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Clear Truth: What Do You Mean... "Church"?

The Clear Truth Radio Show

(Week of April 17th)

"What Do You Mean... 'Church'?"

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Comment by James Trimm on November 7, 2011 at 11:51pm
While the term “Christian(s)” appears three times in the so-called New Testament (1Kefa 4:16 being one, the others are Acts 11:26 and 26:28). Nowhere in the so-called “New Testament” does any believer refer to himself as, or claim to be a “Christian”. It should also be noted that Paul never uses the word. The term always appears in a context where non-believers are using it. The term was first used at Antioch, where the message first went out to Gentiles, in reference to the first Gentile (more correctly formerly Gentile) Assembly. The term was a derogatory term in the first century. It was Ignatious of Antioch who (around 98 CE) coined the term “Christianity” to refer to a new and different religion from Judaism:

Be not deceived with strange doctrines;
nor with old fables which are unprofitable.
For if we still continue to live according to the Jewish Law,
we do confess ourselves not to have received grace…

let us learn to live according to the rules of Christianity,
for whosoever is called by any other name
besides this, he is not of God….

It is absurd to name Jesus Christ, and to Judaize.
For the Christian religion did not embrace the Jewish.
But the Jewish the Christian…
(Mag. 3:1, 8, 11)

Comment by James Trimm on November 7, 2011 at 11:52pm

Kefa here identifies being called a “Christain” with “suffering” akin to being called a “murderer” a “thief” or a “worker of evel”. We should no more use this passage as an encouragement to embrace the lable “Christian” than to embrace the labels “murderer”, “thief” and “worker of evil.”

You may be surprised to find out that the original Jewish followers of Yeshua were NOT “Messianic Jews”. As Daniel Juster writes:

No form of Judaism or Christianity…
has used the term “Messianic Judaism”
as its appropriate designation.
(Jewish Roots; 1986 edition, p. viii)

The original followers of Yeshua were a sect of Judaism known as “Nazarenes” (as we read in Acts 24:5).

The term “Messianic Judaism” was invented in the late 60’s and it is a human invention. David Stern writes in his Messianic Jewish Manifesto:

According to Scripture the word “Christian” does not denote Jewish believers in Yeshua at all. The New Testament calls them followers of “this way” (Acts 9:2, 22:4) and “Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5)… the New Testament does not call Jewish believers “Christians”. According to New Testament usage the term “Christian” is reserved for Gentile believers in the Jewish Messiah Yeshua.

Acts 11:19-26 tells how in Antioch some Jewish believers… did not limit their proclamation of Yeshua as the Messiah to Jews, as had been the norm previously, but broke new ground… Many of these Gentiles came to believe… the other Gentiles in Antioch… coined the word christianoi (Christians),… Thus the term “Christian” was invented by Gentiles to describe Gentiles in a Gentile environment. The New Testament tells us explicitly that “the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” [Acts 11:26]
(Messianic Jewish Manifesto; David Stern; p. 32)

Now it is important here to note that David Stern himself in his Jewish New Testament and Complete Jewish Bible, translates Acts 11:26 with:

…it was at Antioch that the talmidim for the first time were called “Messianic”.
(Acts 11:26 JNT)

In his commentary to this passage in his Jewish New Testament Commentary Stern writes:

“Messianic,” or “Messianics,” Greek Christianoi, which could be rendered… as in other translations, “Christians.” …the name “Christianoi” was applied to Gentile believers by Gentile nonbelievers. The name nonbelieving Jews gave to Jewish believers was “Natzaratim”… (“Nazarenes”),…

Again in Messianic Jewish Manifesto Stern writes:

“Messianic” comes from the Hebrew mashiach, which means “anointed.” “Christian” comes from Greek christos, which is the [Greek] New Testament’s translation of mashiach AND MEANS THE SAME THING. …in the New Testament the term “Christian,” which appears only three times, apparently denotes being a Gentile believer in Yeshua, so that scripturally “Jewish Christian” is a contradiction in terms.
(Emphasis and brackets added)
(Messianic Jewish Manifesto; David Stern; p. 20)

Comment by James Trimm on November 7, 2011 at 11:52pm

Now we can see from David Stern’s own words above:

1. The terms “Christian” and “Messianic” are alternate translations of the Greek word “Christianoi” “and mean the same thing”.

2. The term “Christianoi” or “Christian” is used in the scriptures only to denote a GENTILE believer in Yeshua, so that scripturally the term “Jewish Christian” is “a contradiction in terms”.



Therefore we may conclude that:

The term “Messianic” is used in the scriptures only to denote a GENTILE believer in Yeshua, so that scripturally the term “Messianic Jew” is a contradiction in terms.

The logic is inescapable… the term “Messianic Judaism” is scripturally invalid, it is a human invention and a contradiction in terms.

