On Tim Hegg’s Fellow Heirs; A Critical Review

While I greatly appreciate Tim Hegg as a scholar on Paul (The Letter Writer), I see some difficulties in his opinion on circumcision and in his conception of the relation of Jew and Gentile in the Messianic Community. The following remarks try to explore the difficulties inherent in Hegg’s viewpoint in his book Fellow Heirs, with the intent of developing a clearer vision on the implications of full Torah observance by Gentile believers in Yeshua. My criticisms of Hegg’s position are not purposing to discourage or undermine Gentile Torah observance.

In his Fellow Heirs Hegg makes a sharp distinction between circumcision as a biblical commandment on the one side and as a part of the rabbinic conver­sion procedure on the other side. He maintains that the biblical command­ment may apply to Gentile believers, not however the rabbinic conversion procedure. He further holds that biblical ciricumcision, when applied to a Gentile, does not make a Jew out of the Gentile. According to Hegg, a circum­cised Gentile is still a Gentile. The rabbinic conversion ritual however, does intend to change the Gentile into a (proselyte) Jew. Hegg rejects the rabbinic conversion for Gentiles. Matters become a bit complicated here because he even considers the rabbinic conversion to be illegitimate. It would lack a foun­dation in Scripture. Hegg takes the position that a conversion from Gentile into (proselyte) Jew is impossible. For him, Jewishness is defined by ethnicity, and ‘proselyte Jew’ therefore is a non-category. Everyone is either a Jew or a Gentile by birth, and that status cannot be changed by any means.

Hegg tries to prove his position on Jewish and Gentile status  by pointing to the biblical stranger (ger) who attached himself to Israel. The stranger could become in­cluded in Israel, but he remained a non-Jew.  By means of the above made distinctions, Hegg is able to make room for Gentile circumcision in a way that seems not to be in conflict with either the Apostolic Decree of the Jerusalem Council or with Paul’s letter to the Gala­tians. The circumcision applicable to Gentiles is the biblical circumcision, not the circumcision of the rabbinic conversion procedure. Gentile believers who get themselves circumcised are in Hegg’s view simply obedient to a bibli­cal injunction, without any consequences on Jewish or Gentile identity. Gentiles nowadays become included in Israel by faith in Yeshua, but they do not be­come Jews, not even by means of circumcision. Like the stranger in ancient Israel, they remain non-Jews, while sharing equal covenantal rights and respon­sibilities with their Jewish fellows in the Messianic Community. Hegg’s conception is in a way an intelligent one. It has the double advantage of making Gentile circumcion harmless so to say in regard of consequences on Jewish or Gentile status, and at the same time of seeming not to be in con­flict with the Apostolic Decree and Paul’s letters. The Apostolic Decree is in­ter­preted as bearing upon the circumcision of the rabbinic conversion ritual, not upon the biblical commandment. Paul’s letter to the Galatians is viewed by Hegg in the same light. Paul’s anger was directed against the rabbinic conversion procedure, not against the biblical commandment. 

Now the question arises whether this conception is indeed true. My hypothesis is, that it is not. I’ll try to prove this below. My first point is that Hegg’s stance on the stranger in Israel is unsatisfactory. By defining Jewishness in purely ethnic terms he creates an enduring distinc­tion between Jews and strangers within the one covenant community of Israel. And at the same time he reduces this distinction into a kind of non-distinction, because both born Israelites and faithful strangers have equal ac­cess to the covenantal privileges and share the same obligations. But, one may ask, is Jewishness indeed an ethnic category? And what sense is to be attri­buted to Hegg’s distinction (and non-distinction) between Israelite and stranger (ger)? 

Let’s begin with the last question, the distinction Hegg makes between born Israelites (or Jews) and strangers. Hegg says that this distinction is found in the Torah. The Torah knows about several categories of strangers, to be accu­rate, but among them is a category of faithful strangers who fully attach themselves to Israel and become covenant members. This is the category that really matters for Hegg’s conception. He emphasizes that their attachment to Israel is by faith, without a conversion ritual. He interprets the rabbinic con­version procedure as an “ethnic status change”, and qualifies it as unbiblical: “…the Scriptures nowhere contain a ritual of conversion, since this was a later rabbinic innovation. Nor do the Scriptures ever suggest that when one attaches himself to Israel or to the God of Israel, his ethnic status changes. Thus, the “ritual of conversion” was a rabbinic idea, nor a biblical one”. (Fellow Heirs, p. 32) 

From what Hegg further says it is clear that he views the biblical attachement to Israel as full incorporation in Israel and its covenants. It is a national in­clu­sion: “When the native born and the ger stood together on Ebal and Gerazim, they together swore to obey all of the Torah. The covenant of God is a single piece of cloth that cannot be divided”. (Ibid, p. 38)  In my eyes it is not convincing to deduce from the formula that there shall be one law for the born Israelite and for the stranger that the circumcised Gentile remains a Gentile. This sentence in the Torah is simply a warning against dis­cri­mination, of making a distinction between two classes of Israelites. There is only one class of Israelites, that is what the Torah is saying by this formula. The circumcised stranger is fully absorbed by the Jewish people. He is called a stranger only because he is no descendant of Jacob. And it is obvi­ous that his descendants — or the fourth generation of them — are Jewish. They are all members of the same nation, the same people. Peoplehood is the view­point here.

