Israel: Catholics and the Jewish people? Are we into Replacement Theology?

We love Israel and have been there twice including spending 6 days with an Orthodox Jewish family. The father said, "Those early apostles really were Jewish weren't they?" (Holy Land photos)

The Catholic Church recognizes the great legacy and the ongoing importance of the Jewish people. In his address during his historic visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome April 13, 1986, Pope John Paul II said:

“…the Church of Christ discovers her ‘bond’ with Judaism by ‘searching into her own mystery.’ The Jewish religion is not ‘extrinsic’ to us, but in a certain way is ‘intrinsic’ to our own religion. With Judaism, therefore, we have a relationship which we do not have with any other religion. You are our dearly beloved brothers and, in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers.” (Spiritual Pilgrimage, page 63).

The Catholic Church has been on a pilgrimage in its understanding of Israel, the Jewish people, and Eschatology ever since the Pentecost.

Before discussing the Catholic position on Israel, let us first examine Evangelical positions. There are conflicting views among Evangelicals over the Jewish people in the plan of God's salvation. On one hand there is Premillennial Dispensationalism (Millenarianism). On the other Historic Dispensationalism (Replacement Theology).

View chart of Evangelical Premellenialism vs Prostestant Replacement Theology
Premillennial Dispensationalism (Millenarianismand Pre-Trib) Historic Dispensationalism (Replacement Theology and Post-Trib)
Very "into" modern day Israel. The Jews have a central role in the end times. Nothing special about non-Christian Jews of today. They are like everyone else (the Gentiles). Christianity of the New Covenant totally replaced Judaism of the Old Covenant. They believe Jewish individuals who surrender to Jesus will be saved but there is nothing special going on between God and modern Judaism.

Belief that Christ's objective was to rule a material and earthly kingdom. John Nelson Darby wrote:

The Lord, having been rejected by the Jewish people, is become a wholly heavenly person."
Leading dispensationalist Charles Ryrie says
"Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus' Davidic kingship was offered to Israel (Mat 2:2, 27:11, Jn 12:13), but He was rejected... because the King was rejected, the messianic, Davidic kingdom was (from a human viewpoint) postponed. Though he never ceases to be King and, of course, is King today as always, Christ is never designated King of the Church... though he is King today, he does not rule as King. This awaits His second coming. Then the Davidic kingdom will be realized. (Mat 25:31; Rev 19:15, 20)
Jewish people, as a whole, will accept Jesus immediately before the millennium is established, but there will be no national restoration of Israel
Church is a "parenthetical" insert into history, necessary only because the Jews rejected Christ. This put the Old Testament promises to Israel on hold. The Church is not the the New Israel spoken of by Paul (Gal. 6:16) but is utterly separate. So long as the Church age continues, the Old Testament promises to Israel are on hold waiting to be fulfilled. Church is the New Israel.
There are two people of God: Jews (Earthy people) and Christians (Heavenly people). This was established by Darby and has been a core belief since then. The Old Testament prophesies about an earthly kingdom cannot come to fruition until the Christians are taken out this world by the Rapture. The earthly kingdom would be launched by the tribulation where most Jews will be murdered and the rest will convert to Christianity. There is only one people of God, those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, the Church.
The millennium is a literal 1000 years. The Millennium is a figurative for a "long time" where Jesus will reign on earth over those who have accepted Him as their Saviour

The predominant view among modern evangelicals is dispensational premillennialism and evangelicals interested in this article would most likely be in this camp. This will be our focus.

Dispensationalism puts daylight between Israel and the Church

Pre-Trib and Mid-Trib theories stem from the Dispensational views that:

  1. The Church is not Israel.
  2. God needs to wait until all the Christians are taken from the earthly stage (Raptured) before He deals with Israel.
  3. Old Testament prophesies are for Israel alone, not for the Church which didn't exist when the prophesy was given .
  4. Some prophesies were not fulfilled and therefore apply to the modern nation state of Israel because God is faithful to his promises.

We examine each of these below.

Dispensationalism Point #1: the Church is not Israel.

Catholic View:

We agree that the Jews' rejection of Jesus caused the Apostles to turn to the Gentiles. However the Church is Jewish first.

The Church was born in the Upper Room at the Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit came upon Jews (Acts 2:1-4)

Even when they went out to the streets to preach, the 3000 who became Christian were "Jews and converts to Judaism" (Acts 2:11) The first documented Gentile Christian, Cornelius, is grafted in later. (Acts 10) The apostle Paul says the Gentiles have been...

