The Difference Between Proselytes and Converts

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” 2 Corinthians 13:5

Let us not deceive ourselves. It's not enough to outwardly conform to religious practices. Genuine faith demands an internal transformation. Are we living as proselytes, adhering to religious rituals and norms without genuine conviction, or have we become genuine converts, surrendered to the life-changing love of Jesus? This devotional this morning is very important to me personally as a pastor and a missionary because part of my mission work is dealing with church members or new people who join the Adventist faith. Usually, in our Adventist missionary work, we use the term "converts." But reading the article written by Andrew Walls help me look closely at the difference between "proselytes" and “converts.”
In the article written by Walls, he said that "proselytes" usually refer to people who join a new religious group by following specific rituals or rules set by that group or a church. Andrew Walls gives an example of some non-Jewish people becoming Jewish through rituals like circumcision and obeying Jewish laws. And once they did these things, they were considered part of the Jewish community. In this case, becoming a proselyte means accepting a new faith and adopting the customs and traditions of the Jewish faith.

When a proselyte joins a new religious organization, he or she often needs to conform to the external practices and traditions of that group. Because the proselyte’s identity within the community is based on how well they follow these external rules and rituals. On the other hand, converts are different. They bring their unique perspectives and experiences to their new faith. Their identity is shaped by their commitment to Jesus, their personal beliefs and values, rather than by conforming to external rituals and expectations. Their decision to convert comes from within—they genuinely believe in the teachings and principles of the new faith. Their conversion is more about personal growth and spiritual connection.
Sadly, I now realize that most of the church members in the Adventist church are not converts but proselytes! What we know is following specific Adventist rituals or rules written our church manual. While many others, just mentally know the 28 fundamental beliefs but there is no real change in life. Even missionaries, with their busyness with religious activities, rituals, and following the rules, miss the very heart of Christian life and faith- the relationship with Jesus Christ. The result, our church remains in a lukewarm condition.

I remember that the Pharisees in the Bible were masters of religious rituals and ceremonies. They knew the law inside and out, performed elaborate rituals, and prided themselves on their piety. Yet, Jesus called them out for their hypocrisy. Their hearts were far from God. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Matthew 23:23. Andrew Walls said that “followers of Jesus are not proselytes” (Walls, “Converts or Proselytes? The Crisis over Conversion in the Early Church,” 5).
As I mentioned above most of the church members in the Adventist church are not converts but proselytes. Because what they have are the external signs (like attending church on Sabbath, not eating unclean meat and etc.) that they are members of the Adventist church but they have not experienced true conversion. And many SDA don’t understand true conversion. No fruits of the Holy Spirit are found which is in Galatians 5:21-23; "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
I have to admit that we need a revival and reformation. The church in Thailand that I’m handling needs a revival and reformation. This must be my priority as Ellen White says, “A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work.” (White, The Review and Herald, March 22, 1887).


Sulad Jhun Cardeinte writes from Adventist International Institute of Advance Studies (AIIAS) Silang, Cavite, Philippines. His email address is

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Write a comment

Comments: 12
  • #1

    Janet Sembezeya (Saturday, 20 April 2024 19:29)

    Profound, thank you

  • #2

    ZYL (Saturday, 20 April 2024 20:10)

    Amen ! Honestly, this is my first time encountering the word 'proselytes' . May God's grace be with us ��

  • #3

    Mathew Simiyu (Saturday, 20 April 2024 20:20)

    Sadly this information is heavily true. We need to be genuinely and outrightly converted and stop being proselytes to and for the glory of God.

  • #4

    Amanda (Saturday, 20 April 2024)

    Thank you Pastor, I have to look at myself now and decide where am I standing. This is so profound

  • #5

    Moses (Saturday, 20 April 2024 21:38)

    It is true that most of our members do not know this, even some of our Pastors. This calls for massive education. Thanks Pastor.

  • #6

    Grace (Saturday, 20 April 2024 22:57)


  • #7

    Tendai Gwewo (Saturday, 20 April 2024 23:19)

    Thank you so much for such a powerful message. It truly struck my mind that Introspection really is a necessity in this regard

  • #8

    Auther (Saturday, 20 April 2024 23:38)

    Amen God blessed

  • #9

    MOSES ONYANCHA GWAKA (Saturday, 20 April 2024 23:42)

    Absolutely true pastor , most of us are proselytes during the week but converts on Sabbath. This makes the name of God ridiculous among the gentiles . May God forgive us as we revive our faith.

  • #10

    PETERSON GITONGA (Saturday, 20 April 2024 23:56)

    KJV Romans 12:1
    1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
    KJV Hebrews 3:15
    15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

  • #11

    Hananeel kambamura (Sunday, 21 April 2024 00:54)

    May the Lord help us to be true converts not on the Sabbath but everyday of our lives till Jesus comes again

  • #12

    Joet (Sunday, 21 April 2024 07:11)

    I feel sad when most of our SDA church leaders fight tooth and nail to keep believers in the church walls by emphasizing strict keeping of the law, following church manual and church policy but inside them no Jesus. Yet in Jesus, God's plan of salvation is fulfilled.