Now when Hegg sees the Israelite nation as composed of Jews and non-Jews, this may be so from a purely ethnic viewpoint. But from a his­torical viewpoint this is a distinction that disappears within a few generations. In the long run, all the members of the Israelite nation, strangers or native born, are Jewish. When Hegg comes to consider Paul’s theology of adoption, he seems to equate the aforementioned national inclusion of born Israelites and strangers with the pauline conception of the adoption as sons: “All of God’s chosen ones, whether descended from Jacob or brought near from the nations com­prise the people called God’s adopted son” (p. 47). In this way, the Commu­nity of Yeshua the Messiah comprises the believing remnant of Israel and the faithful of the nations. But the real question is whether the faithful of the na­tions in the Messianic Community become identified with Israel on a national level, in the same way as the strangers before the appearance of Messiah. This question is not treated by Hegg in its propter terms, because he conceives of Jewishness as a purely ethnic reality, a matter of lineage only. But precisely this conception is untenable in my view. A historical people never is to be equated with ethnicity.

For the Jewish people in particular such a point of view would have disastrous results. Large parts of it, descendants from converts, would be a kind of illigitimate Jews, despite the fact that they factually are fully incor­porated in the Jewish people. Thus there are two vital differences here. First, peoplehood or nationality appears to be something different from he­redity. Second, identification on a national level may not be equated too quickly with inclusion by faith. Identification on a national level may be by birth or by legal means, by a change of nationality. Identification by faith is not by birth, nor by any legal means, but is a spiritual reality. It is clear that Paul meant that Gentiles have been brought within the com­mon­wealth of Israel by means of their faith. Well, no one can become a mem­ber of another nation by such a thing as faith. I am a Dutchman, but I cannot be­come a member of the British commonwealth, or the British nation for that matter, by any faith whatsoever, not even by adopting the faith of the Angli­can Church. If I want to become British, I have to change my nationality in an orderly formal and legal way, otherwise things would become hopelessly confused. In Israel in the days of Paul this change of nationality was per­formed by the rabbinic conversion process. Hegg’s interpretation of the rabbinic conversion remains largely unintel­ligible to me. First, I never found that the rabbis conception of the proselyte ritual is that of an ethnic status change. That would be a selfcontradictory con­ception, because ethnic status by definition can never change. A person has the parents he has and the heredity he has. No one can change that, not even a rabbinic tribunal. Neither does the rabbinic conversion intend to perform such a kind of change. The rabbis do not say that one’s ethnic status is changed by the conversion ritual. One’s legal status and one’s peoplehood is changed. The convert becomes a legal (or adopted ) son of Abraham because he chooses for a change of peoplehood, of nationality. That is the basic idea. A change of nationality or peoplehood is far from selfcontradictory, in contra­distinction to an ethnic change, which is a contradiction in the very terms.

The rabbis conceived of this change of nationality as motivated by faith in the one God of Israel. Faith is always presupposed by the rabbis as the real and valid motive for conversion. But at the same time, faith should not be seen as the formal and legal means of national inclusion. In this respect it is only a motivating force. One of the new things consequential upon of the appearance of Messiah ac­cording to Paul is that Gentile believers can become faithful covenant mem­bers without national inclusion in Israel. They need not become members of the chosen nation. Their faith therefore need not (perhaps even must not for Paul) result in circumcision, as this would be an effort to perfect by the flesh what was be­gun in the Spirit (Gal. 3:3). The Gentile believers must not get circumcised, because the result of covenantal circumcision is national inclusion in Israel according to Paul. By means of circumcision — whether this be interpreted as the rabbinic procedure or as the biblical commandment is irrelevant at this point —, Paul conceives one to be added to the community of the circum­cised. The community of the circumcised for Paul is the circumcised nation, Israel. This national inclusion was precisely what the Pharisees of Acts 15:3 were attempting to bring about. For them the unity of the nation and the unity of the faith was the same thing. Paul however at this point makes a cru­cial dis­tinction.  To put it simply, Hegg’s primary distinction is between ethnic inclusion in Israel and inclusion by faith. He conceives both types of inclusion as national inclusion if I have understood him correctly.

My primary distinction however is between national inclusion and inclusion by faith. Inclusion by faith in my view therefore does not necessarily result in national inclusion. Gentile mem­bers of the Messianic Community can be spiritually included in Israel, with­out national identification (through circumcision).  

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19 Responses to “On Tim Hegg’s Fellow Heirs; A Critical Review”


  1. 1 graspingmashiach March 30, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Messianic613,

    I would ask, how do you define “faith”? It seems from your article above that you take the Orthodox Christian definition of “faith” as being conviction, or intellectual/emotional consent to a creed or truth which is limited to a “spiritual reality”.

    Faith, in a Hebraic context encompasses “faithfulness” or “deeds” as James so aptly put it “I will show you my faith by what I do”. The word translated as “faith” (and occasionally “belief”) throughout the AS is the Greek “pistis” which in the LXX translates the Hebrew “emunah” (faithfulness/steadfastness) and occasionally “emet” (truth/faithfulness/reliability). In the Tanakh faith or belief (emunah/emet) is never understood as merely a spiritual reality devoid or disconnected from deed.

    The inception of Klal Israel as described in Exodus 19 seems to define the national identity of Israel with obedience to Torah (i.e. “if ye shall obey my voice” “and keep my covenant” “ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”).

    You are correct to say you cannot change nationality by means of faith alone, if faith indeed encompasses only creed or spirituality. As you stated; in order to become an Englishman you would have to change your nationality in a formal and legal way, which would require understanding, accepting, and observing the laws of the British Commonwealth.

