Archives For Identity Theft

This is series of short blogs that detail how the Church sought to strip Yeshua of his Jewishness.

Why Did Paul Change His Name?

Ron Cantor —  January 7, 2013 —  Comments

Why did a Jewish man get rid of his Jewish name when he began to follow the Jewish Messiah? Sounds suspect doesn’t it? Because it is!

The central author of the New Covenant—at least of the letters to the congregations—was a fellow by the name of Saul of Tarsus.  He was both Jewish and a Roman citizen not to mention an orthodox rabbi.  He studied under Gamaliel, one of the most respected Jewish scholars of his day.  He was so zealous for God and convinced that Jewish people who believed in Yeshua were deceived that he sought to arrest Jewish believers and even approved the stoning to death of Stephen, a leader among the first Jewish believers (Acts 7:58, 8:1).

However, on his way to Damascus to arrest believers, he was knocked to the ground and blinded by a great light.  Yeshua spoke to him and convinced him that he was on the wrong side of this issue.  After this dramatic encounter he became a believer and began to share the good news of Yeshua with Jewish people.

‘Also’ not ‘Instead Of’

Many years later, as he traveled throughout the known world seeking to help both Jews and Gentiles discover a dynamic, personal relationship with the King of the Universe, the Bible refers to the fact that he had two names.

Then Saul, who was also called Paul… (Acts 13:9, emphasis mine)

Sadly, for centuries Christians have taught that Saul changed his name to Paul after he became a believer.  In other words, he had to get rid of his Jewish name and take on a Christian one.  This is unreasonable on two levels.

There were no ‘Christian’ names in the First Century!

First, why would a Roman name be synonymous with a Christian name?  Roman heritage was a pagan polytheistic (belief in many gods) heritage and Rome became the primary persecutor of the body of believers for the first three hundred years.  Furthermore, there was no such thing as a  Christian Name! The name Paul only became a Christian name because of Paul. 

Secondly, if Saul truly changed his name from a Jewish one to a Roman one, then why did he wait so many years after coming to faith to do so?

Jews Get Two Names

Anyone who grew up in a Jewish home outside of Israel would know that it is common for Jewish people to have two names, one that is connected to the area in which they live and a Hebrew name.  My English name is Ron, but my parents also gave me the name Chaim, which is Hebrew for life. (Nevertheless, I go by Ron here in Israel because it is also an accepted Hebrew name and way cooler!)

When Saul was traveling in non-Jewish areas, he used his Roman name.  Notice the passage doesn’t say, “Saul, who changed his name to Paul,” but rather, “Saul, who was also called Paul…” (Acts 13:9) as, in addition to, not instead of.

Just today, I was listening to one of my favorite teachers on my iPod while jogging.  This man is an excellent bible teacher and he loves Israel.  He and his church have given sacrificially to the body believers here.   In his message he referred to when Yeshua appeared to “Saul”… then adding that he used Saul and not Paul because that is what “his name was then.”  If someone so bright and anointed cam miss this simple point, how easy has it been for the enemy to rob Saul, the second greatest figure in the New Covenant, of his Jewish identity and thus confuse the nature of the New Covenant.

What’s the big deal?

Good question… for which there is an answer. The enemy has worked hard to blind the Jewish people to Yeshua. However, the ancient Church has helped by de-judiazing many of the central characters of the New Testament. Paul is not presented as Sha’ul, a learned rabbi who followed the Jewish Messiah, but as a former Jew who started a religion foreign to Judaism.

Certainly this was not the case in his mind as he states “For this reason therefore I have called for you…, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain” (Acts 28:20). In the mind of Sha’ul is not suffering for a new religion, but the hope of Israel.

Let’s expose this Identity Theft and present Yeshua to the Jewish people in His original Jewish/Hebraic context.

