WHAT DID THE NAZARENES/ APOSTLES FOLLOW?
During Paul's trial before Felix, Paul said:
“But I confess unto thee, that after 'THE WAY,' which they call heresy, so worship I the POWER of our fathers, BELIEVING ALL THINGS WHICH ARE WRITTEN IN THE LAW AND IN THE PROPHETS.” (Acts 24:14).
So, Paul confessed that he was a follower of 'THE WAY' and that he worships the POWER of his fathers, and that there were those that called 'THE WAY,' HERESY.
The next question we should ask ourselves is, why would ‘they’ call THE WAY ‘heresy,’ since THE WAY had to do with following HaMashiach and the disciples?
Well, let’s look at the definition for the word Heresy, which is:
"Almost thou persuadest me to be a CHRISTIAN."
Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, pg. 142 "It seems wide use of the name did not come into vogue in the empire, however, till the reign of Hadrian (117-138 C.E.) or Antoninus Pius (138-161 C.E.). Pagans, unfamiliar with the confessional title 'Christos (HaMashiach) mistakenly understood it as a proper name."
Also, when looking deeper into this word Christian comes from the Greek word Christianos, which is the origin of Cretin, when looking up the word Cretin we will see that it means "a stupid person." The root word cretin is the Swiss French word crestin, which comes from the word "Christianum," which means "Christian."
Note: What would Israelites that practice the Torah and follow HaMashiach be doing with a Greek term used by pagans, to label themselves? Why would they search Greco-Roman roots? Would not it make more sense to search for Hebrew origins roots, since they were follower of an Israelite from the tribe of Judah? I bet you said to yourself, “they were not Israelites,” however according to the New Testament they were Israelites:
"But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we [the Church] never sanctify.” (James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of our Fathers, 88th ed., pp. 89.)
Remember, Paul confessed that he was a follower of ‘THE WAY’ and ‘THE WAY’ was called ‘HERESY.’ So, what is ‘THE WAY?’ HaMashiach saith unto him (Thomas), I am ‘THE WAY,’ the truth, and the life. So, if Paul confessed to following ‘THE WAY’ which is HaMashiach, then why was, following HaMashiach called ‘HERESY?’ Now, before we move forward, we must have the understanding that during this time period, the entire region of the Near East stretching from Israel through Syria, Assyria, Babylon, Persia (Parthia) and down into India became known as the “Church of the East.” This would mean the disciples (Nazarenes) were spreading ‘THE WAY’ throughout these countries amongst all the Israelites (Northern Kingdom), because that is what was stated in Acts 24:5. However, Paul was looked at as mover of ‘SEDITION,’ and if he was looked at as a mover of SEDITION then all those who followed ‘THE WAY’ were looked at as movers of ‘SEDITION.’ But, why would authorities feel that way? Isn’t it taught that Christianity and Nazarenes are the same group of people? I mean, that is what is taught! If you do a quick google search you will see it come up that these were the same people and you will see that Nazarenes are labeled as “Jewish Christians.” However, if you do even deeper research you will see that this is far from the TRUTH.
Epiphanius of Salamis was considered an historian and church father of the Roman Catholic Church. He wrote Panarion (Against Heresies), in which he condemned the Nazarenes for believing on HaMashiach and keeping the original TORAH. Wait! I will say that again, just in case you did not just catch what this man condemned them of. “He condemned the Nazarenes for believing on HaMashiach and keeping the original TORAH.” Epiphanius writes:
“The matter in debate, therefore, or I should rather say your opinion regarding it, is summed up in this: that since the preaching of the gospel of HaMashiach, the believing Judeans do well in observing the precepts of the law, i.e. in offering sacrifices as Paul did, in circumcising their children, as Paul did in the case of Timothy, and keeping the Judean Sabbath, as all the Judeans have been accustomed to do. If this be true, we fall into the heresy… [of those who] though believing in HaMashiach, were anathematized by the fathers for this one error, that they mixed up the ceremonies of the law with the gospel of HaMashiach, and professed their faith in that which was new, without letting go what was old. …In our own day there exists a sect among the Judeans throughout all the synagogues of the East, which is called the sect of the Minæans, and is even now condemned by the Pharisees. The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nazarenes; they believe in HaMashiach the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary; and they say that “HE WHO SUFFERED UNDER PONTIUS PILATE AND ROSE AGAIN, IS THE SAME AS THE ON IN WHOM WE BELIEVE.” (Jerome; Letter 75 Jerome to Augustin)
Jerome (4th Century "historian") described these Nazarenes as those "...who accept HaMashiach in such a way that they do not cease to observe the old Law." (Jerome; On. Is. 8:14).
