After the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, some broke away, refusing to accept the resolution of the Council. They
claimed Jesus as Messiah, but taught the following: (Eusebius’ Church History 6:17 and Ireneaus’ Against All
Heresies, 1:26, 3:11, & 5:1)
Tertullian wrote the founder of the sect was named Ebion. Epipanius traces the origin of the Ebionites to the
Christians who fled to Pella after the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem, AD 69-70. He also added that some of
them held the belief that Adam was an incarnation of Jesus. Ebionites were found all over Israel and the
surrounding region, Cyprus, Asia Minor, and even a far as Rome.
The Ebionites denied the divinity and virgin birth of Jesus, saying Mary and Joseph were his physical parents. They
denied Jesus is the Son of God. They believed observance of the ceremonial law was necessary for salvation and
taught no one could be saved by faith in Christ alone; it required a holy life [works]. They practiced circumcision, and
observed the Law of Moses, and the Judaic style of life. They refused to acknowledge that Jesus was pre-existent,
being God, the Word. They observed strictly the bodily worship of the Law and reproached Christians for eating
unclean meats. Ebionites used only the so-called Gospel according to the Hebrews (some say the Hebrew version of
Matthew). Rarely made use of the other gospels. They stated Isaiah’s prophecy of “a virgin conceiving” should be
translated “young woman” instead and they rejected all the epistles of the apostle Paul, whom they called an
apostate from the Law.
The Apostle John would not even enter a bathhouse where the Gnostic Cerinthus was, because Cerinthus taught
Jesus was just a man, born of Joseph and Mary. (Ireneaus’ Against All Heresies, 3:11) Eusebius says Ebionite
doctrines were spawned by evil demons. Those who believe Ebionite doctrine are not Christians. Ignatius, in
Smyraeans 7, said those that believe the Passover does not refer to Jesus and His death on the cross are not
Christians and we should not even speak to them.
A subgroup developed adding these additional doctrines to the above:
They did not deny that the Lord was born of a virgin and of the Holy Spirit, but they did deny the divinity of
Jesus. They observed the Sabbath and the rest of the Jewish lifestyle, but also celebrated the Lord’s Day as a
memorial to the resurrection of the Savior. Some also practiced oaths of poverty and vegetarianism.
Later a full Gnostic sect developed: (Ireneaus’ Against All Heresies, 1:26, 3:11, & 5:1 and the Pseudo-Clementines).
The Gnostic Ebionites rejected any distinction between Jehovah the Demiurge, and the supreme good god and
taught matter is eternal, and an emanation of the deity. They said the Son of God is the Christ, a middle-being
between God and creation, not a creature, yet not equal to, nor even to be compared with, the Father. They
believed man is saved by knowledge (gnosis), by believing in God the Teacher, and by being baptized unto remission
The name Ebionite can be translated “poor.” Some suggest this was applied to James’ group in Jerusalem, even
though a different word is used in Scripture. If this is true, it may only refer to the Jerusalem Christians who took an
oath of poverty. This could just as easily be referring to people who are poor. The Ebionite cult fused together
Pantheism, Persian Dualism, Judaism, and Christianity. Ebionites seemed to have died out about the fifth century.
taken from BibleFacts.org