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Wednesday: To the Twelve Tribes Scattered Abroad — 17 Comments

  1. Can anyone provide more detail on what the "strangers who dwell among Israel" where required to do and what they were not required to do?
    I checked Lev 18:26, 19:33,34, 20:2 got some idea.
    18:26,30 - it is not clear are the strangers only prohibited from abominations or are they to "keep ordinations so that they do not commit abominations"?

  2. 12 twelve tribes abroad:
    I thinK we see James using the concept used by Jesus and by Paul of spiritual Israel.

    Jesus in John 4:22-24 ..hour is coming ...must worship in spirit and truth

    Paul in Rom 9:3-8 they are not all Israel who are of Israel, only children of the promise.
    Gal 3:26-29 if you are Christ's then you are Abraham's seed and heirs of the promise

    This concept of Spiritual Israel is so important.
    1) Continuity between Gods people before and after the cross
    2) God does not have two different ways of saving his people
    3) The Principles behind the laws before the cross still aply after the cross
    4) God has always wanted people to worship him with their heart and soul first and then body/actions to follow
    5) Only when we understand the progression from the literal children of Israel to the spiritual children of Israel will we be able to understand Revelation

    Wow there is so much packed into James greeting!

  3. Seasoned believers can complicate the journey of transformation for new believers. New believers need time to change their wardrobe with modest clothes, to separate themselves from jewelry, and to even think like the "new" christian. May we exercise much patience, it seems easier to shut people out of the kingdom than to usher them in!! Sometimes our expectations of others are unscriptural!!

    • Don't we complicate the transformation by our wrong examples and lack of proper preparation before baptism? Our expectations are only unscriptural if we are ourselves, by refusing to follow our instructions.

  4. What unites SDA's and what makes us different from other Protestants?
    It is what we believe about the character of God.
    All our distinctive beliefs give a different picture of the character of God.
    Foe example: Only God has inherent immortality, people only receive eternal life as a gift at His discretion. This tells us God is in contol, He loves us, He will not allow evil to continue forever, we are unique(no reincarnation) etc

  5. Presumably, the gentile converts continued to eat food with blood and practice idolatrous worship, which included sexual rituals. Judging from James's exhortation, we cannot ignore blatant sins of new believers; instead, the responsibility is ours to graciously instruct them in the path of righteousness.

  6. sometimes getting out of our comfort zone can be the better option for us to take up our call and spread Christ's advent message and the three angels message,a distinctive message bestowed on us.

  7. Thank you for raising this topic – its an excellent discussion to open up because there is much ignorance surrounding it. But whilst I say this I will also say that there are several errors that have been put forward regarding the meaning of James 1.1, 1 Peter 2.9-10 and Acts 15 that I believe are important points to address since they strike at the very heart of the definition of Christianity. They are errors that are made across Christendom today that historically grew out of a second century antipathy to Jewishness by the growing predominant Gentile Church at the time.(1) And translations of the book of James, which attempt to hide its inherent orientation towards Judaism, bear this out.


    Firstly, what is an interesting fact that many probably do not know is that James’ name is not actually James. The original Greek rendering is Iacobus (Strong’s Definitions, G2385), which is a Graecized slant on the original name Iacob (Strong’s, G2384), which is the Greek version of the original Hebrew name Ya’akob (Strong’s, H3290), which is translated into English Bibles as JACOB! Iacobus-Iacob-Ya’akob-Jacob. Therefore, James’ name is not actually James it’s Jacob!(2) To remove his Jewish sounding name in favour of an Anglicised sounding one is totally without foundation which is puzzling why translators continue to do so, except to remove any vestige of Jewishness from the early ‘church.’ Only David Stern’s Messianic Jewish translation, The Jewish New Testament / The Complete Jewish Bible renders it correctly (see www.biblestudytools.com for access to the translation).


