History of the Netzarim
The Halaka of Eashoa’ Msheekha and the Set
Apart Believers The history of the Netzarim (Nazarenes) dates to the days of Eashoa’ Msheekha (Christians refer to Him as Jesus) ministry on earth. Eashoa’ was Himself called a Nasraya. Yochanan (John) 18:5, “They said to him, “Y’shua the Nasraya. Eashoa’ said to them, ‘I am he’.” Andrew Roth’s footnote says, “Y’shua is Mashiyach; the ‘Netzer’ of Yeshayahu / Isaiah 11…” On page 905 in the appendixes of the AENT Roth goes on to say, “The Netzarim designation clearly implies the ‘Tree of Life” which serves as a reminder of the Eternal Kingdom that was offered to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The term netzer (sprout or branch) is also the root word for the City of the Branch, Netzeret (Nazareth)… The designation of ‘Nasraya’ serves as a reminder for all his followers, not that he dwelled in Netzeret but that his ‘dwelling’ (the Spirit of Mashiyach) is within his people.” (see also Matt. 2:23; 26:71; Mark
1:24; 10:47; 14:67; Luke 4:34; Romans 11:16).
Eashoa’ (Jesus) said that he did not come to abolish the Torah or Nevi’im (Matthew 5.18), and that both would endure as long as the physical universe is maintained (Matthew 5.18); Revelation 1.1; 21.8 says that those who violate the Torah are punished by suffering in the hereafter. The Gospel accounts report that this was not just lip-service, as Jesus kept Shabbat (Luke 4.16) and the Jewish Holy Days like Sukkot (John 7.2; 7.10; 7.37) and even Chanukah (John 10.22). The most well-known Jewish festival he kept was Pesach. We read proofs of this in his instructions to “keep the Passover” (Matthew 26.18), which is the equivalent of “eat the Passover” (Mark 14.14), which we are told he did (Matthew 26.21; Mark 14.18).Beyond the historical background of the Nazarenes, the first Jewish believers who founded the Jerusalem Church, the Messianic Seal itself proclaims to the world the pervasive Jewishness of Jesus Christ and the decidedly Jewish foundation and roots of the church founded in His name.
Netzarim Believers do not emphasize theology or doctrine as the standard of “Faith”, but righteous character and the action of true Faith. Torah observance by Faith is action demonstrating the anointing of the Ruach HaKodesh (Set Apart Spirit). If one says they have Faith, but has NO love for Torah, their Faith is vanity. Ya‛aqob 1:22 And become doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Ya‛aqob 2:18 “For a man says to you, „You and I have faith; I have deeds; Show me your faith without deeds and I shall show you my faith by my deeds.‟”
The word “Netzarim” originates in Isaiah 11, the “netzer” or “sprout” which refers to the Kingdom of Elohim in Mashiyach. And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Netzer sprout) shall grow out of his roots: And the Spirit of YAHWEH shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Might, the Spirit of Knowledge and of the Fear of YAHWEH; And shall make Him of quick understanding in the Fear of YAHWEH: and He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears: But with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.Isa 11:1-4
In 1870, an Aramaic manuscript entitled “The Gospel of the Nazirenes” was discovered, translated and published. It was hidden for centuries in a Tibetan monastery.
Some scholars have boldly declared that this legendary Gospel of the Nazirenes, later to be known as the Gospel of the Holy Twelve, is nothing less than the long-lost original Gospel which, legend holds, was collectively written by the actual 12 apostles in the period immediately following Christ’s death, and upon which all of the Biblical synoptic Gospels are based.
There is a lot of talk these days about getting back to the “New Testament Church.” But the real truth is, there are two things the “New Testament Church” did not have: A “New Testament” and a “Church”. The believers of the “New Testament Church” met in synagogues (Acts 15:21; James 1:1; 2:2) and had no book known as the “New Testament” because it had not been written and compiled yet. Thus when a believer from the “New Testament Church” refered to “The Scriptures” he was speaking of the Tanakh (“Old Testament”) for they were the only Scriptures he had. Thus when Paul wrote to Timothy:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished to all good works. (2Tim. 3:16-17) Paul was referring to the Tanak, the only Scriptures they had. Moreover when Paul spoke to the Bereans in Acts 17:11 we are told of them: These were more noble than those at Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Paul was saying that the Bereans were noble because they did not believe what Paul said simply on the authority of Paul. They were looking to see if what Paul was teaching could be found in the Scriptures. Remember, they were looking in the Tanak, the only Scriptures they had at the time. Paul said that it was noble of them to only accept his teaching if it lined up with the Tanak. That means that whenever we study the New Testament we should ask ourselves this question: “Can you get here from there?” (There being the Tanak). If you think you understand something in the New Testament in such a way that it contradicts the Tanak, then you need to realize that you are misunderstanding it.
