which would God have us to do?
If what van der Horst says of Chrysostom is true, then Chrysostom is antiChrist. At any rate, he is regarded as a church father and doctor by mainline nominal Christendom. This is the false church, not the true, and therefore John Chrysostom is antiChrist, along with all the others regarded as church fathers – Clement of Rome, Origen, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage, Justin the Martyr, Athanasius, Augustine, and Gregory the Great, to name a few.
Is it not remarkable that the first apostles of Jesus Christ, particularly Peter, James, John, and Paul are not known as the church fathers, though the apostles, along with the prophets, are the true foundation of the true Heavenly Church on earth?
Ephesians 2:19-22 MKJV
(19) Now therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God,
(20) and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
(21) in Whom every building having been fitly framed together, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord;
(22) in Whom you also are built together for a dwelling place of God through the Spirit.
Van der Horst: “From a contemporary point of view we also have to give some attention to the heretic Marcion. A second-century figure, he was born in the Black Sea area but later moved to Rome. Marcion said that Christianity had completely superseded Judaism and should shed its last remnants. He thus claimed that the Christian canon should not contain the Old Testament.
Marcion is important because his positions forced the mainstream church to take a stand on this issue and decide that the Old Testament would be part of its canon. This was despite the growing anti-Jewish sentiments in its developing doctrine. The church did not want to eliminate its Jewish roots, the Jewishness of Jesus, and the Jewish elements in the Gospels and the letters of Paul.
There were still Marcionites in the third and fourth centuries. It is significant that in Christianity such a person could arise and attract a following. The main biography of Marcion was written by the German theologian Adolf von Harnack in the 1920s. He claimed it was inevitable that the church condemned Marcion in the second century, but a mistake that in the sixteenth century Luther and Calvin still took the same position. Von Harnack further described it as a tragedy that, in the twentieth century, the church still retained the Old Testament. He evidently was a Marcionite who wanted to expurgate all Jewish elements from Christianity. Other theologians in the Nazi period also tried to create a form of Christianity devoid of any Jewish elements. Some went so far as to say that Jesus was a racially pure Aryan and not a Jew. Walter Grundman was the most notorious among them.”
The Old Testament contributes essentially to the foundation of the true Christian Church and its doctrine. True Christianity is true Judaism in blossom, or fruition, if you will. We know that the Tenach (Old Testament) is the Word of God. Jesus and His disciples often quoted from It as the Authoritative Word of God. Those who would eliminate It from Christianity have no knowledge of God whatsoever. Their hostile attitude toward Jews is entirely antiChrist.
Pieter van der Horst: “There were many Christian heretics in the second, third, and fourth centuries. They were as unfriendly to Judaism as the mainstream church. The small Jewish Christian movements were also considered heretical. The antiheretical books of the church fathers usually begin with attacks on the Jewish Christians. But, in the dispute between the mainstream church and other heretics, the stance toward Judaism only played a role in the excommunication of Marcion.”
Marcion was not a true Christian, but neither were most of his detractors, certainly not his murderous persecutors. And van der Horst is unqualified to determine who is a heretic, because his scale is established by unbelieving men, not God. To the unbelieving professors of faith, who walk in darkness and error, all true believers in Christ are heretics.
Jewish Anti-Christian Discourse
Van der Horst: “If one reviews the writings of the church fathers from the second to the sixth centuries, almost all are anti-Jewish. This discourse has become part and parcel of the doctrine of mainstream Christianity. This may be due partly to the anti-Christian discourse that Jews developed as a reaction to the attacks on them by Christians.
In the second century one already hears from church fathers that Jews are spreading the story that Jesus was not born of a virgin, that his father was not God or a holy spirit, and even that Joseph, Mary’s husband, was not his father. The story claimed that Jesus was the child of Mary and a Roman soldier called Panthera and thus that she was an adulteress.
This is confirmed by Jewish sources. For instance, another text from the sixth or seventh century, the so-called Toldot Yeshu [History of Jesus], elaborates on this story. Besides saying that Jesus is the son of a Roman soldier, it claims that his healing miracles were magic tricks learned in Egypt with the purpose of destroying the Torah. We only know of some cases of such anti-Christian statements, but they are relatively well anchored in historical facts and are also found in the Talmud.”
