Messianic Faith and Your Jewish Friend: Terms to Avoid

A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days bookHere are 4 terms to avoid when sharing the Good News of Yeshua with a Jewish friend:

  1. Don’t talk about being converted or being a convert to Christianity. This sounds like, “Stop being a Jew and become a Christian.” It’s not mutually exclusive to be Jewish and believe in Yeshua. It’s OK to be both. This is how Rabbi Jonathan Bernis explains it in his book A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days: “I’d love for Christians to tell their Jewish friends, ‘I’m not suggesting that you convert to another religion or change who you are. You were born a Jew and you’ll die a Jew. But this is your Messiah, and I want you to know Him.'”
  2. The word church has negative connotations. The word has no Hebrew origins and is identified with Christianity; therefore, it will raise a red flag in the Jewish mind.
  3. Avoid mentioning baptism, at least initially. For the same reasons that the word church can quickly offend a Jew, so too can the term baptize or baptism. Even though immersion by water is an ancient Jewish idea, it’s too easily linked with Christianity.
  4. When mentioning the cross, the terms execution stake or tree are preferred. We don’t want to avoid talking of the cross. After all, it was on the cross that Yeshua took away our sins. But we do need to be sensitive to what pictures the word cross brings to mind for many Jews – Crusaders marching toward Jerusalem and then massacring Jewish communities along the way, Nazi soldier’s uniforms that bore the cross, and the concept that “We kill you because you killed Jesus Christ.” The words execution stake and tree are consistent with prophecy and Greek references in many cases.

Adapted from A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days by Rabbi Jonathan Bernis.

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  1. Patrick

     /  June 15, 2010

    Good advice. I also recommend avoiding the word “trinity.” It’s an immediate deal killer! : /


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