And when we came to Jerusalem, the brothers were pleased to see us. And on the day after, Shaul went with us to Yaakov,
and all the rulers of the Messianic community were present.
And when he had said how glad he was to see them, he gave them a detailed account of the things which God had done through his work among the Gentiles. And hearing it, they gave praise to God; and they said to him,
“You see, brother, what thousands there are among the Jews, who are believers in Yeshua as Messiah; and they all are zealous for the Torah”.
(Acts 21:17-20 CJB)

 This passage from Acts 21 is instructive to those of us building a Messianic Judaism for the future. This passage shows the model of the earliest followers of Yeshua and we should embrace their example and make it normative in our movement as it was normative in the early Messianic Judaism community.

When Paul (Shaul) came up to Jerusalem and was greeted by James (Yaakov) and the other leaders of the Messianic Judaism community what did they use as a demonstration to him of the miraculous work of God amongst the people of Israel that embraced Yeshua and their demonstration of faithfulness to Yeshua?

They with joy declared that there were thousands (actually the Greek word used is μυριάδες meaning myriads or tens of thousands) of Jews who were followers of Yeshua and they were all zealous for the Torah!  It was lives of covenant faithfulness, Torah living that was seen as the marker and greatest example of the lives of the early Jewish believers committed to Yeshua.

As is part and parcel of the Messianic hope, that being when Messiah comes there will be better Jews, Jews returned to and enlivened in Torah living, this was on display among the Messianic Jews in Jerusalem. The Messiah came, tens of thousands of Jews put their trust in him and became zealots for Torah observance and Jewish life.

Among the early Jewish believers they had tens of thousands of Torah faithful Yeshua followers to visibly demonstrate the good news that Messiah had come. But what about us?

Without myriads of Torah zealous Messianic Jews like the early followers of Yeshua, we have lost the most powerful demonstration of the reality of our living Messiah in our midst. The earliest Messianic Jews could point to myriads of Jews living Torah faithful lives since they encountered Yeshua.  We need to seek like the early Messianic Jews to ourselves be zealous for the Torah and seek to commend to other Jews in our movement the importance of ordering their lives according to Torah.

If we want to make Yeshua known as he truly is the Messiah of Israel, let us follow the model of the earliest followers of Yeshua and make Yeshua known by being Messianic Jews that are zealous for Torah and truly be living, breathing demonstrations of people and a movement following the Messiah of Israel by living Torah and thereby living lives that sanctify the Name of the God of Israel!


2 thoughts on “Acts 21 and The Model for Messianic Judaism

  1. correction: …the Torah observant community of followers of Yehoshua that we read about in Acts 21 lived in a Torah observant city. Note that the context to this narrative is to be found in Acts 20, however, and that the full significance of the testimony that is given in the statement, “You see, brother, what thousands there are among the Jews, who are believers in Yeshua as Messiah; and they all are zealous for the Torah”, is that it is given in a unity of praise for the great work of G-d that Sha’ul had being doing among the goyim. Only when we can return to and complete this unity will our purpose be accomplished.


  2. I can say nothing but amein to your call, (which is not your call but G-d’s), for greater Torah observance among Jewish believers in Yehoshua. We should remember that the Torah observant community of followers of Yehoshua that we read about in Acts 20 lived in a Torah observant city. Things are very different today. The challenging question of gentiles who follow Yehoshua in relation to the Torah is the same, however, now as it was then. If anything we have lost ground in our response to this challenge, in knowing and following G-d’s will in this matter.

    The greatest difference between now and then goes beyond all other issues. This is the difference that now (as opposed to then) there remains a great amount of work still be to be done to remove all influence of replacement theology, the great apostasy, the great falling away, from the understanding of the good news which is in the hearts and minds of all believers in Yehoshua the Mashiach. Until the good news is fully understood as The Good News of Israel and Her Messiah, lives cannot be fully transformed by the complete renewing of the mind and there cannot fully be unity of purpose between all Torah observant Jews and the harvest of the goyim cannot be brought in…


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