About Ariel Ministries

Ariel Ministries exists to evangelise Jewish people and to disciple both Jewish and Gentile believers through intensive Bible teaching from a Jewish perspective.

Question 78. Does the word translated “replenish” (ASV and KJV) in both Genesis 1:28 and Genesis 9:1 mean that Adam was to “replenish” a previous age of mankind that was destroyed in Genesis 1:2?

This question has to do with a view amongst some Bible teachers that there is a “gap” of eons of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.

QUESTION:
I have a question regarding the different translations of Genesis 1:28 and 9:1. The ESV renders the verses this way:

1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, . . .”

9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.

The ASV and KJV both use the word “replenish” instead of “fill.” Some commentators say that just as Noah was to replenish the earth that was destroyed by water, Adam was given the same command. He was to “replenish” a previous age of mankind that was destroyed in Genesis 1:2. Are you able to give me any insight on this?

ANSWER:
The Hebrew used in Genesis 1:28 and 9:1 simply means “to fill the earth” and does not, by itself, carry the concept of replenishing. Whether replenishing is implied must be determined by the context and not by the meaning of the word itself. In the case of Genesis 9:1, it obviously would refer to refilling the earth, but in Genesis 1:28, there is nothing in the context to imply that there was previously any kind of human race before the creation of Adam.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers is a Question and Answer series with questions submitted by readers and answered by founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 77. Is Matthew right or Luke right in the order of Yeshua’s teaching on the unpardonable sin and parables of the kingdom?

This reader’s question has to do with apparent conflicts in the order of events between Matthew’s and Luke’s gospel accounts. Here is the full QUESTION:

I am confused by the events of Matthew 12-13 conflicting with the chronology of Luke 8 and 11. Matthew says chapters 12-13 occurred on the same day, and it seems that he gives the logical chronological order of the unpardonable sin followed by mystery kingdom parables. Luke, on the other hand, records the unpardonable sin in chapter 11 and the parables in chapter 8. So, it appears that Matthew, rather than Luke, has the proper chronological order. Could you please explain what is going on?

ANSWER:
Strictly speaking, the only parallel passages dealing with the initial rejection of the Messiahship of Yeshua by the Jewish leaders and the committing of the unpardonable sin are the accounts of Matthew 12 and Mark 3. When Yeshua begins moving into parabolic teaching in the parallel passages Matthew 13 and Mark 4, Luke includes the parabolic teaching in chapter 8, but totally skips the national rejection of the Messiah mentioned by Matthew and Mark. The events mentioned in Luke 11 did not happen at the same time or in the same area as those in Matthew 12-13 and Mark 3-4.

In the opening of Luke 11, the Pharisees and Scribes are not mentioned, and the accusation against Yeshua is coming from the members of the multitude (Lk. 11:15). This reveals that the multitude at this point of time is beginning to believe what the Pharisees and scribes had been saying against Yeshua. Luke chooses to record the subsequent events, that is, the crowd’s questioning, which followed the rejection by the leaders that Matthew and Mark record.

A helpful resource for you would be Ariel’s Harmony of the Gospels or the Harmony of the Gospels by A. T. Robertson. These resources will show you the difference between what is happening in Matthew 12-13 and what is happening in Luke 11, indicating that these are different times and different circumstances, though they certainly have points in common.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 76. In Psalm 2:8, couldn’t “ends of the earth” be poetic exaggeration referring to David’s subjugation of many nations?

In this third of a series of questions on Messianic Psalms, the reader suggests that Psalm 2, which has been traditionally interpreted as Messianic, could actually be referring to King David. Here is the full QUESTION:

In your work HaMashiach – The Messiah of the Hebrew Scriptures, you mention that Psalm 2 cannot apply to David for the following reason: “While David was a great king, God never gave him authority over all the nations (verse 8), nor did he ever rule the uttermost ends of the earth” (p. 83). However, it seems to me that the “ends of the earth” could easily be poetic exaggeration to draw attention to David’s subjugation of many nations, like Moab, Syria, and Edom (II Sam. 8). After all, Acts 2 uses hyperbole when it talks about Jews from “every nation under heaven” since this excludes China, the Mayans in Peru, etc. In Romans 16:26, Paul talks about how the “mystery” of Messiah Jesus has been made known to “all nations,” although Christianity was still mostly confined to the Mediterranean world. These aren’t mistakes; they are just common literary devices. Why take Psalm 2 any differently?

