Ten ‘Jewish Facts’ You Need to Know About the New Testament

Ron Cantor —  August 15, 2012 —  Comments

As a new believer in Yeshua (Jesus), I assumed I was no longer Jewish—that believing in this Jewish man had nothing in common with Jewishness. However after reading the New Testament, I was shocked to find out that it was a Jewish book, telling a Jewish story in Israel about Jewish people. Check out these 10 facts:

1. Jesus’ actual name is Yeshua. Yeshua comes from the Hebrew noun Yeshu-á, which means salvation. When Joseph was visited by the Angel, he was told that he must give the child the name Yeshua, because He would be Yeshu-á for His people! (Matt. 1:21) You miss this powerful prophetic wordplay in Greek and English.

2. His mother’s name was not Mary or even Maria. She was not Catholic! Miriam is the same name as the sister of Moses. It is a Jewish name, and that was her name. She was an Israelite who lived long before the Vatican even existed.

3. John was not a Baptist. No disrespect to my Baptist friends, but John was the last and greatest of the Hebrew prophets like Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel. He prophesied the coming of the Jewish Messiah. He too was an Israelite calling the Jewish people to get ready for the appearance of the Lamb of God.

4. Baptism is not unique to the New Testament. Jews, believe it or not, used water immersion for centuries before John began to baptize his Jewish followers. One of the reasons they did not resist was because it was familiar to their culture. Next to the Temple, archaeologists have discovered more than 50 immersion tanks (Mikvot) that were for those coming to be ritually cleansed before making their sacrifice at the Temple.

5. Peter was not the first Pope! Peter, a Jew, was only the leader of the first Jewish believers for a few years. He turned over the reigns to Jacob (we will talk about him in a minute) the brother of Yeshua and began to travel, sharing the message of Salvation through Yeshua. There is zero evidence that Peter was the Bishop of Rome or that he passed down such a mantle to anyone else.  He was a Jewish fisherman who became one of the greatest communicators of Yeshua’s message of Salvation. He never stopped living as a Jew, and certainly never referred to himself as Catholic. Oh, and the Bible states very clearly that Peter had a mother-n-law, which would lead me to believe he had a wife, and for some strange reason, Catholic priests (including the Pope) are forbidden to wed.

6. James is not the name of the fellow who wrote the Book of James or who led the first Jewish believers in Acts 15. James would be a great name for a butler, or chauffeur or even a king…but not a Jew in the first century. His name was Jacob! The Latin for James and Jacob are very close and because of a linguistic confusion, James became the English for Ya’akov (Jacob) in the New Covenant.

7. Yeshua died on Passover, rose from the dead on the Jewish Feast of Firstfruits and the Holy Spirit was poured out on Jerusalem on the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot). These are three of the most significant days in history, and God caused each one of them to happen on the three most significant days to Jews during the spring of 30CE. It is as if God was saying, “Hey, don’t forget that this started with the Jews in Jerusalem!” And still, the Church sadly forgot.

8. Paul never changed his name. The Bible merely mentions the fact that Saul was also called Paul. (Acts 13:9) Like most Jews, he had a name that was common to the people where he lived (Roman Empire) and a Hebrew name. The idea that he got rid of his Jewish name is unbiblical and frankly ignorant. I too was given an English name when I born, Ron, and a Hebrew one, Chaim.

9. The entire New Testament was written by Jews. There is some controversy whether or not Luke was Jewish (I have heard strong arguments for both views), but every other writer was Jewish.


10. Communion was instituted at a Passover Seder. Yeshua picked up the Afikomen, a special piece of matzah (unleavened bread) used during the Passover Seder and he lifted the third cup of four that are blessed during the Passover meal, the Cup of Redemption, and asked that his Jewish disciples continue this Jewish tradition.

BONUS: All of the original followers of Yeshua were Jewish. And once Gentiles began to believe in Him, there were many that felt that in order for non-Jews to believe in the Jewish Messiah, they had to covert to Judaism first. In the end (Acts 15), it was decided that they didn’t need to. But never did it enter the mind of the Jewish followers of Yeshua that they were no longer Jewish!

