Nazarene Space

Who Are the Nazarene Israelites? Many of my family and friends have wondered "What does he believe?". Some will say they are Pentecostal because they go to a Pentecostal church although they do not even celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, others call themselves Baptist because they attend the local Baptist Church although there is no resemblance to what John the Baptist taught. Many say they are “Christian” because they follow “Christ” and also because the New Testament believers as they say they are were known as Christians first at Antioch. Surprisingly, the word "Christian" appears only three times in the New Testament. The New Testament's use of this term indicates that it was a term of derision, a term placed upon Messiah's followers by their critics.
We find the term, for example, in Acts 26:28 on the lips of King Agrippa, an unbeliever: "Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?'". Yet Paul does not call himself a Christian. It is also found in 1 Peter 4:16: "However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise Yahweh that you bear that name". This text indicates that early believers in Messiah suffered persecution being called a "Christians." In fact, in 1 Peter being a called a "Christian" seems synonymous with suffering (1:6,7; 2:12,19-23; 3:9-17; 4:1,12-19; 5:9). He literalizes the word and turns it back at them. Turning their smugness on its ear.
This thought leads us directly to the third text that uses the term "Christian." It appears in Acts 11:27, where we read that "The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch" the seat of Gnosticism.
This key text tells us two things about the Christians. First, "Christian" was not a name that they chose for themselves (they "were called Christians" by outsiders). This is consistent with our observation that it was a term placed upon them by hostile critics.
Rabbi Sha'ul, that the world knows as Paul was labeled not as a Christian but he was called "A ringleader of the sect of the NAZARENES.” (Acts 24:5)
Epiphanius, an early "church father" wrote about the original followeres Of Yahshua - "Nazarenes," whom he viewed as Judaizing heretics and not Christians: "We shall now especially consider heretics who... did not keep the name Jews; they did not call themselves Christians, but Nazarenes,; they are mainly Jews and nothing else. They make use not only of the New Testament, but they also use in a way the Old Testament of the Jews; for they do not forbid the books of the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings... so that they are approved of by the Jews, from whom the Nazarenes do not differ in anything, and they profess all the dogmas pertaining to the prescriptions of the Law and to the customs of the Jews, except they believe in [Messiah]... They preach that there is but one [Elohim], and his son [Yahshua the Messiah]. But they are very learned in the Hebrew language; for they, like the Jews, read the whole Law, then the Prophets...They differ from the Jews because they believe in Messiah, and from the Christians in that they are to this day bound to the Jewish rites, such as circumcision, the Sabbath, and other ceremonies." (Epiphanius; Panarion 29). 
The writings of the Catholic teacher, Bonacursus, entitled "Against the Heretics," refer to the Nazarenes: "Let those who are not yet acquainted with them, please note how perverse their belief and doctrine are. First, they teach that we should obey the Law of Moses according to the letter - the Sabbath, and circumcision, and the legal precepts still being in force. Furthermore, to increase their error, they condemn and reject all the Church Fathers, and the whole Roman Church."
During early New Testament times, the relationship between the some Pharisees and the original followers were stressed, and antagonistic among the Sadducees and the Christians who were followers of Simon hated them because they were their competition. Matters grew even worse after the fall of the Temple in 70 CE. Most of Rabbinic Judaism rejected YahShua as the Messiah, and became increasingly hostile toward the Nazarenes. in the 160s Rabbi Akiva even endorsed the renegade Bar Kochba as the "Messiah." Eventually, the rabbis even put a "curse" into the daily synagogue prayers, the Amida, which directly cursed the Notzri or Nazarenes and other sects that rejected Bar Kochba as "heretics"!
Many in our own movement have no concept of who we are. This has caused them to reach out to the many denominations of Judaism (i.e. Karaism or Chabadism) trying to fit Yahshua in some kind of box. Most have no concept of what real Judaism is. They have a fair understanding of what 15th & 16th century European influenced Judaism seasoned with 1950s Brooklyn fashion is. Or they throw out anything Rabbinical forgetting our Messiah was a Rabbi. 
So who are we? We are not Christian nor are we Messianics, even though we believe that YahShua, that Christians call Jesus, is the Messiah. 
We are Yahwists in that we revere the correct name of the Almighty so as not to break the third commandment, i.e. You are not to ("lash-shawv") use lightly, destroy or bring to nothing, the name of Yahweh your Elohim, by hiding, refusing to use, and purposely misspelling His name (Exodus 20:7). Similarly we believe in the use of the correct divine name for YahShua, the son of Yahweh. He was a born Jew with a Jewish name. In Matthew 1: 21 we read about his birth, as follows: "And behold she will bear a son, and will call his name Yahshua; for he will save his people from their sins." (Yahshua means Yahweh is Salvation). The name Jesus as he is known in the Christian world, was never His real name. his name in English would have been Joshua. Yet, you use the name of a person as he was given it. For instance, Frank Greene in Mexico is not Poncho Verde, He is still Frank Greene in any country.
We are Nazarenes! The most important part of this understanding is that our focus is to reestablish the faith, practice, and lifestyle of the original Netzarim. So who were they? What is a Nazarene Israelite? "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of Yahweh will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of Yahweh." (Isaiah 11:1-2) This was the prophecy where YaShua the coming Mashiach was called Netzar, and His followers naturally Netzarim, or Nazarenes, Matthew 2:23 speaks of this prophecy: "he went and lived in a town called Natzaret (Nazareth - Branchville). So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Netzari (the Branch)." “The days are coming,” declares Yahweh, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called: Yahweh Our Righteousness.So then, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land.” (Jeremiah 23:5-8)
The rabbis like Rashi teach that the branch, or the Netzari is, Mashiach or Messiah and that He will specifically be sent to find, locate and restore the Lost Tribes of Israel. That is the mission of Yahshua: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)
Messiah commissioned his Believers: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’" (Matthew 10:5-7)
Messiah told us who we are: “I am the vine; you are the Netzarim (branches). If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) Yahshua is our vine (Head) and we are the branches (followers) of Yahshua. "...Messiah is the head of the called Out Ones, his body, of which he is the Savior." (Ephesians 5:23)
Yahshua the Natzar (Branch) was a Torah observant Jew and a recognized, even celebrated, Rabbi and authority among the Jewish people. The Christian Church has clouded, indeed distorted, the true identity of Messiah, clothing him in pagan theology and ritual and giving him a foreign name. To put it bluntly, to follow Yahshua you must first be able to recognize the real Messiah.
"To the Torah and to the Testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isaiah 8:20)
It is our goal not only to teach about the true Yahshua, not only to take the responsibility of the "watchman at the gate" to spread the FULL MESSAGE of Yahshua to every person we come in contact with, but to restore the Netzarim Faith and work toward recreating the first century community of Yahshua's followers. In doing so, we must, as Yahshua and His disciples did, find our identification with Israel.