Then Jerome responds saying of the Nazarenes was… “though believing in HaMashiach, they were anathematized (condemn) by the church fathers for this one error, that they mixed up the ceremonies of the law with the gospel of HaMashiach, and professed their faith in that which was new, without letting go what was old.” (ibid)
Jerome was a Christian priest, confessor, theologian, and historian. Here is what he had to say about the Nazarenes:
It is clear that the word "Christian” was not the earliest term for the followers of HaMashiach, since when reading Acts 11:26 it gives its first use in Antioch. Antioch is a city of ancient Syria, it was founded in 300 BCE by Seleucus I Nicator, a former general of Alexander the Great. Antioch was the center of the Seleucid kingdom until 64 BCE, when it was annexed by Rome and was made the capital of the Roman province of Syria. It became the third largest city of the Roman Empire in size and importance, after Rome and Alexander, and it had magnificent temples, theatres, aqueducts, and baths. The city was one of the earliest centers of Christianity, Eastern Christianity; it was there that the followers of HaMashiach were first called Christians, and the city where it is said Paul made missionary journeys from his headquarters in 47-55 CE. At a time in a place at least 10 or possibly 20 or more years AFTER the death and RESURRECTION of HaMashiach, the word ‘Christian’ was used, that means, if it was 10 to 20 years AFTER his death, then the word Christian was never used by HaMashiach or used to describe those who followed him. Surprisingly the word appears three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, and 1 Peter 4:16). Yet, the New Testament use of this term indicates that it was a term of mockery, a term placed upon followers of HaMashiach by the Greeks. According to a few sources such as:
Was Paul an Israelite? Yes
I say then, Hath ALHYM cast away his people? ALHYM forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. Romans 11:1
Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 2 Corinthians 11:22
Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee. Philippians 3:5
“The Nazarenes do not differ in any essential thing from them, since they practice the customs and doctrines prescribed by Judean Law; except that they believe in Christ. They believe in the resurrection of the dead, and that the universe was created by God. They preach that God is One, and that HaMashiach is His Son. They are very learned in the Hebrew language. They read the Law [the Law of Moshe Therefore, they differ…from the Christians because they fulfill until now [such] Judean rites as the circumcision, Sabbath and others.” (Epiphanius of Salamis, “Against Heresies,” Panarion 29, 7, pp. 41, 402)
“since the preaching of the gospel of Christ, the believing Judeans do well in observing the precepts of the law, i.e. in offering sacrifices as Paul did, in circumcising their children, as Paul did in the case of Timothy, and keeping the Judean Sabbath, as all the Judeans have been accustomed to do.” (Jerome; Letter 75 Jerome to Augustine)
The term Christian was used by Roman Governor Agrippa in Acts 26:28, who mocked Paul by saying:
Was HaMashiach an Israelite? Yes
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. Matthew. 2:23
For it is evident that HaMashiach sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. Hebrews 7:14
Was Barnabas an Israelites? Yes
And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus. Acts 4:36
When Jerome repeated the words of Augustine, he was letting him know that the Nazarenes OBSERVED THE LAWS and Jerome tells us that the Nazarene doctrine, the Torah, was still being observed and it began with “the preaching of HaMashiach” and was the doctrine kept by Paul, but that the church “priest” of the Roman Catholic church declared this to be an error and a heresy.
This should go to show us that the Nazarenes were targeted by ‘Church’ for believing in HaMashiach, teaching the TORAH or shall I say ‘THE LIGHT’ (Proverbs 6:23) and believing the ceremonies of the law and believing in ‘THE WAY’ (HaMashiach,) and professed their faith in that which was new, without letting go the TORAH. Those that were in power did not want TORAH, this is why in Acts 24:14, Paul stated that ‘THEY’ referred to ‘THE WAY’ as ‘HERESY’ because they had continued to keep the same faith that HaMashiach had taught them. But, isn’t that what scriptures say to do?
when something refers to anything at difference with Church TRADITION. For example, accusations of heresy have been leveled against a group of believers when their beliefs CHALLENGED, or were SEEN TO CHALLENGE, Church AUTHORITY. Therefore, with this definition if we go back and we read Acts 24:14, Paul is letting us know that those that called THE WAY ‘HERESY,’ basically felt that Paul and the followers of ‘THE WAY’ were challenging AUTHORITY. Therefore, now we can see why Paul was tried in Caesarea and Tertulus is reported saying, in Acts 24:5, "For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and “A MOVER OF SEDITION” among all the Israelites throughout the world, and a RINGLEADER OF THE SECT OF THE NAZARENES."
