Answer for Matthew 2:23

23 and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:23, NASB)

Muslims ask about Matthew 2:23 – “where is it written in the prophets that Messiah would be called a Nazarene?”

First, notice it says, “through the prophets” – plural.  So he is speaking of a general concept that is in more than one prophet. “that what was spoken through the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:23) “Nararene” – a Nazer – נצר – nzr – a rejected branch.  Nazareth was a rejected city in the North, in “Galilee of the Gentiles”; it was rejected by the Jews in the south and around Jerusalem, since it was a Galilean town.  (northern, Gentile, defiled by non-Jews).   “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46; see also John 7:41 and 7:52)

So, “Nazareth” describes Jesus being rejected by the Jews. Isaiah 14:19 – “like a rejected branch” = כְּנֵצֶר נִתְעָב כ = like נצר =  NZR, Nazer, branch נתעב = rejected, despised Isaiah 11:1 – “then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse (father of David); and a branch (Nazer – נצר ) from his roots will bear fruit.” (see rest of Isaiah 11:1-10 – a very Messianic passage in the Jews minds.  This is referred to in Acts 13:22-23; and Isaiah 11:10 is quoted in Romans 15:12)

Isaiah 53:1-3 – concept of rejection, tender shoot, root out of dry ground

Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:1-3)

There is another word for the Messiah as a “branch” צמח used often, combined with the concepts of a shoot (of a plant), root, sprout, and despised, shows that Matthew had many passages in mind when he wrote, “as it is spoken through the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” = despised, rejected. Jeremiah 23:5 – Messiah will be a righteous branch. (צמח) Jeremiah 33:15 – a righteous branch (צמח )of David will spring forth Isaiah 4:2 – “branch of the Lord”  (צמח) Zechariah 3:8 – “they are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the branch.” (צמח) Zechariah 6:12 – the one whose name is “Branch” (צמח) There are several words for “branch”(צמח is used more often) with root and shoot (Isaiah 53:1-3; 11:1) and “Nezer” (נצר) is not always used in every passage.  But the concept of a branch, with the concepts of “shoot” and “root” and “rejected”; and the concept of being rejected combines all these passages as demonstrating what Matthew 2:23 was referring to.

Posted in Apologetics, Bible Study, OT Prophecies | 5 Comments

Hebrew Refresh

One of my regrets is that after learning Hebrew and Aramaic in my last year in seminary in 1987-1988 (Columbia International University, Columbia, SC), I did not keep up with it as I should have and I forgot a lot of it.  I even made pretty good grades and enjoyed it; but I confess I have forgotten a lot of it.   I forgot a lot of Greek also, but I have been able to keep up better with NT Greek than with OT Hebrew.  (One of the interesting aspects though, is as I was learning Farsi / Persian, a few years later, I recognized the similarity in some of the words that came from Arabic, because I could see the similarity in Hebrew!  Cool!)

One of the great things now a days is how many resources there are on the internet and one of them is the “Daily Dose of Hebrew” by some evangelical Hebrew professors. (Mark Futato, Tom Blanchard, and Adam Howell – see under “about” at the Daily Dose of Hebrew website. )  I was blessed recently by taking the time to review and study (and pray) with these helpful videos and review some OT Hebrew.

I remember now learning the names of the vowels and symbols.  This professor emphasizes the accents and line divisions that the Hebrew writer divided the sentences into.

Here are several videos on Psalm 1.  Be sure to watch all of them for the full effect of this Psalm, as I only embed two of the videos below, in order to just make a few comments on certain elements of the Hebrew and teacher’s insights.

They are all helpful to me and this is enhancing my memory of Hebrew.  I remember learning a long time ago about the Hebrew word for “meditate” הגה (Hagah – “to meditate, to growl, to mutter, to utter, to speak, to muse, to complain, to moan, to plot and image, devise)

“but rather, in the law of the LORD is his delight; and in His law he meditates day and night.”  Psalm 1:2

Some one familiar with the Bible immediately thinks of other texts about meditating on the Word of God, like Joshua 1:8, Psalm 19:14 (noun form – Higayon – הֶגְיֹון ); Psalm 119 (uses mostly a different Hebrew word, שיח – siach)  ; and Psalm 63:6.

I remember learning about this word also used for animals growling under their breath over their food, and muttering and murmuring to oneself.  This was a blessing to be reminded and think on this word and the other verses and other Hebrew words with similar meanings.

I like what the professor says here about this word.  It means “to think deeply on something”, but the Hebrew idea of this word is much more than that:

“Unlike our western culture, in Biblical culture, meditation was done out loud, a low murmuring of the text. And it was not a mindless activity; it was an activity that engaged the mind. Here, engaging the mind, on God’s law.”  (Dr. Mark Futato, professor at Reformed Theological Seminary)


I appreciated the professor mentioning the tension between “in whatever he does, he succeeds/ prospers” (Psalm 1:3) as compared to a verse like Jeremiah 12:1 – “You are always righteous, LORD, when I bring a case before You. Yet I would speak with You about your justice.  Why does the way of the wicked prosper? (same word, צלח )


It is interesting to me how success and prosperity  are understood in the Hebrew language and Old Testament culture.

