Halacha defines a Jew as one born of a Jewish Mother, who was born of a Jewish grandmother. Even apart from Rabbinic law, the term Jew is a racial designation, and is accepted as such by both secular and religious Judaica in order to separate them from other Semitic peoples. Scripturally, a Jew is a descendant of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob... which is a racial and familial designation.
But Jew is also a religious designation. Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism define a religious Jew as a member of their particular denomination who keeps the Law of Moses as interpreted by their particular leadership. Biblical Christianity, however, defines a Jew as not one who is outwardly Jewish but one who is inwardly Jewish, believing that even those who are not racially Jewish have grafted into the G-d's family by redemptive power of Y'shua's (Jesus') resurrection. Amongst Jewish Christians there is a range of belief with Messianic Jews believing they are religious Jews following Messiah to Jewish Christians who follow more or less gentile forms of worship and identify themselves as racial Jews who are religiously Christian.
The answer to this question is YES... all who are of the seed of the Patriarch's are racially Jewish. The topic of religious Judaism is a valid subject of debate between Jewish Believer's in Messiah Y'shua only. - Updated: November 6, 2004
Jewish Christians run a complete gamut from Observant Messianics, who are both outwardly and inwardly Jews, to Jewish (or Hebrew) Christians who worship in more traditional Gentile ways and are generally not Observant, to Jewish Christians who keep their Jewish roots though they worship in predominately Gentile Churches (these tend to be found in the more non-traditional Charismatic and Faith Churches and tend to be more than less Observant).
We hold that there are currently five general groups who can be identified as Jewish Christians:
Orthodox Messianics: Orthodox and generally observant Jews who have accepted Y'shua as Messiah but reject the claims of divinity usually ascribed to him by Christianity.
Messianic Jews: Typically but not necessarily observant Jews who accept Y'shua as the incarnate Son of G-d and the Messiah of Israel. Generally Theologically Christian and Liturgically Jewish. Many Messianics feel that a Jewish form of worship is more natural and acceptable to Jews.
Jewish Christians: Christians of Jewish descent, who choose to worship in a traditional Gentile fashion, in a predominately Gentile church. Jewish Christians would not be considered Orthodox by the first two groups, but maintain much of the Jewish customs and heritage, and many feel a call to educate Gentile believers on their Jewish heritage.
Hebrew Christians: Christians of Jewish descent, how have abandoned most outward signs of the Jewish heritage and assimilated into the traditional Gentile Church.
Messianic Converts: Gentile Christians, who because of their great love for the Judaic heritage of Christianity have joined Messianic Congregations and worship as Jews. These are not Jewish WannaBe's.... they are the Messianic equivalent of a Jewish Convert. - Updated: November 5, 2004
Though strictly applicable to a member of a Congregation which belongs to the United Messianic Jewish Conference (UMJC), the terms Messianic Jew, Jewish Christian, and Hebrew Christian are generically applied to all Christians of Jewish descent, whether or not their religious upbringing was considered Jewish. Many Gentiles who belong to UMJC Congregations also call themselves Messianic Jews to differentiate themselves from other Gentile Christians who do not worship in a traditional Jewish fashion.
Out of respect the writers of this FAQ will not attempt to describe the different types of Rabbinic Jews, for that information consult the FAQ for soc.culture.jewish to be found at www.jewfaq.org - Updated: November 5, 2004