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Anti-Semitism in the Early Church

Written by Noreen Jacks. Posted in

Where does Judaism fit into God’s plan of salvation today? Surely, the faith of the Old Testament saints is not a false religion, yet it does not profess Yeshua as Lord and Savior, although more and more Jews are coming to that joyous conclusion. It is vitally important for Christians to realize that Judaism and Christianity are two parts of a whole, with each part needing the other to fully comprehend and appreciate God’s ultimate plan of redemption for the world. The Hebrew Scriptures, referred to by Christians as the Old Testament or Old Covenant, are the foundation of the Christian faith, while the Greek Scriptures (New Testament or New Covenant) bring fulfillment to the Old Testament. Genuine spiritual fulfillment for all mankind is revealed in the unity of the two testaments:
In the words of Saint Augustine (354-430 AD), “The New Testament is concealed in the Old, and the Old Testament is revealed in the New.”

Anti-Semitism and racial prejudice is a malignant evil in society. Thankfully, I was not exposed to such wickedness in my youth. As a young child, approximately ten years of age, I recall asking my Irish mother, “Who are the Jews? Are they a religion or are they a nationality?” Very wisely, she responded, “They are God’s chosen people, and you must always respect them.” Thanks, Mom, for that excellent advice. It has served me well in life. I wish there were more mothers like her. After all, God promised to bless those who bless abraham and his seed (Israel) and to curse those who curse them (Gen 12:3).
Have you ever wondered why Jews often distrust Christians? One has only to look at history to grasp the obvious reason. Countless wars have been fought in the name of Christianity, even in the name of God. The notorious Adolph Hitler claimed to be a Christian early in his reign of terror during World War II. To go back farther in history, we recall the days of the brutal Spanish Inquisition that was instigated in 1478 by the Catholic monarchy of Castile, Spain and perpetuated by the papacy. Persecution of Jews and Protestants was common throughout Europe and the Americas.

The Museum of Congress and the Spanish Inquisition in Lima, Peru stands today as a living witness to past horrors, where non Catholics and “new Catholics” (marranos = “pigs” or conversos = “converts”) were tortured by pseudo Christians. Some victims were burned at the stake. According to my son, who toured the torture chambers while on a missionary trip to Peru, it appears that those in charge of the chambers believed they were doing God a favor by exterminating Jews and other non-Catholics!

While in Bible College, I read numerous “sanitized” books extolling the virtues of the Early Church fathers, who are revered by many as heroes of the faith. Indeed, these men had their share of admirable qualities; some were even martyred for their faith. I was shocked, however, when I later learned that many of the Church fathers were appallingly anti-Semitic in their worldview. For example, there were those who blamed the Jews for the crucifixion of Yeshua, when in reality all of mankind nailed Our Lord and Savior to the cross.
Other Church leaders taught that the blessings of God were for the Church exclusively, and the divine curses were intended for the Jews. Synagogues were regarded as brothels, where the Jews worshiped Satan and his demons. The sound of Jewish prayers and music was compared to the braying of donkeys. Some Church fathers declared that all Jews were worthy of death. Because God’s chosen people were deemed to be the enemies of Christianity, Church members were forbidden from marrying or fellowshipping with Jews. The chosen people of God were eventually forbidden by law from celebrating the Feasts of the Lord or practicing circumcision, the initial sign of the Abrahamic covenant.

Replacement Theology originated during Early Church history, claiming God has revoked his eternal covenant with Israel, and the Church has replaced the Jews as His chosen people. Shamefully, this teaching is still prevalent in many religious circles today. False teachers during the Reformation period spouted more anti-Semitic diatribe, thereby adding fuel to the fires of Hitler’s demonic death camps generations later. Yes, Hitler claimed to have been greatly influenced by the teaching of Martin Luther, a former Catholic priest whose writings expressed his frustrations when Jews refused to convert to Christianity.

Much to their credit, the German Lutheran Church and Norway’s Lutheran Church have recently denounced Luther’s anti-Semitic rhetoric and apologized to the Jews. The Vatican has also declared that it does not support official efforts to convert Jews. These formal apologies have been a long time coming, 499 years to be exact, but just in time to mark the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation. The event that changed church history forever began when Luther posted his 95 Thesis on the door of Germany’s Whittenberg Cathedral on October 31, 1517.

Well, enough about the sinister history of anti-Semitism. It is time to pray for restoration between Judaism and Christianity, two religious groups that share a common root with the Old Testament and Abraham, the great hero of the faith. It is the sovereign work of Heaven’s Matchmaker, the Holy Spirit, to bring unity through the 'one new man in Christ Jesus' (Eph 2:15; Gal 3:28).
Would you like to learn more about this subject? If so, see my newly released Bible Study | Workbook: Heaven’s Matchmaker – The Holy Spirit’s Interaction with Humanity, available from

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