In the sense of speaking evil of God this word is found in Ps.
74:18; Isa. 52:5; Rom. 2:24; Rev. 13:1, 6; 16:9, 11, 21. It
denotes also any kind of calumny, or evil-speaking, or abuse (1
Kings 21:10; Acts 13:45; 18:6, etc.). Our Lord was accused of
blasphemy when he claimed to be the Son of God (Matt. 26:65;
compare Matt. 9:3; Mark 2:7). They who deny his Messiahship
blaspheme Jesus (Luke 22:65; John 10:36).
Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost (Matt. 12:31, 32; Mark 3:28,
29; Luke 12:10) is regarded by some as a continued and obstinate
rejection of the gospel, and hence is an unpardonable sin,
simply because as long as a sinner remains in unbelief he
voluntarily excludes himself from pardon. Others regard the
expression as designating the sin of attributing to the power of
Satan those miracles which Christ performed, or generally those
works which are the result of the Spirit's agency.
(Gr. synedrion), meaning "a sitting
together," or a "council." This word (rendered "council," A.V.)
is frequently used in the New Testament (Matt. 5:22; 26:59; Mark
15:1, etc.) to denote the supreme judicial and administrative
council of the Jews, which, it is said, was first instituted by
Moses, and was composed of seventy men (Num. 11:16, 17). But
that seems to have been only a temporary arrangement which Moses
made. This council is with greater probability supposed to have
originated among the Jews when they were under the domination of
the Syrian kings in the time of the Maccabees. The name is first
employed by the Jewish historian Josephus. This "council" is
referred to simply as the "chief priests and elders of the
people" (Matt. 26:3, 47, 57, 59; 27:1, 3, 12, 20, etc.), before
whom Christ was tried on the charge of claiming to be the
Messiah. Peter and John were also brought before it for
promulgating heresy (Acts. 4:1-23; 5:17-41); as was also Stephen
on a charge of blasphemy (6:12-15), and Paul for violating a
temple by-law (22:30; 23:1-10).
The Sanhedrin is said to have consisted of seventy-one
members, the high priest being president. They were of three
classes (1) the chief priests, or heads of the twenty-four
priestly courses (1 Chr. 24), (2) the scribes, and (3) the
elders. As the highest court of judicature, "in all causes and
over all persons, ecclesiastical and civil, supreme," its
decrees were binding, not only on the Jews in Israel, but on
all Jews wherever scattered abroad. Its jurisdiction was greatly
curtailed by Herod, and afterwards by the Romans. Its usual
place of meeting was within the precincts of the temple, in the
hall "Gazith," but it sometimes met also in the house of the
high priest (Matt. 26:3), who was assisted by two
is used in the LXX. for "stranger" (1 Chr. 22:2), i.e., a comer
to Israel; a sojourner in the land (Ex. 12:48; 20:10; 22:21),
and in the New Testament for a convert to Judaism. There were
such converts from early times (Isa. 56:3; Neh. 10:28; Esther
8:17). The law of Moses made specific regulations regarding the
admission into the Jewish church of such as were not born
Israelites (Ex. 20:10; 23:12; 12:19, 48; Deut. 5:14; 16:11, 14,
etc.). The Kenites, the Gibeonites, the Cherethites, and the
Pelethites were thus admitted to the privileges of Israelites.
Thus also we hear of individual proselytes who rose to positions
of prominence in Israel, as of Doeg the Edomite, Uriah the
Hittite, Araunah the Jebusite, Zelek the Ammonite, Ithmah and
Ebedmelech the Ethiopians.
In the time of Solomon there were one hundred and fifty-three
thousand six hundred strangers in the land of Israel (1 Chr.
22:2; 2 Chr. 2:17, 18). And the prophets speak of the time as
coming when the strangers shall share in all the privileges of
Israel (Ezek. 47:22; Isa. 2:2; 11:10; 56:3-6; Micah 4:1).
Accordingly, in New Testament times, we read of proselytes in
the synagogues, (Acts 10:2, 7; 13:42, 43, 50; 17:4; 18:7; Luke
7:5). The "religious proselytes" here spoken of were proselytes
of righteousness, as distinguished from proselytes of the gate.
The distinction between "proselytes of the gate" (Ex. 20:10)
and "proselytes of righteousness" originated only with the
rabbis. According to them, the "proselytes of the gate" (half
proselytes) were not required to be circumcised nor to comply
with the Mosaic ceremonial law. They were bound only to conform
to the so-called seven precepts of Noah, viz., to abstain from
idolatry, blasphemy, bloodshed, uncleaness, the eating of blood,
theft, and to yield obedience to the authorities. Besides these
laws, however, they were required to abstain from work on the
Sabbath, and to refrain from the use of leavened bread during
the time of the Passover.
The "proselytes of righteousness", religious or devout
proselytes (Acts 13:43), were bound to all the doctrines and
precepts of the Jewish economy, and were members of the
synagogue in full communion.
The name "proselyte" occurs in the New Testament only in Matt.
23:15; Acts 2:10; 6:5; 13:43. The name by which they are
commonly designated is that of "devout men," or men "fearing
God" or "worshipping God."