Something About the Famine of ’46

Vision, Commitment, Purpose, Expectation of the Nazoreans

It is well that those who’ve learned the judgments of Yahweh should walk in them. For he who keeps these shall be glorified in the kingdom of Elohim; but he who chooses other things shall be destroyed with his works.  There will be a resurrection and a retribution.  I beseech you who are in authority, show kindness. For the day is at hand on which all things evil shall perish. Yahweh is near, as is His reward. So be good lawgivers one to another; continue to be faithful counselors of one another; do away with all hypocrisy. 

 

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The Epistle of Agbar to the Savior
The Epistle of Barnabas

What is a Nazorean?

 

Jackson Snyder, August 26, 2004
Dedicated to V. A. “Pete” Snyder, O.B.M.,
100 years old today
  
Updated August 17, 2007
Dedicated to Audra Binion Dietz
30 years old today

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The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 10 vols.
By Hendrickson Publishers

The Ante-Nicene Fathers ranges from the Apostolic Fathers to various third and fourth century sources including the liturgies and ancient Syriac documents. It was intended to comprise translations into English of all the extant works of the Fathers (with the exception of the more bulky works of Origen) down to the date of the first General Council held at Nicaea in 325 A.D. This American edition by Arthur Cleveland Coxe is a revision of the original series edited by Alexander Roberts and Sir James Donaldson and published in Edinburgh. The revision involves a major rearrangement to conform to the historical sequence, the addition of brief introductions and notes indicating variances in readings, specifying references to scripture or literature, clarifying obscure passages, and noting corruptions or distortions of patristic testimony (as forged in the Decretals). The basic aim of the translations has been to strive for literary exactness, placing the English reader as nearly as possible on an equal footing with those who are able to read the original.

Volume Titles:
Volume 1: Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr, Inrenaeus
Volume 2: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Clement of Alexandria
Volume 3: Tertullian
Volume 4: Tertullian (IV), Minucius Felix, Commodian, Origen
Volume 5: Hippolytus, Cyprian, Caius, Novatian, Appendix
Volume 6: Gregory Thaumaturgus, Dionysius the Great, Julius Africanus, Anatolius and Minor Writers, Methodius, Arnobius
Volume 7: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily, and Liturgies
Volume 8: Twelve Patriarchs, Excerpts and Epistles, The Clementina, Aprocryphal Gospels and Acts, Syriac Documents
Volume 9: Gospel of Peter, Diatessaron, Testament of Abraham, Epistles of Clement, Origen and Miscellaneous Works
Volume 10: Bibliography, General Index, Annotated Index of Authors and Works

Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen on the Lord's Prayer
By Tertullian, Cyprian & Origen; Alistair Stewart-Sykes, trans. / Svs Press

These are the only three existing ante-Nicene treatises on the Lord's Prayer. Candidates for baptism in the ancient church were trained in prayer, a practice that gave rise to a tradition of commentary on the Lord's Prayer. These classic texts became starting points for numerous later writers. 208 pages, softcover. SVS ess.
A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs
By David W. Bercot, ed. / Hendrickson Publishers

Interest in the ways of the early church has never been more intense. What did early Christians believe about the divinity of Christ? What did they think about resurrection? How did they regard John the Baptist? What were the beliefs of those who sat at the feet of Jesus' disciples? Now, for the first time, a unique dictionary has been developed to furnish ready answers to these questions and others like them. David W. Bercot has painstakingly combed the writings of these early Christian leaders and categorized the heart of their thinking into more than 700 theological, moral, and historical topics to create this book.

