One of the major questions with regard to Christianity or ‘the way’ and Judaism is why did they split. Jesus never claimed to come to start a new religion but did claim to be the fulfilment of the law or the ‘Torah’ (Matt 5:17). Jesus was Jewish, to claim to be a Christian would have been weird mainly because ‘Christian’ means ‘Christ follower’. How could the Christ follow himself?

The early Christians did all they could to try and hold this faith together, they worshiped in the Jewish temple and they still taught Torah and lived out Shabbat (Sabbath). In fact the early name for these followers of Jesus was ‘The Way’ which was a term used by the Jewish Rabbi’s to refer to the Torah. These early believers believed that they were teaching a more authentic belief in the Torah and that Jesus was the fulfilment of all prophetic words about the ‘Mashiach’ (Messiah) within it.

The major problem came during the second Jewish war against Roman rule. Around 132-135CE the war was at its worst and the issue of the ‘Mashiach’ eventually became divisive.

The leader of the Jewish revolt was Simon Bar Kokhba who eventually was hailed as the ‘Mashiach’ by a Rabbi called Rabbi Akiba, which was one of the leading Rabbis of the day.

This decision to hail Simon Bar Kokhba as ‘Mashiach’, left these early followers of Jesus in a very complex position. These Christian Jews were placed in the position of having to choose between Jesus and Simon Bar Kokhba as the ‘Mashiach’. This eventually caused the split and the Christian Jews had to part ways to hold onto their belief in ‘Mashiach’.

These followers had done everything they could to hold the peace within the faith, even to see their fellow believers and their own lives taken for their convictions.