Was Jesus a member of the first century religious group called Nazarenes?

by Grant
(near L.A.)

Modern Nazareth has about <br>60,000 inhabitants

Modern Nazareth has about
60,000 inhabitants



No, Jesus was not a member of the Nazorean or Nazarene sect. We could refer to Jesus as a Nazarene because at one time he lived in the tiny country village of Nazareth but that doesn't make him a Nazarene in the sense of being a member of the religious sect which was an offshoot of the Essenes cult.

Jesus is called a Nazarene in Matthew 2:23 because he lived in the little farm village of Nazareth which had about 35 houses. It was such a small and insignificant village that it is hardly mentioned in early secular history.

In Acts 24:5, unbelieving Jews falsely accused the apostle Paul of being "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes." However, nothing in the New Testament indicates that followers of Jesus ever called themselves Nazarenes or embraced the unbiblical teachings of the sect of the Nazarenes.

There are at least four sound reasons to reject the idea that Jesus and his disciples were Nazarenes or Nazoreans in the sectarian sense of those words.

  1. The Nazoreans or Nazarenes rejected every part of the Tanakh (our Old Testament) which mentioned animal sacrifices because they regarded animal sacrifices as barbaric.

    Jesus affirmed the Old Testament including the blood sacrifices, Matthew 5:18, 23:18-23, therefore he could not have been a Nazarene in the sectarian sense.

  2. The Nazarenes were vegetarians. Jesus and His disciples were not vegetarians. According to John 21:5, 9-14, Jesus and His disciples ate fish.
    "As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.

    Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.

    Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.

    Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.

    Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise."
    - Gospel of John 21:9-13

  3. The Nazarenes practiced a works based salvation, trying to live pure lives without offering the blood sacrifices commanded in the Tanakh.

    During His earthly ministry, Jesus affirmed the offering of blood sacrifices for Jews before His crucifixion and resurrection, Luke 5:12-14 with Leviticus 14:2-7.

    Scripture is clear that anyone who tries to keep the Law but then fails to keep even one part, like the blood sacrifice part, is as guilty as if he broke all of it, Leviticus 20:22, 26:15, Numbers 15:40, Deuteronomy 27:1, Galatians 3:10, 5:3, James 2:10.

  4. The Nazarenes rejected Paul as an apostle and therefore did not regard Paul's writing as scripture.

    Since the New Testament does view Paul as an apostle and includes 14 books Paul wrote, any group which rejects his apostleship is not a group that follows God.

    For those reasons, it is historically inaccurate to view Jesus as a member of what was essentially a first century cult.
New Age folks prefer to see Jesus as a Nazarene (or Nazorean) because New Agers, like Nazoreans, reject the idea that a blood sacrifice for sins is necessary and they reject Jesus as the only way of being saved.

They prefer to read into scripture, things scripture does not say, esoteric or hidden knowledge, which they believe they are privy to but which they believe most Christians have missed.

Jesus Himself contradicts their claim that He gave them hidden knowledge or secret knowledge.

"Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing." John 18:20. -John 18:20, KJV

The New Testament book of Hebrews presents Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament animal sacrifices. Hebrews chapter 9 is dedicated to the proposition that animal blood sacrifices were necessary and part of God's plan yet there are better sacrifices than animal sacrifices, Hebrews 9:23, meaning Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of the Old Testament animal sacrifices for sin.

The Law in the Old Testament viewed animal blood sacrifices as "a shadow of good things to come," Hebrews 10:1. Everything in Hebrews chapter 10 contradicts Nazarene (or Nazorean) teaching which "abhorred all animal sacrifice and rejected, as forgeries and fictions, all Jewish scriptures that encourage such barbaric practices." When in doubt, ALWAYS believe the Bible and toss other religious views OUT.


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Comments for Was Jesus a member of the first century religious group called Nazarenes?