And here is the full text of Psalm 2 (ASV):

1 Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”
10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

ANSWER:

Psalm 2 is not a psalm about which there was or is a debate between Messianic Jews and non-Messianic Jews, particularly Orthodox Jews. Rather, this was a psalm that was clearly interpreted as being Messianic by Orthodox Judaism. Furthermore, the phrase “the ends of the earth” could hardly be limited to the specific nations you listed. For example, Lebanon was part of the Promised Land. Israel never owned this part of the Promised Land, nor was Lebanon under the subjugation of David. This is also true of other nations, such as Tyre, whose king was a personal friend of David. Likewise, other parts of the Middle East, such as Egypt, were a part of the known world, but they weren’t under David’s authority. So, interpreting Psalm 2:8 as a literary device describing David’s reign is difficult to defend.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 75. It seems in Psalm 16 that David is speaking about himself, so why do you value verse 10, “You will not allow your holy one to undergo decay,” as higher than the rest of the psalm?

In this post Dr. Fruchtenbaum responds to a reader’s thought that all of Psalm 16 is referring only to David’s life, not the Messiah. Here is the full text of the reader’s original QUESTION:

Psalm 16 is said to be a Messianic psalm. Why can’t David be talking about himself in this psalm? Could the “holy one” possibly be David, who is set apart as God’s anointed? I know that David died, and this psalm says, “You will not allow your holy one to undergo decay.” But it seems like a stretch to value this vague sentence (which could refer to God delivering David from death in a present distress) higher than the rest of the psalm, which has David saying, “I” and “me” over and over again.

And here is the full text of Psalm 16 (ASV):

1Preserve me, O God; for in thee do I take refuge.
2 O my soul, thou hast said unto Jehovah, Thou art my Lord:
I have no good beyond thee.
3 As for the saints that are in the earth,
They are the excellent in whom is all my delight.
4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied that give gifts for another god:
Their drink-offerings of blood will I not offer,
Nor take their names upon my lips.
5 Jehovah is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup:
Thou maintainest my lot.
6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places;
Yea, I have a goodly heritage.
7 I will bless Jehovah, who hath given me counsel;
Yea, my heart instructeth me in the night seasons.
8 I have set Jehovah always before me:
Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth:
My flesh also shall dwell in safety.
10 For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol;
Neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.
11 Thou wilt show me the path of life:
In thy presence is fulness of joy;
In thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

ANSWER:

The emphasis of Psalm 16:1-2 is that Messiah’s refuge is in God. In verse 3, it says that His delight is with the saints, the believing remnant, echoing the sentiments of Zechariah 11. In verses 4-9, the psalmist says that God the Father will be the Messiah’s total trust in life, and even in death, Messiah still trusts in God (vv. 10-11). The point of the song is that even though God allows Messiah to die, Messiah declares, You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay, meaning Messiah will be resurrected back to life.

Now, David was an anointed king, but this does not naturally declare the anointed one to also be God’s Holy One. David’s life could not be declared holy in any way based on his anointment alone. Furthermore, the description of death in Psalm 16 is obviously talking about the moment when the body begins to decay. While in this psalm Messiah is delivering David from present distress, that would not be equivalent to leaving his soul in Sheol. Nothing in the life of David would indicate that his own distress was the kind of distress described in verse 10.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 74. Doesn’t a straightforward reading of Psalm 22 indicate David is talking in poetic language about his own sufferings, not about the Messiah?

A reader recently sent in the following observation with a question:

Psalm 22 seems to be one of the strongest and most detailed Messianic prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures, except for one thing: There is nothing in the psalm itself (that I can see) to suggest that it is a Messianic prophecy at all. Why not just take the straightforward reading that David is talking about his own sufferings, using poetic language to describe the attacks of his enemies?

So, in this and the next two posts of Arnold Answers we will be dealing with questions of whether several of the Messianic Psalms were speaking of the life of David, or indeed referring to the Messiah.