Wonderfully suited for devotional or thematic study as well as sermon illustration, this resource offers a window into the world of the early church and affords a special opportunity to examine topically the thoughts of men like Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Polycarp, who were students of the original apostles, as well as the thoughts of other great lights in the life of the early church such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian. For anyone interested in historic Christianity, this book cannot be overlooked. This book features:

Relevant comments on key Christian concepts from prominent figures such as Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Clement of Rome, and Hippolytus
Key biblical verses associated with each topic
Brief definitions of unfamiliar terms or concepts
A "Who's Who" of Ante-Nicene Christianity to put in context the ancient Christian writers
Discussion of more than 700 key theological, moral, and historical topics
Strategic cross-references to related topics
A topical index to the writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers

New Testament Apocrypha, Volume 1: Gospels and Related Writings, Revised
By Wilhelm Schneemelcher; R. McL. Wilson, trans. / Westminster / John Knox

This book reflects current research findings. The bibliograhpical data in all sections have been updated as well. Some of the texts have been newly translated, others completely revised. This revised edition is a translation of the sixth German edition, just as the original English New Testament Apocrypha was a translation of the third German edition. The introductions to individual texts have been either completely rewritten or thoroughly revised.

 

AUDIO - The Epistle of BarnabasThe Epistle of Barnabas

is used in this message.  The True Name version of this the entire book may be ordered on CD - which includes a new translation and the text.  Click the disk for purchase information.

This book is included in the earliest New Testament manuscript we have, the Codex Sinaiticus.  
 

You may read this and the books discarded by ancient bishops
in one of the following:
Apocalyptic Literature Hendrickson Publishing
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Acts 11:19.  Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to none except Jews.  {The rest is read in the course of the message.}

Epistle of Barnabas 1 (excerpts): All hail, ye sons and daughters, in the name of our Master Yahshua the Anointed, who loved us in peace. Seeing that the divine fruits of righteousness abound among you, I rejoice exceedingly in your happy and honored spirits, because ye have with such effect received the engrafted spiritual gift.  Wherefore also I inwardly rejoice the more, hoping to be saved, because I perceive in you the Spirit poured forth from the rich Master of love. Your appearance has filled me with astonishment. I am persuaded of this because since I began to speak among you, I understand many things; for the Master hath accompanied me in the way of righteousness.  On this account, I am bound by the strictest obligation to love you above my own soul, because great are the faith and love dwelling in you, while you hope for the life which He has promised.

 Josephus Antiquities 20:1.3-2.5: (Josephus - The Essential Works - Paul Meier) Herod, Josephus-The Essential Worksthe brother of Agrippa who had perished, was allowed to govern over Chalcis. He asked Claudius Caesar for control over the temple along with the sacred treasury, and the ability to choose the high priests, and he was given all that he had asked for.

      Around this time lived queen Helena of Adiabene, along with her son Izates. They both began to follow the Jewish way, turning away from their past lifestyle . . . Her arrival was of great help to the masses in Jerusalem; for there was a famine in the land that overtook them, and many people died of starvation.

      When it became necessary to obtain food abroad, queen Helena sent some of her attendants, with money, to the city of Alexandria to purchase as much grain as possible. She also sent others to the island of Cyprus to bring back dried figs. This whole process happened very quickly, and as soon as they had returned, they handed the provisions out to those who were in dire need of them. Because of this, she left behind a legacy and was held in great respect by the people and the nation at large. And when her son Izates became aware of this famine, he sent a large gift to the leaders in Jerusalem.

Luke 4:16.  And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day. And he stood up to read; 17. and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 18. "The Spirit of Yahweh is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19.  to proclaim the acceptable year of Yahweh."  20.  And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  21.  And he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." 

Prayer of John Chrysostom (347 – 407) O Messiah our Elohim, who are yourself the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, and did fulfill all the ordered purpose of the Father, always fill our hearts with joy and gladness, now and forever, world without end.
 

Education in Ancient Israel: Across the Deadening Silence
By James Crenshaw / Random House, Inc

Education in Ancient Israel offers an unusually wide and diverse view of this complex and difficult subject. What was worth knowing, for the ancient Israelite sages, and how could things be known; how was knowledge passed on to the next generation, and where and in what forms did this learning take place. These are just some of the fundamental questions that Crenshaw explores in his new book.

