From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

People —This collective term, which occurs about 120 times in the Gospels, is used to denote sometimes in a lesser or more general way the people (λαός) among whom Christ lived and fulfilled His mission, but oftener the smaller or larger crowds of people (ὄχλος) who, from time to time, and in the various scenes of His labour, waited upon His ministry (see art. Crowd). But ‘people’ (λαός) is several times employed in the religious sense that attaches to such phrases as ‘the people of God,’ or ‘Christ’s people’ ( Matthew 1:21;  Matthew 2:6,  Luke 1:17;  Luke 1:77;  Luke 2:32;  Luke 7:16). It is only in this latter sense that the word calls for special notice, and as so viewed it possesses considerable importance.

The most noteworthy thing in regard to the religious use of the word in the Gospels is, that it is never in any of them employed by Christ Himself. All the instances in which it is found are in narratives connected with His birth and infancy, except the one in  Luke 7:16; and in this case it was the people who beheld the restoration of the widow’s son to life who said, ‘that a great prophet is risen among us; and that God hath visited his people.’ The fact that Christ discarded the use of the word ‘people’ in its religious sense cannot be regarded as a matter of little or no consequence. In doing so He must have acted with deliberate purpose, and for reasons considered by Himself to be valid. This view is evident from a variety of considerations: (1) The religious sense of the phrase ‘the people of God’ had occupied a place of high importance in the historical relation between God and the Hebrew race. (2) It had been organically associated by the OT revelation with the prospective advent of the Messiah and His Kingdom. (3) According to Messianic prophecy, the one people of God would eventually consist of all the peoples of the earth united in a common relation to Him. (4) Christ was aware of these facts. He knew that He was Himself the Jewish Messiah and the Saviour of the world. And He was inspired and controlled by the idea that the object of His mission was to bring the true and full sense of the phrase ‘the people of God’ to perfect realization in the Kingdom of heaven. (5) If He had chosen to do so, it would have been easy for Him to express all the essential truths of His message to mankind in terms of ‘the people of God.’ Moreover, this phrase could not be without attractions for Him. Why, then, did He never let it fall from His lips when addressing His audiences in public and in private?

One of His reasons must have been the significance of the phrase as it presented itself to His own mind. The ideas with which He would charge it may be inferred from the essential nature of the truths embodied in the message He left behind Him. In thinking of God and His people, He would think of Him as a moral Being and of them as moral beings. He would think of the relations between Him and them as moral, and therefore as founded in this direct inward relation to them as individuals . He would think also of His relation to them as absolutely impartial, and of their relations to Him as absolutely equal. And for all these reasons He would think of the relation between God and His people, as His people , as in no sense legal, and as not permitting Him to show towards any people in particular either national favour or political privileges. Finally, all this implies that Christ would think of God and His people in terms of purely moral universality. But if such is the meaning that He would attach to the phrase alluded to, does not that seem to favour His use of it, and to make His rejection of it still more difficult to understand? Quite the reverse, as another reason shows.

As a teacher, Christ had to consider not only the meaning that He attached to the phrase Himself, but also the meaning attached to it by the Jews among whom He taught, and who believed that they themselves were the people of God, and they alone of all the peoples or mankind. The people of Israel were the people of God. This was one of the most essential and distinctive dogmas of the fully developed, orthodox, and official Judaism with which our Lord everywhere and always had to reckon as a teacher; and this dogma, adhered to and upheld by the fanatical zeal of the rigid and conservative devotees of Judaism, was the most embarrassing that He had to reckon with as a teacher sent from God. For what did the dogma in question mean and imply? It rested upon a denial of the essential oneness of the relation of God to all the peoples of the world, and of the essential oneness of the relation of all the peoples of the world to Him. It was founded in the notion that the relation between God and His people was national, and that the nature of the national bond was not moral but legal. For Divine righteousness and the obedience of faith, the only real and permanent, because moral, conditions on which the relations between God and His people repose, it substituted ancestral descent from Abraham, and the observance of the national rite of circumcision. And the only way, it contended, for Gentiles to obtain admission within the circle of the people of God, was to become Jews by observing this national rite. It is manifest, then, that the ideas of Judaism and the ideas of Christ on the subject of ‘the people of God’ were in direct and complete antagonism to one another. This fact Christ had to consider, and it was necessary for Him as a teacher to weigh the question as to what the inevitable consequences would be for Himself and His cause, if He attempted in the course of His teaching to present and explain His ideas on the subject of ‘the people of God’ in their real and inherent antagonism to the ideas on the same subject which had become fixed and hardened in the perverted Judaism of His time. Evidently He came to the conclusion that the handling of this subject would involve Himself and the interests of His mission in great risks and dangers. It is certain that such would have been the case. For if He had taught and insisted on the acceptance of the truths of moral unity and universality that belong to the relations between God and His people as He understood them, the bigoted adherents of Judaism would have forthwith resented His teaching and made Himself the object of their fanatical and malignant hostility. He therefore persistently ignored the phrase ‘the people of God.’ It was highly expedient for Him to do so.