If this article blessed you, then you will love my book Identity Theft. You can start reading here. 

Question: Do you think most Christians know this information? What about Jewish people?

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  1. raymond daniel howell says:

    Some churchs dont teach the Jewish root of chrisianity, and when someone shows them the Jewish Root of what they believe you will get a mixed response. But most are amazed at some of the things that is presented to them. Raymond Daniel Howell , and yes i have gentile name and a hebrew name as well.

  2. Michael says:

    Ron thank you so much for your continued sevice to Ha Shem, it blesses me every time I read your letters. This letter touches me even deeper because I too have lived with the dilema imposed on me by the Church and by the Jewish community. I am a Jew who beleives that Y’shua is Lord and by doing so I have become a child of the King. I have been told by both the Church and the Jewish community that I am no longer Jewish. The contrary is true, there is nothing more Jewish I can do than to beleive in Messiah Y’shua. This letter of ten facts will be sent on to my non-beleiving Jewish freinds. Once again thank you for all you do in the name of Messiah Y’shua.

    1. Ron Cantor says:

      Thanks for your note Michael! Bless you!

  3. Ken Tuck says:

    I was reading the blog and the list and about half way through I thought, “I have just read all this somewhere”. Then I realized it was from the book. I am glad you put all this in one place. I am going to print it and keep it in my bible for future reference.
    I have a question….In the book when communion was being discussed there is a comment that the bread was taken from a basket with three loaves and the middle loaf was taken. Any symbolism there? I immediately thought of the fact that Jesus was crucified between two other sinners. Is there any reason for pointing out that it was taken from the middle of the three?

    1. Ron Cantor says:

      Ken, that is a great question! First, don’t see loaves there, but matzah–unleavened bread. Today it is like a cracker, but back then it was most likely very flat bread w/out leaven. Second, Judaism teaches that the three matzahs are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Another Jewish tradition teaches that it is The Priests, the Levites and all Israel.

      However some Messianic Jews believe it was a Messianic tradition that was incorporated into the traditional Passover mead (seder) and represents the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

      I have never heard your insight, but who knows. He was was broken in between two others. I like it.

    2. JanRenae1968 says:

      I like your idea of printing and keeping this as a reference, Ken, I’m going to do the same.

  4. Mary S. says:

    Thank you so much for summarizing these important points!! I, too, will print these out and keep them in my Bible!! We have your book, IDENTITY THEFT, and really look forward to reading it!! Blessings and Shalom!

    1. Ron Cantor says:

      Bless you Mary! Or should I call you Miriam? 🙂 Enjoy the book!

  5. Beth says:

    Great post! I have read all these before through Michael Browns literature. It is something that needs to be taught for sure.

    However, at times, in your ministries, it seems as if you pay less attention to us gentiles. 🙂 I realize that this is what your ministry is for. I just think that somehow, someone needs to see the importance of the dividing wall being broken down.
    ….there is neither jew nor greek…..and somehow bring us all together. Gentile, Jew, Barbarian, Scythian…..you know, The body of Christ. (Messiah), the bride, the church.

    Not trying to be insulting in any way. Just an observation I’ve had. Love both you and Michael Brown’s Ministries! Good job on informing an ignorant church on the Jewishness of our faith.

    1. Ron Cantor says:

      Thank you Beth for your comment. Just to be clear, I have spent a good deal of time reaching the Gentiles. We have done mass evangelism campaigns in Nigeria and I am off to SIngapore in a month. In 93 we planted a church though a mission org in Tolghati Russia and the next year in Kirov, Russia. Dr. Brown is presently in India ministering. Having said that, the dividing wall was broken down by Yeshua 2,000 years ago, but that doesn’t mean that ministries can’t have a primary focus or that Jewish believers will not continue to live as Jews. For instance, I think you would agree that 99.9% of ministries over the past 2,000 years have largely ignored Israel and the Jewish people and the Church often persecuted the Jews. 1000s of Churches even today are anti-Israel. Is it really a bad thing if a few ministries focus on reaching Jewish people? Blessings…Ron

