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Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [1]

As this name was given to our Lord Jesus Christ, and we are told by the evangelist, that his residence in Nazareth was on this account, that he might be so called, it will certainly merit particular attention.

The word Nazarene or Nazarite, (for it is one and the same) is derived from Nezar, and means separated; so that a Nazarite is one separated and given up to God from the womb. The Jews, out of contempt to the person of Christ, called him the Nazarite or Nazarene; and certainly they meant no other by it but, as we mean, an inhabitant of a place, when we say, one of Plymouth, or the like. And as Nazareth itself was but a small city of Zebulun, they had yet greater contempt for Christ's person, for springing, as they supposed, from thence. "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" ( John 1:46) But we shall find that this title, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, was all along designed of God, as of the highest import, and among the strongest testimonies to this peculiarity of character, as the one, yea, the only one great Nazarite of God.

As the proper apprehension of this point is, in my view, of infinite value in the faith of a believer, I beg the reader's indulgence to state the whole subject very particularly.

And first, then, I request to remark on the expression of the evangelist Matthew, ( Matthew 2:23) "And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets—he should be called a Nazarene?"

The question is, what prophets are there who so spake concerning Christ? To which I answer, all the writers of the Old Testament are generally called prophets, because many of their sayings are really and truly prophesies. Thus Jacob when dying called his sons and said, "Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days." ( Genesis 49:1) Eminently Jacob was a prophet in what he here predicted of his sons, and the glorious events he then delivered, since fulfilled, proves it. And the apostle Peter denominates the whole of the Old Testament "a word of prophecy;" for speaking of it he saith, "we have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed." ( 2 Peter 1:19) So that not only the immediate writings of the prophets whose titles are expressly so spoken of as prophetical, but the scope of the whole body of Scripture, and especially such as are looking into gospel times, and speaking of events then to be accomplished, may be truly and justly called prophecies, and the writers of them prophets.

The next enquiry is, which of the sacred writers is it that thus predicted Christ should be called a Nazarene? To which I answer, in type and figure; Jacob and Moses both represented this great truth in their dying testimonies concerning Joseph, the typical Nazarite of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jacob's prophecy concerning Joseph in this particular runs thus: ( Genesis 49:26) "The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors, unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren." In the original the word separate is Nezer, that is, a Nazarite among his brethren. And this is the same word, used in  Genesis 49:26 as is used,  Judges 13:5 for Nazarite. Strong testimonies these to the point in question. Moses, in like manner, makes use of the same allusion, when delivering his dying prediction concerning Joseph as typical of Christ. For the good will of him, (said he) my dweller in the bush, (referring to his first views of God incarnate,  Exodus 3:2 compared with  Acts 7:30) "Let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separate from his brethren." In the original the very same word for separate is used as  Genesis 49:26—so that Moses as well as Jacob, declared by the type Joseph, that the great Antitype should be the Nazarite or separate from among his brethren.

The third step to which I beg the reader to follow me, in this most interesting subject concerning our glorious Nazarite, and justly called so, is in the writings of the evangelist St. Luke; where I hope we shall discover, under the teaching of God the Holy Ghost, that Jesus, though born at Bethlehem to fulfil another prophecy, was literally and truly conceived at Nazareth, and as such became a real Nazarene.

Thus the Holy Ghost, by the evangelist, states the circumstances of the conception, of Christ, ( Luke 1:26, etc.) "And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God, unto a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man, whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail! thou that are highly favoured, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour with God; and behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus." From hence we date the conception. The miraculous power of the Holy Ghost is no sooner announced, and Mary's consent obtained, than the impregnation takes place; so that "that Holy thing," or the man of the unction, as Christ is declared by the angel to be, is immediately conceived, and the Nazarite from the womb is formed in the city of Nazareth, as the prophet had foretold. (See  Isaiah 7:14) This, in my view of the subject, is most blessed indeed!

