I’m studying the letter of James right now, which I guess we should call the letter of Jacob, and came across this introductory note by the renowned New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham. He uses the terms “Christian” and “Jewish Christians” in ways that might be anachronistic, but he’s right about everything else:
James 1:1 does not specify that it is addressed to Christian members of the twelve tribes in the Diaspora. Yet the letter presupposes its readers’ allegiance to Jesus the Messiah. . . . The reason the addressees are not distinguished as Christians is that early Jewish Christians thought of themselves, not as a specific sect distinguished from other Jews, but as the nucleus of the Messianic renewal of the people of Israel which was under way and would come to include all Israel. In a sense they were the twelve tribes, not in an exclusive sense so as to deny other Jews this title, but with a kind of representative inclusiveness. What James addresses in practice to those Jews who already confess the Messiah Jesus, he addresses in principle to all Israel. (Richard Bauckham, James: Wisdom of James, disciple of Jesus the sage [London & New York: Routledge, 1999], 16.)
That’s how I want to see the Messianic Jewish community today, “not as a specific sect distinguished from other Jews, but as the nucleus of the Messianic renewal” of all Israel. We’re not a new religion or a new religious sub-group, but representatives of all Israel, confessing the Messiah that all Israel will come to confess as well.
May it come to pass speedily and in our days.