      1. Beth says:

        No, it certainly isn’t a bad thing. I really do think it’s a GOOD thing. I’m sorry if I made it sound otherwise.
        I didn’t realize all your in Nigeria and Singapore. So wonderful! Thank you for all you do.
        I guess what I was trying to say is I see that it still seems so divided. Messianic churches and the regular churches (for lack of a better way of saying it) I wish they could somehow come together more. At times I feel a bit left out of this wonderful new movement (Messianic). I am not Jewish, just plain American mix of gentile blood. 🙂
        I really hope I didn’t offend you, I didn’t mean it that way. I would be so uninformed of our Jewish roots and the terrible things things done by the church without ministries like yours.
        Just would like to see things the way they used to be….a couple of thousand years ago. Maybe in heaven!

      2. Ron Cantor says:

        Hi Beth, not offended at all, just wanted to be clear. Your kindness comes through in your writing. I do agree with you, but I think the onus is on the Gentiles more than the Jewish believers. After 1900 years of the Church telling Jews they cannot believe in their own Messiah without leaving Judaism, forced baptisms, inquisitions, etc,… it is the Gentile Church that needs to reach out to the Messianic jews.

        Having said that, there has been much progress in this. Coach McCartney began the practice of opening up every mass Promise Keepers event with a Messianic Rabbi praying and the blasting of the shofar. And to be clear, as a Messianic Jew, we invite non-Jews to join with us as we serve the Jewish Messiah. I know that there are some who may look down on non-Jews, but that a small minority of weak-minded people. God loves the nations and so do i!

  6. Annie Blair says:

    Hey Brother Chiam! There is even more about John the “Baptist” that makes the Jewish connection- when he baptized Jeshua, he fulfilled the OT mandates of passing the mantle. Since his dad was served in the royal Preisthood, John was officiating the baptism in a spiritually “legal” capacity, so to speak. Not just anyone Baptized Jeshua, but the one that G-d had chosen to do so because of his scripturally legal right to do so. Blessings, and thanks for this.

  7. I knew Yeshua was Jesus’ Hebrew name (and that it means Salvation), but I did not know Miriam and Jacob, so thanks for that. Also, I knew about the Passover and the Feast of Weeks, but did not realize he rose on the feast of the first-fruits, so that is interesting as well. And I do not know where you got the idea that many Christians do not know the Jewishness of the early Christians and all that because I have always studied the NT in light of the Jewish context (or tried to at least) and that is how I have heard things taught throughout the churches of Christ. And it is a shame what the Catholic church has done to make Christianity so foreign to the early church what with the papacy and all the other things you mentioned.

    And just as an aside: Mary is a highly Catholic name because many Catholics want to name themselves after the Greek form of her name and John is called the Baptist because he baptized and not because of his church affiliation. I am sure you already knew that, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

  8. Susan says:

    Catholic priests continued to be married, if they choose, well into the 9th century.
    Also, almost all denominations modify names. Practices can vary depending
    upon country or culture. The basics remain.

    1. Ron Cantor says:

      Interesting about priests. However, you may have missed my main point here, which is that the gospel has been stripped of its Jewishness, so when it is presented to Jewish people in its current context, it is presented as something foreign, when in fact, it from the same root. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Kristina says:

    I have a question regarding communion. How do Messianic Jews celebrate communion? I have been attending a messianic congregation for the past few months with my husband and I have not witnessed them celebrating communion. I was told by my mother-in-law that communion is only celebrated at Passover at the congregation I attend. Therefore, they do not regularly administer communion. I am not familiar with this approach to communion. I grew up Catholic and later attended a Assemblies of God church were communion is administered once a month. Is each messianic congregation unique in the way its celebrated? Do all messianic congregations celebrate communion once a year? Can you please give me some insight on this. Thanks!

  10. This is a good information, I wish this can be available in Spanish, since i have lots of Catholics people that they need to know the true.

    Very important information to know. God bless you.

  11. Susanne says:

    I have been blessed to have really good teachers over the years and so have heard most of what is in your article but did get a new point of view from explanations in bullet points 6, 8, 10. Looking forward to reading your book on Kindle when it becomes available there. Continually praying for you, your family and ministry.

