Joe Ortiz Claims Jesus Was Not a Jew!

By Cris D. Putnam
I was emailed an offensive video over the holiday called “How the Jews Stole Christmas” sent to me by Joe Ortiz. Ortiz has written a couple books criticizing the pretubulation rapture position and dispenationalism. Over a year ago, he approached me about his book The End Times Passover of which I read one chapter but quickly put it down as it was immediately obvious to me that he was misrepresenting what pretiribulational dispensationalists believe so badly that he could not offer a meaningful critique. In case you are wondering, I do not identify as pretribultional so this was not driven by bias. Ortiz misunderstands dispensational theology in very fundamental ways and fails to make distinctions between classic, revised, and progressive dispensationalism, that is, if he is even aware of them.  But this Christmas video is something altogether different:

This video is fallacious on a number of levels. First, Christians historically have not celebrated Christmas. The Puritan community found no Scriptural justification for celebrating Christmas, and associated such celebrations with paganism and idolatry. It is a twentieth century development largely at the hands of American department stores. Second, the video is transparently racist. I define “Jew” as a person who descends from Jacob. Historically, it referred to the tribe of Judah but any good bible dictionary will tell you it assumed a broader definition after the Babylonian captivity:

The Intertestamental Period The Greek name Ioudaios (plural Ioudaioi) was used for the Israelites in the Greek and Roman world. This is the name used in the treaty between Judas Maccabeus and the Romans, described in 1 Macc. 8:23–32: “May all go well with the Romans and with the nation of the Jews” (v. 23).[1]

It’s an ethnic group, a race of people like Hispanics or Italians. So when someone titles a video “How the Jews Stole Christmas” they are engaging in racism by making a broad sweeping generalization accusing all Jews — obviously not all Jews are in on some dubious conspiracy to “steal Christmas” even if a few of them actually were — so anyone who promotes material like this is promoting racism.  Joe Ortiz mass emailed the above video two days prior to Christmas. I replied to Joe how disappointed I was, because making such a broad accusation is obviously racist and that Jesus himself was Jewish.

Cris: “Joe, What’s up with the racism? Please don’t send me this bigoted trash. BTW Jesus was Jewish.”

Joe: “He was? I thought He was Aramaic, but born in the area known as Judah? Did He practice what is written in the Talmud? Isn’t that what it means to be Jewish?”[2]

Cris: “Wow Joe this is very disappointing, I’m sorry but you are really uniformed about the most basic facts. Yes, Jews are people descended from Jacob, David descends from Jacob and Jesus was from the line of David, read the genealogies in Matthew and Luke. Aramaic is a language not a race of people…  the Talmud came after the destruction of the temple many years later. I challenge you to dispute any of those statements with documented evidence. Racism is not fitting for anyone who follows Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.”

Joe: Jews came from the tribe of Judah, one of the 12 tribes of Israel. But yet, you believe that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were Jews, don’t you? Is Hebrew a language or a people? When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees about the traditions of their fathers (which happened before the destruction of the Temple), was He not speaking about the Talmudic mentality? I suppose the racism put out by John Hagee, and most Christian Zionists, against Arabs is fitting?[3]

Cris: Hebrew is both a language and Jews are called Hebrews as well. Since, the Babylonian captivity the term “Jews” includes all 12 tribes.  You need to pray over John 4:22 “Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.(Jn 4:21–22)  I think Hagee is wrong about a lot and I don’t pay attention to him – so I’m not chasing that red herring.

Joe then sent me this article Jesus Was Not a Jew. I am forced to assume he endorses it because he sent it to me as his defense. Read it yourself to understand the level of absurdity he is willing to stoop too. Jesus is even explicitly described as from the tribe of Judah – a true Jew even in the original usage of the term:  “And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Re 5:5)

A scholarly lexicon shows that the New Testament used Jew for all 12 tribes descended from Jacob.

ἸσραήλἸουδαῖος in Jewish Literature after the OT.

After the collapse of Northern Israel in 722 b.c., only the comparatively small territory around Jerusalem, the kingdom of יהודה, was left to maintain the ancient tradition and name of what was once the whole people ישראל. Thus in pre-exilic times the total designation ישראל can be used in passages where strictly the reference is only to the kingdom of יהודה. After the return from exile the people is even more exclusively restricted to the province of Judah, and all those who live in Palestine outside this province are non-Israelites. It is thus quite natural that the name which derives from the territory, Heb. יְהוּדִי, Aram. (יהודאי) יְהוּדָי or Greek Ἰουδαῖος, which originally denotes an inhabitant of the kingdom or province of Judah, should come to be used more generally for a member of the people of Israel. To denote, not a member of the Jewish state or an inhabitant of Judaea, but a member of this people, two terms can thus be used, namely, ישלראἸσραήλ “Israel(ite)” and יהודיἸουδαῖος, “Jew.”[4]

Thus, in the New Testament era “Jew” was equivalent to Israelite or Hebrew. The conversation digressed, I accused him of being a racist and Joe repeatedly threw out red herrings and logical fallacies rather than defend his assertion that Jesus was not Jewish. As I argued to no avail, the word “we” in John 4:22 is inclusive, “we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” According to John, Jesus said that and His use of “we” is His identification as a Jew. It seems to me that based on this statement, you are faced with 3 options:

  1. The Bible has an error Jesus never said it.
  2. Salvation comes from the Jews but Jesus was not a Jew.
  3. Salvation is through Christ alone as the Jewish Messiah.