Eashoa’ (Jesus) came to be the Jewish Messiah of Judaism and not to create a new religion. Now I know that within many Christian circles there is a teaching that says that originally Judaism was the true faith but that it has now been replaced by a new faith “Christianity” which is now the true faith. This theology is totally counter to the teachings of the “New Testament”. The “New Testament” is plain in telling us that there is one true faith (Eph. 4:5) which was given once and for all time (Jude 1:3). This means that the theology that claims that Christianity is a true faith which has replaced Judaism which had been the previous true faith is absolutely false! There is, according to the “New Testament” itself ONE TRUE FAITH and it was ONLY GIVEN ONCE. Christianity is to young to be that ONE true faith that was ONCE given, that ONE true faith that was ONCE given therefore MUST be Judaism! Which is Nazarene Judaism.
The original believers in Eashoa’ were a Jewish sect known as “Nazarenes” or in Hebrew “Netzarim” (Acts 24:5). The “church father” Jerome (4th Cent.) described these Nazarenes as those “…who accept Messiah in such a way that they do not cease to observe the old Law.” (Jerome; On. Is. 8:14).
Elsewhere he writes:
Today there still exists among the Jews in all the synagogues of the East a heresy which is called that of the Minæans,and which is still condemned by the Pharisees; [its followers] are ordinarily called ‘Nazarenes’; they believe that Messiah, the son of God, was born of the Virgin Miriam, and they hold him to be the one who suffered under Pontius Pilate and ascended to heaven, and in whom we also believe.” (Jerome; Letter 75 Jerome to Augustine)
The fourth century “church father” Epiphanius gives a more detailed description:
But these sectarians… did not call themselves Christians–but “Nazarenes,” … However they are simply complete Jews. They use not only the New Testament but the Old Testament as well, as the Jews do… They have no different ideas, but confess everything exactly as the Law proclaims it and in the Jewish fashion– except for their belief in Messiah, if you please! For they acknowledge both the resurrection of the dead and the divine creation of all things, and declare that Elohim is one, and that his son is Yeshua the Messiah. They are trained to a nicety in Hebrew. For among them the entire Law, the Prophets, and the… Writings… are read in Hebrew, as they surely are by the Jews. They are different from the Jews, and different from Christians, only in the following. They disagree with Jews because they have come to faith in Messiah; but since they are still fettered by the Law–circumcision, the Sabbath, and the rest– they are not in accord with Christians…. they are nothing but Jews…. They have the Good news according to Matthew in its entirety in Hebrew. For it is clear that they still preserve this, in the Hebrew alphabet, as it was originally written. (Epiphanius; Panarion 29)
There has been a great deal of confusion over the years over what the “church” is. Some have taught that the Church is a new entity which replaces Israel. Others have taught that the Church is a new body which is totally independent of Israel. Still others have taught that the Church and Israel are two different but overlapping entities. With all of the misconceptions about the identity of the “Church” the time has come to set the story straight and reveal what the “Church” really is.
The English word “Church” comes originally from the Old English word KIRKE. The Old English word KIRKE was the word the Anglo-Saxons used to refer to their pagan places of worship. When they became Christianized the Anglo-Saxons continued to call their places of worship KIRKES and as the language evolved “Churches”. You may have heard that the word “Church” originally referred to the people and later came to refer to the building. This is not true. The word “Church” originally referred to the building and later came to refer to the people. Moreover the word “church” is of pagan origin.
WHO WERE THE “NAZARENES”? (more properly, “Natsarim”)The Natsarim (watchmen, branches) were the sect of followers of Eashoa’ ha Mashiach, of Natsarith (see Acts 24:5, where Shaul was termed “a ringleader” of this sect). How can a person discern whether or not another person is of Elohim or not? Very simply; if they guard Mashiach Yahushua’s Commands (Torah) – see 1 Yohanan for evidence. Which ones? The big Ten for starters. A person cannot live in darkness, being a lawbreaker openly, and claim to be a believer, loving Yahuah:
“He that has My mitzvot, and keeps them, he it is that loves Me: and he who loves Me, shall be loved by My Abba, and I will love him, and will reveal Myself to him,” Yochanan 14:21.
“O Elohim, you are my El; early will I seek You: my being thirsts for You, my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land, where no mayim is; to see Your power and Your tiferet, so as I have seen You in the Set-Apart Place. Because your loving chesed is better than chayim, my lips shall hallel you. So I will bless You while I live: I will lift up my hands to Your Name. My being shall be satisfied as with marrow and abundance; and my mouth shall hallel you with joyful lips: When I remember You upon my bed, and meditate on You in the night watches,” Tehillim 63:1-7. Selah.
Alaha Ava, Brah MarYah Eashoa’ Meshiakha, w‟Rookha d‟Qoodsha Breeka, Khath
Alaha, Breek lalam almeen. Ameen.