Who rebuilt the middle wall of partition?

Introduction      put mouse over yellow text for more information.

We will deal with this subject under two headings. 1. Christian Responsibility     2. Rabbinic Responsibility
Both of these entities share in the responsibility of re-building of the separating wall between Jew and Gentile. (of the nations) Why is it there are so many issues between us? As Paul stated in Eph 2:14 "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us." Hence, there should be no dividing wall, but there is, because it has been rebuilt. It is the aim of this article to consider this point, and to take a look at how it happened. We need to understand why Christian and Jewish believers are at such odds, and also to look for possible ways forward, as it was clearly the will of Yahshua that the middle wall be broken down, and that believers in Yahweh/God should be one.

Christian responsibility

For many years after Yahshua/Jesus returned to His Father, leaving the holy Spirit to lead His followers into all truth, Joh 16:13 the Apostles and other Ministries worked together for the forwarding of, for the want of a better word, Christianity (the followers of Yahshua/Jesus). In the year 66 AD the Jews of Judea rebelled against their Roman masters, because the Roman procurator Gessius Florus seized silver from the temple. As the uproar against him grew, he sent troops into Jerusalem who massacred 3,600 citizens. Florus’s action touched off an explosive rebellion—the First Jewish Revolt—that had been sizzling for some time. Emperor Nero then sent Vespasian, a decorated general, to quell the Judean rebellion. Jerusalem was overthrown by the Romans in 70 AD, headed by Titus, the son of Vespasian, Emperor of Rome. The Disciples who had been warned by Yahshua/Jesus fled to the hills. Matt.24:1-8.and Luk 21:20-21 This fragmented the Congregation and although it brought about a wide sharing of the Gospel, as the believers were scattered to all surrounding areas, it also caused havoc among the believers. The Romans did not destroy the Church in AD70. Many survived and remained in the area, but others migrated and settled in many parts of the world, and became part of the Jewish 'diaspora.' How the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. affected the early Christian Church is dealt with fully in the following article by By J. Julius Scott, Jr. of Wheaton College Graduate School, Proceedings (Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society), Vol. 3 (1983).

The beginnings of the Roman/Catholic Church

We know that there was an early Congregation situated in Rome, as Paul himself visited there. He also wrote letters to the Romans, and had much to do with the development of the early Congregation. We read in Acts 21:28 that one day Paul was seen in Jerusalem with Trophimus, a Gentile from Ephesus, and so the rumor quickly spread that the apostle had taken “Greeks” into the temple and “defiled this holy place” (which was quite untrue) As this was considered to be a capital offense, before long, the city was aflame with the “lynch-him” mentality. Paul’s life was saved only when Roman officials intervened and took him to a place of safety. Eventually, under heavy guard (470 soldiers; Acts 23:23), the apostle was taken to Caesarea over on the coast, where he was confined in Herod’s palace. From there, on his request Act 25:11-12 he was sent to Rome, where, eventually he spent years under house arrest, Acts 28:30-31 where he constantly preached to the community and gained many disciples. After his death it appears that the Church continued to grow. The Roman Catholic Church, however it began, became centered in this very city. It became organized into an elaborate hierarchy with the Pope as the head in western Europe. By the end of the 2nd century, bishops began congregating in regional synods to resolve doctrinal and policy issues. By the 3rd century, the bishop of Rome began to act as a court of appeals for problems that other bishops could not resolve.
Christianity spread throughout the early Roman Empire, despite persecutions due to conflicts with the pagan state religion. In 313, the struggles of the Early Church were lessened by the legalisation of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine I. Scholars of the Catholic Church state that Peter the Apostle settled, and ministered in Rome before his death, and that he became the first Bishop of Rome, and that the papacy grew from there. However, there is no New Testament evidence, nor any historical proof of any kind, to even suggest his ever having been in Rome, and no Biblical proof whatsoever to substantiate this idea. During the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (AD 306–337), Christianity began to transition to the dominant religion of the Roman Empire, and eventually when Constantine became Emperor, Rome became the center of the Christian Church/Congregation. The mainstream Church was now Catholicism.
So, because of the development of Anti-Semitism from various sources, the early Sects and Constantine's influence, (see below) the Calendar, and Sabbath being changed, other issues began to develop such as the infiltration of pagan festivals which replaced the Biblical Feasts. The old Roman 'Saturnalia' and the Feast of Astarte, began to appear in the Church calendar, their names being changed consecutively to Christmas and Easter for obvious reasons. Saints days, Lent, and many other days and dates were soon observed and accepted as Christian Festivals and special days. Thus it began, more stones on the wall distancing the Jewish believers from those of the nations, that wall we began with re-appearing and becoming stronger over the generations.