Weary Willy

   If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there.  Some people are so unsure of their purpose in life that the only time they’re confident of where they’re going is when they drink prune juice.  Consider Weary Willy, a prisoner in Leavenworth whose temperament was studied and recorded in the book My Six Convicts (Donald Wilson).  Although Willy hadn’t committed a serious crime, he was the willing patsy for a smarter criminal, doing the other man’s time.  Day after day, Weary Willy shuffles up and down prison corridors.  He’s not done that much wrong in his life; nor has he done that much good either.  He has no vision other than to carry out another man’s sentence.  From the cell, up the hall, down the hall, back to the cell – twenty-five years to life.  And he’s not even doing that well because he simply has no mission in life other than to spend it, incarcerated, pacing back and forth.   It’s sad, but sadder still is the fact that Willy isn’t unique.  He represents millions of people – millions with no viable mission.

 

The Scandal of Converts!

Acts 11:19.  Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to none except Jews.  20.  But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Greeks also, preaching the Sovereign Yahshua.  21.  And the hand of YHWH was with them, and a great number that believed turned to YHWH.  22.  News of this came to the ears of the assembly in Jerusalem.

   Antioch is a city in Asia Minor, which, in the time of the Apostles, was the third largest in the Roman Empire and the capital of Syria.  It was a very influential center of Greek culture since it was situated on the trade route between Rome and Jerusalem. 

Considering the context of the passage, this Antioch is probably not in Syria, but Antioch of Mygodonla in Parthia. ( http://www.kulanu.org/links/adiabene.html ) Nazorean Judaism SWEPT through that area, located in today's Kurdistani Turkey around Urfa.  In the times soon after the resurrection, the city-state was called Adiabene, named for Yahshua's disciple (and perhaps brother) Addai (Thaddeus).  Adiabene means "Good Addai."  Nazorean apocrypha tells us that Thaddeus healed the King of that place, Abgar or Agbar, at the command of Yahshua.  We have letters to show this to be true (at the bottom of this page).

Antioch in Kurdish Turkey - A Haven for Nazoreans / Nazarenes

  Due to persecution against the “Nazoreans (Notzrim, Nazarenes) in Jerusalem and Judea, many Jewish believers migrated and settled within the relative safety of Antioch’s ethnic obscurity.  As immigrants, they gathered with other Palestinian Jews - people whose customs, traditions, language and culture were similar.  And they followed the custom of Yahshua: They met every Sabbath in the synagogue to learn the Law and to witness to the truth – that the Son of Man had come to seek and save that which was lost. 

  Other Hebraic believers came from Cyprus and Cyrene to Antioch.  (Cyrene is situated in modern-day Libya.)  These newcomers to Antioch were more liberal and better educated, having been raised far from the traditions and poverty of Jerusalem.  They might well have been Essenes or Theraputae.  They’d been previously baptized in the Holy Spirit and arrived anointed to tell their stories of how Yahshua had influenced their lives outside the bounds of the Jewish Temple cult.  Through the prophetic voice of these Cypriots and Africans, secular, pagan and superstitious people were repenting and believing that Yahweh was the Almighty One and Yahshua came as his Son to reconcile all people.  And "a great number believed" the testimony of the Cypriots and Africans.  These proselytes from pork-eating paganism were brought out of the shrine and into the Antioch synagogue to learn Torah every Sabbath right alongside the long-bearded Chasid.

   Needless to say, this influx of pagans scandalized the long beards. 

"These are idolaters coming in to our synagogue!  They’re not Hebrews!  They know nothing of our Law and traditions.  Do they bring defilement in with them?  Shall we be accursed by Yahweh because they’re here?  What should we do?" 

 These folks probably wanted their faith to grow, but not to the extent of sacrificing their traditional way of thinking, meeting, acting, behaving, dressing and worshiping.  These Antiochans didn’t even know enough to stand up for the Doxology.  They didn’t even know the names of the books in the Tanak.  They didn’t even know “The Lord's Prayer.”  Did they really belong there?  Shouldn’t they be put out?

