Proselyte (Gr. proselutos, a newcomer) is found only in the New Testament, the Hebrew. "ger" being rendered stranger in the Old Testament.
Exodus 20:10 But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
From the beginning of the nation of Israel, gentiles had lived amongst the nation of Israel as the Sabbath command implies.
Joshua 9:3-27 But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, 5 old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy. 6 And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, "We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us."
22 Then Joshua called for them, and he spoke to them, saying, "Why have you deceived us,
27 And that day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, in the place which He would choose, even to this day.
So the Hivites from Gibeon became proselytes, living among the Israelites. The New Unger's Bible Dictionary explains what this meant:
"There were at all times strangers living in Israel to whom the Mosaic law did not grant the rights of citizenship, but to whom it did extend toleration and certain privileges, for which it obliged them to comply with certain of the religious enactments prescribed to Israel. They were required not to blaspheme the name of Jehovah (Leviticus 24:16), not to indulge in idolatrous worship (Leviticus 20:2), not to commit acts of indecency (Leviticus 18:26), not to work on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10), not to eat leavened bread during the celebration of the Passover (Exodus 12:19), and not to eat blood or the flesh of animals that had died a natural death or had been torn by wild beasts (Leviticus 17:10,15)". (From "Proselytes" in The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)
Devout Gentile Proselytes
However, there was another class of gentile Proselyte who not only lived amongst the Israelites, but fully participated in the Covenant. The New Testament refers to them as "Devout Proselytes". We learn more about devout gentile proselytes in Exodus 12:48.
The Bible mentions a number. Remember the Ethiopian eunuch, who Stephen helped to understand the scriptures?
Another example of a devout gentile proselyte was Rahab.
Joshua 6:25 And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
Ultimately Rahab became worthy of mention in one of the most auspicious chapters in the Bible, up there with Abraham and Moses. Hebrews 11:
Hebrews 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.
In Acts 2: we read of the many devout gentile proselytes, who were in Jerusalem keeping the Feast of the Firstfruits, which became known as the Day of Pentecost.
2:1 Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs--we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God." 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?"
Furthermore we read of these gentile proselytes in Acts 13:
when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. 44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles,
That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.' " 48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. NKJV
For A Gentile Man To Become A Devout Gentile Proselyte Required Circumcision
Next: Scripture clearly shows that for a gentile man to become a devout proselyte, he had to be circumcised Exodus 12:48.
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