Under a fourth particular, the reader will find this great event most strikingly shadowed out in the instance of Samson, the type of Christ, and especially in this feature of character as a Nazarite. Here indeed we find many wonderful things to shew the correspondence between the type and the antitype. The birth of Samson was announced precisely in the same manner, by the ministry of an angel. The wife of Manoah, Samson's mother, was barren at the time, as if to shew that the birth of this child, though not miraculous, yet was extraordinary. The message the angel brought to Manoah's wife, and to the Virgin Mary, were (as far as the similarity of circumstances would admit) so much alike, that one might be led to conclude that the messenger was the same, and the one ministered but to the other. And lastly, and above all, as the angel concerning Samson declared, that he should be a Nazarite to God from the womb, and should begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, so eminently did the angel announce to the Virgin Mary concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, that he should be that Holy Thing, and be called the Son of the Highest, and should deliver "his people from their sins." (Compare  Judges 13:2-7 with  Luke 1:26, etc. and  Matthew 1:20-21) I do not think it necessary to insert in this place, at large, the law concerning Nazarites to God. The reader will find it,  Numbers 6:2-5. But from the particular precepts concerning it, and the case of Samson, seen with an eye to Christ, "as the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth," I humbly conceive that the point is thus strikingly illustrated.

I have only one thing more to add, in order to shew that this our glorious Nazarite was the one, and the only one, to whom all that went before were mere types and shadows, and only ministered in this character to him; and also that the law concerning Nazarites had an eye wholly to him, and in him alone was completed. I say I have only to add, in confirmation of it, that when we find so many different characters all directly overruled to call Jesus by this name, and thus decidedly stamping his character as the Nazarite of God, however many of them meant not so, neither did they intend it, nothing surely can more plainly prove that the whole must have originated in the divine mind, and that Jehovah adopted all these methods to shew that Christ, and Christ only, is the One Holy and glorious Nazarite to God.

The first we meet with in the gospel who called our Lord Jesus of Nazareth, or the Nazarite, was Satan, when he said, "Let us alone; what, have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God." ( Mark 1:24) Next we find the apostles giving in their testimony to the same blessed truth,  John 1:45 "We have found him (saith Philip) of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." When the band of men and officers from the chief priests came to apprehend Christ in the garden, they enquired after the Lord under the same name, Jesus of Nazareth, ( John 18:5) The servant maid in the hall of Pilate spoke of our Lord by the same name; for charging Peter as an accomplice, she said, "And this fellow also was with Jesus of Galilee." ( Matthew 26:71) And yet more, the Roman governor, as if constrained by an overruling power, in giving a testimony to Christ the very reverse of the ignominy he meant to put upon him, both subscribed to his regal authority, at the same time he proclaimed him the Nazarite to God; and wrote a superscription in three different languages, and put it on the cross, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." ( John 19:19) Still farther, the angels which attended the Lord's sepulchre, when he arose from the dead, announced to the pious women the resurrection of Christ by the same name, "Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified; he is risen, he is not here; behold the place where the Lord lay." ( Mark 16:6) In like manner, the apostles, after our Lord's ascension to glory, continually dwelt upon this name. Jesus Christ of Nazareth, said Peter, in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, a man approved of God among you; as if to insist upon this glorious feature of the man, the Nazarite. ( Acts 2:22) So again, when he healed the cripple at the gate of the temple, the blessed words he used were, "In the name of Jesus of Nazareth." ( Acts 3:6) So again  Acts 4:10. And lastly, to mention no more, the Lord Jesus himself, when calling to Paul from heaven, called himself by this name, "I am Jesus of Nazareth," or, as it might be rendered, I am Jesus the Nazarite, not a Nazarite, but the Nazarite, the very identical, yea, the only one. ( Acts 22:8)

