QUESTION: I hear that many Jewish people are coming to faith in their Messiah. Someone told me there are at least 100,000. Do you have any statistics as to how many Jewish believers in Jesus there are today?
ANSWER: Estimates range from as low as 30,000 to as high as 125,000 world-wide. There is no way to take a really accurate census of Jewish believers in Jesus. Several factors make it quite difficult.
In this country and in European countries census takers used to include a question about religion. In places where they had state-supported clergy this was an important question because it involved monies paid to the religious community on a per capita basis. For this reason conversion records were scrupulously recorded and maintained. When the ruling was made in 1956 that no question of religion was to be allowed in the U.S. Census, the European countries followed suit. Nevertheless, at the turn of the century it had been recorded that 100,000 Jewish people had converted to Protestant sects and 50,000 had converted to Roman and Greek Catholic churches.
Another factor that makes statistics difficult to ascertain is that some very new believers may not yet have confessed their faith openly. While there is no such thing as a permanently secret believer” (see Romans 10:9, 10), sometimes believers take months or even years before making a public statement of faith because they fear the severe reactions of their families and the Jewish community.
Furthermore, even if we knew the exact number of Jewish believers, it would be necessary to make qualifying determinations. For example, would the poll include only those who came to faith in Christ directly from a Jewish religious background, or would it also include the children of Jewish converts who were raised in the Christian faith by believing parents?
Another category would be believers with only one Jewish parent.
Some have a Jewish mother, and some have a Jewish father. According to Jewish law, anyone born of a Jewish mother is Jewish. If a person had a Jewish father and a Gentile mother but had been raised in a home where Judaism had been practiced, would that person be considered Jewish for the purpose of the survey? What about the added factor of the absence of Jewish traditions in a mixed marriage household? What about the occasional Gentile who converts to Judaism because he or she admires the high ethics of the Jewish religion and then becomes aware that Jesus is indeed the Messiah of Israel?
There are too many variables to obtain a really definitive answer. The important point is that many Jewish people are coming to faith. We may not always know who they are, but the Lord in whom they have come to put their trust knows them, and one day we shall meet them all in heaven.