   Yahshua commanded all his followers that, should he go away, they should defer to James the Just, his brother, for counsel. This passing of authority is not recorded in the New Testament and James the Just is only mentioned as an antagonist until Acts 15.  It's not that ancient authors didn't know this; rather, they had reasons to keep it out of the canon. These words are recorded in the Gospel of Thomas, which dates to long before the canonical gospels:

Thomas 12. The disciples said to Yahshua, "We know that you are going to leave us. Who will be our leader?"  Yahshua said to them, "No matter where you happen to be, you are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being."

So in their dismay, these Antiochan stalwarts of the faith sent word to James the Just in Jerusalem, where he had taken "all authority" over the Nazoreans. 

“There are pagan Greeks coming in here?" they words cried from the parchment!    They don’t know the Law.  They aren’t even circumcised.  James the Just!  What should we do now?”  This is where we again take up the text.


Barnabas – One Thumb Up

22b. [James] sent Barnabas to Antioch.  23.  When he came and saw the grace of Elohim, he was glad; and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to YHWH with steadfast purpose; 24.  for he was a good man, full of the Set-apart Spirit and of faith. And a large company was added to the Master. 

   Joseph Barnabas, who was from Cyprus like some of the evangelists who stirred up the Antioch synagogue, served James the Just in Jerusalem.  Barnabas was speedily dispatched to observe the situation and make recommendations back to headquarters.  (Barnabas means “Son of a Seer.”)   Barnabas, like James and Peter, strictly kept the Torah, including Sabbaths, feasts and food ordinances.  But after surveying the situation in Antioch, Barnabas did not condemn the evangelists or their movement.  No, but he did admonish them all to be faithful to Yahweh no matter what. 

   Here’s the gist of Barnabas’ admonition in his own words from his letter we know as:

The Epistle of Barnabas 21 (excerpts): It is well that those who’ve learned the judgments of Yahweh should walk in them. For he who keeps these shall be glorified in the kingdom of Elohim; but he who chooses other things shall be destroyed with his works.  There will be a resurrection and a retribution.  I beseech you who are in authority, show kindness. For the day is at hand on which all things evil shall perish. Yahweh is near, as is His reward. So be good lawgivers one to another; continue to be faithful counselors of one another; do away with all hypocrisy.  And may Elohim, who rules the world, give to you wisdom, intelligence, understanding, knowledge of His judgments – with patience.

My friend, you can’t go wrong  - no matter what ANYONE says - if you’re faithful to the Commandments and to one another. 

   Barnabas was a spirit-filled Apostle with the gift of faith.  His faith made him wise enough to see past the current confusion to the greater picture – that Israeli tribe and pagan tribe might become one in Messiah, as the prophets foretold.  He was a man ahead of his time.  Yet no little help would be necessary if his vision of Yahweh’s will for the assembly in Antioch was to become real.

   Barnabas was also experienced in business matters (Acts 4:36,37).   He wasn’t so overtaken by his vision that he didn’t perceive the lack of a common purpose among the believers at Antioch.  He exhorted them to acquire a steadfast purpose – find a mission – some righteous reason to be together.  Why?  Because "if you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."  The only way that Barnabas’ prophetic vision could come to pass would be if the two factions at Antioch kept the religious law and unified in spirit and action.  Any assembly that wants to go forward absolutely must see a vision of tomorrow and set about in unity to make it happen.  This is what is meant in verse 23 by “a steadfast purpose.” 

   No assembly is ever to evolve into a religious hobby club or retire as a monument to the past.  We rever and study the past; but that is so that we can set a clear future course - a course that leads to the Millennium Reign.  Barnabas stilled the storm by calling all back to faithfulness, but he could readily perceive that Antioch simply didn’t know how to walk through the tremendous door of opportunity that conflict and friction had opened. 

   But he knew what to do about that, and that it wouldn’t be a quick fix.  So Barnabas exhorted them to “be faithful,” then he said goodbye to the Antioch assembly temporarily.  Like Macarthur, he promised, “I shall return!”

 

What Is a Christian!

25.  So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul; 26. and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the assembly, and taught a large company of people; and in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians (CristianouV). 