... grafted in... and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root ...(Rm 11:17-24)

Which is the spiritual heritage and promises of the Jews.

Israel includes unconverted Israel (older brother)
AND the Church (younger brother)

This is not Replacement Theology because it includes modern day Israel and ancient Israel:

  1. Christianity, the new Israel (younger brother), the Jews in the upper room at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) which includes the 10 lost tribes grafted back in with the gentiles AND
  2. The older brother in the faith of Abraham (Jewish people yet to accept Christ) represented by modern day Israel, the holy land, and national Jewish identity.

Israel Christian relationship

There are key decision points in the Bible where the younger brother was given preference. Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, David, etc.

This is not "Replacement Theology" as is found in "historic Dispensationalism". Catholics recognize the role in salvation history of the Jewish people who have yet to accept Jesus.

 ... you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.... salvation is from the Jews ... true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth (Jn 4:21)

The Apostle Paul, in Romans, emphasizes the spiritual nature of being a true Jew, suggesting that true Israel is not defined only by physical descent but by faith and spiritual transformation. See also Eph 2:11-22 and 1 Pt 2:9-10, Rm 11:17-24 for more Biblical evidence as the Church being grafted into Israel.

A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code." (Rm 2:28-29)

We don't think the Jews have been accursed. In the Old Testament, God did not abandon his people even though he allowed them to suffer. St. Paul makes it clear that the Grace and election they had received from God was irrevocable (Rom 11:29).

  • They have a unique heritage and the Patriarchs
  • Scripture made predictions about them
  • God's mercy and love for them is clear
  • They made a critical contribution to the Kingdom of God before Christ
  • They have had a consistent cohesion and identity as a people in view of incredible pressure to assimilate in every age of history

There is a constant theme in the Bible of the elder son and the younger son:

  • Lineage from Adam was transferred to the descendants of Abel from his older brother Cain (who killed Abel)
  • Isaac received the promise in place of his older brother Ishmael
  • Jacob received the blessing in place of his older brother Esau
  • Same principle with kings of Israel: David and his descendants superceded Saul and his son Jonathan.
The responsibility for the New Covenent lies with the Catholic Church. Jesus gave the keys of the Kingdom to Peter and the apostles (Mat 16:18). The Old Covenant is completely dependent on the New Covenant as its source of power just as the Old Testament idea of "One God" is completely dependent on the reality of the Trinity found in the New Testament. Pope Benedict said:

During the Old Testament, God revealed himself partially, gradually, as we all do in our personal relationships. It took time for the chosen people to develop their relationship with God. The Covenant with Israel was like a period of courtship, a long engagement. Then came the definitive moment, the moment of marriage, the establishment of a new and everlasting covenant. As Mary stood before the Lord, she represented the whole of humanity. In the angel’s message, it was as if God made a marriage proposal to the human race. And in our name, Mary said yes. (Lk 1:38) World Youth Day 2008, in Sydney, Australia

The Bible says:

For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. (Romans 2:28, 29)

After the crucifixion, the curtain of the Jewish sanctuary was torn in two (Mk 15:37-39, Lk 23:44-46, Mt 27:51) and the fledgling Church became the New Israel. This idea is found in historic dispensationalism although Catholics would not say it was a replacement for Israel. One might say God's marriage to his people was "consummated" at the Pentecost.

Dispensationalism Point #2: God needs to wait until all the Christians are in Heaven before dealing with the Jews

While we agree the Jewish people will convert "en masse" before the Second Coming, we see no biblical evidence that the promises of God to the Jewish people are dependent on the Christian people being raptured before the Jews accept Jesus as their Saviour.

That would be like a parent who takes the good children out of the room and then gives the bad children a spanking (Tribulation) and a chance to repent, after which he brings the bad kids who repented back into the other room to join the good kids.

Christians were never meant to be completely free of suffering. Jesus suffered to save the world and we suffer also. (Jn 15:20, Col 1:24)

Jesus said he accomplished what he came to do (Jn 17:4, 19:30). The Church was not a backup plan for an unrealized attempt to convert the Jewish people. The Church is integral to the plan.

 The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus... (Catechism 674)

Dispensationalism Point #3: Old Testament prophesies are for Israel alone, not for the Church

Old Testament prophesies can't apply exclusively to modern day Israel. The state of Israel was created in 1948, and is a fulfillment of part of the prophesies, which speak of the land of Israel and the national identity of the Jewish people but ...