  12. bryan says:

    Hi Ron. I look forward to your book coming out in South Africa. By the way… the Afrikaans New Testament has the Book of James as “Jakobus” 🙂 The Old Testament numbering of verses in the Afrikaans version uses the same as the Hebrew, although has the Books ordered as in the English version. I think some Afrikaans translators must have been wearing there yarmulkahs when they were at work 😉

    1. Ron Cantor says:

      Jakobus is close to the correct latin, Icobus… i think

  13. Ted Quinn says:

    Thanks Ron, Your mission is an awesome one with incredible challenges. Thank Our good Lord Jesus for persons like yourself and those who work with you. I net you at pastor Ed Crenshaw’s home church, Victory Christian Fellowship and enjoyed your message . I grew up in west Philly around the corner from Beth Yeshua (you know it). I have seen the persecution you suffer from many. Your work is important. Keep up the good work of Yeshua! I am praying for you! I’ll be ordering your books too. God bless you all.

  14. sheenacastro . says:

    And who told you that Mary is a Catholic? Early Christians, to distinguished themselves from the other Christians like the Orthodox, called themselves Catholics which means Universal. Peter came to Rome, because of that he became the first Pope.

  15. A Wild Olive Branch says:

    Excellent post. As Paul states in Romans, the new believers are a wild olive grafted into the Jewish stump. Scriptures to the early 1st century believers was the Old Testament (Septuagint)!

  16. Melbajane says:

    You’re absolutely correct about all of the above issues. But your anti-Roman Catholic bias casts shadows on the light of the truth of what was said. God is love and God is light and in Him there is no darkness. Please re-read your eleven statements as if you were a Roman Catholic and you’ll see what I mean. You reach people with truth and love.

  17. Janet Weinberg says:

    What you fail to mention is that all the people that accepted Jesus and the Christian faith were Jews. Jews were the only One God people from Moses down. You can make any changes in names but it does not change the scripture. There would be no Christianity if not Judaism. God made the Law and Covenant with the Hebrews. Jews. He makes it clear He was the only God. If there were no more Jews honoring that Covenant Christianity would no longer exists either. Jews do not attempt to attract converts in any way. It must be a natural attraction by non Jews and it can take several years with a Rabbi to convert. I don’t mind when Jews convert to Christianity but I wish it was not with trickery and claims Jewish traditions and rituals are acceptable as Christians. You wouldn’t get them otherwise. Do you truly believe God approves? You scare then with damnation because they don’t accept Jesus as devine. You pray to God for all peoples of the world yet His very people you deny Him? Finally why is it so important to convert Jews? Why can you only have a practicing faith without Jews? You certainly aren’t after Hindu, Moslam, etc. God has brought the Jews back from extinction numerous times through the centuries because of His Covenant with Jews that cling to Him alone. Maybe you should study that repeated many times in the Old Testament as you call it and rethink everything.

    1. Granny Anne says:

      Hebrews 1:11 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
      God chose Nation of Israel was to be a beacon of light in the world, not for themselves only but to show God through!
      Spiritually as believers in Christ Jesus…we are ALL one..in Him ” the bride the Church”
      In the flesh we are Jew and Gentile each Nation, Russia, America Africa Britain..
      As believers ALL are commissioned to preach the Gospel to “every nation’
      For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life..

  18. Peter Behn says:

    Sadly, Replacement Theology has long roots. They cannot distinguish between a Covenant and an inheritance. One precious gem is found in Esther 2:1; “remembered” this has theological meaning, Vashti will be restored, for now like Cain Isreal is set aside and cast into Diaspora, but wait! She will be restored as the anti-type of Joseph restoring his brothers. God bless you for your work.

  19. JanRenae1968 says:

    Great article, Ron, I knew most of this from you, and other sources already, but not the part about Luke being possibly a Jew. I have been taught that he was a Gentile convert to Judaism before Yeshua came, interesting.

    1. Ron Cantor says:

      The smartest people I know believe he was not Jewish, but there is evidence that he may have been. When Paul is accused of bringing a Gentile into the Temple his accusers point to Trophimus (acts 21:29) but make no issue of Luke being with him. It is not a point worth arguing about, but it is interesting to study.

