Sherlock HolmesI received the following question:

If the common people that were Jews accepted Christ, where are these people now?

Well, strictly speaking, they are dead and in their graves, awaiting resurrection. I suppose that you knew that, but are really asking me about why we see no evidence of them through their descendents. That is, if so many Jews truly believed in Christ, why did they not teach their children to believe as well, and they their children, and so forth, so that we would still see a large number of believing Jews today?

First of all, while this seems to make sense when we don’t think about it too deeply, we need to step back and realize that things don’t always work this way in real life. Many of the believers I know, for example, come from families that do not believe. Others that I know who do believe have children who have left the Lord behind. Often in such cases the one who turns away from the Lord maintains some small knowledge of Him, but often does not pass any of this on to his children, so they are brought up without knowledge of the Lord at all, and the line is quickly broken. Even in my own family background, both my parents, though they were brought up in believing homes, had brothers who did not choose to follow and serve the Lord. The line does not continue smoothly, even over a few generations. Now magnify this out to two thousand years, a staggering amount of time, and you can see that any such “line of belief” could easily have been swallowed up long ago.

Secondly, consider how unfaithfully the line of truth was passed. From around A.D. 70, when Jerusalem was destroyed and soon before which Paul wrote his last book, until around 150 A.D., when those who are known as the church fathers started to emerge, truths such as right division, the coming government of God, and even salvation by something other than works, had largely been lost already. No wonder, when Paul could write in his last book that many already were turning away from the truth. “This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.” II Timothy 1:15. So if they left Paul, they certainly could have left the Lord as well, or at least not passed on their faith very faithfully to their children.

We have no way of knowing for certain what happened in those days, for we have very little record of them. Yet it seems likely to me that the rapidly growing Gentile Christian population found it increasingly difficult to be categorized with their Jewish brethren, and thus be subject to all the persecutions that followed that people. It is likely that somewhere along the line the Gentile Christians betrayed their Jewish brethren, claiming that their faith in Jesus Christ had nothing to do with the Jewish people or their religion. They may even have justified this by the ages-long accusation of “Christ-killers.” Thus, they freed themselves from the stigma of being associated with the Jews. Yet this would have had a decidedly negative effect on the Jewish believers. The younger generations may have been driven away from Christ altogether when they saw this betrayal by their so-called Christian brothers. Those who did stay loyal to Christ may have tried to put their Jewish heritage away altogether, pretending to have nothing to do with Israel to try to fit in with the Gentile Christians. In this way, the large group of believing Jews may have quickly disappeared and been lost to history.

So ultimately, though it is not possible to say exactly what happened to cause the descendents of this large group of believers to seem to disappear, the fact is that they did long ago, and so we see no evidence of them today. Ultimately, I don’t think their disappearance is a problem. Whole cultures and civilizations disappear in two thousand years. That this group of believers would have disappeared is no real difficulty.

Advertisements