But the adoption of this course did not entail any compromise of those truths of moral unity and universality that are of the essence of the relations in which God stands to His people and they to Him. He showed His sense of the greatness and validity of these as well as of other moral truths, and secured the interests attaching to them, by two other vastly important things that He did as a teacher. In the first place, He embedded all the truths of moral unity and universality referred to in His parables, which He spoke as illustrative of the rich and diversified order of ideas presented by Him under the designation of ‘the kingdom of God.’ His reason for couching these ideas in parabolic forms He Himself explained ( Matthew 13:10-16). His explanation implies that He would have preferred to employ a more explicit way of communicating the ideas in question if circumstances had permitted; that the hearts of the adherents of the existing perverted Judaism had been blinded and hardened by the influence of their system; that it was impossible for them to see the truth and validity of these ideas; and that they were not in a mood to extend to them or to Himself toleration. Such was His reason for speaking of the Kingdom of heaven in parables. The true meaning of the latter was veiled from the enemies of the truth by the blindness of their eyes. But, on the other hand, the parables, He knew, would preserve the essence of the truth as He had taught it, and to all who were of the truth the latter would in due time become revealed.

But, secondly, Christ guarded and effectively secured the interests of the truths of moral unity and universality, which are of the essence of His gospel, in another way. In the Kingdom of God and in the relations between God and His people, moral unity and moral universality are founded on their human side on moral individuality . In any case, therefore, it would have been necessary for Christ to give to moral individuality a place of supreme importance in His teaching. And this is precisely what He did. He knew and never lost sight of the truth that moral unity and universality can never come to actual realization in the Kingdom of heaven, or, in other words, in the relations between God and His people, unless in so far as men are saved, and become morally perfect as individuals. And therefore He not only gave His just and constant consideration to the individual, but held up before His disciples the moral perfection of God, their Father in heaven, as the ideal which they should strive individually to realize in their own character and life ( Matthew 5:43-48). This is the basis on which moral unity and universality are realized in the relations of men to God as His people.

W. D. Thomson.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [2]

‛Am ( עַם , Strong'S #5971), “people; relative.” This common Semitic word has cognates in Akkadian, Amorite, Phoenician, Ugaritic, Punic, Moabite, Aramaic, and Arabic. This word occurs about 1,868 times and at all periods of biblical Hebrew.

The word bears subjective and personal overtones. First, ‛am represents a familial relationship. In Ruth 3:11 the word means “male kinsmen” with special emphasis on the paternal relationship: “And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.” Here the word is a collective noun insofar as it occurs in the singular; indeed, it is almost an abstract noun. In the plural the word refers to all the individuals who are related to a person through his father: “But he shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself” (Lev. 21:4). This emphasis of the word is related to the meaning of its cognates in Ugaritic (clan), Arabic (uncle on one’s father’s side), and Nabataean (uncle on one’s father’s side). The word is quite often combined with divine names and titles in people’s names (theophoric names) where God is set forth as the God of a particular tribe, clan, or family—for example, Jekameam (God has raised up a clan or family, 1 Chron. 23:19) and Jokneam (God has created a clan or family, Josh. 12:22).

Second, ‛am may signify those relatives (including women and children) who are grouped together locally whether or not they permanently inhabit a given location: “Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands” (Gen. 32:7).

