JC Studies Blog


In Numbers 15:39, the LORD tells the men of Israel to put tassels on the four corners of their garments. No doubt you've seen orthodox Jews with these fringes hanging from beneath their clothes. The LORD goes on to teach them that the reason for the tassels is so you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. To do here is la'asot, the Hebrew word from our key text in Ezra 7:10.


God is interested in his people walking in obedience and faithfulness; that is at the heart of what it means to reconnect to the Jewish roots of your faith.


We need to realize that receiving his saving grace means taking his commandments seriously, just as the earliest disciples did.


For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. - Titus 2:11-14


We have commandments in the New Covenant. By the Spirit of Messiah, we are subject to the spirit of the Torah — what Paul calls the law of love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." - Galatians 5:14


To embrace your Hebraic heritage means taking responsibility for walking in the path of your rabbi and Lord, Yeshua: following after him, being covered in his dust, imitating him in all you do. You study in order to do, and then you teach. In the Jewish society of Jesus' day, rabbis were held in the highest esteem as those who had insight into divine wisdom. Yet rabbis expected their disciples not only to learn but to teach others as they had been taught.


God equips and then enables each of us to share what we know about him with others, at our level and ability.


Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. - Deuteronomy 6:4-7


These famous words from Deuteronomy make up a portion of the Shema, which is a Hebrew word meaning hear, listen up, pay attention. In effect, it says that in light of all he has done, what are you going to do about YHWH? The right response is to love him with your whole being.


Love has the connotation of serving him. God is not commanding emotions. You cannot control emotions; they come and go as circumstances dictate. But you can command action. God is commanding Israel to act in obedience to his divine teaching and instruction.


The Hebrew word to teach (lamed) can mean to learn as well. All this is captured beautifully in Psalm 143:10, Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!

We know the great commission that Jesus imparted to the church. Would it surprise you to know that this is a New Covenant restatement of a commission that dated back to Ezra's time? The motto from Ezra's time passed down through the sages, and the rabbis was to raise up many disciples. Jesus modeled it and has now passed it down to you and me.


In his great commission, Jesus emphasized the very things I am talking about here. It is not the great suggestion; it is a command and a commission to his church. And what is the command? In our going, to raise up disciples (just as the Master did), teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.


Do you see how this theme repeats itself over and over? Study the teaching that you have been given to act on it. In your going make disciples. How can you make students if you are not a teacher? And how can you be a teacher if you have not been a student yourself?


I suggest that you cannot fulfill the great commission if you do not take the command seriously to study his Word. He wants you to work with him in his kingdom.


There was a great debate in the time of Jesus, encapsulated years later in a discussion between two rabbis, Akiva and Tarfon. The question was, which is the priority, to study, or to do? Tarfon answered, "Clearly, the Bible teaches what is important is the doing of a thing; God desires obedience even more than sacrifice." But Akiva said, "No, study is more important because it leads to the doing."


Surely you are familiar with Jesus' words in John 8, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Yet what most Christians fail to realize is, it is the second half of a sentence. We are like little kids who don't want to eat the main course to get the dessert. We don't want any solid, nutritious stuff that gives strength; we want to eat lots of pudding.


We want to be set free — and praise God for our freedom. But what we forget is that Jesus prefaced this with a conditional statement, If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples (John 8:31). The abiding implies the studying that leads to, you guessed it, learning and doing and teaching.

This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice. Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore his audio seminars.


Updated: 6 days ago


In Exodus 24, we read of the encounter at Mt. Sinai between the community of Israel and their deliverer. As always, when you study the scriptures, the context is critical. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had recently liberated them from captivity. Why? To bring them to himself, to fashion them into a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, to dwell with them and — through them — minister blessing to the world.

The LORD said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction." - Exodus 24:12

The Hebrew here is dynamic, and Israel's sages comment extensively upon this verse. The word law is, of course, torah. The word instruction is yarah — the root word of torah. Fundamental to reconnecting with our uniquely Jewish, covenant roots is to recognize that the Hebrew Bible is not something negative; it is not something that has passed away. It is the eternal instruction, revelation, will, and wisdom of the Teacher who is King of the universe.