Modern Israel has only 2 tribes out of 12, Judah and Benjamin.

The 10 lost tribes are assimilated into the gentiles, lost forever as an identifiable people. (2 Kgs 17:22-23, Hos 1:6-7) Therefore, the prophesies can never apply exclusively to the modern nation state of Israel.

This part of prophesy can only be fulfilled via the Church

The Church was given to the Jews at Pentecost and contains descendants from all 12 tribes of ancient Israel because when the gentiles were grafted in, it included those tribes that were assimilated into the gentiles. Christianity is the fulfillment and completion of Israel's unity in that those lost tribes will be included when people from all nations come to Christ. (Jer. 31:31)

Jesus will unite the 10 lost tribes of Israel with Judah and Benjamin (Micah 2:12-13)

The northern 10 tribes of Israel were lost to Assyria (734 BC), and then assimilated into the Gentile nations, never to be found again. The House of Judah (Judah and Benjamin) are the only Jews that are identifiable today.

The Evangelical book "The Rise and Fall of Dispensationalism", written by a Pre-Trib Christian describes how classic Dispensationalism has fallen out of favour and is not taught in many Evangelical Bible schools anymore. Particularly, the concept that Israel does not include Christian Jews and Gentiles has been abandoned.

Dispensationalism Point #4: Some biblical prophesies are not fulfilled yet ... God is faithful to his promises.

We agree God will fulfill his promises to Israel, those who are descended from the Jews who were at the birth of the Church at the Pentecost, and those who have been grafted into Israel through the blood of the Lamb and modern day Israeli Jews who will convert before Jesus comes back.

What about the poor treatment of the Jews by the Catholic Church?

The Church is on a pilgrimage in its relationship to the Jewish people. There have been many unfortunate episodes in history. From the time of Jesus until Pius XI, (1932), the Church was as blind to the unique role of the Jewish people in God's plan for salvation, as the Jews were to the role of Christ. This has led some Hebrew Catholics such as Roy Schoeman to speculate that this double blindness between the Catholic and Jews, was part of the biblical prophesy that has kept the Jewish people from mass conversion until just before the end times. (Romans 11)

Pius XI said "Antisemitism is inadmissible, spiritually we are all Semites." He threatened to shut down the Vatican paper if they continued to publish anti Jewish material. Although there was antisemitism among pre Vatican II Catholics, and in the clergy, it is important that we do not falsely attribute antisemitism to Pope Pius XI (who started the positive direction), Pope Pius XII during WWII, and John XXIII who introduced Vatican II. John XXIII moved the Council to issue the declaration Nostra aetate ("In Our Time"), which reads in part:

True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. The Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ.

Since that time every pope has gone further in their statements about the Jews and the importance that we honour their special place. Pope John Paul II recognized Israel in 1994 as a diplomatic entity and was the first Pope inside a synagogue. Popes Benedict XVI and Francis have also visited Israel, entered synagogues and have expressed our repentance for actions against Jews.

Show History

There was a false idea in the Middle Ages that since the masses of Christians were illiterate, they had to be protected from any influence that might espouse a different teaching. Christians thought they had to conquer countries and install Christian governments that could control the dissemination of information. Combined with that was the fact that it was a very violent and volatile time. Human rights belief was not at all developed. Ninety thousand Christians were slaughtered in 614 AD in Jerusalem, and the Jewish people approved of the slaughter. There were endless scuffles for limited resources, and fighting in places like Alexandria, and whenever there was oppression of Christians in those days, the Jewish people would never come to the defense of Christians, but rather they joined the persecution. Violence between people runs deeps and is long remembered. When Christianity finally dominated Europe, many Christians mistakenly let that rivalry continue rather than welcome Jewish communities among them. Unfortunately as Christians got stronger and stronger in Europe, there was greater prejudice.

This movement towards better relations has continued to gain momentum. In December 2015, the Pontifical Commission for Relations with the Jews, released a 20 page document entitled "The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable" (Rom 11:29)

The Jewish people's walk of suffering is like that of Jesus

Elias Friedman, President of the Association of Hebrew Catholics, has a proposal worthy of much reflection, that the Jewish people have walked a journey like that of their Messiah, and in so doing may soon come to understand who he is. Here is an excerpt:

As he walked slowly across the stage of history, the Jew took on an uncanny resemblance to Jesus: beaten, spat upon, mocked, derided, bleeding from his judicial scourging, crowned with the thorns of incomprehension, bearing his cross on the way to Golgotha. Jewry ran the gauntlet of the nations...The Jewish Diaspora [Jews living outside of Israel] within Christian Europe ... is one long Via Dolorosa [Passion of Christ]."