    Is this not exactly what is seen in Exodus 19? Clearly the inception of Klal Israel required a covenant (a formal and legal agreement between two parties). The covenant centered on the word and judgments of Hashem as detailed in Exodus 24, and was ratified by the people’s admonition of “we will do and we will hear” (na’aseh v’nishma).

    If obedience to G-d’s voice and keeping of His covenant are indeed at the very heart of the legal and formal details necessary for recognition of Israel as a nation before Him, then it would seem that faith (in the Hebraic sense of faithfulness to Torah through reliability in deed motivated by belief and devotion to the G-d of Israel) is sufficient to include one as a member of Klal Israel.

    Is this not also seen in the words of 1 Peter 2:9 in which he employs the identical phraseology of Exodus 19:6, and uses this national identification to admonish gentile believers regarding the importance of “good works” (v.12)?

    Respectfully submitted,

    Pori’el

    • 2 Marcus Blair November 27, 2015 at 7:44 pm

      It is interesting the variety of ways we as humans interpret what itears to be, “a part.” How we define that and ceremonial show that the process has been completed, i.e. paperwork, baptism, circumcision, and so on. At the end of the day Paul is very much against what he feels is not G-d’s way of doing things. I can only imagine what it was like in Paul’s day and age. Perhaps a brief conversation with him would clear the air on soon much. Maybe one day, until Mashiach comes we will be left to discuss the finer points of who’s who in the nation of Israel. Both before our King and Creator, as well as, the Goyim.

  2. 3 messianic613 April 6, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Pori’el,

    This is an excellent question that shows a genuine understanding of the reality of faith in a hebraic and biblical context as a walk of faithfulness that comprises deeds and actions, and, more specifically, deeds and actions that are commanded by HaShem, i.e. Torah observance. However, if we understand faith in this manner I still don’t think it is true that by a faithful walk of Torah observance a member of the Gentile nations is changed into a member of the Jewish nation, the nation of Israel. For the moment I would maintain the position that being an Israelite or a Jew is a wholly other matter then being a believer in Messiah Yeshua.

    This can be derived from the basic facts that 1) being an Israelite in most cases (i.e. apart from a rabbinic giur) is simply a matter of natural birth; and that 2) being a believer in Messiah Yeshua is never simply a matter of natural birth. My answer therefore could be summed up in the following counter question: If being a believer in Messiah Yeshua implies being included in the nation of Israel, then why is the reverse not true? Why does being a member of national Israel not imply being a believer in Yeshua? We all know that it is very well possible to be a Jew and the same time to be a non-believer in Yeshua. In fact, most Jews would say that unbelief in Yeshua is the only possible Jewish position. So why should the status of being a believer in Messiah imply inclusion in the Jewish nation at all? It seems that these two realities are on two wholly distinct levels.

    Also empirically, it is clear that a non-Jew is not accepted by the Jewish nation as a genuine Israelite simply by becoming Torah observant. From the viewpoint of rabbinic Judaism such a non-Jew cannot even be called Torah observant, for the rabbinic viewpoint implies that Torah observance includes subjection to rabbinic authority. A non-Jew who subjects himself to rabbinic authority however has to undergo a giur process to become a (proselyte) Jew. Thus experience clearly teaches us that a faithful walk of Torah observance as such — without subjecting oneself to the rabbinic system — does not result in national inclusion in Israel at all.

    In Exodus ch. 19 Israel is shown to enter into a contractual relation with HaShem by a formal and legal agreement, as you rightly say. This agreement can be compared to a marriage contract. No one enters into marriage simply by living with a partner — for that is what we call concubinate, not marriage — but by some formal and contractual declaration. So there seems to be a difficulty in the concept of Gentile inclusion in Israel, as soon as this inclusion is conceived as national inclusion instead of as inclusion by faith.

  3. 4 graspingmashiach April 8, 2008 at 4:05 am

    Messianic613,

    From your above response you seem to be blurring the distinction between ethnicity and nationality that you were so careful to distinguish in your original post. Being ethnically Jewish is a matter of birth as you rightly said. However “Israel” in the Biblical sense of G-d’s children, nation or people, is not defined by ethnicity as Paul teaches that “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (Romans 9)

    Obviously faith in Yeshua does not change one’s ethnicity which is logically deduced by the fact that ethnicity is a matter of genetics and bloodline. However, if ethnicity is not a defining factor of an Israelite (in the sense of G-d’s people/nation) then this is a mute point.

    Regarding your question; “If being a believer in Messiah Yeshua implies being included in the nation of Israel, then why is the reverse not true?” Again I think that one needs to clarify what it means to be a “believer” in Messiah Yeshua. Who is Yeshua in the most basic sense if not “the word made flesh”, the Torah (the mind, will and word of G-d), completely embraced and perfectly lived out in human form? If Yeshua is the Torah then what does it mean to “believe” in him? If belief in him simply means an intellectual consent regarding his perfect and sinless life on earth, sacrificial death, and resurrection from the dead, and confession of such facts as creed, then your hypothesis is true for “national Israel” as we know her today does not accept that part of the equation.

    However, if belief is to be understood in its Hebraic and Biblical sense as deeds and faithfulness to Torah, then belief in Yeshua encompasses not merely an intellectual understanding of his life and role in his first coming, but also a committed faithfulness to what he stood for and lived out — which is perfect, 100% Torah. Yeshua clearly equated belief in Moses (i.e. Torah faithfulness) with belief in himself (John 5:46,47).