Joseph was “prosperous”, yet at the same time suffered tremendously.  (Genesis 37-50)

In Genesis 39:2, 3 and 23, the text says Joseph prospered or was successful, yet at the same time he suffered for righteousness sake.  He was falsely accused of rape and put in prison and forgotten about, yet “God was with him”.

“The LORD was with him”, even in suffering.  That is true blessedness – that even in suffering, God is with us.

Jesus became flesh, human (John 1:1-5; John 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8) and was born of the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-35), and came as “God with us” (Matthew 1:23)

True believers in Jesus Christ have “God with us” – Jesus said, “When the Holy Spirit comes, He will lead you into all the truth . . .  and He will be with you forever (John 14:16), and “abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:17)

(see John 14:16-17; 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:7- 15)

So, when we think about what it means to be blessed and the right kind of success and prosperity, (Not the heretical “Word of Faith” Prosperity heresies that are so damaging and prevalent in Charismatic and Pentecostal churches and Christian TV networks.) true prosperity is when God is with us even in our trials and sufferings.  We can be in economic trials and still be “prosperous”, according to the Bible.  There is another word for “success” in Hebrew (שכל), used in Isaiah 52:13 about the coming suffering servant-Messiah, and also Joshua 1:8 that means “to act wisely, and so accomplish the goal” (that God wants for us). Joshua 1:8 has both words.  True success is a life connected to God in faith, repentance, humility, prayer, the Word, and a local Biblical church in community, fellowship, and service.  True blessedness is when God is with us; and we are walking with Him in a life of holiness, and we learn to act wisely and so accomplish or do God’s moral will for our lives, even in the midst of suffering, and loss, grief, and hardships and mysteries.

Posted in Bible Study, Hebrew, OT Hebrew, Relationship with Jesus Christ, Suffering and God's Sovereignty | 3 Comments


Debate on Purgatory and focus on 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, between Tim Staples and James White. (from January of 2010)



Review of that debate on the Dividing Line:

A Good Article on Purgatory:

Purgatory – a good article with quotes from an important book on Purgatory, “The Birth of Purgatory” by Jacques Le Goff and important early church references.

Another debate of Dr. White vs. Robert Sungenis (October of 2010)

And other older but famous debate on Purgatory of Dr. White vs. RC priest Peter Stravinskas

Some famous clips from that debate:


Posted in Purgatory, Roman Catholic False Doctrines, Roman Catholic false practices, Roman Catholicism

On Depression and Suicide

Be sure to read the whole article.  If you are depressed and have suicidal thoughts, get help please. Tell your pastor, tell a friend, get counseling, see the information at the bottom of the article.

The illustration of the people that jump from a burning building is a good illustration of what suicides go through in their minds.  Mental illness is real. Depression is real.  As a friend of mine said, “A drowning man will grab onto razor blades.”

“He who was so deeply acquainted with grief

[the man of sorrows, the God-man, Jesus Christ, who existed in eternity past and became human for our salvation – John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8; John 17:5; Isaiah 53],

who knows better than anyone how tragic the world truly is, does not turn away when the darkness descends on our minds and hearts.”

“He does not turn away” in those times of weakness.  That is a wonderful word.

Praise God for His mercy on His people who are true believers.  See here as an example of a true believer in Christ who committed suicide.  (Dr. Michael Horton’s friend)

There are other examples that John Piper and others have in articles/ sermons on at desiring God.

Romans 8:28-39 – Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 10:27 – No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Posted in Depression and Suicide

The struggle of prayer

The struggle of prayer is not our wrestling with God to convince Him to give us what we desire, but our wrestling with His Word until we are illuminated and subdued by it, saying, “Not my will, but Your will be done.”

Sinclair Ferguson


Posted in Prayer, Relationship with Jesus Christ, Sanctification/Holy living, Spiritual growth

The righteous shall live by faith alone!

Romans 1:16-17

Romans 3:28

Luther added the word “alone” (sola) to Romans 3:28?

Scripture is superior to relics, statues, crucifixes, icons. The words of Scripture bring us to God because the words are “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17), when the Spirit works inside of us to make them alive in our hearts. (John 6:44; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 2:4-5; 2 Timothy 2:24-26)

Posted in Faith, Justification, Martin Luther, Reformation, Sola Fide | 4 Comments

Luther, the 95 theses in 1517, then Diet of Worms famous speech in 1521

Posted in Martin Luther, Reformation