Some believe Jesus fulfilled the law in such a way as to abolish it. Yet he says that Torah is not abolished; instead, he came to set it on a sure foundation, to interpret it correctly. (To get more clarity on this vital subject, you need to hear my series on Jesus, Christians, and the Law).

To use Paul's language in 2 Timothy 2:15, Jesus accurately handled and skillfully taught the word of truth. Jesus modeled rightly dividing the Torah so that we would fulfill God's intent to lead us into life by applying his teachings.


The more you enter into the will and wisdom of God, the more you enter into the prosperity of abundant living that he has ordained for you.


Please do not misunderstand me; I am not a prosperity preacher. I use prosperity in the sense of receiving his blessing, the fullness of shalom. The more you enter into the fullness of God's Word, the more you enter into the wholeness, completeness, integrity, and the identity of who God wants you to be. The more Torah, the more life — it guides you, it points you, it helps you hit the mark.

There is at work within you that which wants to twist and distort. The Hebrew word for it is avon, translated as iniquity. Avon says, let's do it my way, not God's way. Avon comes from a root that means to bend, twist, and distort. You want to go your way, but the Lord has laid on the Messiah your iniquity so that you can enter into the fullness of salvation.


To reconnect with our Jewish roots is to have a renewed appreciation for the Word of God in its entirety.


The word Torah in a limited sense means the five books of Moses, but in a more broad sense, it refers to the entire revelation of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh). Indeed, Jesus was the very Torah made flesh. He embodied it, he taught it, he lived it, and made a way for us — his disciples — to do the same. Together, the Old and New Testaments are the foundation and fullness of God's revealed Word!

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. - Ephesians 2:19-22

In Deuteronomy 5:1, you see the same words used in Ezra 7:10; you shall learn them and be careful to do them. Again, the LORD uses similar language before the formal statement of the Shema in Deuteronomy 6.

  • Verse 1: that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you

  • Verse 2: by keeping all his statutes and his commandments

  • Verse 3: Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them

We find this three-fold repetition thematic in Moses' five foundational books, the studying and the doing which springs from teaching. So that, it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you (Deut 6:3).


All this is very succinctly and beautifully expressed in Ezra 7:10, for Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.


The Hebrew word for study here is lidrosh, and it means to search after, to seek, to inquire, to consult. It suggests active searching. The text says Ezra set or prepared his heart. Interestingly, the word heart here has the connotation of the mind; you actively commit your mind to search out the things of God. Ezra committed himself, he prepared himself, he made a firm commitment to direct his heart towards the living and active Word of the LORD.


"You will seek the LORD your God and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. - Deuteronomy 4:29


To study (lidrosh) suggests the frequent repetitive occurrence of an activity. As a figure of speech, it means to beat a path. If you walk the same route in your yard every day, you will beat a path there. That is a good picture of what study means in our key text from Ezra.


You beat a path to the presence of God by searching with all your heart, with all your mind, indeed, with all your life-force.

This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice. Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore his audio seminars.


Updated: 6 days ago


My premise is simply this: the restoration to Jewish roots in the Christian community is a call to maturity. It is time to grow up by building upon sure foundations.


The teaching of the apostles and prophets is the church's foundation, and Messiah Jesus is the cornerstone. This Jewish rabbi started his church, consisting entirely of Jewish believers, receiving its spiritual birthing with the Holy Spirit's coming on a Jewish festival, Pentecost (Shavu'ot).

I made my first journey up to Jerusalem so many years ago, and it changed the course of my life. I am blessed and enriched by the work of scholars like David Bivin, Marvin Wilson, and those of the Jerusalem School for Synoptic Research. Having been in this kind of study and research now for many years, I feel one thing more strongly than ever.