  Now Barnabas catches the next passage to Tarsus.  When he and Saul return to Antioch together, they begin a leadership training seminar in Antioch which lasts an entire year.  Not three nights, not four Sunday School moments, but twelve full months of intense training on the subject of what it means to be a steadfast, purpose-driven “Assembly of Yahweh in Yahshua.” 

   You’ve got to hand it to those Antiochans.  Of course some people left when they couldn't have it their way.  But those that Yahweh had chosen to redeem Barnabas’ vision didn’t quit and they didn’t split.  The task forces, committees and focus groups that Paul and Barnabas put together raised a stir in that city because the residents witnessed Jews and Gentiles working together side by side for a common religious purpose – and certainly for the first time in history.  To the bystanders who watched their activity and style of life,. they became “Christians.”

   For your information, “Christian” and Christ are titles borrowed from the world of paganism.  The believers in Antioch didn’t call themselves Christians; outsiders did.  To be called a Christian had a double meaning. 

   For the detractors, calling these Nazoreans Christians was a smear tactic.  Literally!  “Christ” simply meant “smeared.”   Calling the assembly “Chr-stians” then was like us calling the Mennonites “smears.”   (“Smear” has extremely insulting connotations I will not repeat here – far worse than being called a smurf, for instance).

Christ / Chrish / Chrisna / Krishna   For supporters, calling the Nazoreans of Antioch Christians was complementary, for Christ also means "anointed" (as with oil).  There were many famous Christs at this time; among them, Master Krishna (Krishna is the same as Christ) and the Roman Emperor Octavian.

   But the very fact that outsiders called the Jews and Gentiles of the Antioch synagogue by a common name, even if it was derogatory and/or pagan, proves that they were seen as having a common purpose.  People who had once hated each other were coming together.  That’s what’s supposed to happen in a synagogue.  Synagogue means “a coming together place.” 

   BUT . . . This public demonstration of unity would never have happened had Saul and Barnabas not sacrificed an entire year teaching the commandments of Yahweh and the testimony of Yahshua.  After the year, these Antiochan Nazoreans retained shared values, theology, diet, ordinances, morals and understandings. They desired, prayed for and received diverse gifts and graces, to potentiate them for service.  And they came to love one another through the ordeal.

      But their common mission hadn’t yet manifested.  When it arrived, it did so by means of a supernatural event – a miracle.

The Famine of ‘46

27.  Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.  28.  And one of them named Agabus (Abgarus?) stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world; and this took place in the days of Claudius.  29.  And the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brethren who lived in Judea;  30.  and they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul. 

   Agabus was a traveling prophet.  Obviously, this is an assumed name meant to hide who this Agabus really was, for “Agabus” means “locust” as in “locust plague.”  Locusts caused great famines in the Middle East then (and now).  Yahweh foretold a disastrous “locust plague” through this man: a "great dearth" - a famine.  The famine swept into Palestine in 46 A.D during the reign of Claudius Caesar.  Well documented in secular history, many important people of good will helped to bring relief to Jerusalem.

   Paul and Barnabas saw this famine as an opportunity to bring unity of purpose to the assembly at Antioch.  “Hadn’t the famine first been prophesied right here in this place?” they exhorted.  “And didn’t our Master minister throughout Israel?” they preached.  “And aren’t his brothers and sisters and disciples and the whole menagerie of his followers yet there?” they cried.   “And aren’t they hungry there in the Holy Land of our fathers?” they repeated.  “How many of you here are from Jerusalem – raise your hand!” Barnabas commanded.  A few raised their hands.  “So doesn’t this give us a hint as to just who Yahweh is calling to help with relief?” they proclaimed. 

   Over and over they preached relief – mission – purpose – single-mindedness.  Saul and Barnabas insisted that purpose grow out of mission.  The believers in Antioch, spurred on by the call to good works, finally began to act.  The interesting thing about the offering they received for Jerusalem is that both Jew and Gentile united as Nazoreans.  Though diverse, they acquired a one-mindedness through the teachings of the Apostles, the vision of Yahweh and his love and compassion for one another.


