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  • Nudity in the New Testament and Beyond

    The early Christians were much less concerned about covering up. There are several examples of nudity, both private and social, in the New Testament.

    The Nude Olympics

    Nude Olympics.

    Paul spoke about athletic games like boxing and wrestling and running. Those games were all performed in gymnasiums. Gymnasium comes from the Ancient Greek term gymnós meaning "naked". Athletes competed in the nude, a practice said to encourage aesthetic appreciation of the male body and a tribute to the gods.

    Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

    Naked Olympic Runner.
~ Vittorio Carvelli.

    St. Paul illustrates the truth of living an unencumbered life using the illustration of the Olympic Games. The “great cloud of witnesses” were the spectators at the games. The runners were naked. Like marathon runners today, they had put aside everything that could hinder their race, only more completely. In this verse rather than the athletes nudity being called sinful, clothing is compared to sin that clings so closely to us. Cast off every weight and sin like unnecessary clothing and run your race naked before God.

    That must have been a beautiful sight to see. Young men at the peak of fitness, running naked like the wind. Fully exposed before God and man.

    The Covenant of Circumcision

    Paul took Timothy and circumcised him, himself.

    Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. Acts 16: 1-3

    Circumcision was a public sign of the Jewish covenant. Where and when I do not know but for this sign to be public men’s privates had to be visible. It is interesting that God would choose such a sign. It certainly indicates He has no problem with a man's penis being seen by others.

    Fishing and Farming in the Nude

    People didn’t have that many changes of clothes so it was common for workers in a field and fishermen in a boat to work in the nude. Peter was naked while fishing.

    Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. John 21:4-8 Verse7

    Garden of Gethsemane

    A young man in Garden of Gethsemane left nude.

    Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked. Mark 14:51

    Jesus on the Cross

    Christ Naked on the Cross.

    Jesus purchased our salvation fully exposing the sacredness of the human form.

    “The first Adam was naked and due to sin had to be clothed; the last Adam was clothed but to redeem was stripped naked. The first brought death at the tree of life, the last brought life at the tree of death. Jesus born naked in a cave provided by a man named Joseph and he was then wrapped in swaddling clothes. In his death he was stripped of his clothes and later covered by a shroud and placed in a cave provided by another man named Joseph.

    Baptism in the Early Church

    The earliest records of baptism say that being nude was the norm, and was seen as spiritually significant. In fact, Christ’s garments were probably on the shore when He was in the water with John the Baptist.

    Reformed theologian Rousas J. Rushdoony reports:

    Naked Baptism of Christ.

    This same aspect, rebirth, led to an interesting custom which survived for some centuries as basic to baptism, namely, baptism, usually by immersion, in the nude... The emphasis on death and rebirth led to a stress on immersion as symbolically representative of this fact. Men were born naked; hence, they were reborn naked in baptism. No works of the unregenerate man could be carried into heaven; therefore, the candidate symbolically stripped himself of all clothing to indicate that he had nothing save God's grace. There were two baptistries thus in churches for some generations, since men and women were baptized separately....This practice of naked baptism indicates how seriously the Biblical symbolism was taken by the early church.

    Another commentator said,

    One of the things this clearly shows is that our sense of propriety within the church regarding the nude human form has changed dramatically over the years. Most people assume that public nudity of any kind is expressly forbidden in the Bible, yet history shows that for centuries after Christ, nudity was actually required for one of the central sacraments of the Christian faith... and that nudity took place in the context of worship!

    St. Francis, Nude

    When he experienced conversion, in his youthful quest to divest himself of his worldly goods and sever his all ties to his wealthy father, St. Francis stripped naked in the town square of Assisi in front of his parents and the bishop.

    One of his slogans was: “naked to follow the naked Christ.” He took that quite literally. When he preached in the nude, the townspeople in Assisi first laughed at him and then were won over by his words.

    One of his slogans was:
    “naked to follow
    the naked Christ.”
    He took that
    quite literally.

    One day he ordered a Brother Ruffino, to go to Assisi and preach. When the good brother protested his lack of ability St. Francis said: "Because you have not obeyed me at once, I order you by holy obedience to go naked, with nothing on but your breeches, to Assisi, and enter a church, and thus naked preach to the people."

    So Brother Ruffino striped naked and off he went. He got to Assisi and entered a church, and preached naked to the people.

    St. Francis regretted his harshness and decided he should not order others to do what he would not do himself. So he too stripped naked and set off for Assisi. When he got there Brother Ruffino was preaching. The naked Saint Francis went up onto the pulpit and he began to preach so passionately on holy living and what Christ did naked on the cross that all of Assisi was brought to repentance. When they finished the two friars put their habits back on and with great rejoicing went home to the hermitage of Portiuncula.

    The sight of the naked preachers hindered no one. In fact, it marvellously illustrated the sermon and occasioned a widespread repentance and birthed a move of God in the Town of Assist.

    I am sure there are many more instances of nudity among Christians down through history. When I discover them I may add them. Until then, God bless and stay naked.


    Adam and Christ.



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