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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The Greek word: δημος

Source: http://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/d/d-et-m-o-sfin.html

Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary

δημος

The familiar noun δημος (demos) denotes either a country, district or land, or the people in it, but its emphasis appears to be on the commonness of the grey masses. In the classics it appears in contrast with ευδαιμων (eudaimon), meaning "of good genius"; educated and smart folks, παχεες (pachees), denoting men of substance; the wealthy class, and δυνατεω (dunateo), meaning to be powerful; the mighty. In military contexts it distinguishes soldiers from officers.

In the Bible our word occurs only a few times and only in Acts (12:22, 17:5, 19:30 and 19:33), and each time it denotes an uncontrolled but semi-united crowd.

Liddell and Scott (An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon) say the origin of our word is uncertain but Spiros Zodhiates (The Complete Wordstudy Dictionary) believes that it came from the verb δεω (deo), meaning to bind. That would make a δημος (demos) a bound bunch of people, but it isn't clear whether they would be bound by social cohesion or by the ruling elite.

The hallowed word δημοκρατια (democratia), meaning democracy (which isn't used in the Bible) consists of our word δημος (demos) and κρατος (kratos), meaning power, which describes a system of government that's not dominated by one or a few people but a ruling class that benefits from a mute and subdued working class.

A direct derivation of our noun is:

  • The adjective δημοσιος (demosios), meaning belonging to the people; public (Acts 5:18), or publicly (Acts 16:37, 18:28, 20:20).

Compound words that contain our noun are:

  • Together with the preposition απο (apo), mostly meaning from: the adjective αποδημος (apodemos), meaning one gone abroad, one absent from his own country; an emigrant (Mark 13:34 only).
    • Derived from the above is the verb αποδημεω (apodemeo), meaning to go away from one's home country or people (Matthew 21:33, Mark 12:1, Luke 15:13).
  • Together with the otherwise unused verb αγορευω (agoreuo), meaning to speak publically (from the noun αγορα, agora, meaning market place or forum): the verb δημηγορεω (demegoreo), meaning to address a group of people or make a public oration (Acts 12:21 only).
  • Together with the noun εργον (ergon), meaning work (from the unused verb εργω, ergo, meaning to work): the adjective δημιουργος (demiourgos), literally denoting someone who works for the masses. In the classics this word denotes someone like a sculptor, a framer or a medical practitioner but here and there it's used to denote the Maker of the World and in some Peloponnesian states it's used as name for a magistrate (says Liddell and Scott's Lexicon). Strikingly, in the Bible our word is used only once, and that to describe God. In Hebrews 11:10 He is called either the δημιουργος (demiourgos) or the CEO of the New Jerusalem.

Associated Biblical names