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Bible Dictionaries

Morrish Bible Dictionary

Proselyte

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The name given to any from among the nations who embraced Judaism. Acts 2:10; Acts 6:5; Acts 13:43 . The name may be said to be a Greek word, derived from 'to come to.' It is used by the LXX where the Hebrew has 'the stranger' that sojourneth among you. Exodus 12:48,49; Leviticus 17:8,10,12-15; Numbers 9:14; etc. Such, if all the males in the family were circumcised, might eat the Passover and offer a burnt offering or sacrifice. The Rabbis say that there were two classes of proselytes.

1. 'Proselytes of righteousness,' such as those mentioned above; and

2. 'Proselytes of the Gate,' those spoken of as 'strangers within thy gates.'

The Rabbis also assert that in N.T. times and later the proselytes were received by circumcision and baptism; but it is very much disputed as to when the baptism was added, there being no mention of it in the O.T. Some hold that it was introduced when the emperors forbade their Gentile subjects to be circumcised, but others think it must have been earlier, which seems confirmed by John 1:25 .

History shows to what an extent proselytising was abused. The Jews held that on a Gentile becoming a proselyte, all his natural relationships were annulled: he was 'a new creature.' Many became proselytes in order to abandon their wives and marry again. This, with other abuses, caused the emperors to interfere; the stricter Jews also were scandalized, and repudiated such proselytes. The Lord describes such a proselyte as the Scribes and Pharisees would make, as "twofold more the child of hell" than themselves. Matthew 23:15 .

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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Proselyte'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/mbd/p/proselyte.html. 1897.

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