Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Get Back to the First Century: The Church Fathers

The New Testament Church

It has been said by well-intended Christians, “We need to get back to the New Testament Church.”  In the past, I have said this very thing. However, there are two things wrong with this statement. There are two things the “New Testament Church” did not have. First, they did not have a New Testament. It was not written, compiled or canonized yet. What Scriptures do you think Rav Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) was referring to when he told Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2Timothy 3:16, 17 KJV)”?

He, of course, was referring to the Tanak (“Old Testament”). Secondly, they did not have a Church. They all met in Synagogues on Sabbath Day (Saturday), the Temple on Biblical Festivals, and in their homes for Havdalah, a special service officially ending the Sabbath and ushering in a new week held on Saturday evening at sunset. What the Jews considered the first day of the Week (Acts 20:7). Because a day in Jewish thinking based on the Genesis account of Creation which was from sundown to sundown, “and there was evening and there was morning the first day (Gen. 1:5).”

The Jewish people of today come from (believe it or not), the Biblical times Pharisaical movement, which is now called Rabbinic and or Orthodox Judaism.  The ancient and modern day synagogue was modeled after the service Ezra had in the book bearing his name. Today, it is the main meeting place for Jews, besides the home, since the Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E.

“Church” is a mistranslation in the Scriptures.  It is an Anglo-Saxon word “kirke” or “kirch” which by definition means, “a pagan place of worship.”
That word comes from the pagan deity “Circe.” The word translated Church in the Scriptures comes from the Hebrew word, “K’hal” and the Greek word “Ekklesia”, which both mean, “a called out assembly or congregation.”  Therefore, the “church” did not start in the book of Acts at Shavuot (Pentecost), but B’ney Yisrael (The Children of Israel) was called the “church” at Mount Sinai (Acts 7:38), after the Exodus, when the Torah (Law) was given. It is no coincidence that Shavuot is the commemoration of that very event.

So, Who was (is) the New Testament “Church”?

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. – Jude 1:3

“We know from historians, prophecies in Daniel, the Targums (Aramaic loose interpretations of the Tanach), etc., that many of the Jews in Yeshua's time were waiting for the Messiah. There were many sects of Judaism-the best known being the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots-and all of these groups had many subgroups (probably 24-40 in all according to historians). Each group had their own distinct doctrines and Judaism was much more diverse than it was in later centuries. They had different ideas on how to keep Torah, the inspiration of the rest of the Scriptures and books that now are not in the Tanach, the calendar, the Messiah, resurrection, etc. They often persecuted each other, while at times they united against an outside common enemy. They all, however, acknowledged each other as being legitimately a part of Judaism, not different religions. The Jews that believed in Yeshua as the Messiah were one of these sects, totally accepted as part of Judaism.” – Reb Moshe ben Shaul, “The Nazarenes”

In the first century you had thousands of Jews who confessed faith in and followed Yeshua (Acts 2:41, 47, 4:4, 6:7, 9:31, 21:20). They were zealous for Torah (Acts 15:19-21, 21:17-27) and they met in synagogues (James 1:1, 2:2).

The Original followers of Messiah Yeshua were not called Christians, but Nazarenes. Not only because they followed Yeshua, the Rabbi from Nazareth (Matt.2:23) but because He was the “the Branch” which is the Hebrew word “Netzer” the root word for Nazarene (Isa. 11:1). So the Jewish sect of those who believed in and followed Rabbi Yeshua the Messiah from Nazareth were called, Nazarenes, and Rav Sha’ul (the Apostle Paul) was accused of being one of its leaders (Acts.24:5-6).

Before the term Nazarene (Acts 24:5) set in, it was called “The Way” (Acts 9:1-2). The word Christian appears in Acts 11:26, 26:26, and 1 Peter 4:16, but at first it was probably a derogatory name called them by others and in reference to Gentile Believers, not Jewish Believers. However, Believers in Yeshua didn't routinely call themselves Christians until 180 AD and by then it was a totally different group than the group in Acts.


The First believers in Messiah Yeshua were a Jewish sect called the Nazarenes (Acts 11:19; 24:5). Church Father Jerome of the 4th Century described these Nazarenes as those “…who accept Messiah in such a way that they do not cease to observe the old Law.” – Jerome; On Isa. 8:14

Jerome got hold of a Nazarene Commentary on Isaiah and mentions them often:

On Isaiah 8:20-21, 9:1-4, 29:20-21, 31:6-9 he said:

“For the rest the Nazarenes explain the passage in this way…”
“The Nazarenes, whose opinion I have set forth above…”
“What we have understood to have been written about the devil and his angels, the Nazarenes believe…”
“The Nazarenes understand the passage in this way…”

In reference to Jerome’s commentary on Isaiah mentioning the Nazarenes, Ray A. Pritz who wrote, “Nazarene Jewish Christianity” says, “It is clear that the Nazarenes consider the final authority in any such debate to be the Old Testament and not later rabbinic interpretations.” He says of the Nazarenes attitude in regard to the Apostle Paul, “In none of the remains of Nazarene doctrine can one find a clear rejection of Paul or his mission or his message.”

