Nazarene Space

1. “This firstborn from the dead was raised from the grave, not a human creature, but a spirit” (Let God Be True, 276).

2. “Jehovah God raised him from the dead, not as a human Son, but as a mighty immortal spirit Son. … For forty days after that he materialized, as angels before him had done, to show himself alive to his disciples” (LGBT, 40).

3. “Jesus did not take his human body to heaven to be forever a man in heaven. Had he done so, that would have left him even lower than the angels. … God did not purpose for Jesus to be humiliated thus forever by being a fleshly man forever. No, but after he had sacrificed his perfect manhood, God raised him to deathless life as a glorious spirit creature” (LGBT, 41).

4. “Usually they could not at first tell it was Jesus, for he appeared in different bodies. He appeared and disappeared just as angels had done, because he was resurrected as a spirit creature. Only because Thomas would not believe did Jesus appear in a body like that in which he had died” (From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained, 144).

5. “Having given up his flesh for the life of the world, Christ could never take it again and become a man once more. For that basic reason his return could never be in the human body that he sacrificed once for all time” (You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1982, 143).

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***The following is an excerpt from my book The Hebraic Roots Commentary Series, Volume 3 Luke. (available at http://www.lulu.com/nazarene)***

Luke 24:36-43 Touch me and know, because a spirit has not flesh and bones –

A similar resurrection appearance occurred in the Goodnews according to the Hebrews.
As the fourth century “Church Father” Jerome writes:

Also the Gospel called according to the Hebrews,
recently translated by me into Greek and Latin,…

Of the Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp. In it he also inserts
a testimony about the person of Messiah, from the Gospel
which was recently translated by me; his words are:

But I both saw him in the flesh after the resurrection,
and believe that he is in the flesh:
and when he came to Peter, and those who were with Peter,
he said to them, “Lo, feel me and see that I am not a
bodiless spirit”. And forthwith they touched him and believed.
(Jerome; Of Illustrious Men 2, 16 and Comm. on Isa. Preface to Book 18)

(We will examine this quote in more detail shortly)

One Messianic author takes this story (as it appears in Luke) as an indication that people at this time had a hard time accepting the resurrection of the dead. In fact only the 11 (or 10, since T’oma was not present according to John 20:19-20). In fact Yeshua’s Talmudim were mostly from the Johnian Essene background (see comments to Jn. 1:28-51) and perhaps from the Hillelian Pharisaic background. In both cases Essenes (4Q521) and Pharisees (m.San. 10) both believed in the resurrection. While Sadducees rejected the resurrection of the dead, none of Yeshua’s talmidim seem to have had a Sadducean background. Although Luke, Yochanan (in John 20:19-20) and the author of the Goodnews according to the Hebrews (Matthew?) may have included the story, in part, as a response to Sadducees, this would not explain why Yeshua made these statements and did these things.

Others have taken this material as establishing a principle that spirits cannot have bodies of flesh. The Book of Enoch, however, understands the events of Gen. 6:1f as describing a group of fallen angels as having taken flesh and copulating with human women (see comments to 2Kefa 2:4 & Jude 1:6). Moreover the Apocryphal Book of Tobit relates the rape of a woman by a demon (Tobit 3:8). While these accounts are apocryphal (though Enoch was accepted by Y’hudah (comments to Jude 1:14-15)) they make it clear that that it was not a first century concept that spirits could not take on flesh. As a result it seems unlikely that Yeshua did these things to prove that he was not a spirit. His actions would not have proven that he was not a spirit, since spirits were believed to have the ability to assume fleshly form. Instead Yeshua was attempting to prove that he was not a “bodiless spirit”, that his resurrected nature was not that of a spirit only but was a resurrected body of flesh and bone.

Yeshua was here attempting to stress his real existence in the flesh and his human nature. Yeshua was attempting to clear up any future misconceptions about the nature of his being. Yeshua wanted to stress that the resurrected Messiah was inclusive of the human nature of Yeshua. The Messiah had two k’numeh (natures; see comments to Jn. 5:26) a divine k’numa (the Son of Yah) and a human k’numa (the Son of Man). These two k’numeh were/are echad (one; united) in the one parsopa (person) of Messiah.

