Netzarim is plural which comes from the Hebrew word Netzar, which means sprout. The name Netzarim was and still is used to describe those who follow 'THE WAY'.
The Nasaraeans (Netzarim) and the Nazoraeans have similar names and their names are also close to the name Nazarene. All are "KIND OF" similar in the same beliefs. However, the Nazoraeans can't be confused with the Nasaraeans. This can be kind of confusing...
The Netzarim were one of the many sects of Jews, Church Fathers had documented, and, in these writings, they would mention "The Gospel According To The Netzarim."
"The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, PREPARE YE THE WAY OF YHWH, make straight in the desert a highway for our ALHYM."
"Go through, go through the gates; PREPARE YE THE WAY of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. Behold, YHWH hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of YHWH: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken."
"Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it. And though they say, YHWH liveth; surely they swear falsely. O YHWH, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return. Therefore I said, Surely THESE ARE POOR; they are foolish: for THEY KNOW NOT THE WAY of YHWH, nor the judgment of their ALHYM. I will get me unto THE GREAT MEN, and will SPEAK UNTO THEM; for THEY HAVE KNOWN THE WAY of the YHWH, and the judgment of their ALHYM: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds."
"Behold, I will send MY MESSENGER, and HE SHALL PREPARE THE WAY before me: and YHWH, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even THE MESSENGER OF THE COVENANT, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith YHWH of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and HE SHALL PURIFY THE SONS OF LEVI, and purge them as GOLD and silver, that they may offer unto YHWH an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto YHWH, as in the days of old, and as in former years."
"But ye are departed out of THE WAY; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted THE COVENANT OF LEVI, saith YHWH of hosts. Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law."
2 Kefa 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious (destructive) ways; by reason of whom THE WAY of truth shall be evil spoken of
2 Kefa 2:21 For it had been better for them not to have known THE WAY of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
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:
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 NETZARIM."
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 ‘NETZARIM’
•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?"
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 ( Netzarim ) 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 Netzarim 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 Netzarim 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 Netzarim 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 Netzarim for believing on HaMashiach and keeping the original TORAH.” Epiphanius writes:
"But these sectarians... did NOT call themselves Christians--but " Netzarim,” …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)
So, the disciples disagreed with Judeans because the disciples came to the faith of HaMashiach and they were not in accord with the Christians because the disciples were still confined to the law. Now that is interesting because, it has been taught for centuries that the law was done away with, however, here is proof the disciples were still doing the laws even when the Christians were not.
“The Netzarim 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)
"This sect practices Judaism in all respects and have scarcely given circumcision, and they kept the same Sabbath and observed the festivals, and certainly did not inculcate (instill) FATE or ASTROLOGY" Epiphanius of Salamis, The Panarion" 18, 1, pp. 46
Jerome was a Christian priest, confessor, theologian, and historian. Here is what he had to say about the Netzarim:
Jerome (4th Century "historian") described these Netzarim as those "...who accept HaMashiach in such a way that they do not cease to observe the old Law." (Jerome; On. Is. 8:14).
In a letter to Augustine, Jerome makes an amazing admission concerning the Netzarim:
“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 Netzarim; 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 ONE IN WHOM WE BELIEVE.” (Jerome; Letter 75 Jerome to Augustin)
As we can see, Jerome repeats Augustine, saying of the Netzarim:
“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)
Then Jerome responds saying of the Netzarim 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)
When Jerome repeated the words of Augustine, he was letting him know that the Netzarim OBSERVED THE LAWS and Jerome tells us that the Netzarim 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 Netzarim 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?
“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:
"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.)
“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.)
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.)
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"
The Migdal reading table
“Thus, Christ’s holy disciples too called themselves “disciples of HaMashiach” then, as indeed they were. But when others called them Netzarim, they did not reject it, being aware of the intent of those who were calling them that. THEY WERE CALLING THEM NETZARIM BECASUE OF CHRIST, since our HaMashiach was called “the Netzarim ” himself as the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles say, because of the upbringing in the city of Nazareth (now a village in Joseph’s home after having been born in the flesh at Bethlehem, of the ever-virgin Mary, Joseph’s betrothed. For Joseph had settled in Nazareth after leaving Bethlehem and taking up residence in Galilee. But these same sectarians whom I am discussing here DISREGARDED THE NAME JESUS, and neither called themselves Jessaeans, kept the name of Jews, nor termed themselves Christians, but “ Netzarim ” supposedly from the name of the place “Nazareth.” But they are Jews in every way and nothing else.” Epiphanius of Salamis, “The Panarion" 29, 6,7; 7,1 pp. 128
Then Nero, filled with concern, ordered to bring them speedily before him. And on the following day Simon the margian, and Peter and Paul the apostles of HaMashiach, having come in to Nero, Simon said: “These are the disciples of the Netzarim , and it is not at all well that they should be of the people of the Jews.” Nero said: “What is a Netzarim ” Simon said: “There is a city of Judah which has always been opposed to us, called Nazareth, and to it THE TEACHER OF THESE MEN BELONGED.” - Acts of The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul
The name Netzarim was directed at the disciples because of, HaMashiach, since HaMashiach was called a Netzarim.
Where Were the Netzarim From?
"They are Judeans by nationality, from Gileaditis, Bashanitis and the Transjordan as I have been told, but descendants of Israel (Jacob) himself." - Epiphanius of Salamis, “The Panarion" 18, 1, pp. 46
"The catacombs of St. Callixtus," are among the greatest and most important of Rome. They originated about the middle of the second century. They are named after Callixtus who, at the beginning of the third century, was appointed by pope Zephyrinus as the administrator of the cemetery and so the catacombs of St. Callixtus became the official cemetery of the Church of Rome. This is a painting of a feast, located on a Chamber wall of the Catacomb of Callixtus of Rome. The detail shown here appears at the center of four burial niches carved into the chamber wall.