    Reversing the equation; “why does being a member of national Israel not imply being a believer in Messiah Yeshua?” I would conjecture that in the most basic sense it does. A belief and hope in Messiah, is considered one of the 13 articles of faith as codified by Maimonides. Every morning devout Jews pray “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, even though he may tarry. Even so I wait for him to come every day.” The Messianic idea has always been a part of Judaism and encompasses the general truths of an anointed one who will be anointed King at the end of days (acharit ha-yamim) and usher in a time future of spiritual rewards.

    The fact that Israel does not recognize the Messiah as Yeshua specifically, I believe, is due to what Paul explained in Romans 11:25 as the “mystery” of Israel experiencing a “blindness in part, until the full number of the Gentiles come in”. I also personally have wondered if this “partial blindness” was not an overwhelming focus and anticipation of Mashiach as a great King (Mashiach Ben David) to the exclusion or disregard of his role as servant/savior (Mashiach Ben Joseph).

    It would seem to be this same “partial blindness” that plagues Israel today as they do not define Mashiach as savior, but continue to watch for him as “anointed one” (King). Whatever the case, the Mashiach they are waiting for, and believing in is one in keeping with the scriptural record, a great anointed king, from the line of David, who we recognize as Yeshua of Nazareth (by G-d’s grace and mercy alone), even though they do not at this present time.

    Along the same lines, the truth that Torah observance without subjugation to the rabbinic system does not qualify one as national Israel today (in the eyes of national Israel) is also, I believe, explained by Paul as the natural outgrowth of jealousy due to the “blinding in part” (Romans 11:11). For this reason I am cautious of using man-made or traditional rabbinic definitions or practices to define who is Klal Israel and prefer to define such things along the lines of scripture itself.

    To conclude: the only reason that belief in Yeshua should imply inclusion in Klal Israel is if Klal Israel is defined by Torah obedience, for Yeshua is the living Torah, the “word made flesh”. As far as I can see in the scriptural record, this is indeed the case. If Torah is the legal and formal details ratified in covenant form that defines Israel as a nation, whether that be understood as a ketubah, or a contract, or a constitution etc. doesn’t matter, for those are mere forms or expressions of what is legal and binding. Therefore I would humbly ask for further clarification on your final point above.

    Respectfully,

    Pori’el

  4. 5 messianic613 April 9, 2008 at 1:21 am

    Pori’el,

    You touched on many important points in your comment. For the moment I would prefer to reply only to those parts of it that directly bear on the issue of Jewish or Gentile identity. It is my intention to publish an article on this weblog that takes stock of this complex and difficult matter. In fact, one of the main objectives of this blog is to investigate thoroughly and further clarify all the aspects involved in this very basic question of Gentile identity in Messiah. Please consider therefore that my answers reflect the current status of my research and are not meant to be definitive.

    Statement of Pori’el:
    “From your above response you seem to be blurring the distinction between ethnicity and nationality that you were so careful to distinguish in your original post. Being ethnically Jewish is a matter of birth as you rightly said. However “Israel” in the Biblical sense of G-d’s children, nation or people, is not defined by ethnicity as Paul teaches that “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (Romans 9).”

    Answer of Messianic613:
    I always carefully distinguished between the concepts of ethnicity and peoplehood (or nationality). All Jews are either Jewish by birth or by giur. These two categories constitute the Jewish people, or, in other words, the nation of Israel. Paul says indeed that “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel”, because not all those belonging to the nation of Israel are fulfilling their calling to be faithful and true believers. Thus a distinction is made here by Paul not between ethnic and national Israel, but between the nation Israel and those of that nation that are true believers (the remnant). One can be either an Israelite by birth, or by giur, but neither by birth nor by giur does a person belong to the category of those that have saving faith, the category of the faithful. Both the faithful Jewish remnant (the Jewish believers in Yeshua) and the nation of Israel as such are composed of both ethnic Jews and proselytes. Within the nation of Israel, then, three categories can be distinguished: 1) ethnic Jews (or Jews by birth); 2) proselyte Jews (or Jews by rabbinic giur); 3) believers in Messiah Yeshua (ethnic Jews as well as proselytes). From this threefold distinction it is clear that belief or unbelief in Messiah is irrelevant as to one’s Jewish status. A member of the Jewish people can be either a believer in Yeshua or not. In both cases he or she is Jewish. Likewise, I would say, the nationality of a Gentile is not changed by his being a believer in Yeshua, whether this belief leads to Torah observance or not. The Community of Messiah Yeshua comprises both Israelites and Gentiles. Moreover, the name “Israel” is never used in Scripture to designate the Community of all believers in Messiah Yeshua.

    Statement of Pori’el:
    “Obviously faith in Yeshua does not change one’s ethnicity which is logically deduced by the fact that ethnicity is a matter of genetics and bloodline. However, if ethnicity is not a defining factor of an Israelite (in the sense of G-d’s people/nation) then this is a mute point.”

    Answer of Messianic613:
    Faith in Messiah does neither change one’s ethnicity nor one’s nationality. An Israelite remains an Israelite, whether he believes in Messiah or not, likewise a Frenchman remains a Frenchman, whether he be a believer or not. This is not exclusively about bloodline, for one can either be an Israelite by birth or by giur, and one can either be a Frenchman by birth or by a change of nationality. Ethnicity is not the only defining factor of being an Israelite, but it is not irrelevant. It is one of the defining factors. The other one is giur.

