Novice

NOVICE (nŏv'ĭs, Gr. neophytos, newly planted). Used only in 1Tim.3.6 (kjv; mlb, nasb new convert; niv recent convert) concerning the requirements for being a bishop. This is the Greek term from which we get neophyte.


The term for a candidate (male or female) for admission to a religious order during the probationary period which customarily follows the postulancy, prior to the profession of any vows. Throughout the noviciate, established by the Council of Trent as not less than a full and continuous year, the novice lives according to the rule of the order, under the direction of the novice-master, and separate from the rest of the community, although he enjoys its privileges, immunities, and indulgences. He is free to leave, as the order is free to dismiss him, and therefore may not renounce his property.


NOVICE nŏv’ ĭs (νεόφυτος, G3745, newly planted). The word occurs only in 1 Timothy 3:6 (KJV), and means one newly planted in the Christian faith—one who recently has become a Christian. In his instruction to Timothy, Paul wrote that if any man desires the office of a bishop, he must not be a recent convert to Christianity, “or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.”

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

In this sense it is found in Septuagint of Job 14:9 and Isa 5:7. In the New Testament it occurs once only (1Ti 3:6), where it means a person newly planted in the Christian faith, a neophyte, a new convert, one who has recently become a Christian. This term occurs in the list which Paul gives of the qualifications which a Christian bishop must possess. The apostle instructs Timothy, that if any man desires the office of a bishop, he must not be "novice," must not be newly converted, or recently brought to the faith of Christ "lest he be lifted up with pride, and fall into the condemnation of the devil."

This means that a recent convert runs the very serious risk of being wise in his own eyes, of despising those who are still on the level from which, by his conversion, he has been lifted; and so he becomes puffed up with high ideas of his own importance. He has not yet had time to discover his limitations, he is newly planted, he does not fully understand his true position in the Christian community, he overestimates himself. For these reasons he is peculiarly liable to instability, and to the other weaknesses and sins connected with an inflated opinion of his own powers. His pride is a sure indication of a coming fall. A novice, therefore, must on no account be appointed to the office in question, for he would be sure to bring disgrace upon it.