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A Ringleader of The Nazarene Sect
by Wayne Blank
"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)
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)
Fact Finder: How is it that "Christian" was originally used by many people as a negative term?