    Statement of Pori’el:
    “Regarding your question; “If being a believer in Messiah Yeshua implies being included in the nation of Israel, then why is the reverse not true?” Again I think that one needs to clarify what it means to be a “believer” in Messiah Yeshua. Who is Yeshua in the most basic sense if not “the word made flesh”, the Torah (the mind, will and word of G-d), completely embraced and perfectly lived out in human form? If Yeshua is the Torah then what does it mean to “believe” in him? If belief in him simply means an intellectual consent regarding his perfect and sinless life on earth, sacrificial death, and resurrection from the dead, and confession of such facts as creed, then your hypothesis is true for “national Israel” as we know her today does not accept that part of the equation.
    However, if belief is to be understood in its Hebraic and Biblical sense as deeds and faithfulness to Torah, then belief in Yeshua encompasses not merely an intellectual understanding of his life and role in his first coming, but also a committed faithfulness to what he stood for and lived out — which is perfect, 100% Torah. Yeshua clearly equated belief in Moses (i.e. Torah faithfulness) with belief in himself (John 5:46,47).”

    Answer of Messianic613:
    The point that demands proof here is that a Gentile that has a committed faithfulness to the Torah by that fact is changed into an Israelite or a Jew. I would say that this still requires some kind of formal declaration by a legal Jewish authority, e.g. a court of Law. In fact every change of national status requires such a formal recognition. Otherwise a lot of confusion may arise, because the national status of the person is not clear. In that case the question cannot be answered whether the person is formally and legally accountable for his actions. Therefore it is important to know at what point in time this change of peoplehood or nationality actually occurs, and whether it is irreversible or not. It must be clear to what category the person belongs and what his responsibilities are.

    Statement of Pori’el:
    “Reversing the equation; “why does being a member of national Israel not imply being a believer in Messiah Yeshua?” I would conjecture that in the most basic sense it does. A belief and hope in Messiah, is considered one of the 13 articles of faith as codified by Maimonides. Every morning devout Jews pray “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, even though he may tarry. Even so I wait for him to come every day.” The Messianic idea has always been a part of Judaism and encompasses the general truths of an anointed one who will be anointed King at the end of days (acharit ha-yamim) and usher in a time future of spiritual rewards.”

    Answer of Messianic613:
    If belief in Messiah Yeshua was strictly implied by being a member of the nation of Israel no one could be Jew or Israelite without being a believer in Yeshua. It is obvious that this is not true. You are right however in saying that belief in Messiah Yeshua is demanded of the Jew as well as of the Gentile. By obeying the Gospel the Jew joins the believing remnant of Israel. However, by not obeying it he does not lose his temporal covenant status of being a Jew and an Israelite! He remains a Jew during the temporal life here on earth, but he loses his portion in the World to Come. He is a disobedient Jew, but still a Jew. Jewishness cannot be lost by unfaithful behaviour or unbelief. Neither can it be acquired by faithful behaviour or belief.

  5. 6 graspingmashiach April 9, 2008 at 4:06 am

    Messianic613,

    I appreciate your willingness to consider the points and conjectures that I have presented in what you rightfully define as a most complex subject. Though you have clearly stated that an article regarding Gentile identity in Messiah is forthcoming, I would ask for your patient consideration of a few additional points I would like to present.

    In your previous response you stated:

    “The point that demands proof here is that a Gentile that has a committed faithfulness to the Torah by that fact is changed into an Israelite or a Jew. I would say that this still requires some kind of formal declaration by a legal Jewish authority, e.g. a court of Law.”

    Again I am compelled to return to the birth of national Israel as given in the Exodus account in addressing your statement above. From the Exodus account we know that upon leaving Egypt a mixed-multitude (erev rav) also journeyed along with the ethnically born people of Israel (Exodus 12:38). However, in the ratification of the covenant as given in Exodus 24, the distinction between people groups is not made as all the words and all the judgments of the L-RD were told to all the people, and it was all the people who answered and said “we will do and we will hear”.

    After verbalizing their commitment of faithfulness to Torah, a formal ratification ceremony ensues in which an altar is built and 12 standing stones are erected “according to the twelve tribes of Israel” (Exodus 24:4). The altar and the standing stones represent the two parties of the covenant. The altar represented G-d, and the 12 standing stones represented Israel. There is no “third party” or “thirteenth stone” to cover or represent those who are not of Israelite descent (ethnically). All the people, who together verbally committed to “do and hear” Torah, were presented before G-d as Israel.

    Therefore, the details of the Exodus 24 account seems to indicate that a commitment to Torah indeed caused the mixed multitude among the ethnic Israelites to be reckoned as national Israel.

    Shalom,

    Pori’el

  6. 7 messianic613 April 13, 2008 at 1:19 am

    Pori’el,

    From what follows I conclude that you — and a lot of Messianics — are not using the terminology of “national inclusion” in its literal sense, when speaking about inclusion in national Israel.

    Statement of Pori’el:
    Again I am compelled to return to the birth of national Israel as given in the Exodus account in addressing your statement above. From the Exodus account we know that upon leaving Egypt a mixed-multitude (erev rav) also journeyed along with the ethnically born people of Israel (Exodus 12:38). However, in the ratification of the covenant as given in Exodus 24, the distinction between people groups is not made as all the words and all the judgments of the L-RD were told to all the people, and it was all the people who answered and said “we will do and we will hear”.