Pritz says of Filaster Bishop of Brecia in regards to his writings that Filaster did not mention the Nazarenes in his discourse against heresies and heretics because he did not consider them as such.


Catholic Church Father Epiphanius said of the Nazarenes in his work (Epiphanius, “Against Heresies,” Panarion 29, 7 pp 41, 402):

“The Nazarenes do not differ in any essential thing from the Jews (meaning the Orthodox Jews) since they practice the customs and doctrines prescribed by Jewish Law; except that they believe in Christ. They believe in the resurrection of the dead, and the universe was created by God. They preach that God is One, and that Jesus Christ is His Son. They are very learned in the Hebrew language. They read the Law (meaning the Law of Moses)…  Therefore they differ…from the true Christians because they fulfill until now such Jewish rites as the circumcision, Sabbath and others.”

This was written in the 4th century, some 300 years after Yeshua and the original disciples. So we see that the Nazarenes of the 4th century were the direct descendants of “the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3)” by Yeshua and was passed down by His disciples (apostles). But even though the Nazarenes of the 4th Century were keeping the original faith passed down to them by Yeshua and the disciples, they were called, “heretics” by the Church Fathers at that time because they didn’t adopt the man made traditions of the what was becoming the Catholic Church.

Marcel Simon and first century expert wrote in Judeo-christianisme, pp47-48:

“They (Nazarenes) are characterized essentially by their tenacious attachment to Jewish observances. If they became heretics in the eyes of the Mother Church, it is simply because they remained fixed on outmoded positions. They well represent, (even) though Epiphanius is energetically refusing to admit it, the very direct descendants of that primitive community, of which our author (Epiphanius) knows that it was designated by the Jews, by the same name, of :”Nazarenes.””

The Nazarenes wore the label “Heretic” like a badge of honor because like Peter and Paul before them they would rather obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29, Gal. 1:10).

Paul said:

 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call a sect (KJV: heresy), so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law (of Moses) and in the Prophets: - Acts 24:14

No writer before Epiphanius mentions the Nazarenes because as Ray A. Pritz believes they were not yet seen as heretics.

Justin Martyr

In Ray A. Pritz’s book, Nazarene Jewish Christianity, Mr. Pritz examines the writings of the early church fathers. He said of Justin Martyr in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, told Trypho that a Jew who accepts and believes that Yeshua is the Divine Messiah and continues to adhere to the Torah (Law) that they should be accepted as brothers in the Faith. He further says that the point is, believing Yeshua is the Divine Messiah and not whether or not they kept Torah. This hints to the fact that they were still Torah Obedient Jewish believers in Messiah Yeshua in Justin Martyrs time.


Of Origin, in Contra Celsum that he and Celsus both knew firsthand of Jews among the Christian Community who believed and accepted Yeshua as the Divine Messiah and still lived their lives according to the Torah, but mistook them for Ebionites, who believes Yeshua is Messiah but that He was not Divine.

Mr. Pritz says that Eusebius mentions the Ebionites and notes that there are two different kinds of Torah Obedient Ebionites; ones that believed Yeshua was the Divine Messiah and those who did not. Those who did could be none other than the Nazarenes!

Taking into consideration the quotes above this means that modern day Christianity is not nor ever was the original faith of the followers of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).


Augustine speaks against the Nazarenes in his writings in agreement with Epiphanius. In his Treatise de baptismo contra Donatistas he said, “…just as they persist to the present day who call themselves Nazarene Christians and circumcise the carnal foreskin in a Jewish way, were born heretics…”

Theodoret of Cyrrhus

In haereticrum falularum compendium Theodoret said, “The Nazarenes are Jews. They honor Christ as a righteous man and use the Gospel according to Peter…” But some think he confused the Ebionites with the true Nazarenes because Ebionites believe Christ to be a “righteous man” but not divine as the Nazarene did.

Jewish Sources Mentioning Nazarene Judaism

Pritz notes that virtually all references to Yeshu Ha-nozri (Yeshua the Nazarene) were censored from the Talmud in the middle ages but a few passages were missed.

In the Babylonian Talmud Avodah Zarah 16b-17a mentions Yeshu Ha-nozri (Yehuah the Nazarene) and one of his disciples, Jacob of Kfar Sechanca.

Prayer siddurs (books), The Birkat ha-minim prayer, censored in the Ashenazi but remains in the Sephardi siddurs, links the minim (sectarians) to the nozrim (Nazarenes) and says, “…may all the nozrim perish in a moment.”