“Steadfast Purpose”

   Let’s go back for a moment to Acts 11:23 and Barnabas’ speech to the Antiochan believers. 

   Weymouth’s New Testament says that Barnabas “encouraged them all to remain, with fixed resolve, faithful to Yahweh.”  The Revised Standard Version says, “he exhorted them all to remain faithful to Yahweh with steadfast purpose.”  But I’ll prefer the The King James Version here, which tells us that he “exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto Yahweh.”   What is this “purpose of heart” that drove the mission toward the vision?

   We can explain it in intellectual terms.  The Bible word prothesis, here translated purpose, means “placing an action in view” or “exhibiting” something – i.e. putting something on display.  The word is used in the Old Testament (reshiyth) to describe the showbread – twelve loaves of wheat bread representing the twelve tribes of Israel set out on the table in the sanctuary of the temple.  The loaves were split into two rows of six, signifying that the tribes of Israel were likewise split, yet all Israel remained before Yahweh and, by the mouth of prophets, would be ONE in the end. 

   Of the showbread, the Law demands,

Every sabbath [the priest] shall set it in order, a memorial, even an offering to Yahweh, and everlasting covenant, and a statute for all your generations (Leviticus 24:8). 

So the significance of purpose for the Antiochan assembly and for us folks today is that our vision, mission and “purpose of the heart” is instituted not by Saul and Barnabas, not by an ecclesiastical authority, but by the heavenly Father, who expects our heavenly purpose, like the presentation of the showbread, to be carried out before Yahweh and all people forever.  His purpose carries cosmic authority and awesome responsibility, and is to be powered naturally and supernaturally – with teaching and with gifts.  Everyone involved is to take ownership and get on board.  No exceptions.  Ours is an everlasting covenant.  Reward or retribution await us.


Three Little Magic Words

   As the purpose of the Antiochan Nazoreans was recorded on parchment and still stands today for us in Acts 11:28-30, our reason to be should also be exhibited as the showbread.  Everyone here should know exactly what we’re about without a second thought.  

   The sign outside this assembly has been standing well over a year.  Upon it in red is written a simple mission statement consisting of three action verbs.  “Three little magic words that will open any door with ease.”  Everyone has seen those verbs at least twice a week – going in and going out.  Now there’s a light on the sign, at those three action verbs can be seen at night.  Yet four weeks of asking the Sunday School classes was required before the majority could recite them. 

   Do you know those three red action verbs?  To know them really isn’t that important, except that memorizing them is the first step in doing them.  And we must do them to realize our reason to be.   What else are we here to do but win, disciple and glorify?  If not these, then we’re here only to be judged as lacking later on. 

   The Antioch Congregation had it’s vision resisters – those who would have liked everything to remain comfortable and slothful – those who wouldn’t even read their own sign.  And some are simply unwilling to do anything to fulfill those three words.  When Jerusalem was suffering famine, the Gentiles of the congregation wouldn’t have had any natural inclination to help.  They had no real religious or blood connection with either Jerusalem or Jews.  Relief was something the old guard – the minority – felt called to do. 

   But the Gentiles of the new era caught the vision of the old guard.  Both new and the old became caught up in the mission of fund raising.  We’re fortunate to have a written, first-hand report of the actions of a similar congregation when it fulfilled the same mission.  I’m speaking of the Corinthian assembly, that was also fund raising for the relief of Jerusalem.  Paul records the efforts of the Corinthians in:

2 Corinthians 8:2.  These believers suffered hard testing. However, even though they were very poor, they gave very generously. They were so happy.  3. They gave as much as they could – even more than they should –because they really wanted to. 4.  They begged us again and again for the privilege of having a part in helping the holy people. 5.  They did not do as we expected. No, the first thing they did was to give themselves to Yahweh. Then they gave themselves to us to be used in whatever way the he wanted. (SIM)

   What this testimony plainly reveals is that, like in Antioch, this synagogue had no bankroll or savings accounts with thousands of shekels to spare.  But they got on board with Yahweh by being obedient to his commandments, then they begged to do more.  No, they didn’t hoard and gripe – they didn’t demonstrate a “depression mentality” (Paul and Barnabas wouldn’t stand for it) – but they happily impoverished themselves for the privilege of relieving the holy ones. 