    Answer of Messianic613:
    The ratification of the covenant by the whole nation of Israel at Sinai is of course a unique event that is not repeatable. However, it seems to confirm my statement that it is by a formal ceremony of acceptance that the nation — composed of born Israelites and strangers (gerim) — became legally responsible for the entire content of the Torah. The gerim then present at the Sinai event were by this solemn ceremony formally included in the nation of Israel, and from that moment on they were halachically (or: legally) Israelites, and their later children home-born Israelites. When, after the Sinai event, individual new strangers were added to Israel it seems only reasonable that a similar formal inclusion ceremony was developed (especially in exilic situations) to ensure national identity and Torah observance. For it is clear that inclusion in a nation is a public affair and that is has to be known by the public as well as by the legal authorities who is “in” and who is “out” and what are the rules for each of these classes. I for instance am a Dutchman. What would happen if I moved to the United Kingdom and lived there for years and obeyed the British laws &tc? Would I become British by the fact of observing the British laws or by making an individual commitment to myself to do so? Of course not. A formal and legal change of nationality has to take place, and I have to receive a new passport and so on. Only after this has taken place I’m fully British with all the responsibilities and rights of a member of the British nation, not before. My whole doubt in regard of Hegg’s conception in his Fellow Heirs is that such a formal and ceremonial change of nationality never seems to take place and even seems to be completely absent from it. It is simply not clear in Hegg’s thought who is formally an Israelite and who is not; who is formally bound to full Torah observance and who is still in the process of becoming fully observant. This has huge implications for the status of new born children in Torah Observant Messianic Communities. What is, for example, the status of the children of Torah observant parents of Gentile descent? Are they Israelites? If yes, why? If no, why not?

    Statement of Pori’el:
    After verbalizing their commitment of faithfulness to Torah, a formal ratification ceremony ensues in which an altar is built and 12 standing stones are erected “according to the twelve tribes of Israel” (Exodus 24:4). The altar and the standing stones represent the two parties of the covenant. The altar represented G-d, and the 12 standing stones represented Israel. There is no “third party” or “thirteenth” stone to cover or represent those who are not of Israelite descent (ethnically). All the people, together verbally committed to “do and hear” Torah, were presented before G-d as Israel.

    Answer of Messianic613:
    With this I fully agree. As I stated again and again, ethnicity never was a fundamental difficulty for belonging to the nation. The only point is: who does belong to the nation and who does not? And by what means is one who is not born as a member of the nation added to it? By what formal and legal ceremony is he accepted? The orthodox solution is: by means of a legal adoption into Israel, which is called giur. Hegg’s rejects this solution. His own solution seems to be: by faith in Messiah Yeshua. Hegg’s solution raises two difficulties: 1) Practically, nowadays faith in Messiah doesn’t include in Israel, in fact it excludes from it; 2) Faith, even if it comprises Torah observance cannot change a Gentile into an Israelite. A Gentile cannot become an Israelite simply by observing Shabbat, by laying tefillin, &tc. So the question remains in Hegg’s conception: As soon as a Gentile acquires the status of full Torah observance, then by what subsequent means does he become formally and legally adopted in the nation of Israel? If there is such a means, then it must of course be officially recognized by the Jewish authorities (and that includes in our days the State of Israel). Otherwise there is no national inclusion but some other kind of inclusion, perhaps spiritual inclusion, i.e. inclusion by faith and observance. If a person however says that he is included in the nation of Israel, and yet this fact is not recognized by the nation of Israel itself, then what does this person mean to say? What does this person understand by the term “Israel”? In that case, this term really seems no longer to stand for the nation as it really exists but instead for some other entity.

    Statement of Pori’el:
    Therefore, the details of the Exodus 24 account seems to indicate that a commitment to Torah indeed caused the mixed multitude among the ethnic Israelites to be reckoned as national Israel.

    Answer of Messianic613:
    The commitment in Ex. 24 was a public and ceremonial commitment of the whole nation that was constituted at that time. It confirms exaclty what I said, for by this formal ratification ceremony the strangers were included in the nation of Israel, and they became Israelites. If afterwards individual new strangers wanted to be included, a similar formal ratification had to take place. My question is: What is this formal ratification ceremony nowadays, whereby Gentile believers are nationally adopted into Israel? It is clear that a personal and individual decision to lead a Torah observant life is wholly insufficient here. Why should the nation of Israel recognize a Torah observant Gentile who doesn’t apply at all to the authorities with a formal request for inclusion? Why should the United Kingdom recognize as one of its members a Dutchman who adopts a British lifestyle but never applies for a formal change of nationality?
    It seems that Messianic Gentiles are using the name “Israel” in a rather abstract and spiritual sense here, and yet, confusingly, are speaking of “national inclusion”. What they actually mean however is not national inclusion but spiritual inclusion, or inclusion by faith and by Torah observance. National inclusion means inclusion in the actual existing nation of Israel. And that implies a formal recogniton of Jewishness by the Rabbis and by the State of Israel.

  7. 8 torah1 July 12, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    If Jewishness is not defined by ethnicity, then why did the Rabbis invoke the ruke that one is Jewish if he/she were born to a Jewish mother?

    The rabbis knew what they were doing, they cover all the angles. You want faith? Convert. You want ethnicity, have a Jewish mother.

    Hegg is right in his conclusion. If one think in terms of covenants his conclusion becomes clear.

