The Jewish Gospel of John, a book review

August 16, 2016

I finished a book worthy to read: “The Jewish Gospel of John, Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel”, by Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, 2015. Recommended for all those who are seeking to fit the message and the purpose of the Gospel of John in its right context. (More info on his website: http://jewishgospelofjohn.com)jewishgospelofjohn

Eli has done a great job with writing this book. He understands Judaism, historic circumstances of the time of Jesus and Christianity.

The Gospel of John usually turns out to be an anti-semitic book, or at least containing anti-judaism. However, this is not the case.

Eli shows us a thoroughly thought through and a brilliant designed message composed by John to his own Jewish people. It is written in Greek, probably to the exiled Jews, with some distance to the subject as a writer can do.

From the beginning of the gospel John shaped a message as sharp as it could be for the Jews (and all who accepted the gospel too) showing that Jesus is the Messiah and King of Israel. And that there is no place in-between, one has to hear the voice of Jesus and accept his Messiah-ship. And to accept is to accept the whole package, also that Jesus is God Himself revealed as such. Jesus is even more than a “son of God”. He is also more than just a “God”, as that could be referring to a king. He is the Lord God and the holy Word being flesh on earth. The only One God has come among us.

One of the great questions of the book of John is what is meant by “the Jews”, in Greek: Ioudaioi. The answer of Eli is the Judeans opposed to the northern Israel, the Samaritans. So there is a difference between Jewish groups.

The Judean leadership is the contemporary authority representing the Jewish people. Those are representing the evil shepherds (Ezekiel) and now the “Son of Man” has come (Daniel) to re-establish the true faith. “It is Jesus who has come as the covenant prosecutor to press charges against the evil shepherds of Israel.” (page xv) Eli walks through the whole gospel to show this. It is one story with one goal: that Jesus is the King of all Israel. Not only the ‘Ioudaioi’ but also the 10 tribes and all who are in exile. Maybe especially written for those who are in exile, because of the Greek language. It is at least written for those who understand Judaism. This becomes also clear in this book. Probably John went on to reach “Israel” abroad since the Jerusalem Jews did not accept Jesus.

John deals with the fact that the Ioudaioi did not accept their Messiah at that time. He wants to persuade them and other Jews. He certainly does not rule out his brothers. He rules out evil do-ers as the ancient prophets did. It is not against a person or a Jew, it is about the attitude of the very heart. They did not understand, and a conflict about the authority of Jesus was inevitably the result.

Jesus has the ultimate authority and that is the mean problem of the Ioudaioi, the Judean leadership. “There was no place for them and Jesus together. Either they would remain in power, or he would replace them.” (page 126) Several times Jesus “as a matter of principle did not respond to their requests to submit to their authority.” (page 78)

At the difficult passage of John 6 about the bread and wine, Eli points to “an interpretive error to read this passage in the context of a religious polemic of a “Christian Jesus” and “Jewish Jews.” It should rather be read in the original context of an intra-Israelite polemic.” (page 99) He also argues that the passage is “referring to national salvation and not simply to individual salvific experience.” (page 107)

It is good to read that “As was customary for Jesus, he didn’t argue with the Ioudaioi about the legitimacy of the Torah of Moses. After all, the Torah of Moses was Jesus’ Torah. He only argued with them about its interpretation.” (page 125) As Eli says, this gospel contains high Christology. And the reader must be quite familiar with the very concepts of the Torah to understand the bread and wine typology, because it is deeply rooted in the Torah. And one who did not understand (like the church departed from Judaism and purposely opposed to it) likely concludes that Judaism at all is abandoned by Jesus by reading this chapter.

Eli also is familiar with the Protestant concept of belief. On page 100 and 101 he gives a nice explanation of the difference of the Jewish 1st century view and the Protestant 16th century view.

You have to read the book, but I’ll briefly give something here. John 6:28-29 states: “Then they said to him, “what must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

Then Eli says about verse 29: “Viewed through the lenses of the 16th century Catholic-Protestant debate this means ‘By what works of ours can we be saved from God’s wrath?”

