Dr David Stern (1935-2022) with his wife Martha
Dr David Stern (1935-2022) with his wife of 46 years, Martha (Photo: David H. Stern (via Facebook))

Messianic Jewish theologian Dr David Stern passed away on 8 October 2022, aged 86.

Born in the US in 1935, Stern was avid surfer who published a classic surfing guide. He became a believer in Yeshua (Jesus) in 1972, following a life-changing encounter with the owners of a Christian health food shop.

Stern earned a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary, California, and taught the seminary’s first course in ‘Judaism and Christianity’. He later spent a year studying at Los Angeles’ Graduate School of the University of Judaism.

Stern was “a pioneer in the modern Messianic Jewish movement”

Dr David Stern with his wife, Martha, celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles
Dr David Stern with his wife, Martha, celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles (Photo: David H. Stern (via Facebook))

He met his wife in 1975, following what he describes as a prophecy from God: “At Messiah ’75 [a Messianic conference], I will show you your wife. At first you will not recognise her. When you do, you will be dismayed, because no woman on earth could meet the standards you have set up for your wife! But when you think about it, you will realise that I have made the right choice. It will then be up to you to woo and win her. I am the Lord.” He and Martha married in 1976 and emigrated to Israel in 1979.

Stern’s legacy to Church was his Complete Jewish Bible and his Jewish New Testament Commentary, which enabled believers to see the Scriptures in a Jewish context. By using transliterated Jewish names, and translating the Greek word for ‘law’ as ‘legalism’ in selected verses, his translation was intended to act as correction against the devaluation of the Mosaic law (‘Torah’) within many churches.

His wife of 46 years, Martha, wrote on his Facebook page: “David’s funeral was on the day between Shabbat and the beginning of Succot… The Rabbis say that the righteous pass away on Shabbat in their own beds, and the most righteous between Yom Kippur and Succot. This is what happened to our beloved David.”

HEART reader Richard Cary, trustee at Sozo Ministries International, said: “Dr Stern’s Jewish New Testament Commentary has been invaluable for our fellowship as we have rediscovered the Hebraic roots of our faith. His commentary takes readers into the Jewish context through his knowledge of Jewish Torah scholars.”

Many respected Messianic leaders have paid tribute to his life. Boaz Michael, founder of First Fruits of Zion, to which Stern donated his extensive library, wrote: “I am not sure if there is any Messianic Jewish person or organisation today that has not in some way, whether they realise it or not, been affected by his work, his vision, and his life. Such was his goal at the outset of his career.”

David and Martha Stern on Yom Kippur, just before he passed away
David and Martha Stern on Yom Kippur, just before he passed away (Photo: David H. Stern (via Facebook))

Author and speaker Matt Rosenberg said: “A hero is defined as a person who is admired or idealised for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities. David H. Stern is one of my heroes. His books have always been a part of my life.”

Daniel Juster of Tikkun Israel wrote on Facebook: “David’s breadth of Messianic Jewish understanding was vast and his mark on the movement is unequalled.”

Jonathan Bernis, CEO of Jewish Voice Ministries, praised Stern as “a pioneer in the modern Messianic Jewish movement” and said that the Complete Jewish Bible “reintroduced many around the world to the ‘Jewishness’ of the Scriptures.”

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