 
And What of Your Mission?

   The congregation at Antioch listened and learned, planned their work, then worked their plan; they became unified by their purpose of heart.  No other congregation after Jerusalem became so closely identified with Apostles and Prophets than Antioch.  Antioch is where Paul and Barnabas began their long joint ministry.  And it was in Antioch where revival and universal evangelism first broke out.  This is where believers were first called Christians.  Here foreign missions were born.

   Later, Antioch became home to many important Chr-stian writers whose works are still prized today: Barnabas, Ignatius, Lucian, John Chrysostom – all on account of that first pairing of Jews with Gentiles in a common purpose of heart.  And today in the modern world, if you can believe this, the Antiochan Orthodox Assembly is one of the fastest growing movements back to authentic Christianity (says Bishop Sanchez).  Why?  Because even now the Antiochans retain the same purpose of heart that’s recorded in a book we call Acts of the Apostles. 

   I wonder what the historians will say about our congregation?  Will believers read of our exploits a thousand years hence?  Will our mission make enough difference to change the course of human events or even one human life?  Will we care enough at this stage to acquire a vision and fulfill the three little red verbs on the sign?  Will those on the outside see our good works and either insult us or glorify the Father for us?  Will we win, disciple, glorify?  What you’ll do now, right now, will determine that.  But I’ll leave you with Barnabas’ benediction from his letter while you make up your minds.

 Benediction: Epistle of Barnabas 21: And may Elohim, who ruleth over all the world, give to you wisdom, intelligence, understanding, knowledge of His judgments, with patience. And be ye taught of Elohim, inquiring diligently what YHWH asks from you; and do it that ye maybe safe in the day of judgment. While yet you are in this fair vessel, fulfill every commandment. Farewell, ye children of love and peace. YHWH of glory and of all grace be with your spirit. Amen.

 


What is a Nazorean?

Nazarene refers to a person from Nazareth (Matthew 2:23).  It also refers to members of the Church of the Nazarene, a Christian holiness denomination that originated in and separated from the Methodist Church.  Nazarene also refers to those who are affiliated with the various Nazarene Yisraelite groups including our affiliate B'nai Yahshua Synagogues Worldwide.

Nazorean (on the other hand) is a term referring to the first followers of Yahshua the Anointed (Acts 24:5).  Most Scripture versions incorrectly transliterate the term as "Nazarene" to follow tradition, but as Raymond E. Brown has shown, NAZARENE refers to a person from the geographic location of Nazareth and NAZOREAN refers to a person who is a member of the religious sect. 

(The Birth of the Messiah.  Doubleday, 1977, 209ff.  You may download the notes I am referring to here, Word format.)

I used the correct transliteration "Nazorean" for years before learning there was a Nazarene Yisraelite movement.  (A excellent essay about Acts / Christians / Nazoreans is found here.)  The Hebraic term would of course be Nōserîm, Notzrim or Nozrim.  We might translate the word as "watch-persons."

Who are the Nazoreans?

The Nazoreans were a sect of Israelites to which Yahshua and his family belonged - one of at least three divisions of what we now call The Essenes (or the Hasidim).  The Nazoreans were non-violent.  Though they kept the feasts of Yahweh, they did not sacrifice animals.  A good argument can be made that they did not eat any meat nor did they condone violence or cruelty.  They understood the origin of evil to be according to the prophecies of Enoch, and that people were often victims of demonic evil.

The Nazoreans had methods of healing that included laying on of hands, anointing with oil and herbal remedies.  Because of their frugal and sensible living, it was not unusual for a Nazorean to live in good health for 120 years.  (Yahshua's brother Simon of Cana and many others were documented to have lived that long.) 

They had their own Passover meals - what they ate is still secret today.  Nazoreans didn't all keep the lunar calendar - they kept the solar.  Their holy days and feasts often fell on different days than those of the Jews.  This is why, in John's evangel, the feasts Yahshua attended in Jerusalem were spoken of "the feast of the Jews." 