Footnote: The name Paulos in Greek means small or humble. If Paul did take on this name later in life, it would not been to separate himself from his Jewishness (See Acts 21:20ff, Acts 23:6), but more a nickname that may have been given to him to reflect his humility, as he calls himself the least of the apostles and even the worst of sinners. Of course, his embracing such a nickname would not have been so humble, so I  am inclined to believe that he did indeed have a Jewish name and a Greek name.

Can you think of some other ways in which the gospel has been cleansed of its Jewishness? Use the comments section below.

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I am not a mathematician, and don’t want to be. But let me ask you a question? What are the odds that Yeshua died on a Jewish holiday, rose on a Jewish holiday and birthed the New Testament congregation on a Jewish holiday?

Just so we are all clear as to what I am referring to:

  • Yeshua died on Passover. The very day when all Israel commemorates the first Passover, when they sacrificed an innocent lamb and took its blood and applied it to the doorpost of their homes.
  • He rose on the Feast of Firstfruits (Lev. 23:9ff).
  • And the Spirit of God was poured out in Jerusalem on the last day in which we count the Omer, the 49 between Firstfruits and Shavuot (What you may call Pentecost).

So, imagine that we took the 365 days that comprise a year and laid them out on a roulette wheel. Next we marked Passover, Firstfruits and Shavuot. The first ball you throw MUST land on Passover. The next, on Firstfruits. And the final ball must land on Shavuot.

One in Forty Eight Million

Okay, as I said, I am no mathematician or oddsmaker, but I think the chances of that happening 3 times in a row are 365 to the third degree. Or 1 in 48,627,125. In fact, the only way it could conceivably happen would be if someone were planning it. And of course, that is what I am maintaining—that God purposely had these events fall on Jewish feast days to emphasize to generations to come that  salvation is of the Jews.

Of course the Good News of Yeshua is for every nation, but God would have those nations remember their roots and honor their elder brother Israel, who for the most part, has fallen away. It was Jews like Simeon and Anna who interceded for the Messiah to come the first time and Jewish prophets who foretold His appearing. Now God is looking to the Church to pray for Romans 11:26 to come to pass—which says “all Israel shall be saved.”

Now, let’s take a deeper look at these days.

Yeshua died on Passover

The last supper was actually the last Seder (meal on the first night of Passover). In fact, the practice of communion, the drinking of wine and eating of bread, symbolizing the body and blood of Yeshua was instituted on Passover. It was during the Seder that He took the third cup of wine, the Cup of Redemption and instituted the tradition. While many churches use bread for this practice, there was a reason that Yeshua used Matzah, bread without leaven. Leaven symbolizes sin. Yeshua was pure, without sin and therefore Matzah would have been the only appropriate type of bread to use.

Yeshua rose from the dead on Bikurim, Firstfruits.

The Bible teaches that the first Sunday, after the first Shabbat, after Passover begins would be the feast of Firstfruits. It was a time to thank God for the firstfruits of the Harvest. This is why Paul referred to Yeshua as the “firstfruits from among the dead” (1 Cor. 5:20). How fitting that God choose this day of all days to bring forth the Messiah from the grave.

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the first Jewish believers happened on Shavuot

If you look at just about any English version of the New Testament it will tell you that this great event took place on the “day of Pentecost.” Pentecost is a Greek word that means fifty. Jews would count the days from First Fruits to Shavuot. Shavuot means weeks, as in seven weeks or forty-nine days. Most Christians when they read their Bibles have no idea that this was an ancient Jewish feast day.

How interesting that God chose three Jewish Feast days for the sacrificial death of His Son, the resurrection of His Son and the outpouring of His Spirit, thus birthing the first assembly of believers in the Messiah (Acts 2).

(Photo D.C. Atty)

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I received an email the other day in regards to our recent post Ten Jewish Facts About the New Testament. This person said:

“It is also a fact that Jesus is no longer Jewish. He has no nationality or ethnicity.”

While I thought fact was a strong word (Who am I to talk? I use proof in my title), I love to be challenged and he brought up an intriguing question: What does the Bible say about Yeshua’s ethnic identity post resurrection? My response to him was to ask for a Scripture reference for this fact. He kindly responded and I address his response at the end.

