Was Jesus a member of the first century religious group called Nazarenes?
Modern Nazareth has about
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.Return to Ask a Question
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