    • 9 messianic613 July 14, 2009 at 7:08 pm

      To Torah1:
      According to the rabbinic halachah Jewish identity is either by birth or by the ritual of conversion (giur). According to Hegg, however, Jewish identity is only by birth, for, in his Fellow Heirs he rejects the rabbinic conversion ritual. He says (p. 32-33): “[…] the Scriptures nowhere contain a ritual of conversion, since this was a later rabbinic innovation. Nor do the Scriptures ever suggest that when one attaches himself to Israel or to the God of Israel, his ethnic status changes. Thus, the “ritual of conversion” was a rabbinic idea, not a biblical one. Indeed, from the first giving of the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 12), the inclusion of the nations within the covenant is envisioned, not as those who “become Jews”, but as “foreigners” who are brought near and made covenant members. While the promise is realized first among the physical offspring of Abraham, the goal is that all the nations would be blessed in him, not through some ritual that supposedly provides one with a new heredity, but through faith in the same Messiah in whom Abraham believed, a faith that would change the heart to do God’s will”.

      Hegg thus distinguishes two ways of being included in the people of Israel: By birth, and this is what constitutes being a Jew; and by faith in Messiah, and this is what consitutes being saved for eternity. For a Jew faith in Messiah has the effect of being a saved Jew; for a non-Jew faith in Messiah has the additional effect of being included in Israel, without becoming a Jew.

      From the above citation it is clear that Hegg doesn’t acknowledge rabbinic conversion as legitimate. Jewishness is only an ethnic category and thus only obtained by birth. The logical consequence of Hegg’s position is that all rabbinic conversions are illegitimate and that rabbinic converts, and their posterity, are no real Jews at all.

      I think that this consequence, as well as other aspects of Hegg’s view, are very unsatisfactory in the light of the historic continuity of the Jewish people. One of these other aspects is that it is unclear in Hegg’s view what is the halachic status of the offspring of non-Jews who attached themselves to Israel by their faith in Messiah.

      Shalom,
      Messianic613

  8. 10 torah1 July 21, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Tim Hegg does not teach history nor rabbinic halacha, he teaches Scriptures. As long as you keep confusing the terms you will never reach an accurate opinion on Heggs teachings.

  9. 11 messianic613 July 21, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    To Torah1:

    As can be seen from the first paragraph of the Review, its objective was to investigate the internal consistency of Hegg’s ideas. Independent from the question of the scriptural or rabbinic content of Hegg’s teaching the Review only addressed its logical and conceptual coherence.

  10. 12 torah1 August 5, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Thank you for your response.
    Hegg addresses himself only to what the Scriptures say as he does in all his theological teachings. His view which I wholehearedly agree with, is that what happended throughout history does not shape one’s understanding of Scriptures.

    Your understanding is nationalistic, not biblical. there is no mandate in Scriptures for a ritual that makes a non-Jew into a Jew.

    • 13 messianic613 August 5, 2009 at 9:41 pm

      To Torah1

      What do you mean by saying that my interpretation is nationalistic? If Israel is a nation and Gentile believers are fully included in Israel then I guess they are included in the nation of Israel, and this seems to be exactly reflecting Hegg’s line of thought. In fact this is what Hegg is trying to prove. He says (Fellow Heirs, p. 32):

      « Quite clearly, the people redeemed from Egypt, called “children of Israel”, were comprised of both native-born and foreigners. As far as the Exodus narrative is concerned, Israel, whom God redeemed from Egypt, was comprised of both native-born and gerim, “sojourners”, or those whose clan identity was outside that of the tribes of Jacob. What is more, this s ame mixed multitude stands at the foot of Mt. Sinai and accepts the covenant of the Torah. According to Exodus 19, the people redeemed from Egypt by God’s power are those who arrived at Sinai. And when the covenant terms are announced to the people, the text states: “All the people answered together and said: ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do!’” (Exodus 19:8). The native-born together with the foreigner constituted the covenant people who received the Torah at Sinai. »

      Thus it is clearly stated by Hegg that the foreigner is included in the people and nation of Israel. How can one deny that he is speaking of a national inclusion?

      The problem I see in Hegg’s position is — as far as Messianics and Messianic Judaism are concerned — that in his view a national inclusion is effected by a purely spiritual means, i.e. by the act of faith. Hegg doesn’t make clear, however, how this spiritual means can effect a national inclusion on the juridical level of Torah legislation. This problem is simply not dealt with in Hegg’s book. I’m afraid that Hegg’s view is based on a confusion between the juridical and the spiritual level. And I think that there is a lot of confusion about these two levels in messianic circles.

      The Torah is not only “spiritual” in the sense of educating us to walk in HASHEM’s ways. It also contains a juridical framework that cannot be ignored, and a penal code that is part of that framework. In this juridical sphere it has to be cristal clear who is under the (full) jurisdiction of the Torah and who is not. Suppose, for the sake of the argument, that the man who transgressed by gathering sticks in Num. 15 was a Gentile who had recently joined israel. The then relevant question would be: Is this Gentile already fully responsible, and thus in a juridically equal position to an adult Jew, or was he only recently added to Israel and still under the guidance and responsibility of his Jewish teachers? There has to be a juridical criterion to answer this legal question. If the answer given to this question would have sounded like: “Well, we are all sinful people and all of us are in the process of becoming more and more obedient”, then the whole legal system of the Torah would collapse. Justice cannot be upheld in a world that has no clear cut distinctions and regulations in the public realm of maintaining the law. This is as true today as it was in Ancient Israel.

