Messianic Judaism is not a new thing. In fact, major threads of Church history would like to hide or ignore the fact that there has always been a thin thread of Torah-keeping believers in Messiah. While never perfectly kept (can anyone?), it is fascinating to study the hidden or marginalized elements of history to find groups and movements true to the written word over the traditions of men. (Look up Waldensians, Seventh-day Baptists, Hussites, etc as examples in the last 1000 years. The thread is present in the dark ages, though much harder to trace. Yet, the promise of a remnant is always fulfilled.)
Apart from recent decades and the growing return to the Torah by believers in Messiah of all stripes, there was a time when a significant portion of believers in Messiah were also Torah-keepers. Acts 20 tells us about it,
18 And the following day Paul went in with us to [a]James, and all the elders were present. 19 After he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, “You see, brother, how many [b]thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law;
Just as Paul is excited to relate the great work Yahweh is doing among the Gentiles, the Jews of Jerusalem are excited to relate the tens of thousands who have believed and are ‘zealous for the Torah!’ TENS of thousands!!
Oh, your Bible doesn’t say that? The Greek does! Look it up. (Just click the footnote above for one source.)
In fact, if we took the smallest possible number from that phrase, it would be 20,000 (many ten thousands). It was probably higher…
Now, consider that historians believe Jerusalem had between 100 and 120,000 occupants at this time and a picture of a significant minority emerges. 20% of the population? 25%, maybe? One out of every four Jews in the Jerusalem area was a believer in Messiah and was zealous for the Torah?? Even if we round down a bit to 1 in 5, or 1 in 6, the clear evidence is fascinating!
The eye-witnesses of Yeshua, those who knew Him better than we do, the ones who walked with Him and talked with Him, were Torah-keeping believers. More so, they were ‘zealous’ for the Torah!!
Why aren’t we?
(I think Christendom has some ‘splaining to do!)
To study more, find out who the real Paul was.