It’s not clear what Ortiz believes because Jesus statement in John 4:21-22 infers that God used the Jewish people to deliver His word and to incarnate himself as the Jewish Messiah. Furthermore, the NT and the OT were written by Jewish people except for Luke who wrote Luke/Acts and of course, the primary dispute, Jesus was an ethnic Jew. So in that sense salvation was delivered to mankind through the Jews. I never got a straight answer out of Joe because he kept changing the subject to Zionism or dispensational theology. I challenged him to debate the topic “Jesus was a Jew” on Youtube but he only made excuses. Doesn’t this seem like a case of “protocols of the learned elders of Zion” mythology inspiring anti-Semitism in Joe?


[1]Edwin Yamauchi, “Jews in the New Testament” In , in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 920.

[2] Personal to Cris Putnam email dated 12-27-2012

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ἰσραήλ—Ἰουδαῖος , vol. 3, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-), 359.

The Irony of Glen Beck, a Mormon, Speaking for Israel

I support Israel’s right to their historic homeland. But isn’t it ironic (and shameful) that Glen Beck, a Mormon, is leading the rally when The Book of Mormon has more in common to the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion than the New Testament?

“Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must need be expedient that Christ—for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name—should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God.” (2 Nephi 10:3)

Obviously this is reflective of the racist views of the plagiarist Joseph Smith and was not divinely revealed. It is incompatible with the revelation that God has given us in the Bible. The truth is that every nation is wicked enough to kill their God. Even more, there is only one God and he did not belong exclusively to Israel, though he specifically adopted them so Abraham would be a blessing to all nations. When the Romans adjudicated the crucifixion of Jesus, they were just as guilty of “crucifying their God” as the Jews. In truth, Christ died for the sins of the world, thus all of us made his death necessary. We all crucified Him by our sin.

The Glorious Future of Israel

There is a future for Israel. The OT points to a Messianic kingdom (Isaiah 9:6-7, Mic. 4:1; Isa. 2:2-3, 11:6-9) and temple on Mount Zion (Ezek. 40:48; Isa. 2:2; Hag. 2:7-9; Zech. 6:12-13; Joel 3:18). God made unconditional promises in the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 13:14-17) that have never been fulfilled at any time in history. Even though Israel violated the Mosaic Covenant, Paul makes clear that it did not make void the Abrahamic (Gal 3:17). In a similar fashion, the Davidic covenant (2 Sam 7:11-16; cf. 1 Chron. 17) expanded God’s blessings to Israel and was irrevocable, stating that your throne will be established forever.” The New Covenant states explicitly that God will make it with “the house of Israel(Jer. 31:31-33).

In Acts 1:6 just before the ascension the disciples ask Jesus, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”  Did Jesus say, “Sorry, Israel forfeited?” No, instead he says “It is not for you to know times or seasons…” This infers a future time when God will restore the Kingdom to Israel. In Luke 22:30, Jesus makes clear that national Israel will not only be present in the future kingdom but that they will still retain tribal identity. Also, the 144,000 are chosen from the 12 tribes (Rev. 7:4).  The church does not have tribes. If the church has replaced national Israel as “spiritual Israel” this is incoherent. In Romans 9-11, Paul’s purpose was to explain Israel’s future. The gentile church is clearly described as “grafted into” not replacing Israel. God could not have been any clearer than their election being “irrevocable” (Rom. 11:28-29). Robert Saucy argues that their restoration is a part of God’s continuing revelation to the world.

It would seem reasonable in the light of the prophetic Scriptures that we have noted concerning God’s revelation of himself to the nations through the judgment and restoration of Israel to believe that he has not completed that revelation through the realities of history and that he yet intends to display his redemptive power overtly in the restoration of his people as a people. [i]

In Isaiah 19:16-24 we read that Egypt will be attacked in the Day of the Lord and the result will be that Egypt will repent and convert to the worship of Yahweh. This is yet to occur. Clearly, Israel has a future in the spiritual leadership of the world (Zech. 8:23; cf. Zech. 14).

Israel’s literal national restoration is not captured any more explicitly than in Amos 9:11-15. Verses 11-12 speak of the political revival under the Davidic Messiah (cf. Ezek. 34). This is the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant and of the angel Gabriel’s promise to Mary that Jesus would sit on David’s throne – forever – which did not even exist during the first advent (Lk. 1:32-33). Verses 13-15 turn to the restoration of the fertility of the land and the return of the people. While this passage was a message of hope for the exiles, it is necessarily a case of the “already but not yet” paradigm at work in prophecy. God states categorically that they will return to “never again be uprooted” (v.15). While they were uprooted again in A.D. 70 by the Romans,  Isaiah foretold:

In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. (Isa. 11:11)

We live in a time of active prophetic fulfillment because this began in 1948, when national Israel was reestablished and Jews returned from far and wide to the land. This is ongoing and is reflected in the present day turmoil in the Middle East over Jerusalem (Zech. 12:2-3).