“But these sectarians... did NOT call themselves Christians--but "Nazarenes,” …However they are simply complete Judeans. They use not only the New Testament but the Old Testament as well, as the Judeans do... They have no different ideas but CONFESS EVERYTHING EXACTLY AS THE LAW PROCLAIMS IT and in the Judean fashion-- except for their belief in HaMashiach, if you please! For they acknowledge both the resurrection of the dead and the divine creation of all things, and declare that God is one, and that his son is HaMashiach. 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 Judeans. They are different from the Judeans, and different from Christians, only in the following. They disagree with Judeans because they have come to the faith of HaMashiach; 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 Judeans.... They have the Good News 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 a letter to Augustine, Jerome makes an amazing admission concerning the Nazarenes:
“Question: Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?”
“Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her-she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.”
(Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism 3rd ed., p. 174.)
“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you, exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude 3:3
What must be understood is that there were many in the catholic church that felt that they had the authority to change the word of YHWH, for example:
James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of our Fathers said:
Let’s think about this, you have those that are in higher authority saying that
•Paul is a ringleader of a sect, and this sect was called ‘NAZERENES’
•Paul and his followers follow ‘Heresy’ which was ‘THE WAY’
•Paul is a mover of ‘SEDITION’ among all the Israelites throughout the world
Sedition means - speech inciting people to rebel against the ‘AUTHORITY’ of a state or monarch.
Looking at the definition, Paul is being referred to as a rebel against authority…But, WHY was Paul looked at as a mover of ‘SEDITION?’
“Some theologians have held that God likewise directly determined the Sunday as the day of worship in the New Law, [and] that He Himself has explicitly substituted the Sunday for the Sabbath. But this theory is now entirely abandoned. It is now commonly held that God simply gave His Church the power to set aside whatever day or days she would deem suitable as Holy Days. The Church chose Sunday, the first day of the week, and in the course of time added other days as holy days.”
(John Laux, A Course in Religion for Catholic High Schools and Academies (1936), vol. 1, P. 51.)
As we can see, Jerome repeats Augustine, saying of the Nazarenes:
The Christian concept known as replacement theology proposes a "New Covenant" supersedes Abraham, Moses, and David Covenants, and the moral teachings that define sin are altered. After the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. a tax was imposed on the Israelites, so very quickly the followers of HaMashiach began to meet separately. They were still too similar, and so were treated the same, and taxed. To avoid this tax, alterations were adopted so slowly almost all similarities between the Israelites and the frowning number of Gentile followers of HaMashiach vanished. As we know, even their identity came to be mostly derived from Greek roots. The Hebrew roots were severed and consciously denied. This cause is the major reason for the early breach, and it is easily overlooked by today's teachers. The people of Israel are now considered to be replaced by Christian believers, who inherit all the promises made to Israel. In this act the name of Israel was illegally taken and placed under the label "Spiritual Israel". Engrafted to Israel through an everlasting covenant is regarded as heresy. Reading Jeremiah 31 quickly reveals the error of this thinking. - BOYNV
The New Shaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge confirms true worshipers did not go by the designation Christian: "that it originated outside of Christian and Jewish circles is most likely because (1) Christians spoke of one another as 'the brethren,' 'the saints,' the disciples,’ ‘the faithful,' etc. (2) The Jews used the term ‘NAZARENE’
Wuest's Word Studies in the Greek New Testament it explains, “The name was coined by the pagans of the first century to identify the followers of the Christ from those who worshiped the Roman emperor who was called Caesar."
We should now be able to see that the laws were not done away with, however the laws were done away with according to the authority of man and YHWH did not give man the AUTHORITY to change anything when it comes to his word (read what YHWH said below). Also, the same way the Israelites, which were Paul and the Apostles (Nazarenes) were being treated by those in authority, for following ‘THE WAY,’ is the same way the Israelites today are being labeled Identity Extremist.
Paul, THE ISRAELITE, was labeled – MOVER OF ‘SEDITION’ against AUTHORITY (remember Sedition means – someone’s who speech incites people to rebel against the ‘AUTHORITY’ of a state)
Also, according to the earliest writings, which are "THE LETTERS OF PAUL" and according to Qumran documents (dead sea scrolls), at a time when the word “Christian” hadn’t yet been used, the term or phrase that was used by HaMashiach followers was 'THE WAY,' the early believers from 1 A.D. simply saw themselves as followers of 'The WAY' of TRUTH. When looking in the book of ACTS this is how the people were characterized (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4, John 14:6)
When reading John 14:5-6 Thomas asked HaMashiach "How can we know 'THE WAY' " and we can now see why HaMashiach replied by saying:
"I am THE WAY, the truth and the life"