Constantine's Influence

During the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (AD 306–337), Christianity began to transition to the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. ... Historians remain uncertain about Constantine's reasons for favoring Christianity, and His formal conversion in 312 is almost universally acknowledged among historians, despite that he was baptized only on his deathbed. His reasons for declaring his allegiance to the Christian faith are unclear, but in all probability it was to do with propaganda. In 325 he summoned the First Council of Nicaea, (Wik.) effectively the first Ecumenical Council (unless the Council of Jerusalem is so classified). The Council of Nicaea is the first major attempt by Christians to define orthodoxy for the whole Church. By this time the Christian Church now centered in Rome was withdrawing from everything Jewish. We have some excerpts of Constantine's decree as preserved by the early Church historian Eusebius. He wrote that it seemed "a most unworthy thing that we should follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this most holy solemnity... rejecting the practice of this people...let us then have nothing in common with the most hostile rabble of the Jews...let us withdraw ourselves, from that most odious fellowship." From this statement we are able to see that the early Marcionites (see below) had infiltrated the Church early in its development, and that Anti-Semitism was already rife. Constantine was so against the Jews and what they stood for that he changed both the Calendar and consequently changed the times of the Biblical Festivals. The Hebrew calendar, traditionally used by the believers is based on Biblical principles which can be dedused directly from scripture. Furthermore, Scripture also reveals that Yahweh assigned responsibility about the times of the Biblical Feasts and Festivals to an authoritative body, the priesthood, meaning the Jewish leaders, originally the Levitical Priesthood. (Lev.23) Rom 3:1-2 "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the Oracles of God." Emperor Constantine changed the Sabbath to Sunday, in the 4th century, and he forbade Jews and the Early Church from following the luni-solar calendar, which is Biblical, and forced them to observe a Solar-based calendar, or be subject to death. Constantine then, was one of the first 'culprits' to begin building that wall of division, which continued to develop over the centuries since, until now the wall is strong and impenetrable. It will take a move of Yahweh/God in His mercy to bring the Churches back to the original doctrines of the Apostles, if they are willing to let go of their well-loved traditions, and false teachings, and similarly it will take a move of Yahweh/God to bring the Jews back to the original Torah written in the Commandments, and if they too are willing to let go of their well-loved traditions, and man-made rules and regulations. Yahshua Himself broke down that wall of division on Calvary, and it is His will to have one people, completely united in Him. Eph 4:4-6 This will happen, it is His plan to bring 'all into one' and He will do it.

The Influence of Sects

Early documents suggest that the first Christian communities were troubled by the rise of false teachers. Paul himself warned the Church against them in his day. 1Ti 1:4, 19-20, 2Ti 3:8 These teachers, many of whom were influenced by false cults and idolatry were affecting the early believers. They had radically different interpretations of the meaning of Jesus' life and teachings. Because of this in the early centuries, there were many Christian groups and various councils were held to define unified beliefs.

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Some of the beliefs of these early sects have continued to influence the beliefs of Churches today, and we continue to grapple with them. They are a blight on the Christian faith. Some of these false teachings go all the way back to the Gnostics, - and so today, there are those who, against definite Biblical text fail to see that Yahshua/Jesus was present at Creation and that He in fact was the Creator Himself. "Col 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." Marcionites, And so today, the legacy from the Marcionites is, that Christians separate themselves from the very roots of their faith. They fail to see themselves as a part of the Hebraic Olive Tree. They have changed times, seasons, festivals, even the Sabbath Day, distancing themselves from the very root of the tree which they have been grafted into. Rom 11:17 "And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;" Ebionites. And so to those among the Christians today who are leaning very much to Jewish Law. They wear Jewish prayer shawls, tzit tzit, and conduct rituals such as formal prayers, washings, even circumcision, the Passover Seder, almost becoming Jewish, like the Ebionites of old. There are others who doubt the virgin birth, despite scriptural truths, Isa 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." and Mat 1:18 Sadly, some of these erroneous teachings which plagued the early disciples, have become part of the belief system of many believers today without them realising their source. These false teachings and incorrect interpretations of Yahweh's (God) Word and the changes Constantine and other later Roman leaders of the Church effected have created havoc with the interpretations of the purity of the Scriptures and overall beliefs accepted by the Congregations of today. Hence the need for the holy Spirit to 'lead us into all truth' and also the Ministries Eph 4:11-14 in the church to filter out heresy and wrong teachings and interpretations of the Scriptures.

