The Controversy of Messiah's Divinity
Updated: Jul 20, 2021
The gospel has come to us from the Jewish people. After his resurrection, Jesus told his disciples,
“This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Lk 24:46–47)
Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles was very keen to emphasize this when he described his ministry to the believers in Rome. He wrote, “So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Messiah.” (Ro 15:19) He also asked the believers in Corinth a very pointed question when he rebuked them, “Or did the word of God originate with you?” (1 Co 14:36) There is only one city that the word of God has originated from and that is Jerusalem.
The last verses in Luke say,
“Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the Temple, praising God.” (Lk 24:52–53)
Ten days later, the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples during their morning prayers at 9 am in the Holy Temple. What Luke describes in Acts chapter two was a completely Jewish event. Jews, proselytes and “God-fearers,” from all over the known world at that time, had gathered at the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Weeks, according to the commandment given to Israel through Moses. It was at the Temple in Jerusalem during one of the Feasts of the LORD that the Good News about salvation and forgiveness of sin through Messiah was preached for the first time.
It took several years before Gentiles began to join the Jewish Messianic movement. But then the gospel spread rapidly. Multitudes of Gentiles embraced faith in the promised Messiah of Israel. Paul explained the gospel that he preached among the Gentiles:
“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Messiah Jesus. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.” (Eph 3:6–7)
The Gentiles who embraced the gospel preached by the apostles became part of a Jewish movement that had started in Jerusalem.
In the second century, however, Jews and Gentiles began to go separate ways. Eventually Judaism and Christianity developed as two distinct and separate religions. Theologians talk about this separation as “the parting of the ways.” Gradually the Christian church began to reject everything that was viewed as Jewish.
Before “the parting of the ways,” Jude wrote in his epistle,
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” (Jude v. 3)
When Jude wrote these words, at least 30% of the Jews in Jerusalem believed in Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah (see Acts 21:20). The center of the faith that Jude is referring to was in the “mother community” in Jerusalem.
It is our prayer to see this original faith “that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” restored again in our days. The gospel will not only have its beginning, but also its glorious ending in Jerusalem. Only the original gospel preached in the book of Acts, in line with Moses and all the prophets, will usher in the return of Messiah and transform the world.
A Major Controversy
After the separation between Judaism and Christianity, the issue of the Messiah’s divinity eventually emerged as the main controversy between the two religions. The trinity doctrine developed in the church, whereas Judaism completely rejected the idea of a divine Messiah.
With the restoration of the Messianic Jewish movement in our days, this question has become a hotly debated issue. A few years ago, the magazine Israel Today interviewed twelve Messianic Jewish leaders in Israel, asking them if they believed that Yeshua is God. Out of these twelve Messianic leaders, five of them, more than 40%, rejected this fundamental Christian belief.
One of the most senior and respected Messianic theologians in Israel, stated categorically, “Anyone who wants to make Yeshua into God has lost his way on his journey of faith.” Another Messianic congregational leader stated, “The Trinity is completely pagan.” On the other hand, one of the interviewed Messianic leaders said, “Those who do not see Yeshua as God are, in my opinion, not people who truly believe in Jesus.” Officially, the Messianic Jewish movement in Israel has confirmed the traditional Christian belief in the divinity of Messiah.
My purpose in writing the book The Stumbling Stone is to help as many as possible by sharing from my own journey regarding this difficult and complex issue that most Christians take for granted and hardly even give a second thought.
The controversy in this subject eventually led me into an extended time of intense studies in the Word of God, asking him to reveal the truth to me. It is these truths that I share in this book. I invite you to prayerfully and carefully study this subject with me.
I have found that those who do not acknowledge the divinity of Yeshua usually base their opinions on one or more of the following assumptions:
The basic Jewish confession of faith, which Yeshua also confirmed, says that God is one, not three.
Numbers 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:29, say that God is not a man.
The Jewish people, who have given us the Scriptures, cannot be wrong regarding the nature of the Messiah.
The Trinity doctrine was invented by the Gentile church leadership that rejected everything Jewish. This means that they cannot be right.
In The Stumbling Stone, I want to share with you how God showed me that none of these arguments hold up against the testimony of the Scriptures regarding the divinity of the Messiah.
I am grateful for the encouragement that I have received from friends to publish this material in book form. Well-known Bible teacher and author, Francis Frangipane, wrote to me after he read part of the manuscript,
“This was excellent. Clear, concise, revelatory, without flaw, and a remarkable presentation of truth … I will say that your writing and revelation about the Son of God were among the most anointed and clearly written that I’ve ever read.”
I must add that my short book is certainly not an elaborate or scholarly explanation of the divinity of Messiah or the Trinity doctrine. I am simply sharing what God showed me from the Scriptures that helped me when I sought Him regarding this crucial issue.
Adapted from The Stumbling Stone: The Scriptural Testimony of the Divinity of Messiah (Ariel Media, 2017)