Mystically speaking, Jewry as a whole was nailed to the cross and died under Hitler. “We all died in Auschwitz" cried out that great soul A. J. Heschel, in the name of all the Jews of his time. On the third day, three years after the conclusion of hostilities in 1945, Jewry rose from the dead; the State of Israel was proclaimed ... The purpose of this similarity of destiny is obvious. The people of the Messiah had to be molded into the image of their Messiah, in order to learn who the true Messiah was ... about whom we read in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah ... (JEWISH IDENTITY, Elias Friedman, O.C.D, pg. 68-70)

Show a longer excerpt of this discussion

“The passion of Israel" observed Maritain, “is not like that of the Church, a passion of co-redemption, completing what is lacking in the suffering of the Saviour. This passion is not suffered for the eternal salvation of souls, but for the stimulation and emancipation of temporal life. It is the passion of a scapegoat...

Like Jesus, Jewry was a victim; unlike Jesus, it was not pure and innocent. All the same, insofar as it was innocent of the monstrous calumnies of the anti-Semites, object of satanic hatred, of unjust prejudices and violent jealousy, Jewish suffering acquired a quasi-redemptive value, which all innocent suffering merits. The ultimate value of Jewish suffering should be sought for elsewhere than in the present. It lies in the future. The Exile may be compared to a coal mine, its dusty galleries dark and dangerous within, but once coal is extracted it is capable of furnishing light, heat and power to mankind. During the [Babylonian] Exile , Jewry stored up immense quantities of spiritual energy, waiting to be released when the Exile should come to an end.

As he walked slowly across the stage of history, the Jew took on an uncanny resemblance to Jesus: beaten, spat upon, mocked, derided, bleeding from his judicial scourging, crowned with the thorns of incomprehension, bearing his cross on the way to Golgotha. Jewry ran the gauntlet of the nations.

“The Jewish Diaspora within Christian Europe" summed up Maritain, “is one long Via Dolorosa." Mystically speaking, Jewry as a whole was nailed to the cross and died under Hitler. “We all died in Auschwitz" cried out that great soul A. J. Heschel, in the name of all the Jews of his time. On the third day, three years after the conclusion of hostilities in 1945, Jewry rose from the dead; the State of Israel was proclaimed ...the Holocaust remains impenetrable for the modern Jew... Golda Meir ... had no explanation to offer for the tragedy. Neither have religious leaders any consolation ... Sidri Israeli wrote with bitterness: “The Holocaust is simply unintelligible. Whether it be art, religion or ideology, there is no symbolic universe that could attempt to assimilate the Holocaust without the risk of being shaken to the foundations."...

The Holocaust can be integrated into the framework of a Christian interpretation of Jewish history, but only by shattering the Gentile... [notion that the Jews need be absorbed into the Church without a distinct identity].

Jesus prophesied: “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men who will put him to death, and he will be raised up on the third day" (Mt. 17:22-23). In these words Jesus prophesied his own death, the fate of his Mystical Body in the course of Church history and the fate of post-Christic Jewry. Jews, too, would be handed over to the Gentiles to be put to death by them, only to rise on the third day. Not even the feeling of being abandoned by God would be absent from the parallel.

The purpose of this similarity of destiny is obvious. The people of the Messiah had to be molded into the image of their Messiah, in order to learn who the true Messiah was...about whom we read in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah ...

What is more, in Jewish martyrdom Jesus himself is martyred. This corresponds well with the intuition of the Jewish sages that God shares his people’s suffering. The accession [conversion] of Jewry to the [Christian] faith, far from being a break in Jewish history, will be its consummation; it will bring the Jew to the full consciousness of the sense of his own identity and existence. Once faith is given, Jewry will be transformed into a powerhouse of spiritual motivation, sufficient to bring about the “resurrection of the dead", the return to the faith of lapsed Gentility [the first world has all but abandoned all Judeo-Christian values]. Jews have suffered and continue to suffer in view of the role that they are destined to play in the salvation history of mankind.

