Question: "Who are the Natsarim?"Recommended Resource:
The Natsarim (Hebrew for “Nazarenes”) are a religious sect that mixes biblical truth with the Torah, the Jewish festivals, and the philosophies of men. They are part of the Hebrew Roots movement. The Natsarim claim to follow the Jesus defined in the four gospels, and they refer to Him as Yeshua HaMashiach (“Jesus the Messiah”).
The Natsarim trace the etymology of their name to the Hebrew word for “watchmen” or (by inserting different vowels) “branches” (i.e., the branches of the True Vine in John 15:5). They claim to be the first followers of Jesus, rejected by the Jewish leaders of the first century and by the early church. The Natsarim see themselves as having two divine purposes, which will be fully realized just before the second coming of Christ.
The Natsarim’s first purpose is to protect the name Yeshua HaMashiach. They teach that there is salvation found in only one name (Acts 4:12), and that name is Yeshua HaMashiach—not Jesus. The Messiah must be addressed as Yeshua HaMashiach. To call upon any other name (such as Jesus) is to participate in a false religion.
The Natsarim see their second purpose as protecting the Torah, the five books of Moses in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. The Natsarim keep the Sabbath and the other commandments of the Mosaic Law and claim to be the watchmen, the guardians of righteousness. They reason that, if Yeshua HaMashiach kept the law, then so should His followers.
As the “original” followers of Christ, the Natsarim view themselves as the true disciples of Yeshua HaMashiach. All others who claim the name of Christ are imposters. The many denominations of Christianity are tainted with paganism; they live in willful sin, according to the Natsarim, and will be condemned unless they repent and follow The Way of the Natsarim (see Acts 9:2). They refuse to call themselves “Christians,” teaching that the word Christian means “cretin.”
In summary, the Natsarim are a self-proclaimed non-Christian group who believe in Jesus but not according to the Christian view. They insist on using Hebrew terms and law-keeping, and they view themselves as the only “watchmen” of righteousness. The Natsarim can sound very much like Christians when talking about their faith, but their hearts are focused on the Torah and the practices of the Jewish faith. They fail to recognize that “Christ is the end of the law, to bring righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4) and that genuine Christians have a new heart and a new spirit, empowered to obey the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2) and to uphold the two greatest commandments, which summarize the entire law (Matthew 22:36–40).
Who are the Natsarim?
Faith of Israel, 2d ed.: A Theological Survey of the Old Testament by William Dumbrell
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