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Comment by Rabbi Rob on March 18, 2013 at 1:41pm

Rabbi Sha'ul, that the world knows as Paul was labeled not as a Christian but he was called "A ringleader of the sect of the NAZARENES (Hebrew: Netzarim).” (Acts 24:5)

Messiah told us who we are: “I am the vine; you are the NAZARENES (Hebrew: Netzarim = branches). If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

I am not a reconstructionist, or revisionist; I am a restorer. 

Comment by Rabbi Rob on March 18, 2013 at 2:09pm

The original Hebrew-Aramaic name of Joshua is Yehōshu‘a, just as Mike is short for Michael. So, the name Jasua was not unusual; in fact, as many as five different men had that name in the Tanach.

"Thus Joshua [in Hebrew] should be pronounced Yahshua. I see no reason for spelling it or pronouncing it as Yeshua....It is perfectly acceptable to pronounce Joshua [in Hebrew] as Yahshua, and the short form of Yahoshua [Joshua's unabbreviated name] is more accurately rendered as Yahshua." (Todd D. Bennett, Names: The Father, the Son, and the Importance of Names in the Scriptures (Shema Israel Publications: 2006) at 65.)

If it was YASHA, it meant simply "He saves." (Strongs 3467.) But if it meant YAH-SHUA, it means "salvation of Yahweh." (In Hebrew, you must read right to left, so it starts with SHUA, signifying an abbreviation of YASHA, implying to that point only salvation. But then the further left part would mean "of Yahweh" abbreviated as "YAH". Hence, to us, YAH-SHUA means "Salvation of Yah(weh).")

Isaiah YashaYahu means in Hebrew "Yahweh saves." = two conglomerated words -- YASHA (saves) + YAH (Yahweh). However, YahShua's name in the pronuciation history is nothing like YASHA-YAHU. Hence, the first part of the name of YahShua was YAH, which means "of YAHWEH." The next syllable had to mean, per Matthew 1:21, saving / salvation of "my people." Thus 'SHUA a veriation of Hosea fits. Before Joshua's name was changed, his original name was HOSHEA. That simply meant "salvation." Moses changed it to YAHOSHUA to signify it now meant "Salvation of Yahweh." (Bennett: 62.)

Bennett agrees that even the short form of YAHOSHUA -- which is YAHSHUA - should have the YAH sound at the beginning, not the YEH sound. At the time of the Babylonian captivity, the "short form spelling" removed the significant parts of pronouncing Yahweh's name as Yahweh, but we know better now: "the short form name should still have the Yah sound at the beginning." (Bennett: 65.) Pronunciation history of Yahshua's name proves Bennett is correct.

Furthermore, I believe Zechariah 6:11-13 is a prophecy that the Messiah's actual name would be Joshua -- again, the English version of a name whose pronunciation is historically proven to be YAHSHUA.

Comment by James Trimm on March 18, 2013 at 8:55pm

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)

Looks like they did not call themselves "Christians" and DID call themselves "Nazarenes" :-)

Comment by James Trimm on March 18, 2013 at 9:35pm

Actually Yeshua is called "Yahushua" in the Hebrew text of Hebrews.

And "Joshua" is called "Yeshua" throughout the Peshitta.

Comment by James Trimm on March 19, 2013 at 10:46am

Paul identifies himself many times as a "Jew" (Acts 21:39; 22:3)  And Paul says of himself "I am a Pharisee" (Acts 23:6) and when accused of being a ringleader of the "Sect of the Nazarenes" he responds in the positive to being part of "the way which you call a sect" (Acts 24:5, 14) which in context is identifying himself as a Nazarene.

Messiah is called "Yahushua" in the Hebrew text of Hebrews (that is part of the Bible).

Comment by James Trimm on March 19, 2013 at 5:20pm

[1] And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.
[2] And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,
[3] We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.
[4] Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.
[5] For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:
[6] Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.
[7] But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,
[8] Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him.
[9] And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.
[10] Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:
[11] Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.
[12] And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:
[13] Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.
[14] But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:

The word for "heresy" in verse 14is actually the same word and the word translated "sect" in verse 5.  The word actually just means "sect" not "heresy".

Paul identifies himself many times as a "Jew" (Acts 21:39; 22:3)  And Paul says of himself "I am a Pharisee" (Acts 23:6) and when accused of being a ringleader of the "Sect of the Nazarenes" he responds in the positive to being part of "the way which you call a sect" (Acts 24:5, 14) which in context is identifying himself as a Nazarene.


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