[at Vatican II] John XXIII threw open a thousand closed windows in the Christian soul, as if preparing to receive the ingrafting of the Jews; the Jews, as if in preparation for their ingrafting, set up a State and captured Jerusalem... Hayyim Hazaz, ... distinguished of modern Hebrew novelists, was prompted to write ... “And now, as in the last days of the ancient world, we are perhaps invited to save Europe from shipwreck".

(JEWISH IDENTITY, Elias Friedman, O.C.D, pg. 68-70)

The full conversion of the Jews in the end times is Biblical

Article 674 of the Catechism states:

The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for a "hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus. (Rom. 11:20-26; Mt. 23:39) ...

St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?" (Rom. 11:15) The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles," (Rom. 11:12, 25; Lk. 21:24) will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ," in which "God may be all in all." (Eph. 4:13; 1 Cor. 15:28).

What about a double covenant, should we just leave the Jews alone?

"That the Jews are participants in God’s salvation is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery." (Source)
Modern Jews are only saved because they remain steadfast in their Messianic hope which properly speaking is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the END of the Mosaic law - both its goal and its terminus. The Catholic Church as an institution does not have an explicit mission to the Jewish community as a whole for a variety of reasons. However, the Vatican says Catholics should witness to individual Jewish people as the Holy Spirit leads.

When Jewish people convert they should be allowed to preserve their unique identity?

Elias Friedman makes it clear that any effective generalization of the Jews will need to guard the unique and cohesive nature of the Jewish people.

The [Vatican II] Constitution, Lumen Gentium, paragraph 16, completed the official teaching enunciated in Nostra Aetate, paragraph 4. It refrained from equating Jewry with the Elect People, but declared it to be secundum electionem, a precious formula, which we translate “held under the régime of the Election"...The teaching of Vatican Council II concerning Jewry dealt a mortal blow to the theory of substitution of the Jews by the Gentiles...[which] had sprung up in patristic times, in the heat of an anti-Jewish polemic ... Kurt Hruby tried valiantly to counteract the imprudent zeal of the [Christian] proselytizers [who wanted full assimilation of Jews into the Church, he said] "What is necessary is an interpretation of the plan of God, less exclusive, which to all appearances continues to reserve a place for Israel according to the principles proper to the plan". JEWISH IDENTITY, Elias Friedman, O.C.D, pg. 49-52

Christian anti-Jewish prejudice has not served the cause of unifying the older brother Israel (of the Promise) with the younger brother, Gentile Christianity. Catholics are coming to understand that the Jewish people who are called to the Church are not called to blind assimilation and absorption into Gentile Christianity. Jewish Christianity in the Catholic Church will need a distinct culture, a distinct calling, which includes cohesion among people of Jewish origin. Christians who try to convert Jews today will not get very far unless they take into account the distinct nature of the "older brother" and understand that the Jewish people are under the "regime of the Election".

There is nothing inconsistent with the preservation of Jewish distinctiveness, and an authentic conversion to Christianity in the Catholic Church. Perhaps the Jewish people who convert will be under a Cardinal who is of Jewish descent, have their own liturgy if they want it, have a worldwide communication network unifying them, and much autonomy in cultural matters with respect to how they live out their calling in the Church.

We saw this when Eastern Catholics returned from the Orthodox Church. Pope John Paul II declared: “Unity, whether on the universal level or the local level, does not mean uniformity or absorption of one group by another. It is rather at the service of all groups to help each live better the proper gifts it has received from God’s spirit.”

As more Jewish people become Christian, they have taught us something that has been wrong with Christian culture, which is an attitude of colonialism. There has been a false notion that Jewish people need to give up their Jewish identity to become Christian. We need to banish that from our thinking, as it's an anti-witness.

Just as Christ showed Paul and Peter that Gentiles do not have to become "Jews" in order to be Christians, we need to be careful not to require Jews to strip their "Jewishness", in order to be Christian. They must be able to maintain their Jewish identity.

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Brian Robbins, a Jewish convert.

Marcus Grodi: "Did your journey into the Catholic Church help you appreciate the beauty of the heritage you brought with you?"

Brian Robbins: "It really did... as I put it to my parents, I became a much better Jew when I became a Christian ...I want to qualify that: Jesus was a Jew, Mary was a Jew, Joseph was a Jew, all 12 of the apostles were Jews, every author of every book of Scripture, except Luke, were Jews."