    Secondly, Jacob is writing to a particular group of people who worship in a particular type of setting: a Jewish Synagogue. ‘No, they worshipped in churches because they are Christians,’ you object. But lets look at the Greek more closely. In the second chapter of the Letter of Jacob he states “For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into YOUR ASSEMBLY…” (Jac. 2.2). What has been obscured in many English translations old and new (although rectified in others) is that the Greek word for assembly is actually ‘sunagogay’ (Strong’s, G4864) and is translated in every other occurrence as SYNAGOGUE (55 times(3)) except here. Why? I would suggest again because of an attempt to remove any vestige that pointed to these earliest believers seeing themselves as a part of Judaism rather than separate. This discovery that the earliest of believers in Jesus worshipped predominantly in their own synagogues(4) (which includes recent archaeological discoveries of synagogues belonging to believers in Jesus both on Mount Zion in Jerusalem,(5) the so-called ‘Mother Church,’ and Magdala(6)) is a huge paradigm shift in terms of how we read and view the Scriptures of the Christian faith and ultimately shape our own current direction


    Thirdly, this JACOB who writes to believers who worship in a JEWISH SYNAGOGUE also says explicitly who he is addressing: “The Twelve Tribes.” Contrary to “referring to Christians as a whole” you will find nowhere in the entire New Testament (not to mention in the Old Testament) where the Twelve Tribes refer to include Gentile Christians as a whole. In fact, in every instance where it is mentioned it refers to Jewish National Israel:
    · Jesus says to his followers that they would sit on “twelve thrones, judging the TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL.” (Mt. 19.28; Lk. 22.30). Obviously this could only refer to Jewish National Israel since the call to go to the Gentiles had not yet come and so it could only be understood that way.
    · Paul is being accused by other Jews and in the trial before Festus, governor of Judea (Acts 25), makes his case to the part-Jewish tetrarch of Judea, King Herod Agrippa (Acts 26). Note that this is a Jewish and not Gentile dispute – this much is clear from Paul’s own use of words regarding “the customs and controversies of the Jews” (Act. 26.3). He ends by saying “I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to OUR FATHERS, to which our TWELVE TRIBES hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day” (Acts 26.6-7). Obviously this appeal to “our fathers” has nothing to do with Gentiles and everything to do with Jews, and therefore “Twelve Tribes” is a clear reference to Jewish National Israel.
    · Finally, in the Book of Revelation a vision is given to the Apostle John about the end of days and the Messianic Age. He receives a picture of the New Jerusalem at the very end of the book and there are Twelve Gates, as well as Twelve Foundations. On the twelve gates are the names of the “TWELVE TRIBES OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL,” (Rev. 21.12) and on the twelve foundations are the names of the “TWELVE APOSTLES” (Rev. 21.14). Obviously, there is no way to read that accept as it says it, the TWELVE TRIBES that came out of JACOB’S SONS that formed the NATION OF ISRAEL.


    Fourthly, the word ‘Diaspora’ (English, ‘dispersion’) is a technical term to refer to Jews living outside the Land of Israel(7) in the Exile that began with the Babylonian Invasion (6th century BC), and the above article acknowledges this: “The Greek word in both passages is diaspora, which normally referred to Jews living outside the geographical boundaries of Israel proper (see John 7:35).” We have further evidence in John 11.51-52 where the “high priest” prophesies that “Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad [Grk. ‘DIASPORA’].” Obviously the High Priest is not referring to Gentiles. If this JACOB is writing to the TWELVE TRIBES OF JEWISH NATIONAL ISRAEL (Jac. 1.1) who worship in JEWISH SYNAGOGUES (Jac. 2.2), then surely the DIASPORA is a reference to JEWS LIVING OUTSIDE OF ISRAEL, and not to Gentile Christians.


    The exact same things could be said of Peter when he refers to the “Diaspora” (1 Pet. 1.1-2). Peter also quotes the Old Testament in various places to remind (and not replace) his Jewish listeners of their status as God’s Chosen “Race” (1 Pet. 2.9-10 (Young’s Literal Translation); compare Deu. 7.6; Is. 61.6; Ex. 19.6; Deu. 14.2; Hos. 2.23).


    Finally, in Acts 15 we find this same Jacob who wrote the Epistle presiding over a particular matter: did Gentiles have to be circumcised TO BECOME PART OF JUDAISM. Ironically, while today the issue for Christians is how should Jews convert to Gentile Christianity, back then it was how should Gentiles be converted to Messianic Judaism and thus Israel! What a complete reversal! But even though Jacob ruled that Gentiles would not be circumcised, both Jacob, Paul and the rest of the Messianic Jewish Community believed that Temple worship (Act 22.17, 24.11-12), Circumcision (Act 16.3), Nazirite Vows (Act 18.18, 21.22-27), Jewish Festivals (Act 18.21, 20.6,16), and National Israel (Rom. 11.1-2,11-12) remained intact – why? Because they didn’t see themselves as Christian (in the sense we use today) but Jewish!