ANSWER:
I would certainly agree that Psalm 22 is a strong and detailed prophecy about the Messiah. However, a passage that is on an even “stronger” level would be Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Most Messianic Jews would testify that this was the main passage that led them to believe in Yeshua the Messiah. As for Psalm 22, following the rules of Hebrew grammar and noting the number of details given, it simply cannot fit within the life of David. Furthermore, the text is not connected to a particular incident in David’s life, as many of his other psalms are. Even taking into account the highly poetic language, the basic events of David’s life do not correspond to this psalm. It fits much better with the kind of death that the Messiah would die.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 73. Is the proposed peace plan for Israel the covenant that will begin the tribulation?

Let me begin with a point I have often made in my writings and in my lectures on Bible prophecy, fulfilled and unfulfilled. The principle is this: Bible prophecy is never fulfilled approximately; it is always fulfilled exactly as it is written, as it is prophesied. Therefore, we must avoid what I call “newspaper exegesis.” This is the tendency of many believers to read the daily press and start speculating. Due to one point of similarity between a current event and a biblical prophecy, they believe that the prophecy has been fulfilled. I can give many past and current examples of this tendency.

Yet, the proper procedure to interpret the Scriptures is to first exegete the text in its own context and then check related passages and see exactly what the text actually teaches. However, when the text stops, then we must stop too and not engage in speculations as to how the prophecy may or may not be fulfilled. Then, if a current event actually fits exactly into a prophecy, then that prophecy is fulfilled, but not before.

So, what do the Scriptures actually teach about the covenant that will begin the seven years of tribulation? There are two key passages: Daniel 9:27 (in the context of verses 24-27) and Isaiah 28:14-22. The details of both passages are found in our work The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events (also available in ebook, Kindle, eSword, and audiobook formats), and so the following is only a summary of what is found in this book.

The covenant is made specifically between Israel and the Antichrist. In the Bible, it is never called a peace covenant, although it will be a covenant that will guarantee Israel’s military security. It is because the leadership of Israel will put their trust in this covenant and in the Antichrist, who pretends to be their friend, and not in the God of Israel, that the signing of this covenant will trigger the tribulation. Only in the middle of the seven-year period, when the covenant is broken, will the leadership of Israel finally recognize the true nature of the one with whom they signed the covenant.

Does the Trump plan fit what the Bible actually says? The simple answer is: No! Trump’s peace plan is intended to be a treaty between Israel and the Palestinians. It is to be signed by Israel and by the Palestinians and not by Israel and by Trump. If Israel does sign this covenant, it will not be because she puts her trust in the Palestinians to guarantee her military security. No Israeli leader—whether he is right wing, left wing, or centrist—will ever accept or trust any Arab leader to guarantee the military security of Israel.

What actually will happen with the Trump peace plan is unknown at this stage. However, regardless of the outcome, it is not the biblical covenant prophesied. What is known at the present time is this: The Palestinians have already rejected the Trump proposal, and in fact, they already rejected it before it went public. Hence, at this point in time, the treaty is a dead issue. If the Palestinians do not come to the conference table, Israel may choose to annex those parts of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) that have Jewish settlements. But again, none of the outcomes can be determined with clarity at this point. Whatever eventually will become definite will not fit the biblical details of the covenant that will begin the tribulation.

One more point that needs to be made is this: Our blessed hope does not lie in looking for the Antichrist, when the seven-year covenant will be signed, who will win the next presidential election, or who the next Israeli leader will be. Our blessed hope is to look forward to the day when our Messiah will come into the atmosphere and resurrect the dead New Testament saints. He will then suddenly catch up or rapture the living believers to take them into heaven. This event can happen at any moment between right now and the signing of that seven-year covenant.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 72. Is the COVID-19 pandemic a fulfillment of biblical prophecy?

It is no secret that a massive plague has hit the world in general and the USA in particular. At this point, however, given the fact that there are billions of people on the earth, the actual number of those who have been tested positive is relatively small, and the number of those who have died from the coronavirus is even smaller. The pandemic is tragic, nonetheless.

Newspaper exegetes have gone to town on this event, seeing it as a major biblical issue. There are conspiracy theories all over the internet that have made COVID-19 a major issue between good and evil or God and Satan. One must be very careful of such conspiracy theories since the majority of them eventually end up blaming the Jews for what is taking place.