Third, this word may refer to the whole of a nation formed and united primarily by their descent from a common ancestor. Such a group has strong blood ties and social interrelationships and interactions. Often they live and work together in a society in a common location. This is the significance of the word in its first biblical appearance: “And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language …” (Gen. 11:6). Hence, in this usage ‛am refers not simply to male relatives but to men, women, and children.

‛Am may also include those who enter by religious adoption and marriage. The people of Israel initially were the descendants of Jacob (Israel) and their families: “And he said unto his people [Egyptians], Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we” (Exod. 1:9). Later the basic unity in a common covenant relationship with God becomes the unifying factor underlying ‛am. When they left Egypt, the people of Israel were joined by many others: “And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle” (Exod. 12:38). Such individuals and their families were taken into Israel before they observed the Passover: “And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land …” (Exod. 12:48). There is another mention of this group (perhaps) in Num. 11:4: “And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said.…”

After that, however, we read of them no more. By the time of the conquest we read only of the “people” ( ‛am ) of Israel entering the land of Canaan and inheriting it (Judg. 5:11). Passages such as Deut. 32:9 clearly focus on this covenantal relationship as the basis of unity: “For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” This sense certainly emerges in the concept “to be cut off from one’s people”: “And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant” (Gen. 17:14).

‛Am can mean all those physical ancestors who lived previously and are now dead. So Abraham was gathered to his people: “Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people” (Gen. 25:8). There might be covenantal overtones here in the sense that Abraham was gathered to all those who were true believers. Jesus argued that such texts taught the reality of life after death (Matt. 22:32).

‛Am can represent the individuals who together form a familial (and covenantal) group within a larger group: “Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field [on the battlefield]” (Judg. 5:18). Some scholars have suggested that the reference here is to a fighting unit with the idea of blood relationship in the background. One must never forget, however, that among nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes there is no distinction between the concepts “militia” and “kinsmen”: “And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise …” (Josh. 8:1). Compare Josh. 8:5 where ‛am by itself means fighting unit: “And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city …” (cf. Gen. 32:7).

‛Am may signify the inhabitants of a city regardless of their familial or covenantal relationship; it is a territorial or political term: “And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses …” (Ruth 4:9).

This noun can be used of those who are privileged. In the phrase “people of the land” ‛am may signify those who have feudal rights, or those who may own land and are especially protected under the law: “And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth” (Gen. 23:7). This sense of a full citizen appears when the phrase is used of Israel, too (cf. 2 Kings 11:14ff.). In some contexts this phrase excludes those of high office such as the king, his ministers, and priests; “For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land” (Jer. 1:18). In Lev. 4:27 this same phrase signifies the entire worshiping community of Israel: “And if any one of the common people [people of the land] sin through ignorance.…” The sense of privileged people with a proper relationship to and unique knowledge of God appears in Job 12:2: “No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.” Could it be that in Isa. 42:5 all mankind are conceived to be the privileged recipients of divine revelation and blessing: “Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.”

Finally, sometimes ‛am used of an entire nation has political and territorial overtones. As such it may be paralleled to the Hebrew word with such overtones ( goy ): “For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deut. 14:2; cf. Exod. 19:5-6).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [3]

1: Λαός (Strong'S #2992 — Noun Masculine — laos — lah-os' )

is used of (a) "the people at large," especially of people assembled, e.g.,  Matthew 27:25;  Luke 1:21;  3:15;  Acts 4:27; (b) "a people of the same race and language," e.g.,  Revelation 5:9; in the plural, e.g.,  Luke 2:31;  Romans 15:11;  Revelation 7:9;  11:9; especially of Israel, e.g.,  Matthew 2:6;  4:23;  John 11:50;  Acts 4:8;  Hebrews 2:17; in distinction from their rulers and priests, e.g.,  Matthew 26:5;  Luke 20:19;  Hebrews 5:3; in distinction from Gentiles, e.g.,  Acts 26:17,23;  Romans 15:10; (c) of Christians as the people of God, e.g.,  Acts 15:14;  Titus 2:14;  Hebrews 4:9;  1—Peter 2:9 .

