The term "Gentile" refers to numerous different categories of people, some of whom do and did believe in Jesus. It would be impossible to spell out why over 5 billion different faiths and intellectual traditions do not believe in Jesus, the arguments about their non-belief range quite significantly and the degree of their non-belief (e.g. they may believe that Jesus existed but that he was not a Messiah or they may believe that Jesus was a Messiah but that he was not Divine, etc.). As a result, this subject should be re-asked with specific groups mentioned.
There are two ways to deal with this question: from a present evidential perspective and from a biblical evidential perspective.
Present Evidential Arguments
Some of the most common Jewish arguments against their accepting Jesus as the Messiah are the following:
- No Kingdom of God on Earth: Firstly, Jesus did not bring about the most important prophecies that the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) ascribes to the Messiah. He did not establish the Kingdom of God on Earth (otherwise God would actually oversee the world on a day-to-day basis).
- Wars Have Continued: He did not end all wars; in fact, after his death, numerous wars were fought in the name of Christianity, religious divisions in Christianity, and attempts to Christianize non-Christians. If anything, it is a reversal of the prophecy.
- Violence in Nature: He failed to fulfill the prophecy of the lion and the lamb, where the lion and the lamb are supposed to live harmoniously without predation.
- Destruction of Jerusalem: The Messiah is also supposed to make the Temple at Jerusalem a beacon for all of the nations, not portend its destruction.
- Dead Are Still Dead: Finally, the Messiah is supposed to resurrect the dead en masse (not just himself and a few random people who had been dead for a few days). The entire world is to be resurrected (except the wicked) and brought to the Kingdom of God. In this, Jesus also failed.
Biblical Evidential Arguments
The assumption that the Christian ascription of Jesus' redemptive qualities (i.e. He is the Christ, the truth, and the way) accords with Jewish principles or understandings of the Messiah is false. It is on account of this major issue that Jews opposed what Jesus was saying and doing, even assuming that the Gospels are accurate or historical materials.
The Jewish Messiah is to be an Earthly King, not an incarnation or union with God. As a result, a person claiming to be God himself is instantly recognized as not being the Messiah. John 5:16-18 asserts that Jews clearly believed that Jesus was articulating that he was the physical progeny of God. Additionally, John 3:16 is at fundamental odds with the Torah's prohibition on Human Sacrifice, its prohibition of blood consumption, its prohibition on cannibalism, and its prohibition on expiation for another's sins. There is no verse in the Old Testament that explains that one of the purposes of the Messiah is to die for sin at all (never mind for the sins of other people).
Jesus failed to perform requirements to be the Messiah and additionally performed actions contrary to the established Commandments. The Bible makes clear that one of the defining marks between a True Prophet and a False Prophet is that no True Prophet will ever deviate from the Law as it was established (Deuteronomy 13:1). A Messiah must also comport to this standard, since he is to be a Holy King. Lists of several of these actions continue below.
Functions of the Jewish Messiah that Jesus failed to fulfill (this list is not exhaustive):
- Setting up a lasting and Eternal Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28) -- Especially important since, seeing as the Temple was extant during his life, he should have been able to "keep it going eternally" if he were the Messiah. There wouldn't even have been any need to rebuild it. By contrast, Jesus explicitly claimed that the Temple would be completely destroyed in Matthew 24:1-2, betraying his duty to make it lasting and eternal.
- Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6) -- This should have been relatively easy since most Jews at that time were still in the Middle East (Judea and Babylon). After his death, (for unrelated reasons) the Jews were scattered all across the Roman Empire and later the entire world. Jesus did not facilitate any migration of Jews to Israel.
- Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred, oppression, suffering and disease. As it says: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4) -- More wars have been fought in the name of Christianity and Islam since the time of Jesus than for any almost any other single cause; and both claim him to be the Messiah (even though they define that term differently). Additionally, Jesus claims specifically that he did not come to bring peace but a sword in Mark 10:34.
- Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. As it says: "God will be King over all the world -- on that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9) -- When Jesus died, no larger population knew about God than when he was born. Still today, after many centuries of missionizing, only half of the world professes to believe in one God.
- The Messiah must be descended on his father's side from King David (Genesis 49:10 and Isaiah 11:1) -- While the Christian scriptures may allege this, they also allege that Jesus' Earthly father played no part in making him, so to speak. Therefore, he has no patrilineal lineage to speak of (save for God himself) and cannot therefore be descended from King David.
- The Messiah will lead the Jewish people to full Torah observance. -- Since the Messiah is the resolution of the problems of this world and nothing can be added or detracted from the Law, people will naturally follow the Law.
- The dead shall rise from their graves and death shall be abolished for eternal life (Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2). -- Jesus allegedly rose a few individuals from the dead, but did not raise all of the dead nor did he abolish death for everlasting life.