Then he gives the original view: “How can we be faithful to the Covenant God of Israel?” And hence the answer is: “You can be faithful to the Covenant God of Israel only by believing in his authorized representative (Jesus vs. Ioudaioi).”

Then Jesus gives the answer through the bread typology. Eli: “First he will argue that the Ioudaioi do not understand the basic facts of the Torah they claim as their own. It was not Moses who gave bread to the people, but Moses’ God. Secondly, the manna God gave the ancient Israelites through Moses was but a picture of the true sustenance for the human soul: the incarnate, crucified and finally resurrected Logos of Moses’ God. Jesus called the manna simply ‘the bread of God’. As we reread and reconsider John 6:28-31 inasmuch as we are able within the context of intra-Israelite polemic of the first century, we must be disciplined and adjust theories to fit the facts, not the facts to our theories. If we learn to live with this methodology, our interpretations will be far more accurate.” (page 103)

I would like to finish with a remark of Eli when the Jews (Ioudaioi) reject Jesus and choose Barabbas (meaning Son of the Father), in this chapter 19 he comments: “Yet Jesus is the King of the Ioudaioi in spite of their rejection of him. This is the tension of the entire Gospel.” (page 260)

Recommended!

Time for the Messiah

August 13, 2015

The Dutch poet Willem Bilderdijk said it already in the year 1830 or so: First there will be a time that all powers will cease, then it’s time for the Messiah.

I came across this book, The End of Power, the favorite book of 2015 of Mark Zuckerberg. Overlooking the subjects I remembered the words of Bilderdijk. I often remember that words. There’s something true about it.waning

When the Twin Towers collapsed I thought this will be the last great power that will cease: the power of money. And it was and is ceasing. It is not the economic power what will rule anymore. Other problems are rising and states are drawn to adjust the value of money to keep the economic engine work. And to keep people binded to work. Something like modern slavery; uphold some debt in order to keep people in business and playing with desires. It’s not the money that rules.

We all are drawn back to our very selves. We got the choice. It’s time for the Messiah. It’s time for teshuvah. It’s time to choose the King.

Melchizedek, the mystical figure

April 8, 2015

Melchizedek is a king and priest who lived in the time of Abraham. There’s only one reference to him in the bible, or better to say in the Torah: Gen 14:18-20. Psalm 110 afterwards refered to it, with great additional meaning. And last the writer of the letter to the Hebrews has a great deal on it.

Several Jewish traditions bring him as a mystical figure. Nowadays the most common Jewish view is that he is a descendant of Sem. (b. Ned. 32b, Num. rab. 4.8, Pirqe R. El. 27:34) But this probably is a polymic against the Christian meaning. Based on the letter to the Hebrews, the Christian meaning is that Melchizedek is a mystical figure. This fits with a Jewish tradition given in the Dead Sea Scrolls, 11QMelch 2.6, where he becomes a superhuman figure who executes divine judgement. Others also spoke about the special status of priest-king, like: Philo, Migr.235, Leg. all. 3.79-82, Josephus, Ant. 1.177-82.malki-tzed-mash

What can we say from Melchizedek? In scripture we have Genesis 14, Psalm 110 and Hebrews 7. Given the authority of the writer of Hebrews, we can read through the glasses of Hebrews and see psalm 110 and Genesis 14. Such a view gives clearly a mystical Melchizedek.

“Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God” (He.7:3) And most important is the superiority of “the order of Melchizedek”, explicitly given by psalm 110: “The LORD says to my [David’s] Lord: … You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

The writer of Hebrews compares not only Jesus to Melchizedek, but actually states that Melchizedek is “priest forever”, (He.7:3) and Jesus is “priest forever.” (He.7:21/Ps.110) Given that we can deduce that those two are the same.

It is not the only place in the Tenach that the eternal Son of God, the Messiah and highest Priest, appears to mankind before the birth of Christ. Several instances points us to The Angel of God, where this can be understood as the Son of God. But, as far as I know, it always are angels, not human beings. Here however, it is highly doubtable that Melchizedek is an angel. Because he is a priest. Besides that we don’t read about angels as being a real king with a real name.