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Apr 03, 2010
Jesus was a Nazorean
by: Nazorean

Contrary to the nonsense that you have written, Jesus (Yeshu) was a Nazorean just as it says on the 'Shroud of Turin.' For Jesus to have been called a Nazorean or Nazarene because he lived in a town called Nazareth is nonsense since no such town existed during his life. A person from Nazareth would be a Nazarethenos or Nazarethaios from the Greek and if it were in Hebrew then Nazareth would be Nazrat and a person from Nazareth is then a Nazrati, but never a Nazarene or Nazorean.

Apr 03, 2010
You obviously haven't done much believing Bible study
by: Rick Brentlinger

And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth

Whom should we believe, Nazorean who commented above or the Bible?

Which was a city of Galilee, and where Joseph and Mary had both dwelt before, Luke 1:26, 2:4 here they came and fixed their habitation,

that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet

This affair of going into Galilee, and settling at Nazareth, was brought about with this view, to accomplish what had been foretold by the prophets, or prophet, the plural number being used for the singular, as in John 6:45, Acts 13:40.

And indeed it is so rendered here in the Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions; and designs the prophet Isaiah, and respects that prophecy of his in Isaiah 11:1 - "and there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and (run), a branch shall grow out of his roots;"

a prophecy owned by the Jews themselves to belong to (Jesus) the Messiah, and which was now fulfilled in Jesus; who as he was descended from Jesse's family, so by dwelling at Nazareth, he would appear to be, and would be "called a Nazarene, or Netzer, "the branch;" being an inhabitant of Natzareth, or Netzer, so called from the multitude of plants and trees that grew there.

A Nazarene,

as David de Pomis says (Lexic Heb. fol. 141. 2.)

"is one that is born in the city Netzer, which is said to be in the land of Galilee, three days journey distant from Jerusalem."

Now though Christ was not born in Nazareth, yet because he dwelt at Nazareth, and was educated there; hence the Jews frequently call him (yruwnh ewvy) "Jesus, the Nazarene;" (T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 17. 1. Ganz. par. 2. fol. 14. 2. Abarbinel in Dan. fol. 44. 1.) and sometimes only (yruwnh) "the Nazarene" (Ganz. par. 1. fol. 24. 2.).

They also call him "Ben Netzer" (T. Bab. Cetuboth, fol. 51. 2. & Gloss. in ib. Bereshith), of whom they say a great many evil things: and that Christ is often called Jesus of Nazareth, or the Nazarene, and his followers Nazarenes, from the place of his habitation, is known to everyone.

One of Christ's disciples is called Netzer (meaning 'branch') in the Talmud (T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 43. 1.), and made to plead for his life, because his name signified a branch, according to Isaiah 11:1.

Surenhusius observes (Biblos Katallages, p, 2, 3, 4, 197), that the form (rmanv hm Mwyql) "to fulfil what is said," used by the Talmudists, and which he takes to be the same with Matthew 2:23, is used by them, when they allege not the very words of Moses, or the prophets, but the sense of their words, i.e., the literal meaning of the Hebrew words.

-from The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible, comments on Matthew 2:23

Sep 27, 2011
Nazareth?
by: Carl

Rick, Quoting the passage in the New Testament is no proof of your claim. That is what scholars have brought into question. For at least two centuries, the first couple chapters of Matthew have been suspected forgeries. Your claim to know that 35 families lived in a town called Nazareth in the first century is nonsense. You just made that up.

There is NO evidence of such a town, and it is not mentioned by Josephus, the OT, or any other Jewish source at the time. And living in a town called Nazareth would not qualify you as being called a Nazarene. The word Nazarene (or Nazorean) did have a specific meaning at that time, and to use it in the way you suggest would show that the writer had no real knowledge of the time and place where he was supposedly writing his story. That may, of course, be true, but it is much more likely that the passages mentioning Nazareth were later interpolations.

Sep 27, 2011
Are you intentionally ignoring everything I wrote?
by: Rick Brentlinger

Carl, did you intend to ignore everything I wrote? I didn't make up anything. I quoted ancient Jewish sources and gave scriptural reasons, based on historical facts, why Jesus would not have been a Nazorean.