And to be clear, while I believe the Bible teaches that He is still a Jew[i], I don’t believe that being Jewish makes one better than another. God loves every child of His from every nation. There is no middle wall of partition (Eph. 2); any person from any place can come into the presence of God thanks to the sacrifice of Yeshua. Being Jewish is a calling (Rom. 11:29), not a sign of favoritism (Acts 10:34).

 Okay, here we go! 7 Proofs that Yeshua is still Jewish

1. This may be shocking, but from the Book of Revelation, not only does Yeshua keep His ethnicity in heaven, but we do too! When John was able to peek into eternity, he said:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice (Rev. 7:9)

This is not on earth, but in heaven. John is told that: “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple” (Rev. 7:15). And yet, John was able to make out their ethnic identity. Isn’t this exciting! God loves the nations. He has an eternal purpose for every country!—even in the age to come!

2. Post Resurrection, Yeshua is referred to as the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Root of David:

Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Rev. 5:5)

Both of these titles reference His earthly ancestry and ethnic identity. He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah—not was.

3. When Yeshua returns, He comes to fight on behalf of Israel.

Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as He fights on a day of battle. (Zech. 14:3)

4. His landing spot when He returns is the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem (not Vatican City!)

On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. (Zech. 14:4)

5. He sets up His Messianic Kingdom and His Throne in Jerusalem (not Rome!)

6. He oversees the Feast of Tabernacles—a feast given to Israel in the Torah.

Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. (Zech. 14:16)Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 4.29.35 PM

7. Who can think of a seventh proof? I hate to leave it at six… Oh, I just thought of another… He told His disciples:

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” (Luke 22:14-18)

Yeshua will again celebrate the Passover when “the kingdom of God comes.” While the kingdom did come in one manifestation while He lived on earth, Yeshua is pointing to a time after His resurrection—most likely to the Messianic Age/Millennial Kingdom after He returns.

The emailer sent me this in message to my request for Scriptural proof. My responses are below each point.

1. You don’t need a verse. Reason reveals it.

My Response: Considering the information I just provided, I think you do need Scriptural proof to make the claim that He is no longer a Jew.

2. But if you need one: Paul says we will be given a glorified body… a new body.

My Response: Indeed, and I can’t wait to get mine, but it doesn’t teach that we loose our ethnicity. Again, John sees a great multitude in heaven (people who have died) still identified by their earthly ethnicity. Of course that could be because they will receive their new bodies at His coming. But even in the age to come, there are countries and cities. (Zech. 14:16) The Nations come to the city Jerusalem.  Egypt is mentioned by name. And Yeshua, post resurrection, still had his same body. They were able to see His scars.

  •  On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Yeshua came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. (John 19:19-20)

3. Jesus was unrecognizable by Mary in the garden after the resurrection. Also the folks on the road to Emmaus did not recognize him.

My Response: This is not because he lost his Jewish features (his nose did not get smaller!). This is because he blinded them to His identity on the road to Emmaus. He was seeking to converse with them, but didn’t want them to know it was Him, as He unpacked the prophecies about the Messiah.

  •  …but they were kept from recognizing Him. (Luke 24:16)

In the case of Miriam (not Mary) … I mean, she thought he was the gardener! Does that sound like a glorified body? It was not that He was unrecognizable, but that she was distraught. As soon as He called her by name, “Miriam,” she cried out, “Rabbi!”

The disciples recognized Him immediately and He spent roughly 40 days with them and others.

There you have it—7 Proofs from the Bible that Yeshua is still Jewish. If you wish to add something, use the comments section below! Abundant blessings to you all!

 


[i] Technically the better word would be Hebrew, but the word Jewish, while referring to those of the tribe of Judah, has become synonymous with any son or daughter of Abraham, and that is how I use it. Even in the New Covenant, the word Jew is actually Judean, meaning, an Israelite living in Judea.

