I once met a Jewish believer in Jesus. We were college seniors at the time, and I had a lot of questions regarding their faith and interpretation of the Scriptures. However, what nudged my mind was whether he believed Jews would go to Heaven. He opened my eyes to the prevalent Orthodox Jewish beliefs and his opinion on the subject, citing relevant Scriptures and sharing additional resources with me. Decades later, in my theology class, someone asked me if Jews go to Heaven. Pooling on my research and experience, I answered that question to the best of my ability. This article summarizes my answer to the question, “According to Christianity, do Jews go to Heaven?”
The short answer is yes, as long as they believe in Jesus Christ. Paul taught that God justified the Jews and Gentiles through faith (Romans 3:28-29). In both Testaments, God justified the Jews based on their faith. In the old, they looked forward to the coming Messiah; in the New, they believed in the finished work of the Messiah.
In this article, I’ll explore the different beliefs on Salvation between Jews and Christians. I’ll also explore what Jews and Christians believe about Heaven.
Do the Jews believe that Jesus is the chosen Messiah?
No. Orthodox Jews do not believe that Jesus is the chosen Messiah. They believe Jesus didn’t fulfil the Messianic prophesies, and some claim Jesus was a false Messiah.
According to these Jews, the Messiah would fulfil the following prophecies:
- Building the temple mentioned in Ezekiel 37:26-28.
- Restore the Jews to Jerusalem (Isaiah 43:5-6).
- Usher an era of eternal peace in the world, according to Isaiah 2:4.
- Teach the world about the Jewish God (Zechariah 14:9)
Christians hold that Jesus will fulfil these promises in the second coming, something the Jews reject. In their teachings, the Messiah will only come once. They also argue that Jesus’ claim to divinity made him a heretic and a false Messiah.
How can Jews achieve Salvation if they don’t acknowledge the divinity of Jesus?
In Judaism, Salvation is tied to the destiny of Israel on Earth. The Jews believe that entry into Heaven is based on their works of charity, obedience to the law, and devotion to their religion. Essentially, Salvation among the Jews is based on works instead of grace, something Christians reject.
Additionally, the Jewish Messiah isn’t divine. Instead, he is a dominating human figure who will usher in the Messianic era characterized by peace and a widespread knowledge of God among Jews and Gentiles. As such, the divinity of Jesus contradicts their teaching in Deuteronomy 6:4.
Why does the Catholic church say the Jews can be saved without believing in Christ?
The Catholic Church, in 2015, issued a statement to its members discouraging them from evangelizing the Jews. According to that statement, the rift caused in believing Jesus to be the only way to God led to Anti-Semitic beliefs that culminated in the Holocaust.
They further argued that the Jews didn’t need the gospel since they were part of God’s plan of Salvation. Additionally, the Catholic Church argued that the Jews could be saved without believing in Jesus. However, they maintain that Jesus is the only way to God. To reconcile these opposing statements, the Catholic Church termed the Salvation of the Jews a mystery.
Do Jews believe in the same Heaven as Christians?
Not exactly. Judaism has two primary beliefs about Heaven and the afterlife. The first is Gan Eden (or the Garden of Eden). According to them, Gan Eden is the home for departed souls awaiting the final restoration. The second is Olam Ha-ba, meaning “The world to come.” Olam Ha-ba is the final state of the world after God restores it.
These two closely resemble Paradise and the new Heaven and Earth. However, they differ from the Christian Heaven in a few ways. The most significant is that souls in Gan Eden can visit the living on Earth, while those in Paradise cannot. According to Jewish tradition, souls can cross to Earth, but the process is painful and difficult. Additionally, the souls in Gan Eden ascend to a higher revelation of God, assisted by your prayers, charity, and devotion to studying and keeping the Torah. Christians reject this tradition, believing that once you die, you face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
Therefore, these fundamental differences raise uncertainty about whether Jews and Christians believe in the same Heaven.
Can a Jew go to Heaven if they don’t believe in Jesus?
Not according to the Bible. God’s word is emphatic that Salvation is only through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). It goes on to teach that we are all sinners who’ve attracted God’s wrath and judgment (Romans 3:23). As such, we need a savior (Luke 19:10). Any claim to the contrary goes against the Bible and only creates the expectation of judgment (Hebrews 10:26-27).
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.