Commandments that Jesus actively violated (all quotes from the NIV). This list is not exhaustive:
- Matthew 15:11: "That goes into someone's mouth does not defile them; but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them." -- This is a blanket denial of some of the laws of ritual purity and all of the Laws of Kashrut, which tell us foods to eat and which foods not to eat in Leviticus ch. 11. This is an abrogation of the Law.
- Matthew 19:8-9: Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman, commits adultery." -- Jesus specifically rebukes the Mosaic Law and denies the permissibility of divorce which is expressly permitted according to Deuteronomy ch. 24.
- Matthew 19:29: "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." -- Jesus actively supports the break-up of families, which runs counter to an entire tradition of family unity and tribal unity throughout Israelite and Jewish history. This also runs counter to the Messianic Prophecy that the Messiah will bring bickering families back together in Malachi 4:6.
- Mark 1:43-44: Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: "See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them." & John 18:20-21: "I have spoken openly to the world," Jesus replied. "I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said." -- These verses show that Jesus lies (not to mention the issue with absconding truth in parables). If he said everything openly, he would not tell people to be quiet and secretive about who he was. Lying is prohibited in Leviticus 19:11. The Law being clear and accessible, not secretive, is stated in Deuteronomy 30:10-14 and Deut. 31:9-13.
- Mark 14:24-25: "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them. "Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God." -- The consumption of blood is specifically forbidden in the Torah because it is the life-source of all creatures. This is made clear in Leviticus 17:10-12.
Additionally. Judaism makes clear that there are those who can perform wondrous deeds even though they lack faith in God at all (see also Deuteronomy ch.13). The Magicians in Pharaoh's Court are a perfect example. They are able to replicate (Exodus ch.7-8) some of the early plagues. If God had stopped after the second plague, who could say that these Magicians were not Prophets, revealing the words of Amon Ra? Additionally, Balaam is recounted as a wicked prophet who was able to see the Will of God and prophesy. In Numbers ch.25 (see also Numbers ch.31), he cleverly devises a plan to get the Israelites to sin against God and incur His wrath. The plan succeeds and results in a pestilence afflicting the people. On account of these individuals and others sprinkled throughout the Bible, it is clear that being able to hear God's voice and/or perform miracles does not necessarily make someone a True Prophet.
Jewish answer: According to our tradition, the vast majority of
the Jews at the time didn't hear of him. The Torah-sages (Rabbi
Yochanan ben Zakkai, Rabbi Yonatan ben Uziel,
Chanina ben Dosa, Bava ben Buta, Shimon ben Hillel, Rabbi Eliezer,
Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Akiva, and hundreds of others) were active at
that time and their yeshivot (Torah-academies) were flourishing.
Their tens of thousands of disciples and hundreds of thousands of
sympathizers were active in the Jewish world in that generation;
they were the leaders and the forefront of Judaism. As Josephus
(Antiquities book 18) writes, "the cities give great attestations
to them." The great majority of Jews loved their sages and their
The unlearned class of the Amei-haaretz (ignoramuses) was a small fringe of society, but even they would and did lay down their lives in order not to violate anything of the Torah. As one ancient historian famously wrote:
Hecateus declares again, "what regard we [Jews] have for our laws; and we resolve to endure anything rather than transgress them." And he adds: "They [Jews] may be stripped on this account, and have torments inflicted upon them, and be brought to the most terrible kinds of death, but they meet these tortures after an extraordinary manner, beyond all other people, and will not renounce the religion of their forefathers."
No one (even any of them who did hear of Jesus) - would have given any consideration to what was and is considered unacceptable for us. The few who came in contact with him soon lost interest, and the early Christians felt the need to turn to non-Jewish centers of population in order to gain adherents, while the Jews remained Jews.
In Judaism, Jesus was a regular human being who lived in olden times, and is not part of Jewish religious belief.
We may also note that according to our tradition, prophecy ceased about 340 years before the birth of Jesus; and public miracles stopped even earlier.
Here is a related topic:
The word "messiah" is the transliterated form of the Hebrew "moshiach." The word moshiach means "anointed." The title of moshiach was given to any person who was appropriately anointed with oil as part of their initiation to their service of God. We have had a number of meshichim (plural) in the form of kings and priests. There need be nothing supernatural about a moshiach.
This being said, there is a prophecy of a future moshiach. However, this is a relatively minor topic in Judaism and the Tanakh.
The Jewish requirements of the messiah have not yet been fulfilled. They are:
* Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28).
* Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
* Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred and oppression. "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4).
* Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel, which will unite humanity as one. "God will be King over all the world. On that day, God will be One and His Name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9).
* The messiah must be descended on his father's side from King David (Genesis 49:10 and Isaiah 11:1).
* The messiah will lead the Jewish people to full Torah-observance. The Torah states that all of its mitzvot (commands) remain binding forever.