 

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a little disappointed

After reading Identity Theft, I was left a little disappointed, but ONLY because it was such a GREAT Read and I wanted MORE! I love the dialogue between David and the other Characters… I suppose I could use buzzwords like ‘transparent’ or ‘authentic’, which it was. But even more the dialogue was just REAL; it was like hanging out with a great friend.

Ron Cantor’s ability to take very intense Biblical theological concepts and break them down is extremely effective. And while this book is written in a fictional format, the foundational basis of Truth is unequivocally undeniable, even by the most ardent Theological scholars. I highly recommend this book …

Christine Walker
Congregational Leader/Author
Texoma Messianic Fellowship
Wichita Falls, TX

<<Start reading FREE here >>

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Where do I start…?

I am at a loss for words.

Okay… on Tuesday last week we received our first batch of copies of my book, Identity Theft. Just to explain, while we did have a publisher, it was the kind of publisher where you pay them to publish your book: they edit, create a nice book cover, typeset and do some light marketing, get it on Amazon, iBooks, etc. I felt we had a good enough book to attract a real publisher, but I knew that would delay the project at least a year…and patience isn’t my strongest virtue.

However, Wednesday night, 24 hours after opening the first case of books, Elana and I were sitting with our long-time friend Paul Wilbur. Paul gave away Elana at our wedding and has been a father figure to her since she became a believer in 1986. We were chatting when someone came into the room to remind Paul he had a meeting with Destiny Image Publishers, one of the larger Christian publishing houses in the U.S., the next morning.

My ears perked up and thought wouldn’t it be great if Paul mentioned my book to them. I asked him if he would and Elana suggested that Paul take a copy of Identity Theft for them. Now let me state here that it is very difficult to get published without:

    1. An agent,
    2. Having already been a published author,
    3. A book proposal.

And the fact that we already printed 700 copies is only further cause for a publisher to stay away. However….

Paul, who read Identity Theft and loved it, took them the copy, and gave it to their head of acquisitions. He then sent me this email:

I gave your book to the head of the acquisitions dept with a strong recommendation; she seemed genuinely interested and was intrigued by the title and cover! I think they will want to work with you. : )
Paul

I was pretty excited, but cautioned myself against getting overconfident. I didn’t want to be disappointed when they rejected it or stipulated that I had to commit to buying a ridiculous amount of copies. However, this woman actually came to Messiah College, where we were at the Messiah Conference with 41 Israelis, and found me (I still don’t know if that was the main reason that she came, or if she had other business there). By 6 p.m. they had offered me my first ever book deal. I thought something was up and asked, “To be clear—you are not asking me for money… or to guarantee that I will buy books?”

“No, Ron, we are taking this on as our project,” Ronda shared.

After some cordial negotiations, I signed the contract and sent it Monday morning. Today, I received it back, signed by Destiny Image!

I have been sitting on this news since July 5th, but didn’t want to share anything until I was holding that signed agreement… or at least looking at the PDF on my computer!

What is more, I received this note from Randy Pennington, my contact there:

Also I forgot to mention that Ronda’s husband started reading your book and he could not put it down. He said this book could be a New York Times best seller and was disappointed when she had to bring it into work. So I believe you are on the right track.

While I feel good about our book, that may be far-reaching, but still extremely encouraging!

Many of you have been right with me in prayer and encouragement over the past year as I was writing Identity Theft. I can’t thank you enough. What a journey… and it’s just beginning! Please pray with me for three things:

1. That God will use this book to bring Jewish people into the Kingdom of God.
2. That He will use it to open up the eyes of believers everywhere to Jewish Roots of Jesus and the greatest perpetration of Identity Theft in history.
3. And, that Jewish believers who believe receiving Yeshua would cut them off from Judaism would see things differently. Just today, during a radio interview with Dr. Michael Brown, a young Jewish believer, Erik, sent in a note saying that in his view, once he became a believer in the Jewish Messiah he became convinced he is no longer Jewish. Pray for Erik!

Together, we can see this book make a real difference!

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