From the whole then, I hope the reader will think with me, that God the Holy Ghost had all along a design, from the first dawn of revelation, with an eye to the Lord Jesus in this most important character; and to this end and purpose directed his servants' minds, Jacob and Moses, to point to this great Nazarite, by type and figure, in the separation of Joseph from his brethren. And I trust that the reader will also see with me from the Lord's own teaching, that the law of the Nazarites, ( Numbers 6:1-27) and especially the striking typical representation in the case of Samson, had no other meaning but to set forth the feature of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is not enough, in my view, to allow these things to be typical of Christ, if at the same time we allow them to have any secondary and subordinate reference to themselves. They only spake of Jesus; they only ministered to him. Any sanctity or supposed sanctity in themselves, or any Nazarites under the law, is foreign to the very spirit of the Gospel of Christ. The word of God not only insists upon it, that there is salvation in no other but Jesus, but it includes all other under sin. "The imagination, yea, every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is only evil, and that continually," ( Genesis 6:5) consequently there could be no real Nazarite to God but this one. Every thing that we read of concerning holy vows and dedications, as far as they were true, were all typical of Christ. And by this exclusive personal right in our Jesus to this Nazarite of God, we plainly discover this sweet feature of character in our Lord, which endears him to his people, and shews the solemn dedication of himself for them to God. Hail, thou precious blessed Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth! Blessings for ever be on the head of him that was separated from his brethren! Verily, "thy father's children shall bow down before thee:" here, and to all eternity, thou shalt be called the Nazarite of God!

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

In 18 passages of the Gospels and Acts Jesus is called ‘the Nazarene’ (the reading fluctuating between Ναζαρηνός and Ναζωραῖος). The use of this designation agrees with the fact that Nazareth was His home until He entered on His public ministry. The incident of the census was the occasion of His birth taking place at Bethlehem according to prophetic intimation. After the Egyptian episode, the family returned to Nazareth. After the Temptation, Jesus returned and remained there until the violence of the people drove Him to Capernaum, which henceforth was known as ‘his own city’ ( Matthew 9:1). The behaviour of the people ( Luke 4:29) illustrates what is suggested respecting the repute of Nazareth in  John 1:46. In  Acts 24:5 ‘the sect of the Nazarenes’ refers to Christians as a body, and is no doubt meant in a disparaging sense.

As indicated above, the name ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ in the Eng. version, is universally used to translate without distinction two Greek names, Ἰησοῦς Ναζαρηνός and Ἰησοῦς Ναζωραῖος. A recent essay by E. A. Abbott makes it necessary to ask if both terms ‘Nazarene’ and ‘Nazoraean’ connote simply ‘belonging to Nazareth.’ He holds and argues very successfully that the name Nazoraios is significant of more than mere place-origin. His thesis is that Nazarene, meaning a man of Nazareth, and Nazoraean, meaning the Nçṣer or Rod of Jesse mentioned by Isaiah, were probably interchanged by a play on the two words; so that the populace, acclaiming Jesus as the Lifegiver and Healer, altered ‘Jesus the Nazarene’ into ‘Jesus the Nazoraean.’ To state the theory more exactly, we should say that they called Him Jesus the Nçṣer, or the Na(t)zoraean, partly because there was a pre-existing belief that the Messiah would be the Nçṣer, and partly because they vaguely felt what Matthew ventured definitely to express, that His residence from childhood onward in Nazareth had been ordained to fulfil the prophecy, ‘He shall be called Nazoraean (i.e. Nçṣer).’

This theory involves the conclusion that the use of ‘Nazarene’ by Mark and Luke was an error, except in special contexts which may prove that the place-name, not the Messianic title, was meant.

There can be no doubt that the Nçṣer (the Branch) of  Isaiah 11:1 was interpreted of the Messiah, the Targum on the passage making that quite definite; and it is quite probable that among the many names in popular use for the Messiah in the 1st cent. Nçṣer had a place.

The evidence from hostile sources is confirmatory. Christians were contemptuously called ‘Nazarenes’ by the Jews. But the actual word used was Nôṣrî. This does not closely resemble Nazareth, but it does resemble Nôṣer as used in Ben Sira 40:15, referring to ‘the branch of violence which is not to be unpunished.’ That the enemies of Jesus should call Him Nôṣrî, ‘Branch of violence,’ is intelligible if His friends called Him Nçṣer, ‘the true Branch.’

The question, as Abbott admits, is a difficult one, but it must be acknowledged that he has made out a strong case for regarding the name Nazoraean as more than a mere variant of Nazarene (see Edwin A. Abbott, Miscellanea Evangelica, II. i., Cambridge, 1913).