"I say that because we need to recognize the roots of the faith and the lens through which the original audience that it was intended for was reading this... Christianity is at its heart Jewish. Paul in Romans talks about the Gentiles being grafted in to the promise of Israel... it's not trying to recreate or layer on top of the Mosaic law, but the Mosaic law was pointing to something which is a natural completion. So we would expect to see within Christianity elements of Judaism, and in fact the early Church was so Jewish there was actually a debate about whether Gentiles would need to become Jews to become Christians (Galatians). Do the Gentile believers need to be circumcised and follow all the laws of Moses in order to become part of the Covenant Community? The answer was absolutely "no". Ironically we've come full circle and ... for a lot of people a legitimate question is if a Jewish person comes to Christ do they have to cease to become a Jew to be a Christian the answer to that is also "No!"... the Jewish roots of the faith are extraordinary."

Did Early Gentile Christians hijack Christianity from the Jews?

Modern Messianic Christians think Gentiles should have been grafted into the chosen people (the Jews). They say that Gentile Christians hijacked Christianity from the early Jewish Christians. These denominations sprung up in the 20th century and have no direct lineage to early Christianity. Their theology does not line up with the writings of the first centuries, nor do they line up with each other.

The Church is the Bride of Christ and the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:2) and the keys of the New Covenant were handed over to Peter and the Apostles and his successors (Mat 16:18). The emerging structure of bishops, jurisdictions, and theology is a result of that authority. St. Ignatius used the term "Catholic Church" in about 110 A.D., 20 years after John wrote his Gospel.

Where the bishop is, there let the people be, as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church. Ignatius 107 A.D.

The structure of Israel changed many times over the course of history. Aaron and Moses appointed 70 elders, Samuel annointed Saul as the first of many kings. The kingdoms divided, etc. The structure of Israel changed again with Christianity. A timeline of the Catholic Church is here.

Jewish festivals echoed in Christian Salvation history

The story of Jesus very much follows the Jewish calendar, not because Christians copied the Jewish festivals, but because historical Christian events happened on those days. Christians didn't make up the dates of these events, such as Jesus death, resurrection, Pentecost etc... This, we believe is an amazing act of God to show Jesus as the fulfillment of Jewish prophesy.

Jewish Festival Catholic Equivalent

PASSOVER: Month in which the Passover occur is first month of the year is Nissan because it's the most important festival

10th day of month select perfect lamb

14th day slaughter

Eat entire lamb to stop the angel of death

Passover sacrificial lamb takes the place of the First born who were slaughtered

When we do the math, the 10th day of Nissan, Jesus enters Jerusalem, declared by Pontius Pilate to be without blemish.

Crucified on the 14th day of Nissan

Consume the sacrifice of Jesus in the Eucharist to conquer death

The Last Supper, before Jesus is arrested, the next day he is slaughtered, to take our place

Festival of first fruits: is on the 1st day following the 1st Saturday of Passover, grain offering to the Lord so the rest of the crop would be acceptable.

Jesus Crucified on Friday the Sabbath, He arose from the dead on Sunday, which was on the Jewish festival of First Fruit. He is described as First fruit in Scripture pointing to him being the first to be resurrected from the dead.

Jewish harvest festival of Shavuot: is 50 days after the Passover.

Commemorates Moses coming down from the mountain with the 10 commandments.

The word of God written on stone. the first time he came down they were worshiping the golden calf idol.

Moses smashed the stones. Moses asked the Levites to slaughter 3,000

Pentecost: Ancient Greek: Πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], Pentēkostē [hēmera], "the Fiftieth [day]"

Holy Spirit falls on the disciples of Christ 50 days after the Resurrection. The law was written on their hearts that day. (Jeremiah says a new covenant will be written on our hearts... here it is... on the same day.)

Pentecost Holy Spirit lands of the apostles, and they were all speaking in tongues, preached, and 3,000 were saved by becoming believers. This is the same day as Shavuot.

Prophecy - Jewish feasts point to that which is to come

The above Festivals show a correspondence of historical events in which Christianity fulfills Jewish Prophesy. Below is a chart of what we believe the future will hold, based on Biblical prophecy.


Ros Shannah (Feast of Trumpets) Jewish New Year (7th months)

2nd coming of Christ, Jesus said, "you will not see me again until you say Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." Book of Revelation trumpets herald the coming of Christ. Scripture tells us to repent in preparation.

