By Prof. Pinchas Shir and Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg
The book of Revelation contains seven letters intended for the seven assemblies of Christ-followers in the Roman province of Lydia. Some of the recipients were Jews, but most were not. To the seventh assembly, in the city of Laodicea he says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev 3:20).
Some Christians, while addressing a seeker, say: “Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart. Open it for him and he will come into your heart.” However, the people of this assembly already knew God. They were, however, believers whose lifestyle did not allow for true fellowship with the Jewish Messiah and other (probably Jewish) followers of Jesus.
Jews did not eat when they visited the houses of their Gentile acquaintances, because Gentiles partook of the types of foods forbidden by Torah. Because they generally did not avoid purchasing foods already offered to Roman deities in the market. Jews had no problem eating in their own homes with Gentiles, where the commitment to purity required by Torah was guaranteed. This should not be confused with the issue that Paul confronted Peter about in Antioch.
The issue that Paul had with Peter (recounted by Paul in Galatians 2) had to with breaking fellowship with Gentiles who now worshiped Israel’s God in Christ, but did not go through conversion to Judaism. When Paul challenging Peter, said to him that he “lived as a gentile”, he did not refer to Peter’s allegedly non-Jewish lifestyle, but that Peter “lived” (i.e. was made alive) in Christ in exactly the same Gentiles were made alive in Christ – by grace through faith, and not because of obedience to the Torah (Eph.2:1-22). Peter’s apostolic commissioning to primarily minister to Jews, renders our modern de-Judaized interpretation (of “you live as a Gentile”) nothing short of absurd. This was very much in line with what Peter witnessed himself when a group of Gentile God-fearers became recipients of the Holy Spirit of Israel’s God, without first becoming fully committed to the entire Torah as Jews! (Acts 10)
Jesus’ rebuke to the church at Laodicea is harsh, yet offers incredible hope. Laodicean Christ-followers must abandon their pagan ways or face judgment. But if they bring themselves into compliance with the letter of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) which reminded Gentile believers of the Torah requirements for sojourners with Israel, the Judean Messiah Jesus would visit their homes personally in order to have an intimate fellowship around the table together with them. There was no greater privilege for Jew or Gentile alike! There are even more hidden treasures just waiting for you to unearth when you begin to read the scriptures from a Jewish perspective.
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