We find ‘Nazarenes’ used at a later period as the name of a Jewish Christian sect having some affinity with the Ebionites (see Ebionism). The greatest obscurity envelops these Jewish Christian parties. The information coming down to us is meagre, and there is little likelihood of additions being made to it. The Jewish side of Christianity, which gave so much trouble to St. Paul, declined rapidly, especially after the fall of the Jewish State, and eventually disappeared. Our best course will be to summarize the views of two authorities of our day.

R. Seeberg (Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte, i. [1895] 50) endorses the ordinary opinion that there were two sects, the Nazarenes and the Ebionites, agreeing with one another in some things, differing in others. Justin Martyr refers to the former when he speaks of some Jewish Christians who keep the Jewish Law strictly themselves, but do not impose it on all Christians. Jerome also says that they believe in Christ as the Son of God, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rose again. They recognized St. Paul and his work, and used a Hebrew Gospel. Eusebius distinguishes them sharply from Ebionites, but says that they did not accept the pre-existence of the Logos. Seeberg thinks that Eusebius was mistaken in the last statement, confusing the Nazarenes with the Ebionites, who did deny Christ’s Deity. The Nazarenes, Seeberg thinks, simply put aside Logos speculations. The Ebionites, on the other hand, required all Christians to conform to the Jewish Law of rites and ceremonies, rejected St. Paul as an apostate, and regarded Christ as the son of Joseph and Mary. Origen seems to know a second Ebionite party, who, while holding these Ebionite tenets, said that Christ at His baptism received the fullness of the Holy Spirit, constituting Him a Prophet and Son of God in a high degree. They also held millennarian views. If the Nazarenes had so much in common with the Church, it is strange that Jerome should say that, ‘while they claim to be both Jews and Christians, they are neither.’ Seeberg says that the Nazarenes were Jewish Christians, the Ebionites Christian Jews.

F. Loofs (Leitfaden zum Studium der Dogmengeschichte4, 1906, p. 83) agrees in the main with the above account, but thinks that too sharp a distinction is drawn between the Nazarenes and the Ebionites. He holds that the recognition by the latter of the Holy Spirit who fell on Christ at the Baptism, and who is pre-existent and Divine, comes near to the acknowledgment of Deity in Christ. But this implies that Christ was not Divine before and became Divine through the descent of the Spirit. Does the same effect follow in us? Both writers agree that the sects ran to seed in the syncretism of the day and in mythological speculations. To Irenaeus the Ebionites were heretics. The Elkesaites were an offshoot from the same trunk, and appealed to the book Elkesai as a new revelation, bringing new forgiveness of sins, even the grossest, and new remedies of disease. Alcibiades of Apamea about a.d. 220 appeared in Rome as the apostle of this gospel, and met with temporary success. The Clementine romances were still later products of the same movement.

(The Nazirites had no connexion, linguistic or other, with Nazareth and the Nazarenes. See Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols)and Encyclopaedia Biblica, s.v. ‘Nazirite’; also following article.)

Literature.-Article‘Ebionism’ in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethicsand Dac; A Hilgenfeld, Die Ketzergeschichte des Urchristentums, Leipzig, 1884, pp. 426f., 435, 443; H. L. Mansel, Gnostic Heresics, London, 1875, p. 125; J. A. W. Neander, History of the Christian Religion and Church, Eng. translation, 1831-41, ii. 18; E. B. Nicholson, The Gospel according to the Hebrews, London, 1879.

J. S. Banks.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

Matthew,  Matthew 2:23, writes "Jesus came and dwelt in Nazareth that it might be fulfilled which is spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene"; not "by the prophet," but "by the prophets," meaning no particular quotation but the general description of Messiah in them as abject and despised ( Isaiah 53:2-3). The Nazarene people were proverbially so. "Called," as in  Isaiah 9:6, expresses what He should be in His earthly manifestation; not that the prophets gave Him the literal name, though His contemporaries did. Matthew plays on similar sounds, as Micah on Achzib ( Micah 1:14) and Ekron ( Micah 2:4). The "Nazarene dweller" ( Νatsri ) was, as all the prophets foretold, a "pain sufferer" ( Natsari from the Aramaic Tsear , "pain"); the Aramaeans pronounced the Hebrew "a" as "o," from whence arose the Greek form Νazoraios .

