Martin Luther and Jewish Believers in Yeshua

Exactly half a millennium ago, in 1517, German theologian and monk Martin Luther laid the foundations for a global religious revolution.

By Gershon Nerel | | Topics: Messianic Jewish Theology, CHRISTIANS, MESSIANIC JEWS
Martin Luther
LUTHER’S PROTESTANT REFORMATION has strongly influenced the modern Messianic movement Photo: Creative Commons

Initially, he attempted to reform the Roman Catholic Church, yet eventually his raw doctrines became the foundation for numerous Protestant denominations.

One of these new denominations is the modern Messianic movement of Jewish believers in Yeshua (JBY). These followers of Yeshua (Jesus) embrace rabbinical traditions and Jewish folklore, support Zionism, and also accept the theological guidelines of Protestantism. However, from a Christological perspective, the Protestant doctrines are not much different than Roman Catholic ones. Both Protestant and Catholic Confessions of Faith follow the creedal formulas of the ecumenical Councils of Nicaea (325 AD) and Chalcedon (451 AD), which introduce non-biblical terminology.

Nowadays, most JBY adopt, nearly verbatim, the creeds of different Protestant denominations including Lutheranism, Calvinism, Anglicanism and Adventism, alongside the beliefs of the Baptists and Plymouth Brethren. The majority of contemporary JBY have adopted the faith in the Lord Yeshua through the testimony of Christians and Protestant missionaries.

Naturally, these JBY absorbed the doctrines of their spiritual parents. Not a few among them were also encouraged to become “leaders” and teachers and to attend denominational schools of theology, often described incorrectly as “Bible Schools.” In these institutions they were systematically indoctrinated with Protestant dogmatic principles. After they were ordained and authorized to teach, they repeated what they learned to new generations of JBY.

A salient example of this situation is Luther’s fundamental doctrine called in Latin sola scriptura—“[salvation by] Scripture alone”—which is based upon his German translation of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (3:28). According to this standard, God’s ultimate Word, spiritual authority and conclusive guidance are now embodied exclusively in the Bible because the Almighty has stopped communicating with humans via revelations, prophets, etc. Thus, in order to discover God’s sovereign will one must search exclusively in the canonical text. In other words, the original and infallible divine truth is found only in the “Christian Bible.” Part of this doctrine is the principle that Scripture interprets Scripture.

However, the Bible itself does not teach sola scriptura. In the Gospels, for example, one reads about the great and unique instrumentality of the Holy Spirit. The clear teaching of Yeshua places the direct instruction of the Holy Spirit above the teachings of biblical verses.

Thus in the Gospel of John the Lord Himself says: “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” These divine words come straight from the Son of God, who sends the Holy Spirit as “He [the Spirit] will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13). To put this differently, the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Truth, is not only part and parcel of biblical interpretation, but it also guides true believers in a personal way as well as unfolds individually the secrets of the Kingdom of God. This is consistent with the Lord’s teaching that “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23).

While on the one hand human interpretations of Scripture can mislead believers, on the other hand the true guidance of the Holy Spirit is infallible. Moreover, no biblical verse can fully convince a person unless the Holy Spirit provides assurance. Only the Holy Spirit can touch every believer on earth. The one who “has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says” (Revelation 2:7). If one loves the Lord Yeshua and keeps His commandments (John 14:15, 21; 15:10), will indeed hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Gershon Nerel (


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7 responses to “Martin Luther and Jewish Believers in Yeshua”

  1. Robert's World says:

    Thank you Gerhson for a lucid example of “Protestant theology”.
    Our present and increasing interest in Israel/ Messianic believers came mostly via the Holy Spirit’s leading/ revelation, sort of along the lines of Acts 16:6-9.

  2. Disciple 1978 says:

    The five Reformation Solas are Sola scriptura – scripture alone, Sola gratia – Grace alone; Sola fide – Faith alone; Solus Christos – Christ alone; Soli Deo Gloria – Glory to God alone.
    These five Reformation Solas, in relation to justification and salvation, enabled the gospel to reach the individual. Rather than joining a church he becomes a living part of the church. The head of that church is Christ (Col 1:18) under whom its elders and deacons, whatever titles they give themselves, operate. Sola scriptura and Protestantism do have a tendency to divorce the written word from the Living Word, Jesus, who gave it, which grieves the Holy Spirit and makes the fountain dry. It also spurns its identity with Israel preferring a church identity instead.

  3. Disciple 1978 says:

    Luther did testify to relying on the Holy Spirit, “The Holy Ghost has called me by the gospel and illuminated me with his gifts…”, but his call was to reform the Roman Catholicism of his time.
    Protestantism did develop into evangelicalism and even became Pentecostal and messianic, but not all Protestants embraced these developments. Protestants copied the Catholic structures in an attempt to achieve church unity and failed to accept that those structures replaced and opposed Christ’s Lordship. The Holy Spirit develops Christians to be evangelical, then Pentecostal, then messianic. Catholics and Protestants are more likely to be pre-Christian. For the fully developed believer John 17:3 is true, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

  4. Rick Blake says:

    I could not find a ‘clear teaching of Yeshua placing instruction of the Holy Spirit above the scripture.’ It seems a dictated, written word of God is a different entity from the Ruach HaKodesh – who is God. If ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand,’ how can the Logos of God teach, or expound, anything different than that which is God, Himself? I believe the Spirit of God in me enhances/enables the living out of the renewed life that is expounded in His written word. Two strengths that come together and cannot be at odds, ever.

  5. AdinoBenaiah says:

    I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
    Psalm 138:2

    More than clear to those who believe the Word of God. Read, listen, study, and meditate on the Word, then the Holy Spirt will speak to you too.

  6. hdfuerst says:

    Please help your readers with your approved English Translation? Thanks…

    Die Erfindung des “Heiligen Geistes” als Person kann man nicht stehen lassen.
    Gott hat seinen Willen und alle Anordnungen direkt an seine Diener gegeben; und seine Prophezeiungen an seine Propheten. Diese Erfindung stammt zuerst von Paulus, der viele
    Wahrheiten verdreht hat. Einer seiner Jünger, der “Evangelist” Johannes, hat eine Reihe von Unwahrheiten verbreitet, ebenso wie Paulus. Offensichtlich ist der “Lügenprediger” in den Qumran-Schriften Paulus selbst. Er wollte die Jünger Jesu von den Juden trennen, was
    ihm ja auch gelungen ist. M.E. hat Gott das zugelassen, um sein Volk Israel zusammen zu halten.

  7. hdfuerst says:

    Mir fällt auf, dass mein Wort “die” hier häufig mit “sterben” wiedergegeben wird,
    ich bitte darum, das in Zukunft zu unterlassen!

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