The Synagogue of Satan

The “Synagogue of Satan” is a term that occurs twice in the Holy Bible. It occurs only in the Book of Revelation which is believed to have been written by the Apostle John. John was the brother of the Apostle James (Mark 3:17). To John belongs the distinction of being the disciple whom Jesus loved. (Mark 5:37).

The Book of Revelation is the last book of the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah). John informs us that his testimony given in the Book of Revelation is the record of two prophetic visions given to him by Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) while he slept.

The term “Synagogue of Satan” has been misused throughout history by those with political, racial, and religious agenda who twist and pervert the Scriptures to support their erroneous false doctrines or viewpoints. In recent years even Billy Graham and Richard Nixon have been scrutinized for use of the term in 1973 during a recorded conversation.

Historically, the term has been used in classic antisemitic literature such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an antisemitic hoax purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination. It was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages, and disseminated internationally in the early part of the 20th century. Henry Ford funded printing of 500,000 copies that were distributed throughout the United States in the 1920s.

Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party publicized The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as if it were a valid document, although it was exposed as fraudulent. After the Nazi Party came to power in 1933, it ordered the text to be studied in German classrooms. The historian Norman Cohn suggested that Hitler used the publication as his primary justification for initiating the Holocaust, a “warrant for genocide”.

In religion, the term “Synagogue of Satan” has been used throughout Catholicism, the Christian Identity Movement, and the Church of Israel. Eric Rudolph is a product of the latter two groups.. The term is often used in the Serpent Seed Doctrine, a false doctrine that teaches that the “Original Sin” was an act of sexual intercourse between Adam and Eve and, prior to that act, Eve was sexually seduced by the serpent and committed sexual intercourse with the serpent; further, that Cain was conceived by the act with the serpent and Abel by the act with Adam. The Serpent Seed Doctrine also teaches that the Jewish people are the descendants of Cain and thus of Satan.

The term “Synagogue of Satan” has been used to criticize the modern State of Israel, going as far as making claims that the Jewish people are not really Jewish people, but Khazars who have adopted the Babylonian Talmud and the Kabbalah to steal the land whose rightful owners (the Jewish people) are still in exile.

Sadly, many Christians today espouse these antisemitic ideas which were rely heavily on replacement theology, a false doctrine that teaches that Christendom and the Christian Church as being the inheritor of the promises made to the biblical Israelites and proselytes.

Before further examination of this often misunderstood and misused passage we need to read the text from the Book of Revelation.

  • And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 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. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
    (Revelation 2:8-11 KJV)
  • And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. 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. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
    (Revelation 3:7-13 KJV)

In these passages of Scripture Jesus Christ is addressing the church in Smyrna and the church in Philadelphia. The word synagogue comes from a Greek word meaning “assembly of men” or “congregation,” and it was used much like the English word “church.” The “Synagogue of Satan” is an assembly or congregation made up of the individuals who “say they are Jews, and are not.” The word “Jew” is used here in a spiritual sense.

The Apostle Paul defines a “spiritual Jew” in his Epistle to the Romans. Paul wrote, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:28-29 KJV). In this case, it is not one’s physical race that counts, but his spiritual condition.

  • For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
    (Galatians 3:27-29 KJV)
  • Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
    (Romans 4:16-17 KJV)

Those in the “Synagogue of Satan” say they are spiritual Jews. In other words, they pretend to be real Christians, but they are not. This false church was already developing in the days of the Apostle John, masquerading as God’s true church. It had congregations in the cities of Smyrna and Philadelphia in Asia Minor even at that early time.

Currently the “Synagogue of Satan” can be defined as any false religion that follows unbiblical doctrines, pagan religions (all of which have roots in ancient Babylon) and any religion in the Corpus Christianum that requires faith plus works to obtain salvation. For example, these religions may include the Bahá’í Faith, Islam, WiccaMormonism, Roman CatholicismScientology, BuddhismJehovah’s Witnesses, Hinduism, and many others. The “Synagogue of Satan” may also include those who adhere to the false doctrine of replacement theology.