(Biesenthal, Jewish Intelligence, December, 1874). The nickname "Nazarene" agreed with His foretold character as: (1) despised in man's eyes, (2) really glorious. Men in applying the name unconsciously and in spite of themselves shed glory on Him; for Nazarene is related to Neetser , a "branch," Messiah's distinctive title, indicating His descent from royal David yet His lowly state ( Isaiah 11:1); the same thought and image appear in the term Tsemach ( Jeremiah 23:5;  Jeremiah 33:15;  Zechariah 3:8;  Zechariah 6:12). Also Νaziraios , applied to a Nazarite by vow in Old Testament (from the Hebrew root Nezer "dedication," "the high priest's mitre," and "sovereignty"), indirectly refers to Christ under His New Testament distinct designation "Nazarene" and Νazoraios , i.e. belonging to Nazarene.

Samson the Nazarite, "separated" or "dedicated unto God," typically foreshadowed Him ( Judges 13:5;  Judges 16:30), separated as holy unto God, and separated as an "alien" outcast by men ( Psalms 69:8). Though the reverse of a Nazarite in its outward rules ( Matthew 11:18), He antitypically fulfilled the spirit of the Nazarite vow and ritual. Had the prophets expressly foretold He should be of Nazareth, it would not have been so despised; nor would the Pharisees, who were able from Micah 5 to tell Herod where Messiah's birthplace was - Bethlehem (Matthew 2) - have been so ignorant of the prophecy of His connection with Nazareth as to say, "out of Galilee ariseth no prophet" ( John 7:52). (See Nazarite ; NAZARETH.)

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [4]

NAZARENE. A title applied to Christ in   Matthew 2:23 , apparently as a quotation from a phrophecy. Its signification is a matter of controversy. Apart from the primary meaning of the word, ‘an inhabitant of Nazareth,’ there may have been, as is often the case in prophetic quotations, a secondary meaning in allusion to the Heb. word nçtser , ‘a branch,’ in which case the reference may have been to the Messianic passage   Isaiah 11:1; or possibly the reference may have been to the word nâtsar , ‘to save.’ The epithet, applied often in scorn (cf.   John 1:48 ), was used of Christ by demoniacs (  Mark 1:24 ,   Luke 4:34 ), by the people generally (  Mark 10:47 ,   Luke 18:37 ), by the soldiers (  John 18:6-7 ), by the servants (  Matthew 26:71 ,   Mark 14:67 ), by Pilate (  John 19:19 ), as well as by His own followers on various occasions (  Luke 24:19 etc.). The attempt to connect the word with ‘Nazirite’ is etymologically impossible, and has no meaning as applied to Jesus Christ.

T. A. Moxon.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [5]

Nazarene ( Năz'A-R Çne' ). When our Lord was taken as a child to Nazareth, which thus became for many years his dwelling-place, the evangelist records this as a fulfilment of prophecy,  Matthew 2:23, citing no particular place, but referring generally to "the prophets," who predicted Messiah's humble and despised condition. See Isa. chaps. 52, 53. The words, "He shall be called a Nazarene," do not occur in the writings of the Old Testament; but the thing or meaning conveyed by them is sufficiently obvious. Jesus, living at Nazareth, was from that very circumstance contemned; and we find in the course of his public career his connection with that town repeatedly used against him.  John 1:46;  John 7:41;  John 7:52. Matthew notes that event which branded him with an ill-omened name, "Jesus of Nazareth." and his followers as Nazarenes, comp.  Acts 24:5, as an exact fulfilment of what ancient seers had foretold. It is an error to connect  Matthew 2:23 with  Isaiah 11:1-16, from a fancied relation of the original Hebrew word there translated "branch" with the name Nazareth.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

Nazarene'. An Inhabitant Of Nazareth . This appellative is applied to Jesus , in many passages in the New Testament. This name, made striking in so many ways, and which, if first given in scorn, was adopted and gloried in by the disciples, we are told in  Matthew 2:23, possesses a prophetic significance.

