Christians: Matthew refers to a prophecy that Jesus would be a Nazarene, where did the prophecy come from?

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 shall be called a Nazarene."

Matthew claims that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy, but the prophecy itself isn't in the Bible. How do those that believe the Bible is the ONLY source for the word of God reconcile this, since Matthew was obviously referring to the words of people HE considered to be prophets, yet those words aren't found in the Bible. Was Matthew wrong, or is it possible there are other documents out there that were also inspired of God?

NOTE: Some may try to point to OT prophecies about the Nazirites, but those don't count, sorry. Nazirites and Nazarenes are completely different types of people. This prophecy refers to Nazarenes, not Nazirites.


Blessed Cheese Maker,

I would love to see your source for that assertion. The earliest non-Biblical reference to Nazareth (that I'm aware of) is dated around 150 A.D., but that doesn't mean that's when Nazareth was "established." There is NO evidence of when Nazareth was "established".

Update 2:

Some good answers so far. I actually asked this question a few months ago and got terrible answers. Thanks so far.

Update 3:

Coffee, you're confusing Nazarene with Nazirite.

Update 4:

Grey Tower, no, they can't BOTH be right. But one of them could be. ;-)

12 Answers

  • slcbtf
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    Missing Scripture.—Matthew's commentary on the abode of Joseph, Mary and Jesus at Nazareth, "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" (2:23), with the fact that no such saying of the prophets is found in any of the books contained in the Bible, suggests the certainty of lost scripture. Those who oppose the doctrine of continual revelation between God and His Church, on the ground that the Bible is complete as a collection of sacred scriptures, and that alleged revelation not found therein must therefore be spurious,may profitably take note of the many books not included in the Bible, yet mentioned therein, generally in such a way as to leave no doubt that they were once regarded as authentic. Among these extra-Biblical scriptures, the following may be named; some of them are in existence to-day, and are classed with the Apocrypha; but the greater number are unknown. We read of the Book of the Covenant (Exo. 24:7); Book of the Wars of the Lord (Numb. 21:14); Book of Jasher (Josh. 10:13); Book of the Statutes (1 Sam. 10:25); Book of Enoch (Jude 14); Book of the Acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41); Book of Nathan the Prophet, and that of Gad the Seer (1 Chron. 29:29); Book of Ahijah the Shilonite, and visions of Iddo the Seer (2 Chron. 9:29); Book of Shemaiah (2 Chron. 12:15); Story of the Prophet Iddo (2 Chron. 13:22); Book of Jehu (2 Chron. 20:34); the Acts of Uzziah, by Isaiah, the son of Amoz (2 Chron. 26:22); Sayings of the Seers (2 Chron. 33:19); a missing epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 5:9); a missing epistle to the Ephesians (Eph. 3:3); missing epistle to the Colossians, written from Laodicea (Col. 4:16); a missing epistle of Jude (Jude 3).


    I've read the branch 'explanations', but it doesn't seem to imply an area geographically speaking. The reference of branch in these verses is more conclusive to another name for Jesus Christ.

    “Jesse was the father of David. Isaiah speaks of the Stem of Jesse, whom he also designates as a branch growing out of the root of that ancient worthy. He recites how the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; how he shall be mighty in judgment; how he shall smite the earth and slay the wicked; and how the lamb and the lion shall lie down together in that day—all of which has reference to the Second Coming and the millennial era thereby ushered in. (Isa. 11.) As to the identity of the Stem of Jesse, the revealed words says: ‘Verily thus saith the Lord: It is Christ.’ (D&C 113:1–2.) This also means that the Branch is Christ, as we shall now see from other related scriptures.

    “Through Zechariah the Lord spoke similarly: ‘Thus saith the Lord of hosts: . . . I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. . . . I will remove the iniquity of the land in one day [meaning that the wicked shall be destroyed and the millennial era of peace and righteousness commence]. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.’ (Zech. 3:7–10.) Of that glorious millennial day the Lord says also: ‘Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne.’ (Zech. 6:12–13.)

    “That the Branch of David is Christ is perfectly clear. We shall now see that he is also called David, that he is a new David, an Eternal David, who shall reign forever on the throne of his ancient ancestor. ‘It shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, ‘that is, in the great millennial day of gathering, that ‘they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.’ (Jer. 30:8–9.)

    Source(s): From the wonderful Jesus the Christ written by Talmage
  • 1 decade ago

    It is a play on words, which is a common Jewish verbal and written method.

    Several of the prophets called the Messiah the "Branch," which in Hebrew is "netzer." So here, Matthew is making a pun: He is the Branch, the "netzer-ine." You are correct, this has NOTHING to do with Nazirites at all.

    Isaiah further clarifies that the Messiah will come from the region where Nazareth is located:

    Isaiah 9:1 Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,

    As when at first He lightly esteemed

    The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,

    And afterward more heavily oppressed her,

    By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,

    In Galilee of the Gentiles.

  • 1 decade ago

    In Hebrew the word "Nazir" - (Nazarite - Monk) A person who was dedicated to special sacred service through a vow made by the person or by his parents, which could last a lifetime or for a limited period. The early name "Nazarenes" given to early Christians, might have been a derogatory nickname that the people of Judea gave to the followers of Jesus (Matthew 26:71, Acts 6:38). Or as many scholars today think that the name Nazareth comes from the Hebrew word "Netzer" (Branch) as prophesied by Isaiah that Savior will come from the branches (roots) of King David.

    EDIT: Blessed Cheese-maker, the link I provided gives some history about Nazareth as well. You might want to read it.