How about reading my answer again PLUS my answer in the Comments where I cite ancient Jewish sources which bear on the issue at hand.

On the forgery issue, that is an accusation usually made by atheists and other skeptics. I am not aware of any objective evidence in the manuscripts to support that assertion. Many thanks.

Sep 27, 2011
Nazareth?
by: Carl

Yes, Rick, I did read what you wrote, but it is not convincing. First, there is no connection between the Isaiah passages and someone called Jesus who lived centuries later. That's just Voo-doo Hoo-doo stuff. Isaiah was writing about his own time and place, and his references are to specific events in that time. Common sense should tell us that he knew nothing of a Jesus character.

Your other references by Jewish writers don't prove much, for there is no evidence from the time that tells us anything about a town called Nazareth, especially one with 35 houses. It's easy to say that kind of thing, but there is no proof whatsoever. Josephus mentions many small insignificant villages throughout Palestine, but not even one mention of a town called Nazareth.

Also, as I pointed out to you, it would not make sense for a writer in first century Palestine to use the word Nazarene (or Nazorean) to mean something totally different than the way we know it was commonly used. That alone should make the references suspect and indicate that perhaps the author may not have been familiar with the area, or even that he lived in another place and another century.

The first couple chapters of Matthew have been considered bogus by several scholars during the last two centuries, and when dealing with Christian scriptures, we know that interpolation was common and continued as late as the 4th (and perhaps 5th) century.

The whole story is obviously historical fiction, and therefore we should not be surprised that some places and events are completely made up. It's really impossible to know which parts (if any) of the NT are reliable as history. Unless you can find evidence for a town called Nazareth, your claim remains unproven. If it was as simple as you seem to believe, it would not have been a major debate among scholars for centuries.

Sep 27, 2011
Your claims spring from not believing the Bible
by: Rick Brentlinger

Carl, your claims are more unprovable than you claim mine to be. Your rejection of the possibility that Isaiah prophesied about Jesus the Messiah springs from your rejection of the Bible as the revealed word of God.

Concerning ancient Nazareth having 35 homes, that comes from a 1997 AP report.

Your assessment of the Jewish sages I quoted is illogical. They were not believers in or followers of Jesus the Messiah. We would expect them to agree with you and yet, they agree with the Matthean viewpoint. They bear witness to the reality of an insignificant village called Nazareth in ancient Israel.

When Isaiah speaks of the Branch which would arise, the Hebrew word for branch is netzer which becomes Nazareth in our English Bibles. You doubt that Matthew the disciple of Jesus wrote the first several chapters of Matthew's gospel.

I disagree and so do most Biblical scholars for the last two thousand years. Yet even if your theory is right, still, some unknown author 1800 years ago, linked Isaiah's prophesy to Jesus the Messiah.

To adamantly declare that ancient Nazareth did not exist because Josephus did not mention it proves nothing. An argument from silence is usually a weak argument and certainly is a weak argument in this case.

Your assertion that a first century writer would not use Nazarene or Nazorean the way it is used in Matthew is also illogical. Matthew used the word as the Holy Spirit led him to use it.

Theorizing that a native Hebrew speaking converted Jew writing in his second or third language, Greek, cannot use a word in a way with which you disagree is little more than an assertion without a shred of proof.

Your comment about Matthew obviously being historical fiction is your opinion, again, without any objective supporting facts.

I hope you will continue to read and study. I sense an intelligent mind and a searching heart, hungry for reality and God's truth. I am blessed that you are reading my website and will be praying for you on your spiritual journey.

