Shalem & shalom – to be “fulfilled” in the Messiah – TRAC5

Jesus’ shocking revelation about conversion?

A number of exciting revelations can be had by examining the language of Jesus, that is Aramaic. Aramaic is closely related to the Hebrew of the Old Testament and is also considered a “Semitic” language.

“Conversion” from one religious “club” to another has been the strategy of many Missionaries for hundreds of years. But, is it what Jesus taught and is it working?

Understanding one word will empower YOU to share Jesus in an exciting way.

Two words are prominently translated into English as “convert.” The first of which is shalem

Shalem (Aramaic) and salaam (Arabic) are equivalent to the Hebrew word for peace: shalom

Example: Jesus in his Aramaic vernacular would often greet people with shalama loch or “peace be with you.” Again, a form of shalem.

So what does “peace” have to do with conversion?

The word shalem has another meaning: to “submit” or “surrender

Example: When encountering strangers on the road during ancient times, one would open up their hands in a surrendering posture to show you that they mean no harm. Expressing that, “I come in peace,” or “I submit to your good will.”

The word shalem evolved to mean:  

  1. Greetings,

  2. Salute,
  3. Peace,
  4. Complete,
  5. Fulfill,
  6. Turn back,
  7. Surrender,
  8. and Submit.

Example: In Matthew 10:23 Jesus said, “When they persecute you in this city, escape to another; for truly I say to you, that you shall not finish converting all the cities of the house of Israel, until the Son of man returns.”

The word used here for "convert" is shalem.

The literal meaning was not; “give up your own religion and adopt ours.” A more accurate meaning is; “give up your sinful ways, turn and surrender yourself, in faith, to the one God.”

So why does this matter and how does it apply? The Aramaic understanding helps us adjust the “conversion strategy” to something different. For example, the Messianic movement in Israel includes Jews who do not need to reject their religious identity or culture to accept Jesus as Messiah.

Messianic Jews often do not adopt a western Christian identity, but rather they retain their eastern culture and Jewish heritage. Their conversion is more inline with what Jesus taught. In other words, an “internal” process, i.e., a "conversion" of the heart and mind, “surrendering” and “submitting” to God, “completing” them through the Messiah.

Does this same concept for “conversion” apply to other faiths and cultures? As followers of Jesus, are we required to adopt the “Christian” religion to accept Him as Lord, Messiah and redeemer?

What do you think? Let us know..

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mark siljander
mark siljander