    This understanding should ask us to question the very foundation of the notion of ‘The Church’ and embrace what the original believers such as Jacob, Peter and Paul understood: that they were part of the Chosen Nation of Israel and not a separate entity called Christianity. They also believed that Gentiles have become part of the “Commonwealth of Israel” (Eph. 2.11-12), but not to replace Israel (Rom. 11.17-24). For despite Israel’s disbelief, “God has not rejected his people” (Rom. 11.1-2). This replacement and final separation only occurred much later in the fourth century(8) initiated by the Gentile Christian world:
    “The Throne of God and the royal seat are the priesthood in the holy church, the very royal honor and High Priesthood which the Lord gave to his holy church which He himself united into one. He TRANSFERRED THE THRONE OF DAVID [FROM ISRAEL] INTO THE CHURCH, never to leave her.”
    Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis (367-403), Adversus Haereses, (Refutation of all Heresies)

    This calls for a complete rethink of who we are in relation to Jews and Israel. It’s time to breach the wall of separation (Eph. 2.14) and embrace our Jewish brothers and sisters as well as our own Jewish heritage.

    Jacques Doukhan, Professor of Hebrew Old Testament and Jewish Studies, Andrews University
    “Nowhere in the New Testament do we find the rejection of Israel. In fact, the only time the biblical text speaks about any rejection of Israel, it emphatically affirms that God has not rejected them. ‘Has God cast away His people?’ (Rom. 11.1) Paul asks. His answer is clear and unambiguous: ‘Certainly not!’”(9)

    (1) Daniel Boyarin, The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ, (New York: New Press, 2012), pp. 15-7; Samuele Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath to Sunday: A History Investigation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity, (Rome: The Pontifical Gregorian University Press, 1977), p. 136; Jacques B. Doukhan, The Mystery of Israel, (Hagerstown: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2004), p. 54.
    (2) David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, “Jacob 1:1,” (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1992), p. 23; Michael L. Brown, What Do Jewish People Think About Jesus? And Other Questions Christians Ask About Jewish Beliefs, Practices and History, (Grand Rapids: Chosen, 2007), pp. 182-183.
    (3) Michael L. Brown, Revolution in the Church: Challenging the Religious System with a Call for Radical Change, (Grand Rapids: Chosen, 2002), pp. 175-176; David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, “Jacob 2:2-3,” (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1992), pp. 728-729.
    (4) Samuele Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath to Sunday, pp. 137-140; Bargil Pixner, “Church of the Apostles found on Mt Zion,” in Hershel Shanks, ed., The Biblical Archaeology Review, (Washington D.C.: Biblical Archaeology Society, May/June 1990), http://www.centuryone.org/apostles.html.
    (5) Reuven Efraim Schmalz, Raymond Robert Fischer, The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Synagogue, (Tiberius, Israel: Olim Publications, 2001).
    (6) CBN Chris Mitchell, CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief, “Israel’s Magdala Center Brings Gospel to Life,” (CBN, 25 April 2014), http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/insideisrael/2014/February/Magdala-Center-Brings-Gospel-to-Life/; Miriam Feinerg Vamosh, “Archaeological discoveries at Magdala show: Christians and Jews are coming full circle,” (Haaretz, 8 Sep 2013), http://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium-1.545784; Joe Kovacs, Executive News Editor of WND, “Stunning find from time of Jesus: Archaeologists abuzz in Mary Magdalene’s hometown,” (WND, 12 Jan 2013), http://www.wnd.com/2013/01/stunning-find-from-time-of-jesus/.
    (7) David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, “Jacob 1:1,” pp. 728-729.
    (8) Jacques B. Doukhan, The Mystery of Israel, (Hagerstown: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2004), p. 54; Daniel Boyarin, The Jewish Gospels, pp. 15-7.
    (9) Jacques B. Doukhan, The Mystery of Israel, p. 27.

    • Tomas, what do you learn from Jesus' parables concerning this matter in Matt 21 and 22? What about John 10:14-16, 22-30?

      Also, if you realize that the gospel was first preached to Adam and Eve, and thus every one who comes from them, you will understand the place of Israel as God's witness to the rest of their kin; the nations(Gentiles). Read in Exodus 12 about the very first law given to Israel, and notice in particular verses 48 and 49. This is the first of many such proclamations associated with all the law given to Israel. The intent was to bring all the world back to being One fold with One Shepherd.