  20. UnlockingTheTruth says:

    As I was reading this article, I began thinking to myself “Is this guy being sarcastic, trying to be funny or what?” Then at the end I saw your question, “Do you think most Christians know this information?” I am sure there are plenty of ‘nominal Christians’ who believe some or all of this stuff or perhaps don’t care about the answers. However, the thought of Christians (who truly read, study & follow The Word) actually believing that Mary/Miriam was Catholic or John was an actual Baptist (as in denomination) or that Peter was an ACTUAL Pope (and on & on) literally exasperates me! It sickens & saddens me to think that there are actually “Christians” that believe these ridiculous assumptions!

    1. Ron Cantor says:

      Not just Christians, but unbelievers. As an unbelieving Jew I would have assumed that John was a Baptist (as in denomination), as opposed to a jewish prophet. I def. would didn’t know Paul was a learned rabbi or even Jewish. And that is my heart–presenting the gospel to Jewish people in it’s original Jewish context.

  21. maria says:

    All makes sense, Jewish people never changed. Gentiles believed but didn’t have to practice the customs.

  22. Blessed in Him says:

    I didn’t know James was actually Jacob (#6) and I thought Paul’s name was actually Shaul. Other than that I knew the rest because I worship a Jew! The church did not forget about those three feasts, they buried the information on purpose in an effort to replace Yisrael with themselves. So much of the buried information is coming to light once again and I’m thrilled about it! When Yeshua returns to reign there will be no Easter or Christmas and Rosh Hashanah will be the only time a New year is celebrated! Halloween, the Devils day, will have no place in His Kingdom and one will become a saint when they believe on Yeshua, not when a bunch of old sinners who know not The Lord say so.

  23. Jarred D says:


    I agree with most that you have mentioned here, but I would ask about number 10. You state in number 7 that Yeshua was the Passover sacrifice, which indeed he was. Then in number 10 you state He was participating in a seder? Where is the evidence that this was actually a seder? How do you know He was doing the 3rd cup?

    He could not both partake of the Passover and BE the Passover. Does it not make more sense that the “Last Supper” was a meal? Yes, the room was to be prepared for Passover, but preparing it is not the same as partaking of it. Passover can take place twice correct? Once at the appointed time, then allowed a second time the following month for those who could not make the first because of travel. There is nothing to state Yeshua was partaking of and being the Passover, it would be one or the other.

    This document makes more sense to me on this topic.


  24. Nhlanhla Mthembu says:

    Interesting never knew Jesus’ Jewishness was in dispute. I love hearing hearing the Word from the Hebrews

  25. איכר ג׳ורג ווייטהמאייר says:

    Well worth reading. I appreciate to openness of your comments. I want to bring Mashiach to Jews in my area.

  26. Scott Crocker says:

    I believe most of us (including Baptists) know
    ‘John was not a Baptist’ ..

    As far as I know, Baptists do not claim to have
    been directly linked to John ..

    This is very different from the Catholics, who, as
    you mentioned, claim to be of direct lineage to
    Peter etc..

  27. Charles Nankin says:

    “Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised.” (Galatians2:7-8) i.e. definitely not to the Gentiles in Rome!!! (I live in Brazil so I am acutely aware of the staying power of this story (and people here definitely don’t think of him as a Jew)).

  28. Jon Xavier says:

    Kind of a silly article. The whole name thing is irrelevant as such is the nature of language and the New Testament was written in Greek. So is the absurd emphasis on Jewishness. Thus, here’s a fact for you to munch on: Abraham was not a Jew, but a Gentile. And God’s purposes clearly reached back long before (before creation ordaining Gentiles to salvation as well as a lesser number of Jews) and now long past and WAY beyond ethnic Israel. In fact, Judaism has always been fairly irrelevant on a global scale, the backwaters of great empires Indeed, no one much would’ve even heard of Judaism’s central figures and stories apart from the gentile church. Also, it seems that you didn’t know that baptism was not unique to Judaism either, or even circumcison for that matter. Remember the Egyptians? Yeah, you can try to lock Communion into the Seder but it was clearly differentiated from the beginning and partaken of by gentiles who were “not under Law but Grace.”