Rabbinic responsibility
The Rabbinic System. When did this begin? What did it mean to Israel? What was/is it for? How did it affect the people of Israel, and how does it affect the Jewish people today? These are a few of the questions we need to address.

When did the Rabbinic System begin, and what went before?

When did the Rabbinic System begin? Rabbi is not an occupation found in the Hebrew Bible, and ancient generations did not employ related titles such as Rabban, Ribbi, or Rab to describe either the Babylonian sages or the sages in Israel. The titles "Rabban" and "Rabbi" are first mentioned in The Mishnah. The Mishnah is part of what is known as the Oral Law.
The term 'Rabbi' was first used for Rabban Gamaliel the elder, Rabban Simeon his son, and Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai, all of whom were patriarchs or presidents of the Sanhedrin in the first century. Over the centuries the role of the Rabbi in Jewish life has developed from purely teaching the Law, with religious supervision, into almost all elements of life. The Jewish community requires a number of religious institutions for daily life, including births, deaths, circumcision of infant boys, weddings, guidance etc. etc. and it falls to rabbis, with their knowledge of Jewish law, to supervise them to ensure they operate in accordance with that law.
The title "Rabbi" occurs in the books of Matthew, Mark, and John in the New Testament, where it is used in reference to "Scribes and Pharisees" as well as to Jesus/Yahshua. The Hebrew word "master" literally means "great one", and is the original Hebrew form of the title.

The form of the title in English and many other languages derives from the possessive form in Hebrew meaning "My Master," which is the way a student would address a master of Torah. Yahshua Himself was known by His followers and others, even the Jewish leaders themselves, as "Rabbi" which speaks for itself regarding the high respect they had for Him.
When Yahshua walked on the earth, there were Rabbi's who taught Torah, the first five books of the 24 books of the Hebrew scriptures, or the Pentateuch, which are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. The basic form of the rabbi developed in the Pharisaic and Talmudic era.

What went before the Rabbinic system? Israel, from the time of Moses was 'shepherded' by a system of Priests and Levites, who taught them and conducted the sacrificial system endemic to them as a race. Because of their lack of piety and the downright rebellion of their Kings and leaders, the country was split with two different Kings. Jeroboam and ten tribes lived in Samaria in the north, and Judah, Benjamin and the temple Levites lived in and around Jerusalem in the south with Rehoboam as their King.

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Yahweh being angry with them all, allowed first the Assyrians to invade the northern Kingdom and carried them away to Assyria, and they have yet to return! Later on the Babylonians invaded the south and carried Judah, Benjamin and the Levites to Babylon where they remained in exile for 70 years. They became indeed 'sheep without a shepherd.'

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The tribe of Judah, with Benjamin and Levites were carried away to Babylon. When they returned from exile in 539 BCE, Israel became a province of Persia under the priests. In 428 CE, Ezra brought the Torah from Babylon to Jerusalem, effectively marking the beginnings of modern Jewish religion. Ezra was a priest who reorganized the Israelite state politically, and organized the new religious system that included study of the Torah: he is known as the "Father of Judaism." Nehemiah, a court official in Persia, returned slightly later to rebuild the city walls and the temple in Jerusalem: this is the "Second Temple" in Jerusalem (the first temple was built by Solomon), so one speaks of "Second Temple Judaism."

What changes have the Rabbis brought? In the first Century when the Christians began to multiply, the Jewish community who did not embrace Yahshua as Messiah faced awesome difficulties. After the destruction of the temple, they floundered and there were fears that their whole existence was in jeopardy. Something had to be done, and it fell to the Rabbinic System to work quickly and with wisdom to handle the situation. Christianity, the first monotheistic 'religion' to appear on the earth after Judaism became a threat. Many of their own community had left the authority of the Rabbis to embrace leadership in "The Church."
How could they remain strong? how could they remain separate? Certain changes were adopted. Changes which enabled them to have a separate identity to this other monotheistic group. How did Christianity in the now Roman Church affect their belief system and their actions? Professor Israel Jacob Yuval of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has spent 20 years studying this very issue, "Did Rabbinic Judaism emerge out of Christianity?" and we include his lecture here. Incidentally, this lecture which is an illuminating and in-depth study was given in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University at the invitation of the Director of Judaical Studies. To get straight into the lecture, begin at 1:36:44 on the timeline.

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