Was Melchizedek an early incarnation of the Son of God? Or an angel though? Such questions can remain. I don’t know. For sure there are many things we don’t understand. For me this is one of them.

It is quite clear however, that the idea of the writer of Hebrews is not restricted to the situation that the Son of God exists only afterwards His birth from Maria. Melchizedek “resembled the Son of God”. (He.7:3)

We often think that we can see the Lord Jesus. But He is far more than what we can grasp! His name is also called Wonderful/Miraculous. (Is.9:5) Do we understand?

Make yourself up, be happy, we live in an amazing time!

February 12, 2015

It is true, it looks like everything is going to be bad. The righteous man are wiped off the earth and the wicked rule. How can we be happy? We feel like we are ‘on the rivers of Babylon’. True christians are starving along with faithful Jews in this devastating times for us. It seems like there is no future. But the opposite is true. There is future, certainly, the best you can think of! Let your complains behind and open your eyes!

  • for thousands of years Israel was exiled, now they are back in their land
  • God is restoring Israel because of his covenant made up with them
  • There are also many prayers from martyrs for the Christian community, God will restore them too.
  • Although great wars happened, Israel prospers
  • Although Israel is in trouble right now, God is going to deliver them
  • I seems like War, but we are heading Peace!
  • Because no Obama, Putin, or ISIS prevails, but the True King has prevailed and will show Himself King soon
  • There will come a time of peace, like thousands years.
  • Where’s the dead? Children of God will live!
  • No nuclear disaster, no Islam, even no Christianity or Judaism, but there will be One Name we will serve.

The Great Day where so many prophets and disciples spoke about, will come! Thrust Him Who has all the power and is already King over the world. He will comfort those who abide Him! HalleluJah!

Shalom!

Erasing Israel

January 7, 2015

A newsletter from Aish.com reached me and catched my attention. Can prophecy be fulfilled in this way of wiping away Israel? Read this headlines:israel-645x250

  • HarperCollins’ map omitted Israel
  • Palestinian Authority: Denying the Jewish Temple
  • Throwing Away Jewish History
  • Israel-Free Textbooks
  • Erasing “Israeli”
  • Boycotting the Jewish state

It looks like ridicules, but it happens. Millions of people are willing to believe this nonsens. Like Israel never existed! How can it be… sigh.

But prophecy gives us hope. If this is the fulfilment of destroying Israel, then better times are right ahead of us. They shall not overcome! Israel will prosper and its boundaries will be set well. Moreover, all peoples will seek them to visit Israel, Jerusalem and its temple!

Shalom Israel! May HaSjem comfort you soon!

What means Edom

January 7, 2015

I had an interesting conversation with a Rabbi about the use of the name Edom in the Bible.

James the Apostle quotes the prophecy of Amos 9:12 in Acts 15. He (or the writer of acts) cites literally from the Septuaginta. This text has ‘mankind’ instead of Edom. So my question was why the translators of the Septuaginta used mankind. Or put simply, how do we have to read Edom throughout the bible.

James lived in Israel under the Roman empire. We can easily understand that they used Edom used for the nations, other than the Jews. Because ‘all’ nations were under the Roman empire that time. We only have to suppose that Edom was a term used to describe Rome. Then Edom means the nations, the Gentiles, mankind.

But what about the broader picture of the use of Edom in the Bible? Does it support reading ‘mankind’ for it? We can go back to the very first existence of ‘Edom’. That is in the womb of Rebecca. There it states that there are two nations. In fight with each other. (Esau is called Edom, Gen.25:30) This is in line with the explanation of James. James points to the Messianic era where peace will reign between those two rebelling nations. Thus does he explains Amos 9.

The word Edom means red. It relates to Adam. Here the two nations (Israel and the nations) sprung from Adam. It began from the creation of mankind from the dust of the earth. They parted into rebelling nations. But they will end together in the Messianic era.Verenigde_Naties

Then it will be like James Amos 9:12 told the disciples: “After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things.” (Acts 15:16)

They saw the beginning. Hopefully, we will see the fulfilment.