The siddur of R. Amram Gaon, dating from 1426 reads, “…may the nozrim and minim be destroyed in a moment.”

Epiphanius in Pan. 29 9, 2, alludes to the cursing of the Nazarenes in the Jewish prayer siddurs by saying, “However they are very much hated by the Jews… Three times a day they say: ‘May God curse the Nazarenes.’”

Jerome wrote Augustine (Ep. 112, 13) telling him that the Jews of the Eastern synagogues curse the “Minaeans” and mentions that they are usually called Nazarenes.

So we see not only the church fathers acknowledge the Jewish sect of the Nazarenes and their beliefs and practices, but so did the Talmudic and Rabbinic orthodox Jews.


Secular History records Emperor Constantine as being the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity. The alleged conversion supposedly took place in 312 AD while worshiping in the Grove of Apollo the sun god (Prior to Christianity the official Roman religion was sun god worship called Mithraism) in Gaul, which is ancient France. Constantine claims to have had a vision where Christ appeared to him telling him to put “XP” upon the shields of his troops and the very next day he claims to have seen a cross superimposed over the sun and heard a voice say, “In this sign you will be victorious.” Other say the voice said, “In this sign you will conquer.”

Shortly after the Edict of Milan was issued, officially ending the persecution of Christians.

Despite Constantine’s alleged conversion, he still worshipped the sun god. You see, Constantine had a divided kingdom of Roman sun god worshippers and Jewish Believers and Gentile Christians. They lived and worshipped differently and so in an effort to unify his empire, he simply changed the times and seasons (Dan. 7:25) in which Christians worshipped to the days the Romans worshipped their pantheon of gods and was in many ways the father of the Roman Catholic Church. The various gods were simply substituted for Mary, Jesus and the saints (apostles).

Convening the Council of Nicaea, Constantine, through the council was able to blend Christianity and Mithraism to create what we know today as Roman Catholicism.

Nazarenes were declared anathema to Christ seeing as they would not submit and convert to this paganized Christianity, but stayed true to Torah, Yeshua and the teachings of the apostles and were thus hunted down, thrown to the lions or killed in the arena by the gladiators.

The church of Rome and the Council of Laodicea under Constantine in Canon 29, 336 AD declared:

“Christians must not “Judaize” by resting on the Sabbath; but must work on that day, honoring rather the Lord’s Day [“Sun”day] by resting, if possible, as Christians. However, if any [Nazarenes] be found “Judaizing” let them be shut out from Christ.”

And so, ban from Jewish synagogues that denied the Messiahship of Yeshua, and persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church Empire, the Nazarenes went underground and all but died out.

I could get into how the Roman Catholic Church is anything but Christian and is pagan to the core, but this is the subject for another book altogether. Suffice it to say, Protestants woke up and left Catholicism, yet still maintained certain pagan observances and celebrations such as Sunday worship, Easter and Christmas, which that too is a topic for another book. All one has to do is research the pagan origins of the Catholic Church and their holidays (holy days) and it will be abundantly clear that Easter and Christmas has nothing to do with Christ. Ask any true pagan or Wiccan and they will tell you the true origins of those holidays.

Protestant Christianity is like a victim, neck deep in quicksand (the quicksand being the Catholic Church) and has managed to pull their torso out of the muck, yet, they are still stuck below the waist. I pray that this work you are reading will be like a branch in which the Protestant Church can use to extricate themselves fully from the pagan quicksand of Catholicism and return to the belief and practice of the true first century believers, the Nazarenes.


I would like to share with you snippets from a paper by James Scott Trimm entitled, “The Ignatius Conspiracy” Showing how Church leaders began to separate themselves from the faith and practice of the Apostles.


Paul said to the Ephesians on his last visit to them:

Watch, therefore, over your nefeshot (souls)
and over the flock which the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit)
has appointed you overseers [bishops]
that you feed the assembly of Messiah,
which he purchased by his blood.
I know that after I am gone
fierce wolves will enter in among you
without mercy upon the flock.
And also from among you there will rise up men speaking
perverse things, so that they might turn away the talmidim (disciples)
to follow after them.
(Acts 20:28-30)

Paul seems to indicate that after his death leaders would begin to
rise up from the overseers [Bishops] in his stead that would draw
people to follow them and draw them away from Torah. In fact
Paul died in 66 C.E. and the first overseer (Bishop) of Antioch to
take office after his death was Ignatius in 98 C.E. Ignatius
fulfilled Paul's words precisely. After taking the office of Bishop
over Antioch, Ignatius sent out a series of epistles to other
assemblies. His letters to the Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallianns,
Romans, Philadelphians and Smyrnaeans as well as a personal letter
to Polycarp, overseer of Smyrnaea, have survived to us.


