Christianity and Judaism are both major world religions that share some similarities. Both religions believe in one true God, define the Hebrew Scriptures to be the word of God, and believe in the existence of heaven and hell.
13 Differences between Jews and Christians
Both Christianity and Judaism believe in the afterlife and share a common ethical code. They believe God has a special plan for Jews and Israelis. So, what sets these two religions apart? Here are some major factors that differentiate Christianity from Judaism.
1. The Role of Jesus
Beliefs about Jesus Christ are a major difference between Christianity and Judaism. Christians believe Messiah is Jesus, the son of God who disguised himself as a human to save believers from sins. On the contrary, Jews don’t regard Jesus as a divine being, rather a founder or teacher of Christianity. They see him not as a savior but as a preacher.
In Matthew 15:24, Jesus declared, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The people of Israel asked Him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus replied, ‘I am.’ Despite this interaction, the religious leaders of that time didn’t believe His words or accept him as Messiah.
2. The Old Testament
The Old Testament in the Hebrew Bible is a religious text that both Christians and Jews follow. However, both religions interpret the Holy text differently.
- Jews believe that the central message of the Old Testament is how God called Abraham and showed people to be obedient to His word.
- Christians perceive the Old Testament as a part of a story that continues in the New Testament. They believe the New Testament represents the salvation of Jesus Christ.
3. The New Testament
The New Testament is not a part of Judaism but is integral to Christianity. It focuses on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, life and death!
4. The Torah
The Torah is the first part of the Jewish Bible. It comprises the first five books of the Old Testament and is accepted by both Jews and Christians.
- Jews believe this book offers God’s instructions on how they should live. They believe that God dictated The Torah to Moses.
- Christians merely consider The Torah as a part of the Old Testament, which is as significant as the other books.
5. Oneness vs Trinity
Christians and Judaism don’t share the same beliefs regarding the status of God as a Divine being.
- Jews believe in the oneness of God. They regard him as a single divine being.
- Christians view God as a Holy Trinity that consists of the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus. Out of the three, only Jesus took the form of a man.
6. Religious Significance of Jerusalem
Both Christians and Jews regard Jerusalem as a sacred place. The Temple Mount in Jerusalem holds great religious significance in Judaism, mainly because of the huge temples that were once there. Jewish people even pray in Jerusalem’s direction. Meanwhile, Christians honor Jerusalem because of its role in Jesus’ life. Jesus lived and ministered in Jerusalem. It’s also the place he was crucified and resurrected.
7. Religious Symbols
The Cross represents Christianity, whereas the Star of David symbolizes Judaism.
8. Religious Holidays
Since Jesus isn’t in the Jewish theology, Jewish people don’t celebrate any holidays connected to Christ. These include Christmas, Easter, Lent, Palm Sunday, Advent, etc. They celebrate Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Chanukah, Tu BiShvat, Passover, Lag BaOmer, and Shavuot. Their most significant holiday is Sabbath that takes place once a week. During Sabbath, Jews enjoy peace, prayers, and no work!
- Christians pray, worship in Church, read the Bible, serve the community, and give charity as an act of worshipping the Lord.
- Jews pray thrice daily. They pray Shacharit in the morning, Mincha in the afternoon, and Arvit at night. Musaf is an additional fourth prayer Jews pray on Shabbat and other holidays.
10. Reflection of Human Nature
- According to Christianity, man inherited “sin” from Adam. Christians feel mankind is inherently evil and needs to ask for forgiveness. Christians choose their actions after knowing what’s right and wrong. They believe they are broken beings who need salvation from God.
- Jews choose the good from the bad. They think they are responsible for their actions and not their bad thoughts.
11. Goal of Religion
- Christianity’s main goal is to love God and obey His commandments. They wish to create a relationship with Jesus and spread the Gospel message so that all believers can be saved.
- Judaism is all about celebrating life! Their religion’s goal is to fulfill the covenant with the Lord, doing good deeds and helping to repair the world. They love God and strongly support social justice.
12. God’s Role in Salvation
- Christians say that humans can neither save themselves nor increase their status without God’s will. They believe only God can save mankind and that Jesus came down from heaven to save us all.
- In Judaism, God’s role in salvation is to judge a man’s actions. Righteousness and good deeds will remove their sins. Jewish people pray and fast to be accepted by God. They also believe their names will be written in the “Book of Life” after God forgives their sins.
13. Places of Worship
Christians worship in personal dwellings, cathedrals, chapels, and the Church. Meanwhile, the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem and Synagogues are the places of worship for the Jews.
Our Final Thoughts
Considering the differences between Jews and Christians, you’ll be surprised to know that both religions share the key aspects of faith.
Both Jews and Christians believe in one God and follow the Ten Commandments. Regardless of their differences, both religions are widespread in the world and wish to be accepted by their God and forgiven for their sins.