We have received many phone calls and some letters asking our evaluation of this pandemic, and many of those who contacted us have been influenced by this type of internet information. One email I received called COVID-19 a “plandemic” and claimed that the virus was a “bioweapon” released by “globalists” who are planning a “mass destruction upon the whole world.” The email came with the accusation that “Fruchtenbaum is silent about such a catastrophic event while this intentionally manmade and premeditated virus shuts down the world.” The writer called upon me to provide “an official biblically prophetic understanding of this end time event! For once, silence is not golden!”

This I intend to do, but many, like the writer I quoted above, may not be happy with what I have to say. I see myself as a biblicist and not a sensationalist, and I do not allow myself to be influenced by speculations that are not based on proven facts and acts. I will also not be influenced by people who see all things as being connived by a cabal, a hidden body of people trying to control the world.

In Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21, the Messiah gave a long discourse on the last days. The details of these three passages are expounded upon in The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events. Therefore, I will only summarize what is relevant to this topic.

According to the Scriptures, the event that actually triggers the beginning of the last days is when nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom (Mt. 24:7). According to Matthew, this will be coupled with famines and earthquakes. Luke adds one more element: pestilences. This term would cover plagues, diseases, viruses, and all other similar things. It certainly would include COVID-19. Therefore, the pandemic is one of the signs that we are living in the last days, but there is no need to believe in a conspiracy theory that claims that the virus will destroy the world. Biblically speaking, it will not do so.

A short while ago, I received a list of eleven questions, some of which deal with COVID-19. Two of the questions asked what a pestilence is and whether COVID-19 could be considered a pestilence. These two questions were answered above.

A third question was: Does the current pandemic fall into the category of pretribulational events? The answer is that the pandemic is not a specific event that was prophesied since the term “pestilence” is more general. COVID-19 does fulfill the general prophecy of pestilences, but it is not the only virus that falls into this category.

A fourth question was: Is the coronavirus a punishment of God? Yes, it is, but so is the common cold. When Adam fell, God judged him. God also judged what was under Adam’s authority, and this was the earth. Since the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, man has lived in a broken world, and humanity will suffer all kinds of thorns and briers, including all kinds of sicknesses. Obviously, this also includes COVID-19. Nothing ever happens outside the will of God, and nothing ever catches God by surprise. The question is this: Is what is happening a directive will of God (such as the Noahic Flood) or is it the permissive will of God (such as the fall of man into sin)? This we cannot answer because we do not know.

Our security does not lie in man or government. It lies in living a life of faith, always recognizing that God is in control. Furthermore, we must always remember Romans 8:28: And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose. We may not always know the “Why” in this life, but we will in the afterlife, in eternity.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 71. I am struggling with the correct interpretation of Psalm 126. Almost all English translations show verses 2-3 as past tense and many commentaries attribute these verses to the return of the Jewish people from the Babylonian Captivity. However, in the Hebrew, these verses seem to be in the future tense, and they seem to be speaking of Israel’s final restoration. Any reason we should take these verses as past tense?

In his answer, Dr. Fruchtenbaum deals with a commonly held misconception about Psalm 126 and the Babylonian captivity. Won’t you take a moment to catch the reader’s full question before going on to Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s answer? –Ariel Ministries

Question. I am a Sunday School teacher in Japan and am struggling with the correct interpretation of Psalm 126. It would be highly appreciated if you could kindly help when you can.

Verses 2-3:
Almost all English translations show as past tense and many commentaries attribute these verses to the return of the Jewish people from the Babylonian Captivity. However, in the Hebrew, these verses seem to be in the future tense, and they seem to be speaking of Israel’s final restoration. Any reason we should take these verses as past tense?

Verse 4
The verse says, As the streams in the South. Some commentators interpret this as referring to the millennial river flowing from Jerusalem to the South (Ez. 47:1-12). Others explain the phrase as a torrent erupting over wadi. Which interpretation is correct?

Verse 5
This verse speaks of tears. Some commentators interpret this word as Israel’s mourning in the last days (Zech. 12:10). Is this a correct interpretation, or should we simply take the word “tears” as a reference to Israel’s general suffering?

Answer. Classical Hebrew, the Hebrew of the Bible, does not have tenses such as past, present, or future tense. It has only two tenses, called “perfect tense” and “imperfect tense.”

