Why don’t Messianic Jews simply call themselves Christians?
The term “Christian” originally meant “follower of the Christ” or “follower of the Messiah.” In and of itself, it is a good term. Unfortunately, over time, the term “Christian” came to mean more than simply “follower of the Messiah. Many people today have this dichotomy in their minds, that on the one hand, there are Jews and Judaism, and on the other there are Christians and Christianity. You are either one or the other. Accordingly, when a Jew accepts Yeshua he “switches over” from the Jew-Judaism side to the Christian-Christianity side and is no longer a Jew but a Christian. For all intents and purposes, the term “Christian” has become synonymous with “non-Jew” or “Gentile.”
Obviously, we believe that just the opposite has occurred. Messianic Jews believe that we have found the Jewish Messiah and we are now “completed Jews” in Him. Consequently, we choose to call ourselves “Messianic Jews” which identifies us as Jewish people, who believe and follow the Messiah Yeshua. (Interestingly, there is no commandment in the New Covenant to call ourselves “Christians.” Early Messianic Jews had many names for themselves e.g. believers, elect, remnant, The Way, followers disciples, etc.).