Satan’s modus operandi is deception. In particular, he labors endlessly in counterfeiting the things of God.

  • For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
    (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 KJV)

Jesus Christ said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20 KJV).

All believers should make sure that the church they attend and its ministers are following biblical doctrines and producing the fruit of righteousness. Otherwise, it may also be “Synagogue of Satan.”

The Tattooed Messiah

There are many who read the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation and assume that Yeshua the Messiah is going to return to earth with a tattoo on his thigh. This conception is totally invalid and is caused by a complete misunderstanding of who Yeshua really is and how He lived. Unfortunately this false teaching also is fueled Antisemitic bigotry that plagues many Christian churches to this very day.

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
(Revelation 19:11-16 KJV)

The history of tattoos is tightly bound up with that of paganism because the first people to create and receive them were pagans or, at the very least, their ancestors whose shamanistic ways gave birth to paganism. Tattoo is one of the oldest forms of art, right after cave and rock art from prehistoric times.

Moses wrote, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28 KJV), “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28 KJV) and “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28 KJV).

Clearly the Torah (instruction) teaches us that tattoos are forbidden by HaShem. This prohibition is only one of the 365 negative mitzvot (commandments) contained within the Torah.  In our day, the prohibition against all forms of tattooing regardless of their intent, should be maintained. Tattooing becomes even more distasteful in a contemporary secular society that is constantly challenging the concept that we are created in the image of HaShem (Genesis 1:27) and that our bodies are to be viewed as a precious gift on loan from HaShem, to be entrusted into our care and are not our personal property to do with as we choose (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Voluntary tattooing even if not done for idolatrous purposes expresses a negation of this fundamental perspective.

Yeshua was a tzitzit wearing, Torah-Observant Jew. Obviously, it would be impossible for Yeshua to break the commandments of the Torah (1 Peter 2:22; Hebrews 4:15).

A tzitzit is the name for specially knotted ritual fringes worn by observant Jews. Tzitzit are attached to the four corners of the tallit (prayer shawl) and tallit katan (small tallit). The wearing of tzitzit by observant Jews is also mandated by the Torah. It is only one of the 248 positive mitzvot contained within the Torah. Rabbinical scholars equate the observance of the tzitzit mitzvot with that of all other mitzvot. One Rabbinical scholar, Maimonides,  includes it as a major commandment along with circumcision and the Passover offering.

And YHWH spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of YHWH, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your Elohim. I am YHWH your Elohim, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your Elohim: I am YHWH your Elohim.
(Numbers 15:37-41 RNKJV)

The tassel (tzitzit) on each corner is made of four strands, which must be made with intent. These strands are then threaded and hang down, appearing to be eight. The four strands are passed through a hole 1-2 inches away from the corner of the cloth. There are numerous customs as to how to tie the tassels. Some Rabbinical commentaries explain that the Bible requires an upper knot (kesher elyon) and one wrapping of three winds (hulya). They instructed that between 7 to 13 hulyot be tied, and that “one must start and end with the color of the garment.” As for the making of knots in between the hulyot, the Rabbinical commentaries are inconclusive, and as such the designers of Jewish law have interpreted this requirement in various ways. The various commentaries described tying assuming the use of tekhelet dye, however, following the loss of the source of the dye, various customs of tying were introduced to compensate for the lack of this primary element.

Though many methods exist, the one that gained the widest acceptance can be described as follows:

The four strands of the tzitzit are passed through holes near the four corners of the garment that are farthest apart. Four tzitzyot are passed through each hole, and the two groups of four ends are double-knotted to each other at the edge of the garment near the hole. One of the four tzitzit is made longer than the others; the long end of that one is wound around the other seven ends and double-knotted; this is done repeatedly so as to make a total of five double knots separated by four sections of winding, with a total length of at least four inches, leaving free-hanging ends that are twice that long.

Before tying begins, declaration of intent is recited: L’Shem Mitzvat Tzitzit (“for the sake of the commandment of tzitzit”).