Israel’s glorious future is not captured any more beautifully than in Isaiah. This is revealed in poetry like “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (Is 60:1) and underneath the text within its form.  A chiasm is a literary device in which a pattern such as A-B-C-B´-A´ is employed to give special weight to the middle ‘C’ portion. Chapters 60-62 are given prominence as the center of a chiasm made up of chapters 56–66.[ii] This is an example of the “already but not yet” paradigm as well. The church is the figurative “already” part of the kingdom, but the messianic age awaits literal fulfillment.  Although much still anticipates future fulfillment, God’s light has reached the world through the gospel and many nations have come to Jerusalem in response.  Jesus’ message has gone out to the world as the church evangelizes the nations. Still yet, verses 60:19-22 clearly forecast the Edenic New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:23:

“The sun shall be no more your light by day,

nor for brightness shall the moon give you light;

but the Lord will be your everlasting light,

and your God will be your glory.

Your sun shall no more go down,

nor your moon withdraw itself;

for the Lord will be your everlasting light,

and your days of mourning shall be ended.

Your people shall all be righteous;

they shall possess the land forever,

the branch of my planting,

the work of my hands,

that I might be glorified.

The least one shall become a clan,

and the smallest one a mighty nation;

I am the Lord; in its time I will hasten it.”

(Is 60:19-22)


[i] Robert L. Saucy. “A Rationale for the Future of Israel.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, December 1985: 438.

[ii]John Oswalt, The NIV Application Commentary: Isaiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2003), 641.

The Supreme Supersessionist Speaks

In Vatican City on October 10th 2010 the Pope Benedict XVI opened the Synod of Bishops’ Special Assembly for the Middle East at St. Peter’s Basilica. The synod is taking place at the Vatican from Oct. 10-24 under the theme: “The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness.”

Speaking for God, the Pope said of the Promised Land is “not of this world” that Israel is not an earthly kingdom. His words are not surprising as the Roman Catholic Church has led the way in promoting the supersessionsist (replacement theology) heresy and denying national Israel’s place in God’s plan. One unfortunate consequence of this error is that it has made it extremely difficult for Jews to take seriously the claim that Jesus of Nazareth is Israel’s Messiah. The Pope’s eisegesis was recorded last Sunday:

He reveals Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (cf. Ex 3:6), who wants to lead his people to the “land” of freedom and peace. This “land” is not of this world; the whole of the divine plan goes beyond history, but the Lord wants to build it with men, for men and in men, beginning with the coordinates of space and time in which they live and which He Himself gave them.[1]

This is utter nonsense as the Biblical narrative is centered on a real material plot of land. Of course, this has political and theological overtones as the Vatican’s position has consistently been that Jerusalem cannot belong to just one state.[2] It is my view that the Pope’s theology blatantly files in the face of biblical revelation. Jesus in Luke 19:42 and Paul in Romans 11:25 explain that Israel is blinded nationally for the church age. Temporarily blinded not replaced.

In Romans 9, 10, & 11 Paul’s purpose was to explain Israel’s future. If you simply read that sequence of chapters, replacement theology is absurd. The gentile church is clearly described as “grafted into” not replacing Israel.  Paul makes this abundantly clear:

As regards the gospel, they [Israel] are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.  (Rom. 11:28–29)

I wonder how Paul could have made it any clearer than irrevocable?

Furthermore, the Pope’s homily is a harbinger of the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7) otherwise known as the great tribulation (Mat. 24:21). Jesus said that Jerusalem would be occupied by gentiles until the times of the gentiles are fulfilled – just prior to his second coming.

“They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Lk 21:24)

  • This is a prophecy of the Diaspora, which occurred in AD 70. The Romans spread the Jews all over the known world, selling many as slaves. This is a matter of undisputed record.
  • When Jesus says “until” that clearly infers that one day Jerusalem will be back in Jewish hands.
  • Thus it is an inferred prophecy of the reformation of Israel in 1948 and the reclamation of Jerusalem in 1967. Jerusalem certainly was under Gentile control until 1967, the fact that is now largely under Jewish control and the far reaching spread of the gospel is sure sign that the times of Gentiles are nearly fulfilled.

So where does this leave the supreme replacement theologian Benedict XVI?  One wonders how the description of the Antichrist “dividing the land for a price” (Dan 11:39) escapes the attention of Catholic exegetes. Even more, the prophetic warnings about dividing God’s land in Joel 3:2. Note that “those days and that time” clearly refers to the “day of the Lord” that Christians understand as the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is also noteworthy that God refers to it as His land.

For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, (Joel 3:1–2)

I shudder to think how the Pope’s theology will stand on that day.