  29. Alice G. says:

    I think we Gentiles (GER) called Strangers or Foreigners in the Bible, Must be grafted into the olive tree. From what I understand, there is no New Covenant for The Gentiles unless as a gentile, you get grafted into the olive tree. Num 15:15 “One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the stranger (GER) who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as YOU ARE(ISRAEL), so shall THE STRANGER( Gentiles) BE BEFORE THE LORD. One Law And One Custom Shall Be For You AND The Stranger who Dwells With You.” see also v.30

  30. ddd says:

    This sucks.

  31. M Anonymous says:

    Dear Ron,

    Please be patient with me. This is the first time I’ve ever “commented” despite over 20 years on the www, and I’m actually shaking.

    I really enjoyed reading about the Feast of Firstfruits and the Festival of Weeks (Shavuot)–a lot, so thank you. I’m pretty sure that’s why the Church calls Christ the “Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”, so I learned something! I am pretty sure I am not the right person to say anything, but no one else said it, so… I think you may be headed smack in the wrong direction! Oh, dear! Sorry, that came out wrong.

    What I mean is that the Church teaches us that all the travails of the Jewish people and their astounding faith and history prefigured the fulfillment, Christ. So you should be as amazed as I am, not only by the centuries of dogged and holy faith of the Jews, but also by the brilliance of God, using each Jewish tradition to preach to the Jews concerning Christ and His death and resurrection before he was born! For example, the bronze serpent of Moses prefiguring Christ lifted up on the Cross, manna prefiguring the Eucharist, the sojourning Abraham in his tent, and the forty years of Israel in the desert prefiguring Christians living on earth as aliens, citizens of Heaven in an alien land (my sci-fi son loves that!) It’s like all the festivals and traditions kind of set the stage, so the Jews wouldn’t miss the opportunity to identify Christ when He came… Passover prefigures Christ’s Passover, and so on. As John the Baptist is the returning Elijah, Christ is the New Adam, and Miriam the New Eve, overturning disobedience and its penalty, death.

    I guess what I’m ALSO trying to say is that the New Testament was born by the travails of the Church, and was meant to be interpreted ONLY in the context of the God’s Church, just like the Torah was meant to be interpreted solely in the context of the Jewish Faith in God. Even you have to admit a non-Jew can get some pretty hairy ideas about God reading the Old Testament out of context, and the New Testament is the same.

    I remember talking with a priest, who said if way steer someone wrong, their subsequent sins may count towards YOU at the Last Judgement, which is an excellent reason I ought to duct tape my mouth (keyboard) shut. Therefore, my recommendation to you is to seek with great thirst the writings of the early Church fathers. Among other things, you, with a Jewish background, will get a lot more out of their deep discourse about God than I, without one, will even know is present. Plus, it’s much safer for you than just taking my word for it. Start with the Three Hierarchs, St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Gregory the Theologian. Also look into St. Athanasius the Great. Look for the writings of the folks God Himself definitively pointed to. A good starting source for online ancient writings is http://www.goarch.com.

    Also, the definitive book on Miriam and her life, as told by the preserved traditions of the Church, is The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, (look for the red book with the gold cover). I think will you be surprised and pleased with the contents!

    Also, word to the wise, stay away from the seductive gnostics and their ilk. The devil was active then, too; and during the first centuries of the church, the harried Apostles and their followers battling gnosticism. “Age don’t mean wisdom!” Best way to hide Christ is make a bunch of knock-off religions, so those merely lukewarm are confused as to the true one.

    All the best! M.

  32. j fitz says:

    Shalom…Love when Jewish people see the light of Yeshua. Please continue to sway your Jewish brothers and sisters, I am a Catholic and respect your efforts.
    When I talk with my Jewish friends i find 2 common threads. They seem threatened by Jesus somehow taking away their culture…
    2ndly…uninformed. With many discussions I have had with my Jewish people ,
    many have shown a surface understanding of the Torahs, and very little or no understanding of the Gospels and the Jewish roots. The birth of Christianity
    and this miraculous spread of the Messiah and His teachings were accomplished
    through Jews…Jews need to understand the fundamentals and revisit early scripture and prophesy