Blue and white tzitzit knotted in the Sephardi style, the all white is Ashkenazi. Note the difference between the 7-8-11-13 scheme and uninterrupted windings (between the knots) on the Ashkenazi, vs. the 10-5-6-5 scheme and ridged winding on the Sfaradi tzitzit.

The two sets of stands are knotted together twice, and then the shamash (a longer strand) is wound around the remaining seven strands a number of times (see below). The two sets are then knotted again twice. This procedure is repeated three times, such that there are a total of five knots, the four intervening spaces being taken up by windings numbering 7-8-11-13, respectively. The total number of winds comes to 39, which is the same number of winds if one were to tie according to the Talmud’s instruction of 13 hulyot of 3 winds each. Furthermore, the number 39 is found to be significant in that it is the gematria (numerical equivalent) of the words: “The Lord is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4). Others, especially Sephardi Jews, use 10-5-6-5 as the number of windings, a combination that represents directly the spelling of the Tetragrammaton (YHWH).

Rashi, a prominent Jewish commentator, bases the number of knots on a gematria: the word tzitzit (in its Mishnaic spelling) has the value 600. Each tassel has eight threads (when doubled over) and five sets of knots, totalling 13. The sum of all numbers is 613, traditionally the number of mitzvot in the Torah. This reflects the concept that donning a garment with tzitzyot reminds its wearer of all Torah commandments.

Maimonides disagrees with Rashi, pointing out that the Biblical spelling of the word tzitzit has only one yod rather than two (giving it a gematria of 590 plus 13), thus adding up to the total number of 603 rather than 613. He points out that in the Biblical quote “you shall see it and remember them”, the singular form “it” can refer only to the p’til (thread) of tekhelet. The tekhelet strand serves this purpose, explains the commentaries, for the blue color of tekhelet resembles the ocean, which in turn resembles the sky, which in turn is said to resemble HaShem’s holy throne, thus reminding all of the divine mission to fulfill His commandments.

When wearing a tzitzit, the tassels hang to the thigh of the person wearing the tzitzit. Obviosly then, Yeshua will not have a tattoo on His thigh. He may very possibly be wearing a tzitzit with a combination of knots, wrappings and embroidering that will contain His title, “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Todd Bentley, the Canadian “Evangelist” (http://www.freshfire.ca/) has claimed that he has piercings and tattoos because Yeshua also has piercings and tattoos. He is referring to this passage in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 19:11-16) and the wounds from the crucifixion. This is total blasphemy to compare his tattoos and piercings with misinterpreted Scriptures and the suffering inflicted upon Yeshua at His crucifixion as a means to justify his own tattoos (include a recent tattoo of a demon in a rose) and many body piercings.

Todd Bentley and Fresh Fire Ministries was also part of the Lakeland Revival. The Lakeland Revival was related to the Toronto Blessing in Canada and the Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, Florida. However, the Lakeland Revival had a greater focus on divine healing along with a call to evangelism, was much shorter than these two revivals, and was nearly inseparable from Todd Bentley. The revival displayed many “ecstatic manifestations” and some participants claimed “esoteric experiences”, such as divinely inspired visions and prophecies. In addition to claims of numerous miraculous healings, there were at least 30 claims to cases of resurrection of the dead (all unsubstantiated). The Toronto Blessing is the movement responsible for “Holy Laughter” which is sometimes manifested with uncontrollable laughter and even projectile vomiting.

Todd Bentley has been criticized for occasional violence against “worshipers” at his “revivals”. He has been known to forcefully kick, hit, smack or knock over participants. In one incident, a man was knocked over and lost a tooth. In another, an elderly woman was intentionally kicked in the face. Todd Bentley held claims the Holy Spirit led him to such actions, saying that those incidents were taken out of context and adding that miracles were happening simultaneously.

Every Word of Elohim is refined, He is a shield to those who seek refuge in Him. Do not add to His Words, that He not reprove you, and you be found a liar.
(Proverbs 30:5-6 HRB)