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Did the Jews reject Jesus?

Most modern Christ-followers mistakenly think that the New Testament states that the Jewish people rejected Jesus. Most, however, are not moved to anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism because of this, and are looking to the future when this unfortunate event will be reversed. But is their reading of the New Testament itself accurate?

The foundational proof text for the idea of the “Jews rejecting Jesus” comes from the traditional misreading of the Gospel of John, where in translation from the original Koine Judeo-Greek we read: “He came unto His own, but his own received him not.” (Jn. 1:11).

The standard interpretation equates “his own” with first-century people of the Jewish religion; thus making two basic interpretive mistakes. First, it ignores the grammar of the original – the first “own” is neuter (τὰ ἴδια), but second “own” is masculine (οἱ ἴδιοι). This indicates that at least the first “his own” cannot possibly refer to the Jews! The second mistake ignores the fact that the word (Ἰουδαῖοι) used in John’s Gospel, translated traditionally as “Jews” did not mean “people of the Jewish religion” as it does today. The primary meaning of this word was – “the leaders of the Judean region” or even “Judeans.”

The New Testament acknowledges that there was a veil placed upon Israel for the spiritual benefit of other nations (reminiscent of the veil that was once placed on Moses’ face!). But the New Testament never claims that “the Jews rejected Jesus.” In fact, the question the New Testament asks is quite different: “Did God reject His people?” To that question, the New Testament provides a very clear answer – absolutely not! (Romans 11:1)

This article originally appeared on Israel Study Center, April 20, 2017, and reposted with permission.

Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg
One of Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg's greatest passions is building of bridges of trust, respect and understanding between Christians and Jews, overcoming centuries of difficult, but almost always joined history. He strongly believes that both Hebrew Bible and the New Testament scriptures have much to teach both communities. Outside of his expertise in the ancient languages (Biblical Hebrew, Koine Greek, Syriac and Old Church Slovanic), he has a command of three other modern languages (English, Russian and Hebrew).

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