  • 1 decade ago

    This epithet (Greek: Nazaraios) is applied to Christ only once (Matt. 2:23). In all other cases the word is rendered "of Nazareth" ( Mark 1:24; 10:47; 14:67, etc.).

    When this Greek designation was at first applied to our Lord, it was meant simply to denote the place of his residence. In course of time the word became a term of reproach. Thus the word "Nazarene" carries with it an allusion to those prophecies which speak of Christ as "despised of men" (Isa. 53:3). Some, however, think that in this name there is an allusion to the Hebrew netser, which signifies a branch or sprout. It is so applied to the Messiah (Isa. 11:1), i.e., he whom the prophets called the Netse, the "Branch."

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  • 1 decade ago

    You are quite correct when you say the exact words "He will be called a Nazarene" are not found in the Old Testament. However, there are OT scriptures that say the Messiah would be despised (Psalm 22:6 and Isiah 53:2-3). In Jesus' day, the obscure town of Nazareth was virtually a synonym for "despised" - see John 1:45-46.

    The gospel of Mark, in chapter 1 and verse 24, tells us of the demon possessed man in the synagogue who cried out, "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!" The Holy One of God is mentioned in Luke 4:34 and John 6:69 and points to Christ's divine origin rather than his Messiah-ship (see Luke 1:35). There was an occult belief that the precise use of a person's name gave certain control over him.

    Isaiah 49:7 says "This is what the Lord says - the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel - to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."

    However, I have avoided answering your question which is, where did the prophecy come from? And is it possible there are other documents out there inspired by God? Well, all I can say is that the world is full of people who claim the Bible as we know it today is incomplete and there are myriad other scriptures out there which are inspired by God and should be included. Take the religion of Islam - revelation from God did not finish with Jesus and another prophet came in the form of Mohamed and the Koran is God's holy and inspired word. Take LDS - Joseph Smith was a prophet after Jesus and the Book of Mormon is God's holy and inspired word. Well, they can't both be right.

    So far in my Christian walk, I have not found anything lacking in the Holy Bible as it has come down to us through the centuries. Other people might wish to prove there is additional holy scripture, but I'm not one of them. Can I get a thumbs' up for being honest and sincere?

  • Rich W
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    In John 1:44-46, Jesus is referred to as the one whom Moses wrote about in the Law. It relates back to Ex. 19:1, where the Law given to the Israelites through Moses was to be a seal of the covenant. The promise was to be one who would come and remove the reproach from Israel, one whose sacrifice would be acceptable to God to atone for the sins of the nation.

    How did it come to be that Phillip knew that the Messiah would be from Nazareth?

    Also in Isaiah 11:1, we read of the genealogy of Jesus and His royal lineage. " A shoot will come from the stump (nazar) of Jesse from his roots a Branch will bear fruit."

    Whether this is a reference to Jesus being a 'nazar' or Nazarene is debatable in some areas of study.

    Galilee was in the district of the Gentiles and it is said that the Messiah came for His people and also for the Gentiles who would believe. So in one sense, He was being shown the Redeemer of the Gentiles. Galilee of the Gentiles. Nazareth is in the District of Galilee.

    One from a Gentile city was despised and was shown contempt. Jesus being from that area would be the first sign that He would be despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows. as Isaiah 53:3 and Ps. 22:6 talk about.

    Isaiah 9:2 also mentions Galilee of the Gentiles .2 "The people who walk in darkness will see a great light ; those who live in the dark land the light will shine upon them." This no doubt is a reference to the Messiah.

    Even Nathaniel said "Can anything good come from Nazareth?", meaning it was a Gentile district and he being a Jew would not see the Messiah coming from that area.

    I hope this helps a bit.

    Source(s): Studies in Bible at Phila Biblical Univ.
  • 1 decade ago

    4. The Messiah would be called a "Nazarene."

    When Isaiah spoke of Jesus as "the Branch," he used the word "Neh-tzer, Hebrew for 'the separated one" or "the Nazarene."

    Prophecy: "And there shall come forth a Shoot out of the stock of Jesse (David's father), and a Branch out of his roots shall grow and bear fruit" (Isaiah 11:1)

    Fulfillment: "He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled , He shall be called a Nazarene (meaning Branch, Separated One)" (Matthew 2:23).

  • 1 decade ago

    He was, and we believe he also may have taken the vows of the Nazarene, as was common to many of the Old Testament prophets of not to cut the hair, not to consume strong drink,etc. The purity of self for a set time period. For Jesus that would have been during his time of spreading the gospel for 3 1/2 years, the pure Lamb.

    Much of the common Jewish culture of that time frame is not mentioned because it was normal day to day behavior and would have been a waste of words and precious paper to explain the common practice of something...

  • 1 decade ago

    "Nazareth" is a Hebrew word that means "branch". The scripture that Matthew seems to be referring to is Isaiah 11:1, "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots"

    The word "Nazareth" in the New Testament is the same as the word "Branch" in this Old Testament scripture. It is just not obvious in our English translations, where the OT word is translated, and the NT word is brough across as a name (not translated).

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    This, like many other scriptures, is lost to us.

    Matthew wrote with the goal of persuading Jews that Jesus was the Messiah and thus used scripture over and over in his writings. Mark and Luke didn't use it nearly as much, John quoted frequently as well.

    It seems that about 1/3rd of the "and thus fulfilled the prophecy . . ." that Mathew uses are referring to scripture we don't have. John's references are more subtle but again we are missing many of them.

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