The Pope is not the antichrist (anymore)

December 2, 2014

While I was written to a considerable extend at my Dutch blog that the Pope was the antichrist in the time of the Reformation, now I can proof that he personally is not an antichrist anymore as it was in those early days. Times are changed, fortunately. He says: “Anti-Semitism is a sin, and you cannot be a true Christian without recognizing your Jewish roots.” I wish that every Protestant pastor would say that too.

The Pope doesn’t have dominion over Europe and the world anymore. His empire has gone. His (theological) power has gone. This is all over, we clearly live in other times now. Protestants interpreted prophecy, especially from the book Revelation, in a manner which is called Historicism. Although, unto the 19e century. I wrote earlier about it here. They called the Pope the antichrist, what is understandable . Now our enemy is not the Pope, but the devil himself going around like a roaring lion. Misleading the nations. Hopefully Israel and its God will soon lead the nations.

I read this encouraging words in an article from the Israely newspaper Yediot Ahronot.

The Pope and the Vatican

Yediot Ahronot, November 28, 2014

For this six-page article, Henrike Zimmerman interviewed Pope Francis at the Vatican. This is the first personal interview the pope has given to an Israeli newspaper. Pope Francis described his battle to halt the Islamic caliphate, and how there are more Christian martyrs today than in the early centuries of the church. He spoke against the violence in Jerusalem and called on all sides to act for peace, saying, “Building peace is hard, but living without peace is a nightmare.”

When speaking of Jerusalem, the pope did not want to express a personal view, but said that the Vatican’s view is that Jerusalem should be “the city of peace and faith,” the capital of all three religions. He spoke of his good memories of his trip to Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority in May, and said that he “saw things he didn’t know existed.” He said, additionally, that it is important for Christians to visit Israel since “everything began there,” and that “anti-Semitism is a sin, and you cannot be a true Christian without recognizing your Jewish roots.”

Regarding the possible opening of the Vatican archives, Pope Francis said that a treaty between the Vatican and Italy from 1929 prevents the opening of the archives, but that personally he sees no reason they shouldn’t be opened as soon as the “legal and bureaucratic” issues are taken care of.

The article ends by quoting Francis on how he wants to be remembered: “I would be happy if they said, ‘He was a good man. He did the best he could. He wasn’t so terrible.’”

Courtesy to the Media Review letter of the Caspari Centre, www.caspari.com

The battle of the Temple Mount has begun

November 25, 2014

“We are in a battle for Jerusalem, our eternal capital” says Netanyahu. Or more specific, the time of delivering of the Temple Mount has began. Remember, in 1948 the state of Israel was born. In 1967 Jerusalem was captured, but they gave the authority of the Temple Mount back to Moslims. And now, a jubilee later, the Status Quo of the Temple Mount is been discussed due to Palestinian terror and accusations because they think the Israeli government is discussing the Temple Mount. A reverse result.batlletemplemount

Now, 49 years after Jerusalem came under Jewish rule and the end of the trampling of the gentiles (Luke21:24), it looks like the Temple Mount is coming closer to those whom it belongs. It’s the place of the house of God belonging to the Jews and all the nations. (1Kings8:39-43) It’s the place of God. The time will come that the heavenly temple is connected with the earthly one. (Rev. 21:10) We don’t know when or how, or how resurrection will happen etc. We only looking forward eagerly for the restoration and redemption.

Thinking about this, the old words of Isaac Newton came into my mind. He expounded heavily upon the prophecies of Daniel and the book Revelations. He sees another dimension in the prophecy of the 70 years of exile of the Jewish people and the 70 weeks of the prophet Daniel. He is in line with the Puritan view, but he puts the part of the seven weeks after the physical restoration of Jerusalem and before the Messiah the Prince would come. That means calculating from the year 1967 on, that 49 years later (2016) we could expect Messiah the Prince. But who are we to know that? Perhaps we must wait until the Temple Mount is been restored to the Jews, and then calculate 49 years? I think the best way is not to calculate but to expect the things to come in faithfulness. Anyway, exciting times we live in!

