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ATS Bible Dictionary

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Additional Resources
• Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
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Greek - proselyte, proselytes

In the Jewish sense, a foreigner who adopted the Jewish religion, a convert from heathenism to Judaism. The laws of the Hebrews make frequent mention of "the stranger that is within thy gates," Leviticus 17:8-16 24:16 Numbers 15:14-16, and welcomed him to all the privileges of the people of God. Our Savior rebukes the blind zeal of the Pharisees to make proselytes to ceremonial Judaism, without caring for the circumcision of the heart, Matthew 23:15 Romans 2:28,29.

According to the later rabbins, there were two species of proselytes among the Jews. The first were called "proselytes of the gate," and were foreigners, either bond or free, who lived among the Jews and conformed to their customs in regard to what the rabbins call "the seven precepts of Noah;" that is, they abstained from injurious language in respect to God, from idolatry, homicide, incest, robbery, resistance to magistrates, and from eating blood, or the flesh of animals killed without shedding their blood. The other class were called "proselytes of justice;" that is, complete, perfect proselytes, and were those who had abandoned their former religion, and bound themselves to the observance of the Mosaic Law in its full extent.

These according to the rabbins, by means of circumcision, baptism, and an offering, obtained all the rites of Jewish citizenship, Exodus 12:48-49. This distinction, however, is not observable in the Bible. Proselytes were numerous in our Saviors day, and were found in many places remote from Jerusalem, Acts 2:10 8:27. Many converts to Christianity were gathered from among them, John 12:20 Acts 6:5 13:43 17:4.

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. "Entry for 'PROSELYTE'". "American Tract Society Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1859.


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