Its application to Jesus , in consequence of the providential arrangements, by which his parents were led , to take up their abode in Nazareth, was the filling out of the predictions in which the promised Messiah is described as a netser , that is, a Shoot, Sprout, of Jesse, a humble and despised descendant of the decayed royal family. Once,  Acts 24:5, the term, Nazarenes, is applied to the followers of Jesus , by way of contempt. The name still exists in Arabic, as the ordinary designation of Christians.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

An epithet applied to Christ, and usually translated "of Nazareth," as in  Matthew 21:11   Acts 2:22   4:10 . It was foretold in prophecy,  Psalm 22:7,8   Isaiah 53:2 , that the Messiah should be despised and rejected of men; and this epithet, which came to be used as a term of reproach, showed the truth of these predictions,  Matthew 2:23   Acts 24:5 . Nazareth was a small town, in a despised part of Palestine. See Galilee , and Nazareth .

Morrish Bible Dictionary [8]

A native of Nazareth. Joseph and Mary, when they returned from Egypt, went to reside at Nazareth, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene." These words are not found in the O.T., but the thought conveyed by them is in the prophets generally, that the Messiah would be despised and reproached: cf.  Psalm 69;  Isaiah 53; etc. His disciples suffered the same reproach: Paul had to hear himself called "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes."  Matthew 2:23;  Acts 24:5 . Christians in some parts of Palestine are still called Nazarenes.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [9]

 Matthew 2:23 Mark 1:24 10:47 14:67 Isaiah 53:3 Netser   Isaiah 11:1 Netse

The followers of Christ were called "the sect of Nazarenes" (  Acts 24:5 ). All over Palestine and Syria this name is still given to Christians. (See Nazareth .)

Webster's Dictionary [10]

(1): ( n.) A native or inhabitant of Nazareth; - a term of contempt applied to Christ and the early Christians.

(2): ( n.) One of a sect of Judaizing Christians in the first and second centuries, who observed the laws of Moses, and held to certain heresies.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

an epithet given to our Lord. There are two Greek words for this designation Ναζαρηνός (only  Mark 1:24;  Mark 14:67;  Mark 16:6;  Luke 4:34); and (elsewhere) Ναζωραῖος both derived from Ναζαρέθ , Nazareth of Galilee, the place of the Savior's childhood and education. These two Greek words occur in the New Testament nineteen times; twice only are they rendered Nazarene ( Matthew 2:23;  Acts 24:5); everywhere else by the words "of Nazareth," as  Matthew 21:11. This appellative is found in the New Testament applied to Jesus by the daemons in the synagogue at Capernaum ( Mark 1:24;  Luke 4:34); by the people, who so describe him to Bartimsus ( Mark 10:47;  Luke 18:37); by the soldiers who arrested Jesus ( John 18:5;  John 18:7); by the servants at his trial ( Matthew 26:71;  Mark 14:67); by Pilate in the inscription on the cross ( John 19:19); by the disciples on the way to Emmaus ( Luke 24:19); by Peter ( Acts 2:22;  Acts 3:6;  Acts 4:10); by Stephen, as reported by the false witness ( Acts 6:14); by the ascended Jesus ( Acts 22:8); and by Paul ( Acts 26:9). At first it was applied to Jesus naturally and properly, as defining his residence. In process of time, however, other influences came into operation. Galilee was held in disesteem for several reasons: its dialect was provincial, rough, and strange (Buxtorf, Lex. Talmud;  Mark 14:70); its population was impure, containing not only provincial Jews, but also heathen, as Egyptians, Arabians, Phoenicians (Strabo, Geog. 16:523); its people were seditious (Josephus, as cited in Schleusner, s.v. Γαλιλαῖος ); whence also the point of the accusation made against Paul, as "ringleader of the sect of Nazarenes" ( Acts 24:5). Nazareth was a despised part even of Galilee, being a small, obscure place. Accordingly its inhabitants were held in little consideration everywhere. Hence the name Nazarene (Kuinol, in  Matthew 2:23) became a term of reproach (Wetstein, in  Matthew 2:23), and as such, as well as a mere epithet of description, it is used in the New Testament. "The name still exists in Arabic as the ordinary designation of Christians, and the recent revolt in India was connected with a pretended ancient prophecy that the Nanzarenes, after holding power for one hundred years, would be expelled." (See Nazareth).