Apostle Peter wrote his letter to Jews

September 23, 2014

To whom did the apostle Peter write his letter? To the scattered people outside Israel, whom he also called strangers. 1Peter 1:1. The question is whether it are Jews or both Jews and Gentiles.

I think Peter wrote to the Jews. This would be normal since he is “the apostle of the circumcision.” That means that he dealt with the gospel for the Jews. As Jacob and John. Paul says this in Gal.2:7-9. (Jacob literally wrote to the 12 tribes, John is not clear and his 2th and 3rd letter is personal. Jude seems to write to the Jewish community.)

I base my conviction that he wrote to the Jews on the premise of his letter. And it is backed up by the way he use his words. Scattered (verse 1) points to the Jews who are scattered in exile. Non-jews are not scattered. They could be repented, but it is not likely that this claim was meant for them. Peter probably would use another word or statement. Strangers could be used for gentiles though. This rabbinical statement (Ger in Hebrew) is even particular used for gentiles. But in this context it can be that it is used for Jews outside the land of Israel. Combined with strangers it will fit to be meant for the Jews.

This Rabbinical statement comes another time to us in Peter’s letter. 1 Peter 2:11 states: strangers and pilgrims. In Hebrew: Ger weToshav. (Lev.25:35) Normally this will be used for gentiles. But it would not say that it won’t be apply to Jews anyway. David called himself with this very words: Ger weToshav (Ps.39:13). And according to this, hence Rabbies would call themselves so too, looking at their humbility in being righteous before God. In principle we all are strangers and passing byers on this earth, heading to a heavenly home.

Peter also wrote about what they know as their halacha, their way of life. Arguing about the holiness gained by Christ, he pointed to the earthly things of the way of life as commanded by the law. On this plane the law or halacha is futile. Although, of course, the law stands forever. But the holiness now has come from inside through the new covenant. Now he is going to say something that he can say only to Jews: “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers.” (1Pe1:18 NAS) Way of life here means the Jewish Halacha. But in fact he means here the Torah.

Another reason that he is arguing to the Jewish people is this. Peter brings up a prophecy of Hosea what explicitly is about the Jewish people: “who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God (Hebrew: Ami): who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. (Hebrew: Ruchamah)” (1Pe.1:10) This prophecy is about God leaving his people, but later on he will have grace and get them back. (Hos.1-2)

If Peter writes to the Jews, then it is very obvious that he writes to born-again Jews. “Hath begotten us again” (1Pe.1:3 KJV)

Furthermore he supposes a knowledge of Rabbinical tradition when he speaks about the principle of thousand years as one day. “But forget not this one thing” (2Pe.3:8 ASV)

I think it is very important to know that Peter is writing to Jewish audience. When not seeing this so, the demarcation line of Jew and Gentile fades away. And more than that, this letter then could be probably the best letter for a bold replacement theology.

I’m aware that I have another opinion as the writers of The Jewish Annotated New Testament, and many others, but after time I changed and now I think he wrote to believing Jews only. Of course it is meant for gentles too, but we have to read it in the right manner.

I published this article a few weeks ago on my new Dutch blog. But since I read about this matter on the blog of James here, I have re-written it in English now.

Terrorism in Europe

August 9, 2014
demostratie24julidenhaag

Demonstration, juli 24th, The Hague, NL

isis

If we don’t stand against terrorism as we face it now in Israel and Gaza, we surely will face it in our country very soon. Several pro-Palestine demonstrations were held in the Netherlands since Hamas is fighting Israel. They compared Israel’s actions with the Holocaust and shouted dead to the Jews. Antisemitism is rising high. They also showed ISIS flags.

Against this rising antisemitism, a protest pamflet is issued and published in national newspapers by well-known Dutch persons and another one by prominent (protestant) pastors. You can do no better than act at this time and show support for the Jewish people.pamflet-nos

pamflet-rdIf a nation doesn’t do anything, or worse, condemns Israel by saying something stupid like “disproportional” reactions, soon they will be involved with terrorism itself.

This all because the God of Israel is coming to us. Period.

No nation excluded. Yes! The hand of the God of Israel is stretched out!


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