Sep 28, 2011
Nazareth?
by: Carl

My rejection of your claim that Isaiah was speaking of Jesus in some prophetic sense is based on common sense. Just as I wouldn't call up the psychic line to get answers to questions about the furture, I wouldn't rely on Isaiah either.
The New Testament writers took many isolated passages from the Prophets and claimed that these were references to Jesus. Matthew (or whoever might have written the book)tells us that Isaiah 7:14 is a reference to virgin birth. Anyone who can read (even the English translation) should be able to see that the context of Isaiah 7 and 8 will not support that notion. Isaiah was speaking directly to the situation in his own time, and the prophecy was said to be a sign to Ahaz, and it had nothing to do with a virgin birth of any child, but rather the fact that the threat to Israel would come to pass before a young child would pass beyond infant-hood.
Quoting Hosea 11:1 is the same kind of nonsense. This verse is no prophecy at all, but rather a statement of history: "When Israel was a child, I loved him and called my son out of Egypt." In the following verse, that same son goes forth to sacrifice to Baal. Matthew didn't read the context, or didn't care about the truth of what he was writing.
Then Matthew quotes Jeremiah, "Rachel weeping for her children," but the Jews were Leah's children.
Next Matthew 2:23 is claimed to be a prophecy from scripture, but it occurs nowhere that we have ever found. The excuse that "netzer" means Nazareth is bogus. Netzer means branch, and living in Nazareth could never fulfill a prophecy that only indicates that the Messiah was to be a "branch" of the royal line of David.
Perhaps you should ask some of your Jewish "authorities" what they think of these prophecies in the opening chapters of Matthew. Would they agree that these prophecies talk about Jesus, or would they laugh at such foolish interpretations?
I have read the material about the supposed Nazareth find, and it is far from convincing. Obviously over time, there were people living in the area that the church tried to pass off as Nazareth, but to jump to a conclusion that a city called Nazareth existed at that site takes the fairy dust of faith, and I don't work that way.

Sep 28, 2011
Nazareth?
by: Carl

You say that some "unknown author 1800 years ago link Isaiah's prophecy to Jesus.." Yes, that is the problem, isn't it. Now we have to look at the evidence and see if that assumption is correct, and so far, there is no proof whatsoever.
Much of what you suppose is based on the belief that the Holy Ghost wrote the Bible (or at least dictated it), which is another assumption based on your willingness to accept what others have told you, or perhaps on what makes you have a warm fuzzy feeling inside. But there is NO evidence for this, and if the Holy Ghost did write it, he or she must have been quite confused about a lot of fundamental matters!
The Bible is simply old mythology appropriated from the mystery religions and re-worked as historical fiction, pawned off on ignorant people as literal fact during the last years of the Roman Empire as a new religion to support a new vision of the Empire. It fought its way into power over several centuries and then became the most savage barbaric institution that the Western world had ever known. Christianity was responsible for Crusades, wars, violence, sexism, Inquisition, burnings, torture, hate-mongering, and genocide, and today the church is still engaged in spreading superstition, attacking science, fighting social progress, sexually abusing children, covering up its crimes of pedophilia and money laundering, and continuing to spread the rubbish of the ages in the form of religious superstition!
Enough is enough. Christianity needs to go!

Sep 28, 2011
Nazareth?
by: Carl

Well, thanks for the prayers, but I really didn't solicit them. At least your heart is in the right place. LOL!

Sep 28, 2011
He who is convinced against his will
by: Rick Brentlinger

One of my professors used to tell us: He who is convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

It seems to me you are not dealing with facts on your side of the equation. Instead, you repeat allegations made by others without facts to support your rant. Your objective is to tear down instead of build up.

And you've misrepresented me when you write: You say that some, unknown author 1800 years ago link Isaiah's prophecy to Jesus.

In fact, you are the one who said that. I simply acceded to your argument by playing devil's advocate to point out that your supposition didn't change facts on the ground.

Your assertion that Christianity did wicked things like the Crusades, the Inquisition, sexually abusing children and money laundering is a common misconception. Your angst is really with Roman Catholicism instead of Biblical Christianity.

But enough of these off-topic rants. I do hope that discovering God's great love for you will one day bring peace to your searching heart. Jesus endured the horrors of Calvary to pay for your sins.

