The Ebionites formed in rural Palestine, in the first century AD, and were divided into two distinct groups, according to Origen.

The sect's first and more dominant group, the Judaic Ebionites revered Mosaic law and held that Jesus Christ was a prophet of miracles, and that St. Paul was an apostate (a heretic priest).

The second, less dominant group, the Gnostic Ebionites believed Jesus Christ to be an invisible spiritual force. This group gave Jesus the title "Prophet of the Truth".

The word ebionite derives from old Hebrew for poor.

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E"bi*o*nite (?), n. [Heb. ebyonim poor people.] Eccl. Hist.

One of a sect of heretics, in the first centuries of the church, whose doctrine was a mixture of Judaism and Christianity. They denied the divinity of Christ, regarding him as an inspired messenger, and rejected much of the New Testament.

 

© Webster 1913.

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