So what were the original Jewish followers of Yeshua called if they were not Messianic Jews? Stern admits:
The New Testament calls them followers of “this way” (Acts 9:2, 22:4) and “Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5)
(Messianic Jewish Manifesto; David Stern; p. 32)

In fact if we quote Stern, but substitute the word “Messianic” for “Christians” (since Stern admits “they are the same”) we read:

According to Scripture the word “MESSIANIC” does not denote Jewish believers in Yeshua at all. The New Testament calls them followers of “this way” (Acts 9:2, 22:4) and “NAZARENES” (Acts 24:5)… the New Testament does not call Jewish believers “MESSIANIC”. According to New Testament usage the term “MESSIANIC” is reserved for Gentile believers in the Jewish Messiah Yeshua.

So the BIBLICAL term for Jewish believers in Messiah is NOT “Messianic” but “Nazarene”. We should be seeking a restoration of “Nazarene Judaism” not creating “Messianic Judaism” which, being “Christian Judaism” (i.e. “Christianized Judaism”) is a contradiction in terms.
Comment by James Trimm on November 7, 2011 at 11:53pm

Kefa (1Kefa 4:16) totally supports the idea that "Christian" was at the time a derogatory term. Kefa cites being called "Christian" as an example of suffering akin to being called "a murderer, a thief, an evildoer or a busybody in other men's matters" (1Kefa 5:15-16).

 

In the Aramaic Peshitta the word "Christian" is the Greek word "Christianos" written with Aramaic letters. This is NOT the Aramaic word for "Christian" which is MISHIKHAYE and based on the Aramaic word MASHIKHA. This goes to support the idea that the Aramaic text is indicating not that they called themselves "Messianic" (In those days most Nazarenes spoke Hebrew and Aramaic) but that Greek speakers called them "Christians".

 

Christes is closely related to Chrestes which was the name of a false god and was a word indicating a pagan priest or prophet and was often a title for pagan gods.

Although CHRISTI is used by Homer as applied to the rubbing with oil of the body after bathing (Il. 23, 186; also in Od., 4, 252) the word Christes meant a white-washer, but Chrestes was a common title for pagan gods.

The persecutors probably were poking fun at believers in Messiah because if one adapts Greek CHRISTI (anoint) in the same was as the Hebrew word Mashiach is derived from the three letter root M-SH-CH (anoint), then the result is a word meaning "white washer" (i.e. one who covers things up and makes them look white/pure when they are not so on the inside). The Greek speakers probably got a good laugh out of this.

Comment by James Trimm on November 7, 2011 at 11:53pm

The facts:

1. Epiphanius states that the Nazarenes called themselves "Nazarenes" and did NOT call themselves "Christians".

2. No believer in the NT ever identifies himself as a "Christian", in all three occurrences the usage indicates a word that was being used by non-believers to describe believers.

These two facts together seem to settle the matter.

Comment by Craig Peter Farrow on November 8, 2011 at 8:44am
Peter never did any such thing!  he even says  But if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him praise God for this name. Hardly the act of someone despising the term!  All terms are correct in their proper context and setting, as the Gospels spread to areas where Hebrew and Aramaic were not known it is inevitable that they would be translated into a language and form that could be used to teach the people what they wished to know.  By simple sheer weight of numbers the term "Christian" came to predominate. (Greek was widely used in the Medeterranean world, Hebrew and Aramaic were not.)
Comment by Craig Peter Farrow on November 8, 2011 at 10:41am

2 Thessalonians 2:4 gives a hint on who this person really might be!  Afterall, if he is set himself up in the Temple then he must be acceptable and accepted by the builders of this Temple.  The idea that "Jesus Christ" is the AC is nothing new but is utterly ridiculous.  The idea that a translation of the Messiahs name into another language must be satanic is not even ridiculous but is laughable.

Comment by James Trimm on November 8, 2011 at 11:47am

And in Martin Luther King Jr. had said:

 

"But if anyone suffers as a 'N*g*r', let him not be ashamed,..."  Would that mean he advocated the term and that it was not derogatory?

 

Read the context:

 

15 Only not a man from you, should suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as a worker of
evil.
16 But if he suffers as a "Christian", let him not be ashamed: but let him glorify Eloah in
this Name,

 

Notice the equivalency between being called a murderer, a thief, a worker of evil or a thief.

Comment by Craig Peter Farrow on November 8, 2011 at 2:09pm
It matters not wether the term was originaly derogatory, joking, play on words or otherwise.  A Fisherman he may have been but he was smart enough to know that as soon as the Holy Spirit began working amongst the Gentiles this was going to be far bigger than he could fathom  He had no idea what the movement was going to called in the future and he certainly did not preach against this new fangled Greek term (as the text plainly demonstrates) History clearly shows that this term, derogatory or otherwise, WAS the term that was accepted by enough of the early believers for it to be adopted.
Comment by James Trimm on November 8, 2011 at 2:34pm

To the contrary, history records that the original Jewish followers of Yeshua did not use the term at all and were instead called "Nazarenes".  The 4th Century writer Epiphanius records of the Nazarenes:

 

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 G-d 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 Goodnews 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)

 

In restoring the ancient sect of Nazarene Judaism it makes no sense for us to adopt a term that we known the original Nazarenes did not use, was originally a derogatory term, that no NT believer used to refer to themselves, which Paul never used and which has come to refer to a follower of the antinomian religion which was later termed "Christianity" by Ignatius as opposed to "Judaism". 

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