      Compare this with a legal contract, for instance a marriage contract. If a man sleeps with the woman who is to become his wife the night before the marriage ceremony is held and the contract is signed, he is gravely sinning. If he sleeps with her the night after the ceremony he is not sinning. Likewise, if I was not included in the juridical framework of the Torah while found gathering sticks on the Sabbath, I was not sinning and I did not deserve capital punishment. But if I did this while being included in this framework, then it was of course a sin and I took the risk of running into capital punishment. If these and other relevant legal distinctions are not clear, then the concept of sin becomes hopelessly vague. Therefore, the idea of Torah observance for Gentiles has to contain the concept of a formal and legal demarcation moment in time, that causes the included person to be legally accountable and responsible for his walk from that moment on.

      Hegg’s position is vague here, because he seems only to be interested in the spiritual foundation of (the process of) becoming Torah observant. He doesn’t address the question at what time this process results in formal legal accountability.

  11. 14 torah1 August 16, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Hegg’s consistentcy is scriptural. So far you have not been able to rebut him from Scriptures.

    • 15 messianic613 August 16, 2009 at 6:57 pm

      To Torah1:

      To accurately consider this question from a scriptural standpoint one has to imagine a situation that allows for all the Torah commandments to be carried out properly, which implies a functioning Temple. One of the commandments that is to be observed is the yearly consumption of the Passover lamb.

      In Ex. 12:43-49 we find some information about how the precepts for the Passover relate to Gentiles. It is said (Ex. 12:43): “There shall no stranger eat thereof”. However, from what follows we see that the case is different when a Gentile clearly wants to sojourn with Israel. For the stranger who decides to sojourn with Israel there is a possibility to keep the Passover. The text states (Ex. 12:48): “And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to HaShem, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof”. And it is added (:49): “One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and to the stranger that sojourneth among you”.

      Now our question is: At what time, and by what means is this faithful stranger legally included in Israel? At what point of time is he considered an Israelite? The answer is found in the instruction about the Passover in :47: “All the congregation of Israel shall keep it”. By this verse it is explicitly excluded that a faithful stranger, who sincerely believes in the G-d of Israel, is part of “all the congregation of Israel” simply by his faith, before he is circumcised. For it is clear that this uncircumcised stranger cannot partake in the celebration of the Passover of which it is said that “all the congregation of Israel shall keep it”. Obviously, then, this stranger doesn’t belong to “all the congregation of Israel” regardless his faith. Only after his circumcision he is considered to be fully and legally included in the congregation of Israel.

      A consequence of Exodus 12:43-49 would thus be that it is only after circumcision that a believing stranger is legally bound to observe the whole Torah, not before. If my explanation is correct it contains a scriptural argument for the position that faith alone doesn’t cause a Gentile to be legally incorporated in the people of Israel or to be responsible to observe the entire Torah.

      Notice carefully that what is at stake here is only the question of legal inclusion. It follows in no way from the argument given above that the Gentile believer is not by his faith spiritually included in Israel. Nor does it follow that he must be circumcised to be eternally saved. Eternal salvation is only by faith in the blood of Messiah and is not at all on the same level of reality as being legally included in the nation of Israel.

      What is being said here is not the end of the debate about the so called “One Law” position which has recently been given new fuel by certain Ministries. Several other factors have to be brought into the discussion before the “One Law” question can be answered. One of the most important factors here is the nature of the relation between national or legal Israel and the Messianic Assembly. The two can neither be completely identified, nor be completely separated. They cannot be completely identified because only a part of legal Israel belongs to the Messianic Assembly. They cannot be completely separated because the Assembly includes a part of legal Israel. Yet the Messianic Assembly has its own rules and its own legal structure. And within the realm of this Assembly the fact of being spiritually included in Israel by faith in Messiah causes certain obligations for those included. It remains to be seen whether this fact in the end leads to a “One Law” position or not.

      Shalom,
      Messianic613

  12. 16 Ronald September 16, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Messianic 613,

    You say that an uncircumcised Gentile believer is not part of “all the Assembly of Israel”. Now how about an uncircumcised Jew? In the newest issue of Messiah Journal (FFOZ) I read on page 58:

    “Exodus 12:48-49 specifies that no uncircumcised person may eat of a Passover lamb, and then goes on to state that the same law applies to both Jew and non-Jew: “If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be one law for the nattive and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” (Exodus 12:48-49)”

    The author of the article continues: “According to this passage, an uncircumcised Gentile believer is forbidden from eating of a sacrificed Passover lamb. The same law applies to Jewish people. An uncircumcised Jewish man would also be forbidden to eat of the Passover lamb”.

    I would say that an uncircumcised Jew is still a Jew, and thus belongs to the nation of Israel. In fact all male Jews are uncircumcised during the first week of their life. Yet there is no doubt that they belong to the Jewish nation. They are Israelites by birth, not by circumcision. That being so, why would Gentile believers become a part of Israel through circumcision? Are they not already part of Israel by being “born again” (John 3:3), through their faith?

  13. 17 Maymon Sarnicula June 12, 2012 at 12:09 am

    how do you expose Rev 3:9?

  14. 18 Ira Hargis August 3, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    How do you explain this Scripture: Galatians 6:14-16 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

    • 19 Messianic613 August 4, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      An extensive exegesis could fill many pages. What is your specific question about these verses?


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