The perfect tense visualizes action as complete, and so in English, verbs in this tense are normally rendered into the past tense. However, there is another form called “the prophetic perfect” where the perfect is used, but the action has not happened yet. Because it is still future, the translators of the English Bibles usually render such verbs in the future tense.

The imperfect tense sees action as incomplete. Hence, verbs in this tense are normally rendered in the future.

Psalm 126 does not pertain to the return from Babylonian captivity, because in verse 4, the psalmist is praying for God to turn again our captivity. This shows that the psalm should be interpreted as dealing with the Messianic kingdom. Verses 1-3 are dealing with thanksgiving that will erupt when the Jews are praising God for bringing them back into the land. The Hebrew term for “streams” in verse 4 is not used of a river, but rather of a wadi. There are many such wadies in Israel where water runs only during the rainy season, from October to May. The word “South” refers to the Negev, which has many such wadies. So, the streams in the South would not be a reference of the millennial river of Ezekiel 47:1-12, but simply a promise that the wadies will continue to provide enough water to irrigate the dry land of the Negev.

Verses 5-6 simply provide a general principle: Those willing to sow the seed will be the ones receiving the benefits of the seed in a literal sense. The land will always be productive in a spiritual sense, and those who sow the message that people must believe for salvation will see people receiving that message and coming to faith.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 70. How can you say that the Abrahamic Covenant teaches that ownership of the land is unconditional, and that the Land Covenant teaches the enjoyment of the land is conditional? Aren’t these statements contradictory?

Question: You state that “The Abrahamic Covenant teaches that ownership of the land is unconditional, while the Land Covenant teaches that the enjoyment of the land is conditional upon obedience.” You also state that, “The Land Covenant, being an unconditional covenant, is still very much in effect.” Aren’t you making contradictory statements?


Answer: There is no contradiction in the comments you quoted. The Abrahamic Covenant is what gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people, and based upon this covenant, actual ownership of the land is unconditional.

The Mosaic Covenant made it clear that if Israel fell into disobedience, they could lose the enjoyment of the land either by exile or by dispersion, but they would not lose the right of ownership of the land.

Deuteronomy 29, which speaks of the Land Covenant, points out that there would be a worldwide dispersion of the Jewish people because they would reject “the prophet like unto Moses.” Being dispersed from the land, they would not be enjoying the land. However, Deuteronomy 30 shows that ownership is still unconditional, and when Israel finally experiences her national salvation, God will then bring all Jewish people back to the land.

So, the Land Covenant is still very much in effect insofar as the ownership of the land always belongs to Israel, regardless of whether the Jewish people are in the land or not. Yet, their enjoyment of the land is conditional upon obedience. Therefore, when one day Israel undergoes her national salvation, the Jewish people will all be brought back to the Promised Land.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 69. What is your view on Christmas?

Miriam (Mary) gave birth to her first son sometime between the years 7 and 6 B.C., but there is not enough information available to reveal when during that year the Messiah was born. The early church itself was divided as to the exact date of Yeshua’s birth. By the time of Augustine (A.D. 354-430), the Western church had agreed on the December date, which had been introduced a few decades earlier by Constantine and which corresponded to the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia. The Eastern church fixed both the birthday and the arrival of the magi on January 6th. Especially in Messianic Jewish circles, there have been attempts to prove that Yeshua was born on a Jewish holy day, with Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, being the most popular option. These attempts tend to be emotional reactions to the concept of Christmas Day, and the arguments used are often spurious. The Gospel writers are quick to connect Yeshua with the Jewish festivals. Whatever Yeshua may have said or done on a Jewish festival is freely reported. However, the birth narratives by Matthew and Luke do not mention or even imply that the birth occurred during a feast day. Certainly Matthew, who wrote to a Jewish audience, would have made such a connection if it actually happened. The very fact that neither he nor Luke make such a reference shows that the Messiah was born on an ordinary day, somewhere between 7 and 6 B.C., but the exact date cannot be known.

Now as far as observing Christmas, I personally choose not to do so and choose to focus on the actual holy days mentioned in Scripture. However, I would have no objection to observing Christmas, whether it is celebrated on December 25th or on January 6th. There are those who have the freedom to observe the holiday, and there are others who do not wish to do it. They, too, have the freedom to do what they want. Decisions like these are part of the things that believers should leave to each other since we are free in the Messiah.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord Messiah would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.