Napoleon once aptly declared, “What is history, but a myth agreed upon?” We have many things recorded as historical facts, but they are often misrepresentations of the facts, if not outright lies. That is a historical fact. Therefore, we cannot trust men’s accounts of history. We can trust God, however; we can know Him and therefore know what is true and what is not true. Thus we look to Him for truth.
The truth is that the lies spoken against Jesus Christ are easily recognized as lies, whether from Jewish or Gentile sources. Therefore, we, as true believers in Jesus Christ, know the stories of “Toldot Yeshu” and the Talmud are inventions of liars and fools, contrary to the Old and New Testaments. We believe the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, because the Holy Spirit of God witnesses to us that They are true. If that sounds like a cop-out, so be it. Those who argue with us may say this is subjective (which is true, at least partially), but there are some things that cannot be explained or imparted to those who have not received these things for themselves.
Van der Horst: “On some occasions Jews participated with the Romans in the persecution of Christians, so they were not only victims. Jews struck back on a much more limited scale than the church, which gradually achieved its position of power after the first Christian emperor Constantine allowed Christianity to exist in the Roman Empire in 313.
While the Jews did not remain silent, their reactions had to be careful and limited, especially after the Roman Empire had officially become Christian at the end of the fourth century. Around 390 CE, the Emperor Theodosius I decreed that Christianity was the only acceptable religion. This did not mean that from then onward all people in the Roman Empire became Christians. There was fierce opposition, especially from the aristocrats who clung to their Roman or Greek religions. The Jews were not the church’s main target in that period as it still had to fight with the old pagans. That took one to two more centuries.”
Van der Horst: “The situation concerning the Jews more or less stabilized in the lifetime of the best-known church father, Augustine, who lived in Hippo in today’s Tunisia in the second half of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth century. He said with great authority that the Jews were a damned people but should not be persecuted and killed. They should be kept alive as witnesses that Christianity was right.
Augustine did not want to convert Jews by force. Such forced conversion remained rare in antiquity. The first major case occurred around 630 CE in the Byzantine Empire, when the Emperor Heraclius decreed that all Jews there must be baptized and converted to Christianity. We know from historical sources that this decree was carried out in some places. Elsewhere, however, the authorities did nothing. This case occurred in the period when Islam was on the rise and only a few years before Muslims captured Jerusalem.”
Van der Horst concludes: “Over the centuries many discriminatory measures have been taken in Christian environments against Jews. The infrastructure for this was laid in the early history of Christianity, albeit not in the time of Jesus’ life or immediately thereafter.”
No comment. I think enough has been said.
In conclusion, we must marvel at the contradiction of sinners! Even as the God of the Jews declared to them:
Ezekiel 18:23-32 BBE
(23) Have I any pleasure in the death of the evil-doer? says the Lord: am I not pleased if he is turned from his way so that he may have life?
(24) But when the upright man, turning away from his righteousness, does evil, like all the disgusting things which the evil man does, will he have life? Not one of his upright acts will be kept in memory: in the wrong which he has done and in his sin death will overtake him.
(25) But you say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Give ear, now, O children of Israel; is My way not equal? are not your ways unequal?
(26) When the upright man, turning away from his righteousness, does evil, death will overtake him; in the evil which he has done death will overtake him.
(27) Again, when the evil-doer, turning away from the evil he has done, does what is ordered and right, he will have life for his soul.
(28) Because he had fear and was turned away from all the wrong which he had done, life will certainly be his, death will not be his fate.
(29) But still the children of Israel say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O children of Israel, are My ways not equal? are not your ways unequal?
(30) For this cause I will be your judge, O children of Israel, judging every man by his ways, says the Lord. Come back and be turned from all your sins; so that they may not be the cause of your falling into evil.
(31) Put away all your evil-doing in which you have done sin; and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit: why are you desiring death, O children of Israel?
(32) For I have no pleasure in the death of him on whom death comes, says the Lord: be turned back then, and have life.
Who is the Messiah, if not God? Who is this Son of Man that fulfills the Law and the Prophets? What does it mean for those who believe and for those who don’t? What a day it is when the Messiah appears!
Readers response: I am a gentile Christian who got your letter presumably because you thought I was Jewish.
You know what their problem is, completely? It is not us, not lack of knowledge, not persecution, not Christianity, not Muslims, not descendants of Ishmael, not Middle East real estate, not a false witness of Christ or the preaching of a false Christ. It is that they reject Jesus Christ, case closed.