The first biography of Yahshua was kept by a Nazorean disciple in the Hebrew language.  Today that work is known as "The Gospel of the Nazoreans" or "The Gospel of the Hebrews."  Only excerpts remain of these gospels; the Christian Church destroyed them all.  Those that remain tell of a major doctrine of the Nazoreans:

The disciples said, “Then where do you want us to prepare the Passover?" Yahshua answered, "Do you think I desire with desire to eat flesh with you at this Passover? I have come to do away with the system of sacrifices. If you do not quit sacrificing, the wrath of Yahweh will not quit you.”   (quoted from Epiphanius)

The Nazoreans had their own temple priesthood, referred to in Scripture as "the poorer priests," who took up residence in the southwest corner of Jerusalem in what was known as the Essene Quarter.  This priesthood was known as the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Yahshua's brother Ya'aqov (James) was a very well known, documented priest of this order in Jerusalem.  It is even documented that Ya'aqov, like Zechariah, entered the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur and spoke the sacred name.  The writer of Hebrews mentions this priesthood, as does the Dead Sea Scrolls extensively.

The two other sects of the Essenes (which means "keepers" - keepers of the secrets of the faith, keepers of the truth, keepers of the set-apart ordinances) were the Theraputae (healers) and the Zaddikim (righteous).  The Theraputae were mainly located in Egypt.  Joseph surely went to them with Yahshua before "out of Egypt I called my son."  These Essenes were called Healers because they could heal any affliction through the power of Elohim.  (Hasidim = Essene = "The Pious," devotees of the mystical phase of Judaism, appearing in the pre-Maccabean age. The descendants of this earlier sect appeared again in the Nazorean sect of the first centuries. Later Hasidim were saints and workers of miracles, gifted with esoteric wisdom and the faculty of prophecy.)

The Zaddikim isolated themselves by the Dead Sea east of Jerusalem in caves.  They were a breakaway movement, preparing themselves to fight the Kittim (Romans) when the time came for the Kingdom to come.  They are often called "The Qumran Essenes" or "Qumran Sectarians" - though whether they were connect or not with Khirbet Qumran is yet to be determined).  Their hope was when the war against Rome came, and they went forth as their hero Phineas did in ages past, the rest of Israel would follow them to finish the Romans, the Herods, and the temple Sadducees.

Nazoreans today seek to be the "keepers" of the true faith of Yahshua, Ya'aqov, and the rest of Yahshua's family; the keepers of the ancient documents, truths and traditions; the keepers of the only knowledge and power that will be useful when Yahshua returns in the next few years.  As Christianity and Judaism have both veered off the truth to become religions of paganism, emotionalism and idolatry, there have always been Nazoreans "keeping," no matter what they have called themselves.  Later on down this column, I hope to elucidate on what this kind of "Keeping" is all about. 


KING AGBAR'S LETTER TO THE SAVIOR (from Eusebius)

I have heard of you and the cures wrought by you without herbs or medicines; for it is reported you restore sight to the blind, make the lame to walk, cleanse the leper, raise the dead, and heal those that are tormented with diseases of long continuance - having heard all this about you, I was fully persuaded to believe one of two things, either that you are truly Elohim and came down from the sky to do such miracles, or else you are the Son of Elohim and perform them; so I have now sent these lines entreating you to come here and cure my diseases.  Besides having heard that the Jews murmur against you and contrive to do you mischief, I invite you to my city, which is little indeed but exceeding beautiful and sufficient for us both.



OUR SAVIOR'S ANSWER

Blessed are you, O Agbar for believing in me whom you have not seen, for it is written that they who have seen me would not believe and they who have not seen me would believe and be saved; but as to the matter you have written about, these are to acquaint you with the fact that all the things for which I have been sent must be fulfilled, and that I must be taken up and returned to him who sent me.  But after my ascension I will send one of my disciples who will cure your disease and give life to you and all them that are with you.