The Ancient Nazarene Historian and commentator, Hegesippus (c. 180
CE), writes of the time immediately following the death of Shim'on,
who succeeded Ya'akov HaTzadik (James the Righteous) as Nasi (Leader) of the Nazarene Sanhedrin and who died in 98 CE:

Up to that period (98 CE) the Assembly had remained like a virgin
pure and uncorrupted: for, if there were any persons who were
disposed to tamper with the wholesome rule of the proclaiming of
salvation, they still lurked in some dark place of concealment or
other. But, when the sacred band of Emissaries had in various ways
closed their lives, and that generation of men to whom it had been
vouchsafed to listen to the inspired Wisdom with their own ears had
passed away, then did the confederacy of godless error take its rise
through the treachery of false teachers, who, seeing that none of
the emissaries any longer survived, at length
attempted with bare and uplifted head to oppose the proclaiming of
the truth by proclaiming "knowledge falsely so called."
(Hegesippus the Nazarene; c. 185 CE; quoted by Eusebius in Eccl.
Hist. 3:32)

Hegisippus indicates the apostasy began the very same year that
Ignatious became bishop of Antioch!


Up until the time of Ignatius, matters of dispute that arose at
Antioch were ultimately referred to the Jerusalem Council (as in
Acts 14:26-15:2). Ignatius usurped the authority of the Jerusalem
council, declaring himself as the local bishop as the ultimate
authority over the assembly of which he was bishop, and likewise
declaring the same as true of all other bishops and their local
assemblies. Ignatius writes:

…being subject to your bishop…
…run together according to the will of God.
Jesus… is sent by the will of the Father;
As the bishops… are by the will of Jesus Christ.
(Eph. 1:9, 11)

…your bishop…I think you happy who are so joined to him,
as the church is to Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is to the Father…
Let us take heed therefore, that we not set ourselves
against the bishop, that we may be subject to God….
We ought to look upon the bishop, even as we would
upon the Lord himself.
(Eph. 2:1-4)

Your bishop presiding in the place of God…
…be you united to your bishop…
(Mag. 2:5, 7)

See that you all follow your bishop,
As Jesus Christ, the Father…
(Smy. 3:1)

By exalting the power of the office of bishop (overseer) and
demanding the absolute authority of the bishop over the assembly,
Ignatius was actually making a power grab by thus taking absolute
authority over the assembly at Antioch and encouraging other Gentile
overseers to follow suite.


Moreover Ignatius drew men away from Torah and declared the Torah to have been abolished, not only at Antioch but at other Gentile
assemblies to which he wrote:

Be not deceived with strange doctrines;
nor with old fables which are unprofitable.
For if we still continue to live according to the Jewish Law,
we do confess ourselves not to have received grace…
(Mag. 3:1)

But if any one shall preach the Jewish law unto you,
hearken not unto him…
(Phil. 2:6)


It is also Ignatius who first replaces the Seventh Day Sabbath with
Sunday worship, writing:

" longer observing sabbaths, but keeping the Lord's day
in which also our life is sprung up by him, and through
his death..."
(Magnesians 3:3)


Having seceded from the authority of Jerusalem, declared the Torah
abolished and replacing the Sabbath with Sunday, Ignatius had created
a new religion. Ignatius coins a new term, never before used, for
new religion which he calls "Christianity" and which he makes clear
is a new and distinct religion from Judaism. He writes:

let us learn to live according to the rules of Christianity,
for whosoever is called by any other name
besides this, he is not of God….

It is absurd to name Jesus Christ, and to Judaize.
For the Christian religion did not embrace the Jewish.
But the Jewish the Christian…
(Mag. 3:8, 11)

By the end of the first century Ignatius of Antioch had fulfilled
Paul's warning. He seceded from Judaism and founded a new religion
which he called "Christianity". A religion which rejected the
Torah, and replaced the Seventh Day Sabbath with Sunday Worship.””

The Fieus Judaicus (Jewish Tax) during Domitian’s reign taxed not only the Jews, but the Gentiles who kept Torah like the Jews. According to Robert Graves, The Twelve Caesars p. 308

“Domitian’s agents collected tax on Jews with a peculiar lack of mercy and took proceedings not only against those who kept their Jewish origins a secret in order to avoid the tax, but against those who lived as Jews without professing Judaism.”

This would point to Nazarene Jews and Gentiles followers of the God of Israel and Gentile Believers in Messiah Yeshua!

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God (Torah/The Law), AND the faith of Jesus. – Rev. 14:12

The first Jew and Gentile Believers accepted, followed, applied and obeyed the Law (Torah), and we clearly see that the end time Believers will do the very same.