Messianic Judaism combines traditional Jewish teachings with Christian belief.
Messianic Judaism combines traditional Jewish teachings with Christian belief.

Messianic Judaism, sometimes colloquially called "Jews for Jesus" in the United States, is a Jewish religious denomination that shares the Christian belief that Jesus Christ was the biblical Messiah. These beliefs are rooted in the notion that both the New Testament and Old Testament are the Word of God and the ultimate authority on faith.

Jesus Christ

The most important belief of Messianic Jews is the acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament -- a stark contrast with the beliefs of traditional Jews, who are still waiting for the Messiah to come. Followers may have been born into a Jewish family or support aspects of Jewish doctrine, but most share a belief in Jesus Christ -- called Y'shua in the religion. They believe that Jesus was the Son of God who redeemed mankind by dying for their sins.

Jewish Beliefs

According to the Bible Society in Israel, many Messianic Jews prefer to avoid using the term Christian because of its traditionally non-Jewish connotations. Despite beliefs that do not differ significantly from Christianity, Messianic Jews do share a number of Jewish beliefs that set them apart from other Christian denominations. For example, Messianic Jews believe in the God of Israel -- a title intended to highlight his connection to the Israeli people. They also pay particular attention to Old Testament stories valued by Judaism, such as that of Abraham. Some continue to observe Jewish rites, but doing so is up to the discretion of the individual.

Missionary Work

Messianic Jews believe that it's important to bring the truth of their belief to non-believers. They model themselves on the tradition of Jesus' apostles, who were mobile and actively made themselves available to people seeking faith. Missionary work may require Messianic Jews to relocate or travel in an effort to find converts. The belief in the necessity of missionary work is rooted in the idea that the world is corrupt and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ will help save it.

Challenges

Most traditional Jewish followers spurn the beliefs of Messianic Jews, particularly their belief in missionary work. These challenges have sometimes spilled into violence, as some Israelis take issue with the conversion of Jews into what they perceive as Christianity. However, Messianic Jews deny the charges, as they believe they are friends to Jews and gentiles without fitting neatly into either category.