Yom Kippur - Day of Atonement

Catholics believe that the Jewish nation will call upon the name of the Lord as a collective. (They will look on me, the one whom they have pierced - Zechariah 12:10)

Feast of Tabernacles

Jew and Gentile united in Christ

In the Bible and early Church, wasn't it called "the Way", not Orthodox or Catholic?

In Acts, Jewish Christians used the "the Way" when speaking to Jewish people who didn't recognize Jesus as the fullfillment of Israel It was to destinguish Christianity from other Jewish "ways" (Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots, etc.) who did not recognize the true King of Israel, the only "Way". The "Way, the Truth, and the Life." When Gentile Christians spoke of the Church, they stressed its truth and its universality; and this is why and how the terms "Orthodox" and "Catholic" were applied to the Church from the time of the Gentiles. And those two terms exist today.

A list of 41 Old Testament Prophesies fulfilled in the New Testament in Jesus

Prophecy Summary Fulfillment
Genesis 3:15 Would be the "Seed of a Woman" Galatians 4:4
Genesis 18:18 Promised Seed of Abraham Acts 3:25; Matthew 1:1, Luke 3:34
Genesis 17:19 Promised Seed of Isaac Matthew 1:2
Numbers 24:17 Promised Seed of Jacob Luke 3:34; Matthew 1:2
Genesis 49:10 Will Descend from the Tribe of Judah Luke 3:33
Isaiah 9:7 The Heir to the Throne of David Matthew 1:1; Matthew 1:6
Micah 5:2 Place of Birth to be Bethlehem Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-7
Daniel 9:25 Time of Birth Luke 2:1,2,3-7
Isaiah 7:14 Born of a Virgin Matthew 1:18
Jeremiah 31:15 Massacre of Infants Matthew 2:16-18
Hosea 11:1 Flight into Egypt Matthew 2:14-15
Malachi 3:1 Preceded by Forerunner Matthew 11:10
Isaiah 9:1-2 Ministry in Galilee Matthew 4:12-16
Deuteronomy 18:15 As a Prophet John 6:14, John 1:45; Acts 3:19-26
Psa 110:4 As a Priest, like Melchizedek Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 5:5-6; 7:15-17
Psalm 78:2; Isa 6:9-10 Speaking in Parables Hard to Understand Matthew 13:13-14
Isaiah 53:3 His Rejection By Jews John 1:11
Isaiah 11:2-4 Characterized by Wisdom Luke 2:52
Zechariah 9:9 His Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem John 12:13-14
Psalm 41:9 Betrayed by a friend Mark 14:10
Zechariah 11:12 Sold for thirty pieces of Silver Matthews 26:15
Zechariah 11:13 Money to be Returned for a Potter's Field Matthew 27:6-7
Psalm 109:7-8 Judas's Office to be Taken by Another Acts 1:16-20
Psalm 27:12 False Witnesses Accuse Him Matthew 26:60,61
Isaiah 53:7 Silent When Accused Matthew 26:62-63
Isaiah 50:6 Smitten and Spat Upon Mark 14:65
Psalm 69:4 Was Hated Without A Cause John 15:23-25
Isaiah 53:4-5 Suffered Vicariously Matthew 8:16-17; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3
Isaiah 53:12 Crucified with Sinners Matthew 27:38
Psalm 22:16 Hands and Feet Pierced John 20:25-27
Psalm 22:6-8 Mocked and Insulted Matthew 27:39-44
Psalm 69:21 Given Gall and Vinegar John 19:29
Psalm 22:8 Hears Prophetic Words Repeated in Mockery Matthew 27:43
Psalm 109:4 Prays for His Enemies Luke 23:34
Malachi 3:1 Sins Purged Hebrews 1:3
Zechariah 12:10 His Side to be Pierced John 19:34
Psalm 22:18 Soldiers Cast Lots for His Coat Mark 15:24
Psalm 34:20 Not a Bone to be Broken John 19:33
Isa 53:9 To be Buried with the Rich Matthew 27:57-60
Psalm 16:10 His Resurrection Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:36-48
Psalm 68:18 His Ascension Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9

Source of this table

See also the Association of Hebrew Catholics

An excellent accedemic 123 page discussion from the Association of Hebrew Catholics President is here:

Thanks to Art Sippo, Mark Bonocore, Fr. Terry Donahue, Marty Barrack, and John Pacheco for contributing ideas for this article.