      There is no more distinction since the cross between Israel and Gentiles through faith in Christ. Eph 2:11-22.

      If you read your Greek correctly, you realize the truth about Israel and any so-called "replacement". God only acknowledges faith, and not blood.(John 1:12, 13) Jacob and not Esau. Isaac and not Ishmael. Rahab and not Achan. Do you see the common thread from the beginning of God's people to the remnant? There is no replacement, only acceptance or rejection. Addition and subtraction. Read Luke 2:34.

      I would also invite you to study prayerfully the 6th seal in the Revelation. It begins in Rev 6:12 and ends in Rev 7:17. Notice there is ONE question (Rev 6:17), and this means only ONE answer, though given in two parts (Rev 7). The first part John HEARS, the second part John SEES. What does this answer tell you? Please, study this prayerfully.

      Be careful about focusing on single words apart from context and other supporting passages. Truth is a unit, and cannot be broken apart.

  8. Amen, Ms Lorraine Wilson! We must be patient with new believers......let's not forget, we were once them.

  9. Our belief in Jesus do not change our racial linage that we inherited at the blasting of the tower,the gentile are the children Japheth , When Paul said Lo we turn to the gentiles was to them north-west of the Mediterranean sea (check our maps )

    Abraham Is the father of the faithful even down to our time but the name Israel was was given to Jacob and his descendants that has never change. Only if the ordinance of the heaven stop their functions

    Jacob seed in revelation 7 means just as it say's , the gentiles carry the gospel now until the time of the gentile is ended , then it goes back to Jacob seed. Those standing on Mt Zion with the Lamb. Rev 14

    The is the people that we can truly say keep the commandment of God ,and have the testimony of Jesus Christ See Vol 3 p 266.

    There is a warning to "stay away from fornication, and from things strangled and from blood." What are the things strangled? If it is food, what meats are these? Is this sexual as erotic asphyxiation is something that involves strangulation? I ask not to offend, but to gain information. Thank you.

  11. "James to the 12 tribes" his mission and the mission of many ministers in this end time can b more effective if we help the "new believers" grow towards the correct light as sister Lorrain shares. I mean are we helping one another as Christ wants...in love?

    • James 1:26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

  12. “A scriptural solution preserved a unified church: James cites Amos’s prophecy that Israel’s restoration and ultimate expansion would include Gentiles (Acts 15:16-17), a decree that is based on Mosaic laws for foreign residents (Leviticus 18-20).” Even though I can’t prove it, I don’t think the Old Testament scripture concerning foreigners just popped into James’ mind. Not only at Antioch did, “Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them” (Act 15:2 NKJV) but on the road to Jerusalem they witnessed to their ministry and then finally in the council where, “there had been much dispute” (Act 15:7 NKJV). I am sure many scriptures such as those in Leviticus were brought up as evidence during such arguments.

    To me the strength of James’ ministry was not in theology but as an administrator (1 Cor 12:28). God gave him a particular job to do with the gifts of the spirit to do it. As an administrator I think James did a good job but the decision was not without problems. Even though it was designed to unify the church it had major pitfalls theologically.

    While the decision of the Jerusalem council was based on scripture so was Paul’s extensive arguments against the idea that “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Act 15:1 NKJV). So while the Gentiles were excused from the rite the Jews were required to continue it in spite of clear evidence that it wasn’t an absolute necessity for salvation, nor is the rite mentioned in the Leviticus passages. The decision was unfortunately still basically separatist in nature that failed to completely unify Jew and Gentile but in my view was probably the best that could be hoped for under the circumstances where adherence to Jewish customs was strongly felt by those in Jerusalem (Acts 21:20).

  13. Very interesting the text written by Tomas Dowter. His words warns us to have a Jewish perspective of the Bible study, this perspective has been neglected by the centuries of Christianity.
    We as Seventh-Day Adventists know our role as Elijah. As Elijah we are responsible to prepare the way for the second coming of Our Lord, the same way John the Baptist prepared the way for the first coming of the Messiah. It´s interesting when we read Malachi 4:5-6 we learn that Elijah the prophet will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. I believe the father here symbolizes the Jewish people and the children the Gentile people. So SDA are supposed to present Jesus as the Messiah to the Jewish People and to presente God´s Law to the Christians. Are we as SDA being the bridge that unites this two people as required in Ef 2:4?


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