In  Matthew 2:23, it is said of Jesus, "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." This citation has received the following explanations (Spanheim, Dubia Evangelica, 2:538-648; Wolf, Curce Philologicae, 1:46-48; Hengstenberg, Christology of the O.T. 2:106-112):

1. It is generally thought that the evangelist does not limit himself to a quotation from any single prophet, but alludes to the several passages of the prophets where the Messiah is spoken of as "despised of men," as Psalms 22; Isaiah 53. (See Paulus, Rosenmuller, Kuinil, Van der Palm, Gersdorf, Olshausen, Ebrard, Davidson, Lange, and others, ad loc.)

2. But many (as Bauer, Gieseler, in the Stud. U. Krit. 1831, page 588 sq.; De Wette, Bretschneider, 3d ed.) find here an allusion to the passages where the Messiah is called נֵצֶר , Netser, a branch or sprout ( Isaiah 11:1; see Hengstenberg, Christol. 2:1 sq.). " This explanation, which Jerome mentions as that given by learned (Christian) Jews in his day, has been adopted by Surenhusius, Fritzsche, Krabbe (Leben Jesu), Drechsler (on  Isaiah 11:1), Schirlitz (N.-T. Wsorterb.), Robinson (N.T. Lex.), and Meyer. It is confirmed by the following considerations

(1) Netser, as Hengstenberg, after De Dieu and others. has shown, was the proper Hebrew name of Nazareth.

(2) The reference to the etymological signification of the word is entirely in keeping with  Matthew 2:21-23.

(3) The Messiah is expressly called a Netser in  Isaiah 11:1.

(4) The same thought, and under the same image, although expressed by a different word, is found in  Jeremiah 23:5;  Jeremiah 33:15;  Zechariah 3:8;  Zechariah 6:12, which accounts for the statement of Matthew that this prediction was uttered 'by the prophets' in the plural."

It seems, however, rather refined for so general a quotation; nor does it after all point especially to any particular passage of the Old Testament as being cited. Moreover, the Ζ in Ναζωραῖος cannot correspond to צ , but to ז (see Olshausen. ad loc.; so Bengel, who derives the word from נֵזֶר Acrown).

3. Others have supposed a direct quotation from some lost prophecy (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Clericus, etc., ad loc.), or from some apocryphal book (Ewald), or that it is a traditional prophecy (Calovius; Alexander, Connection And Harmony Of The Old And New Testaments), all which suppositions are refuted by the fact that the phrase "by the prophets," in the New Testament, refers exclusively to the canonical books of the Old Testament. Nor is there any evidence elsewhere of such a source.

4. Many would make Ναζωραῖος = נָזַיר , Nazarite, i.e., one especially Consecrated or Devoted to God ( Judges 13:5); but this does not at all accord with our Saviour's character (see  Matthew 11:19, etc.), nor with the Sept. mode of spelling the word, which is generally Ναζιραῖος , and never Ναζωραῖος . (See Schleusners Lex. To Lxx, ad verb.) (See Nazarite).

5. "Recently a suggestion, which Witsius borrowed from Socinus, has been revived by Zuschlag and Riggenbach, that the true word is נֹצֵר or נֹצְרַי , My Savior, with reference to Jesus as the Savior of the world, but without much success (Zuschlag, in The Zeitschriftfur Die Lutherische Theologie, 1854, pages 417-446; Riggenbach in the Stud. u. Krit. 1855, pages 588, 612)." (See Jesus).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [12]

naz - a - rēn ´; naz´a - rēn ( Ναζαρηνός , Nazarēnós  ; Nazōraı́os in Matthew, John, Acts and Luke): A derivative of Nazareth, the birthplace of Christ. In the New Testament it has a double meaning: it may be friendly and it may be inimical.

1. An Honourable Title:

On the lips of Christ's friends and followers, it is an honorable name. Thus Matthew sees in it a fulfillment of the old Isaiah prophecy ( Isaiah 11:1 (Hebrew)): "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets, that he should be called a Nazarene (  Matthew 2:23 ). According to an overwhelming array of testimony (see Meyer, Commentary , in loc.), the name Nazareth is derived from the same nācar , found in the text quoted from Isa. We have here undoubtedly to do with a permissible accommodation.

