The term (Hebrew ebion, "poor") refers to a sect of Jewish Christians who upheld the Jewish law and rejected Paul's teaching and ministry to the uncircumcised. They lived an ascetic, communal life east of the Jordan in the early centuries of the Christian era. They regarded Jesus as the Messiah who would come to establish God's kingdom on earth. They rejected the virginal conception of Jesus, believing that he had a normal birth and was adopted as the divine Son at his baptism. They were thus the first adoptionists. See Adoptionism.
Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.