God accepted the payment Jesus made for your sins and signaled His acceptance by raising Jesus from the dead. Today, if you will accept the payment Jesus made for your sins, you can be saved, have peace in your heart and the joy of the Lord throughout your life.

Sep 28, 2011
response to your invitation to JESUS
by: Carl

You wrote: "Today, if you will accept the payment Jesus made for your sins, you can be saved, have peace in your heart and the joy of the Lord throughout your life."

I sincerely doubt that, because I have known MANY people who have "accepted Jesus," and most of them are miserable folks who spend their time hate-mongering and unable to have any peace because they aren't able to control the morality of others.

The very WORST people I have ever met in my life have been Christians, and although I personally haven't had any bad experiences with them, because I simply avoid them, I am well aware of their despicable judgmental hateful lifestyle.

Sep 28, 2011
Nazareth?
by: Carl

You wrote: "Your angst is really with Roman Catholicism instead of Biblical Christianity."

Well, I feel that you must know better than that. The Protestants were every bit as brutal and bloody as the Catholics. Calvin burned heretics at the stake just like the pope. If Christians had that power today, there is no doubt in my mind that they would still be running an Inquisition and punishing people with torture and death.

You only have to listen to Christian radio to hear all the hate-mongering and cries for "dominion." The very term you used "Biblical Christianity" sends a chill up my spine! Read that book, and tell me that you want it to be the moral compass for the society in which we live. Surely NOT!


Dec 15, 2011
True followers of Jesus
by: icor13@telstra.com

A few VERY important facts to consider.

There are people that are called Christians that live according to Biblical teachings
and people that are called Christians that DONT live according to Biblical teachings. NOTE: the catholic religion is not on the foundation of JESUS CHRIST. do a search on JESUITS, WARS, CATHOLICS, VATICAN MURDERERS.

Don't be fooled. There are a lot of FALSE CHRISTIANS. Don't look at those wrong examples that the JESUITS are doing to water down the TRUE CHRISTIANS. They cant and will not succeed or win.

ANY Christian that bears arms, goes to war, believes in killing people in any way, regardless of the Government's allowance of going to war, is not living according to Biblical teachings or teachings of Jesus Christ. SO, all these people / religions or so called Christians that choose to believe that this is ok, ARE NOT, I REPEAT ARE NOT TRUE CHRISTIANS. Jesus taught love your enemies, not kill them. You don't kill those you love.

SO, my point is that you can't say Christianity is false if you have so many false followers of Christianity practicing it the wrong way.

A Christian means follower of Christ. A follower of Christ means following Christ's way. A Christian isn't someone that says "I am a Christian". His/her works prove who they are, if they are. Their deeds prove that, not their words.

Don't get offended because of wrong and bad examples. They have been put to water down the truth, and to attempt to diminish the true Faith in Jesus Christ, which the catholic religion is so far from the truth in Jesus Christ.

Dec 15, 2011
You have NO proof!
by: Carl

Well, any discussion with Christians always gets to the point that bad behavior is dismissed as being committed by those who are not "really" Christians. This is nonsense. Eventually this argument ends up excluding everyone except the person making the claim and those he judges worthy to be Christians...

Editor's Note: I deleted the rest of your post Carl. Your vitriolic attacks on Christians have no place here.

Dec 15, 2011
I'm not surprised
by: Carl

I'm not surprised that you deleted the rest of my post. Christians don't believe in freedom of speech, and they have a history of quieting those who disagree with them or those who reveal the truth about who and what they are. Your action has only proven me to be right. Stating facts is not "vitriol." Christianity is what it is.

You have reserved the power here to strike down speech that you find offensive, even though true. I'm sure you would not have done that had you been able to support your position. By doing so, you simply lose your credibility. LOL!

Nov 16, 2013
your wrong
by: SAM

Dude your beyond confused the ebionites were vegans not the nazarenes also the nazarenes ate meat and believed in animal sacrifices the ebionites didn't please research your stuff first

Rick's comment: LOL, Dude, thanks for commenting. Are you absolutely certain that I am the one who is confused?

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