It is not quite certain that Matthew did not intend, by the use of this word, to refer to the picture of the Messiah, as drawn in  Isaiah 53:1-12 , on account of the low estimate in which this place was held ( John 1:46 ). Nor is permissible, as has been done by Tertullian and Jerome, to substitute the word "Nazarite" for "Nazarene," which in every view of the case is contrary to the patent facts of the life of the Saviour.

Says Meyer, "In giving this prophetic title to the Messiah he entirely disregards the historical meaning of the same Septuagint reading in  Isaiah 11:1 , ánthos ), keeps by the relationship of the name Nazareth to the word nācar , and recognizes by virtue of the same, in that prophetic Messianic name necer , the typical reference to this - that Jesus through His settlement in Nazareth was to become a , ' Nazōraios ,' a 'Nazarene.'" This name clung to Jesus throughout His entire life. It became His name among the masses: "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by" ( Mark 10:47;  Luke 24:19 ). Perhaps Matthew, who wrote after the event, may have been influenced in his application of the Isaian prophecy by the very fact that Jesus was popularly thus known. Even in the realm of spirits He was known by this appellation. Evil spirits knew and feared Him, under this name ( Mark 1:24;  Luke 4:34 ), and the angels of the resurrection morning called Him thus ( Mark 16:6 ), while Jesus applied the title to Himself ( Acts 22:8 ). In the light of these facts we do not wonder that the disciples, in their later lives and work, persistently used it ( Acts 2:22;  Acts 3:6;  Acts 10:38 ).

2. A T itle of Scorn:

If His friends knew Him by this name, much more His enemies, and to them it was a title of scorn and derision. Their whole attitude was compressed in that one word of Nathanael, by which he voiced his doubt, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" ( John 1:46 ). In the name "Nazarene," the Jews, who opposed and rejected Christ, poured out all the vials of their antagonism, and the word became a Jewish heritage of bitterness. It is hard to tell whether the appellation, on the lips of evil spirits, signifies dread or hatred ( Mark 1:24;  Luke 4:34 ). With the gatekeepers of the house of the high priest the case is clear. There it signifies unadulterated scorn ( Matthew 26:71;  Mark 14:67 ). Even in His death the bitter hatred of the priests caused this name to accompany Jesus, for it was at their dictation written above His cross by Pilate ( John 19:19 ). The entire Christian community was called by the leaders of the Jewish people at Jerusalem, "the sect of the Nazarenes" ( Acts 24:5 ). If, on the one hand, therefore, the name stands for devotion and love, it is equally certain that on the other side it represented the bitter and undying hatred of His enemies.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [13]

Nazarene´, an epithet constituting a part of one of the names given to our Lord. From the number of times that the epithet is employed, it appears that it became at the very first an appellation of our Lord, and was hence applied to designate his followers. Considering that the name was derived from the place where Jesus resided during the greater part of His life, we see no reason to think that at first it bore with it, in its application to Him or His followers, anything of an offensive nature. Such a designation was in this case natural and proper. In process of time, however, other influences came into operation. Nazareth was in Galilee, a part of Palestine which was held in disesteem for several reasons—its was a provincial dialect; lying remote from the capital, its inhabitants spoke a strange tongue, which was rough, harsh, and uncouth, having peculiar combinations of words, and words also peculiar to themselves; its population was impure, being made up not only of provincial Jews, but also of heathens of several sorts, Egyptians, Arabians, Phoenicians; its people were in an especial manner given to be seditious, which quality of character they not rarely displayed in the capital itself on occasion of the public festivals; whence may be seen the point of the accusation made against Paul, as 'ringleader of the sect of Nazarenes' . As Galilee was a despised part of Palestine, so was Nazareth a despised part of Galilee, being a small, obscure, if not mean place. Accordingly its inhabitants were held in little consideration by other Galileans, and, of course, by those Jews who dwelt in Judea. Hence the name Nazarene came to bear with it a bad odor, and was nearly synonymous with a low, ignorant, and uncultured, if not un-Jewish person (Kuinoel, in ). It became accordingly a contemptuous designation and a term of reproach, and as such, as well as a mere epithet of description, it is used in the New Testament.