Even as early as the first century there were many misunderstandings of the nature of Messiah. The Ebionites, for example, believed that the Messiah was a spirit which entered into Yeshua at his immersion (see comments to Mt. 3:16-17). The Cerentheans (a Gnostic group which split from the Ebionites) also believed this and also maintained that this spirit did not die with Yeshua but departed before his death. Monophysites believed that Messiah had only one nature, a divine nature. They believed that Messiah was fully Elohim and nothing but Elohim. An extreme form of the Monophysite position was Docetism which was popular among many Gnostics. Docetists believed that Messiah's divinity was irreconcilable with his actually having been physically born in the flesh. They maintained that his life here was just an illusion (a belief still held by many Scientologists). Docetists believed that Messiah only seemed to be born in the flesh. They believed that he only seemed to live and dwell among us and he only seemed to suffer and die.

The early second century “Church Father” Ignatius in his letter to the Smynaeans, quotes this story from the Goodnews according to the Hebrews (he never names his source, but Jerome does) while rebutting the false doctrine of Docetism:

He was also truly crucified… And he suffered truly
as he also truly raised up himself: And not, as some
unbelievers say, that he only seemed to suffer,
they themselves only seeming to be [believers]….
But I know that even after his resurrection he
was in the flesh; and I believed that he is still so.

And when he came to those who were with Peter,
he said to them, “Take, handle me, and see that I
am not a bodiless demon.” And straightway they
felt and believed; being convinced both by his flesh
and spirit.

For this cause they despised death, and were found
to be above it. But after his resurrection he did
eat and drink with them, as he was flesh; although
as to his Spirit he was united to the Father.
(Smyraneans 3:1-2 (1:9-12 in some editions))

You might recall that Jerome (above) had wrongly placed the quotation in Ignatious’s letter to Polycarp, but it actually appears in his letter to the Smyraneans. According to Eusebious’s Ecclesiastical History 3:36, it also appeared in a lost book known as the Doctrine of Peter.

***And the following is an excerpt from my book Nazarene Theology also available at http://www.lulu.com/nazarene***

One very important aspect of Messiah was his humanity. He was born of a woman (Gal. 4:4). He grew in stature and wisdom (Luke 2:52). He was seen and handled by other men (1John 1:1; Mt. 26:12).

Paul tells us that when Messiah came to earth he “emptied his nefesh”:

And think in your nefeshot that which also
Yeshua the Messiah [thought],
Who, as he was in the likeness of Eloah,
did not consider it presumptuous to be
an equal of Eloah.
But he emptied his nefesh, and took
on the likeness of a servant, and was
in the likeness of the sons of men and
was found in fashion like a son of man.
And he humbled his nefesh and became
obedient unto death, even the death
of the gallows
(Phil. 2:5-8 HRV)

Hebrews tells us he was made lower than angels:

But he was diminished a little less
from the angels [just as] we see Yahushua
which in servitude he suffered and died
on the tree, crowned with glory and honor
in that he by the grace of Elohim, for the
sake of all the sons of men, died.
(Heb. 2:9 HRV)

Now in Matthew we read:

And Yochanan spoke to him saying, “I have need to be immersed of you, and you come to me?” Then Yeshua answered and said to him, permit it now; for in this it is obligated for us to fulfill all righteousness.” He gave him leave, and immersed him.
(Matthew 3:14-15)

This passage raises an obvious question. If Yochanan immersed unto the remission of sins (see Mt. 3:1; Mk. 1:4-5; Lk. 3:2-3, 7 & Acts 19:3-4) and Yeshua was without sin (Heb. 4:15) why should Yeshua be immersed for the remission of sins? A passage from the Goodnews according to the Hebrews quoted by the fourth century “Church Father” Jerome explores this issue:

In the Gospel according to the Hebrews,
which is written in the Chaldee and Syrian language,
but in Hebrew letters, and is used by the Nazarenes
to this day (I mean the Gospel according the Apostles,
or, as is generally maintained, the Gospel according to
Matthew, a copy of which is in the library at Caesarea,
We find:

Behold, the mother of our Lord
and His brothers said to him,
John the Baptist baptizes for the remission of sins;
let us go and be baptized by him.
But He said to them, what sin have
I committed that I should go and be baptized by him?
Unless perchance, the very words which I have said
Is [a sin of] ignorance.
(Jerome; Against Pelagius 3:2)

The concept of the “sin of ignorance” is found in the Torah (Lev. 4:2, 22, 27; 5:15-18; 22:14) and in Hebrews (Heb. 9:7). Messiah gave up certain qualities to become a man (Phil. 2:6-8; Heb. 2:7, 9, 14) and this apparently included omniscience, In Luke we are told that Messiah “grew and filled with wisdom” (Lk. 2:40, 52) and as an adult he did not have all of the knowledge of the Father (Mk. 13:32). This raises the possibility that Yeshua could have sinned in ignorance (Heb. 4:15 makes it clear that he did not, but that he could have), which is the point, made in the Goodnews according to the Hebrews here.

Note that the phrase “a sin of” is in brackets, meaning that it was not in the Latin of Jerome’s quote but was added by the translator as implied. The text might also be seen as Yeshua challenging his brothers by saying “I claim not to have sinned… are you saying I am ignorant and I really have sinned? And if so just when and where did I sin?”

Many people fail to realize what Messiah actually achieved. Messiah made daily choices as a human. He often wrestled witrh his nefesh (soul, self) pushing himself to make the right choice every time. While it is true that Messiah was able not to sin, do not mistake this to mean that Messiah was not able to sin. As we read in Hebrews:

For we do not have in this Cohen, one who is not able to bear our weakness, but one who was tempted on all sides like we, yet without sin.
(Heb. 4:15 HRV)

Many miss this very important point, and even think it is blasphemous to declare this wonderful truth: Messiah could have failed! Many seem to think there was no real risk involved! It is clear that in the garden of Gathsemene Messiah was weighed down with a battle to submit his human will to Elohim. It was a struggle, but he won.

But Messiah could have failed! It was possible! Otherwise he was not tempted in all things just as we have been. There would have been no risk involved. There would have been no real struggling to overcome temptation, if Messiah had not been able to sin in the first place. Messiah was able to sin, but he was also able not to sin.

James Trimm

PS: I would say Messiah was also born with a Yetzer Ra, because he had to have one in order to overcome one. If he did not have a Yetzer Ra, then he would not have been tempted in all things just as we. However not once did he ever YIELD to his Yetzer Ra.

39 Look at My hands and My feet, for it is I. Touch Me and know, because a spirit has
not flesh and bones as you see that I have.
40 <And while He said these things, He showed them His hands and feet.>
41 And while they still did not believe for their joy, and were astonished, He said to
them: Do you have anything here to eat?
42 And they gave Him a portion of fish that was broiled, and of honeycomb.
43 And He took and ate before them.
44 And He said to them: These are the words that I spoke to you while I was with you,
that it was necessary that everything, be fulfilled, that was written in the Torah of Moshe,
and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, about Me.

(Luke 24:39-44)

27 And He said to T’oma: Reach your finger here, and see My hands: and reach out your
hand and stretch it forth into My side, and do not be unbelieving, but believing.
28 And T’oma answered and said to Him, My Adon and My Eloah.

(Jn. 20:27-28)

And finally He appeared to the eleven, while they were eating. And He reviled their
lack of trust, and the hardness of their heart, since they had not believed those who had
seen that He had risen.

(Mk. 16:14)

15 And we are indeed found false witnesses of Eloah, because we have testified concerning
Eloah that He raised the Messiah, when He did not raise [Him].

(1Cor. 15:15)

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