By connecting disciples of Jesus to their Jewish roots, God is urgently leading people back to the foundations of their faith. He wants us to be faithful.


Connecting with our Jewish roots should not be a faddish thing, and I hope it never deteriorates to that; there is always that danger with new things. We think because we put on a head covering (kippah) or wear a prayer shawl (tallit), or know some Hebrew words, we are getting back to our Hebraic heritage.


In my judgment, to return to the origins of Christianity—to connect with our Jewish roots—is a quest to become more like the Jewish Messiah, Jesus. We aim to become conformed to his image in ways more accurately than we would have done otherwise.


As a wise preacher once observed, you must know two things to get to your destination: where you are going and from where you are leaving. It doesn't do much good to look at a map and find your destination if you don't know your departure point.

My approach is to examine our point of departure (in both a positive and a negative sense) in order to have a better idea of how to get to the place prepared for us. That destination, I believe, is not the world to come; that is our reward. No, our destination in this life is to get to the appointed place of blessing, of productive living and ministering in the kingdom of God. All for the sake of and to the glory of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

To that end, it is beneficial to know how the church was established. In other words, its departure point. And it is also helpful to see where the ecclesiastical church sometimes disconnected from its biblical roots so that we can reconnect, and as Paul says, share in the nourishing root of the olive tree (Romans 11:17).


I want to share some thoughts about what I believe the essence of the restoration to our Hebraic heritage is all about. My text is Ezra 7:10, which has become a personal life-scripture for me. It reflects the very heart of our Lord, and therefore the very heart of Jewish roots—the call and commission to study, to do, and to teach.


For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law (Torah) of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.


When we recognize that Jesus was part of the dynamic world of Israel's first-century society, then it is self-evident that we are dealing with a Jewish teacher (rabbi). He spoke Hebrew, was brilliant in his exposition of the Hebrew Scriptures (Tanakh), and was extraordinarily effective in teaching and making disciples.


Did you know there is a course taught at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem on the Jewish background to the Sermon on the Mount? It is one of the best examples of Jewish instruction in the first-century.


In the act of teaching the Torah, Yeshua was really not an exception to the norm of his first-century world. During the second temple period, especially beginning in the third century BC, Judaism was preoccupied with the study of the Hebrew Scriptures (Talmud Torah). It represented the heartbeat and way of life for the Jewish society in which Jesus was fully immersed.


Talmud Torah means more than merely looking at or acquiring information about Scripture. It is more than just a search or quest for knowledge. It is ultimately an intense yearning for the very presence of God.


A beautiful Jewish commentary (midrash) tells how God came down on Mount Sinai, wrapped himself in a prayer shawl (tallit), sat down, and taught his disciple Moses. The word torah comes from the root yarah, which means to throw or shoot something straight to hit the mark, the target. Conversely, chet is the main word for sin in the Hebrew lexicon, and it has the idea of missing the mark.


In a word, torah is teaching.

Though torah is translated as law, it means more than what law means to us in English today. The Torah is guidance and direction, instruction and training. Yes, it contains commandments, but even those are instructive. Yahweh was a teacher, and therefore when his son Yeshua came, he came as a teacher. He was carrying on in the tradition of his Father!

Messiah Jesus came to teach us words that would bring us into life, and in the study of those words, we become his disciples — we come into the knowledge of the truth that sets us free to begin the journey with him.


At its best, Talmud Torah in the first century was an act of devotion; it was a form of prayer, a way of drawing near to God. As in all things, we see our Lord Jesus leading the way for us in this. Though he was the Word of God made flesh, he sought to know and make known the Father through studying, living, and teaching his words of life.


As his followers, would that we had a mind to do the same.

This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice. Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore his audio seminars.


Featured Posts
Teaching Series
RSS Feed
  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • YouTube - White Circle
  • Vimeo - White Circle

JC Studies is all about ...

  • Jesus the Christ

  • Jesus in Context

  • Judaic-Christian Studies

© 1984 - 2021 All Rights Reserved