I was inquired of as to the meaning of the following Scripture, which has so falsely used by anti-Semites to inflame hostility, and worse, against Jewish people. It does not allude to Judaism but to Gentiles who falsely claim they are Jews and do not live like it.
Rev. 2:9 “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them, which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”
Rev. 3: 9 “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.”
Nearly all commentators ignore the plain truth and interpretation of this scripture that John is speaking about Gentiles who pretend to be Jews. What we have here is John writing about Gentiles who call themselves Jews, but aren’t. The same kind of expression is used in verse 2, “you tested those who call themselves emissaries (Apostles) but aren’t…and you found them to be liars.” There the commentators accepted the plain truth of Scripture, but here they opt for a metaphorical interpretation that John is talking about Biological Jews who reject Yahshua as the Messiah instead of the literal meaning that there are non-Jews who lie and say they are Jews while in fact they are not. In this way those commentators so bent give an anti-Semitic twist to this verse. The result is that over the centuries Jews have had the epithet of “synagogue of Satan” hurled at them by Christians who thought they understood the Bible. This is similar of the Gentile Judaizers of the book of Galatians who adopted a smattering of Jewish practices and tried to force them on Gentiles in a legalistic perversion of Torah. Nowhere in the NT are unbelieving Jews called non-Jews. A good rule of interpretation is that when the literal sense makes sense seek no other sense. This interpretation has come about because of the almost universal mind-set that has infected the “Church”, including its theologians and commentators.
In the first century the Jewish religion was highly regarded and many Gentiles became Jewish proselytes,. It is no wonder that many Gentiles preferred a short cut reaping the advantage of Jewish identification without the burden of adherence to Torah. Sha’ul (Paul) as above had already encountered such types in Galatia (Gal 6:12-13).
Modern people who call themselves “true Jews” are the Mormons who regard themselves as Jews and everyone else including real Jews as non-Jews. British Israelites as well think they are the True Jews. A sect of Amereican Blacks considers themselves the true Jews. A group in the Lutheran Church was expelled because they said they had heard from G-d that they were the “True Jews.” Jews do not accept such people as Jewish nor as this verse above shows neither do true Believers. It is easy to see why Yahshua does not regard them as harmlessly neutral either.
– Shalom, Rab Davis