A Ringleader of The Nazarene Sect
"But when Herod [see Herod The Great] was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother [see Mary], and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea in the room of his father Herod [see The Herods], he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: 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 2:19-23 KJV)
"a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes"
Some of the Christian terms that are generally regarded as positive in meaning today came about from words that were sometimes originally used in a negative way, at least by unbelievers. "Nazarene" is one of them ("Christian" itself is another - see the Fact Finder question below). Jesus Christ and/or the apostles were accused of being "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes" (see below) by a world that hated the truth that they preached.
The original Hebrew word, pronounced nay-tser, translated into English as shoot, literally means a sprout, or branch, and figuratively a descendant. The name Nazareth is thought to be derived from the same original word, which would indicate that God either named the city Himself, or chose it to be the home town of the Messiah because of its name. The "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophets" in the above quote from Matthew is believed by some to be a reference to Isaiah 11:1, "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots"
Jesus Christ was often referred to as a Nazarene, or Jesus of Nazareth, in both a complimentary way, by Himself and those who believed in Him, and in a derogatory manner, by those who didn't.
"I am Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 22:8 KJV) (see Paul's Ministry)
"And when He was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee." (Matthew 21:10-11 KJV)
"And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people" (Luke 24:19 KJV)
"Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the Temple [see "My Father's House"], walking, and leaping, and praising God" (Acts 3:6-8 KJV)
By unbelievers, or those who were about to become believers:
"And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see" (John 1:46 KJV)
"And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest [see Caiaphas]: And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth." (Mark 14:66-67 KJV)
"For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5 KJV)
Fact Finder: How is it that "Christian" was originally used by many people as a negative term?