Was Jesus Jewish?

Short answer: No

Long answer: we need to look back 2000 years and see what was happening in the first century of the Common Era. Prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, and the diaspora of traditional Hebrews from Jerusalem and Judea, all of the people in Galilee and Judea would have identified as the Hebrew people, including Jesus and his followers.

Why such hostility between traditional Hebrews who followed the ways of the Pharisees and those who followed Jesus? Well there were a few things:

  • The group that would become Christians (let’s call them ‘Proto-Christians’, but at the time they were known as “People of The Way” or “Christ followers”) were a missions focused group while traditional Hebrews were not. As a missions focused group they did spend time in worship, but they spent even more time talking about their new beliefs with anyone and everyone who would listen, making converts. This split families and caused hard feelings. Matthew 10:35 gives us a window on this.
  • When the Romans invaded a territory, they usually forced the people to follow the national cult. Romans believed in order for the empire to survive, all citizens had to participate in this cult. Hebrews refused, but an agreement was made allowing the Hebrews to worship their God at the Temple, in return for not publicly speaking or acting against the Emperor or Roman cult. Proto-Christians did not respect this agreement and spoke against both. This got them into trouble regularly with both the Roman authorities and the traditional Hebrew authorities, and since the Roman authorities couldn’t tell the difference between the two emerging religious groups, they came down hard on both. Somewhere around 49 CE they were both expelled from Rome. This is referenced by several Roman historians and Acts 18:2. Priscilla and Aquila were part of that expulsion.
  • And as mentioned in the video, when the revolt happened (Jewish-Roman war 66-73 CE), the Proto-Christians were not there to support those who rose up against the Romans. This wasn’t a conscious decision necessarily, it was more a matter of circumstance. By that time many Christians had already moved on in their mission work and were scattered around the Mediterranean. Scholars believe the Letter to the Hebrews is the last reference we have to the original community of Proto-Christians in Jerusalem.


CE or Common Era: also known as AD, or anno Domini (Latin; Year of the Lord). The switch to CE is in recognition that while Christians recognize Jesus’ birth as a game changer, other religious traditions do not

Supersessionism: the Christian doctrine that says the New Testament supersede or replaces the Old Testament, and that Christians replace Jews as the People of God

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