First Fruits of Zion’s small-group Bible study, Torah Club, is changing lives around the world by bringing the life and teachings of Jesus to light in their Jewish context.
This week, Messiah Podcast interviews Baptist minister Keith Price, a Torah Club Leader in Bakersfield, California, about his encounter with Rabbi Yeshua.
Price’s own journey to the Jewish Jesus began when he was imbued at seminary with the understanding of how important it is to understand Scripture in its original context, and that a Bible verse cannot mean something it could not have meant to its original audience. His next step came when a footnote in Rob Bell’s book Velvet Elvis led him to Dwight Pryor’s website. From there, he found the Jerusalem School for the Study of the Synoptic Gospels, home of David Flusser, Brad Young, and other exegetes who have unearthed mountains of evidence that Jesus was a practicing Jew. Upon visiting Pryor’s congregation, Price was recommended First Fruits of Zion materials, and he decided to start a Torah Club.
From home groups and adult Sunday school to a vibrant student ministry, Torah Club has helped Price inform and educate countless Christians from many churches in the area, answering their difficult questions about the Bible by revealing its Jewish context.
Asked whether he had received any negative feedback for his efforts, he says, “I can think of maybe two instances in all those years.” Otherwise, his students have enjoyed growing their understanding bit by bit as passage after passage is understood in a new light. Taking a long view, he relates that growing into an understanding of the Bible from a Jewish perspective is a long process, and the work is never done.
Asked why Baptists, in particular, seem to appreciate a Messianic Jewish interpretation of the Bible, Price answers, “Interpretive framework.” The idea that the Old Testament doesn’t matter anymore or shouldn’t be taken literally doesn’t fit into the Baptist interpretive framework. This naturally leads many Baptists to seek to understand the Old Testament and how it relates to their walks of faith.
Price also relates his experience at the SBC annual meeting. As he was promoting First Fruits of Zion, he experienced an overwhelmingly positive response from the other attendees. He enjoyed responding to questions about the Bible with answers informed by a Messianic Jewish perspective. When asked about whether keeping the Torah is “legalism” or “works-based salvation,” Price tells people that living according to the commandments of Torah is not a way to earn salvation but an expression of a truly free life.
In his experience, Baptists, especially younger ones, want to change the world and find a deep connection with and appreciation for the Jewish idea of tikkun olam—repairing the world—living out the precepts of the kingdom of heaven here, rather than waiting to go to heaven when we die. He sees the modern renaissance of Gentiles celebrating Sukkot and the other festivals as, potentially, a prophetic sign that the return of Yeshua is near.
Price’s Torah Club is expanding and multiplying. He credits his wife's tireless work and partnership in sharing her own insights into the Scripture and creating a beautiful environment in which the two of them can walk with God together.
Check out this episode and more at messiahpodcast.org.