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Morrish Bible Dictionary

44 People Nations Gentiles

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The words λαός, ἔθνος, δῆμος, and ὄχλος are all translated 'people.' λαός, 'a people,' is employed often in the LXX to point out God's chosen people Israel, in contrast to the nations around them, for which ἔθνος is used. Thus in Exodus 15:13,14 , "Thou hast led forth by thy mercy the people (λαός), whom thou hast redeemed. . . . . The nations (ἔθνη) heard and were afraid." Moses said, "Both I and thy people (λαός) shall be glorified beyond all the nations (ἔθνη) as many as are upon the earth." Exodus 33:16 . When Israel is spoken of as a nation, then ἔθνος is used, see Exodus 33:13 .

In the N.T. ἔθνος is twice rendered 'people': Acts 8:9 , referring to the Samaritans, who could not well be called a nation, and who differed from the Gentiles; and Romans 10:19 , which is a quotation from Deuteronomy 32:21 . In the plural it is commonly translated 'Gentiles' as a proper name, and 'nation' or 'nations' as an appellative; in a few instances 'heathen,' but it would be better 'nations.'

λαός occurs often in the N.T. and is always translated 'people,' probably with the same general idea, as in the O.T.: see Titus 2:14 .

δῆμος occurs only in Acts 12:22 ; Acts 17:5 ; Acts 19:30,33 . It answers to the Latin populus , free citizens, and is thus employed in these passages.

ὄχλος is the contrast to this, and refers more to the unorganised multitude. It is five times translated 'press' and many times 'multitude' for the people who thronged around the Lord. It is also often translated 'people.'


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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for '44 People Nations Gentiles '. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/mbd/4/44-people-nations-gentiles.html. 1897.

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