2: Ὄχλος (Strong'S #3793 — Noun Masculine — ochlos — okh'-los )

"a crowd, throng:" see Crowd , Multitude.

3: Δῆμος (Strong'S #1218 — Noun Masculine — demos — day'-mos )

"the common people, the people generally" (Eng., "demagogue," "democracy," etc.), especially the mass of the "people " assembled in a public place,  Acts 12:22;  17:5;  19:30,33 .

4: Ἔθνος (Strong'S #1484 — Noun Neuter — ethnos — eth'-nos )

denotes (a) "a nation," e.g.,  Matthew 24:7;  Acts 10:35; "the Jewish people," e.g.,  Luke 7:5;  Acts 10:22;  28:19; (b) in the plural, "the rest of mankind" in distinction from Israel or the Jews, e.g.,  Matthew 4:15;  Acts 28:28; (c) "the people of a city,"  Acts 8:9; (d) Gentile Christians, e.g.,  Romans 10:19;  11:13;  15:27;  Galatians 2:14 . See Gentiles , Nation.

5: Ἄνθρωπος (Strong'S #444 — Noun Masculine — anthropos — anth'-ro-pos )

"man," without distinction of sex (cp. aner, "a male"), is translated "people" in  John 6:10 , RV (AV, "men").

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [4]

PEOPLE. This is the translation used in AV [Note: Authorized Version.] for a large number of Hebrew and Greek terms. In some cases ambiguity occurs, as the pl. ‘ peoples ’ is not used in AV [Note: Authorized Version.] except in   Revelation 10:11;   Revelation 17:15 . Thus ‘people’ is used sometimes of the people of Israel, and often of heathen nations. RV [Note: Revised Version.] uses ‘peoples’ freely, and this makes the meaning much clearer in such passages as   Psalms 67:4 ,   Isaiah 55:4;   Isaiah 60:2 etc. (see art. Nations, also preface to RV [Note: Revised Version.] ).

A special phrase ‘ the people of the land ’ occurs frequently in the OT, especially in Jeremiah, Ezeklel, 2Kings., and 2 Ch. In most of these cases it means the general body of the people, the common people as opposed to the courtiers or the ruling class. In   Genesis 23:7;   Genesis 23:12-13 ,   Numbers 14:9 the term is applied to non-Israelites. In the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah the ‘people of the land’ are the half-heathen, half-Jewish population with whom the less scrupulous Jews intermarried, but who were avoided by the stricter party represented by Ezra and Nehemiah (  Ezra 10:2;   Ezra 10:11 ,   Nehemiah 10:30-31; cf.   Nehemiah 9:1 ,   Nehemiah 9:30 ). The same phrase was used by the Rabbis to describe the common people, who were lax in observing the Mosaic law (  John 7:49 ).

W. F. Boyd.

King James Dictionary [5]

PEOPLE, n. L. populus.

1. The body of persons who compose a community, town, city or nation. We say, the people of a town the people of London or Paris the English people. In this sense, the word is not used in the plural, but it comprehends all classes of inhabitants, considered as a collective body, or any portion of the inhabitants of a city or country. 2. The vulgar the mass of illiterate persons.

The knowing artist may judge better than the people.

3. The commonalty, as distinct from men of rank.

Myself shall mount the rostrum in his favor,

And strive to gain his pardon from the people.

4. Persons of a particular class a part of a nation or community as country people. 5. Persons in general any persons indefinitely like on in French, and man in Saxon.

People were tempted to lend by great premiums and large interest.

6. A collection or community of animals.

The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.  Proverbs 30

7. When people signified a separate nation or tribe, it has the plural number.

Thou must prophesy again before many peoples.  Revelation 10

8. In Scripture, fathers or kindred.  Genesis 25 9. The Gentiles.

--To him shall the gathering of the people be.  Genesis 49

PEOPLE, To stock with inhabitants. Emigrants from Europe have peopled the United States.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [6]

This, though a word of general import as referring to nations, or the persons of particular kingdoms, yet in respect to the Lord's people, hath a special designation. The redeemed of Christ are called a peculiar people, ( 1 Peter 2:9) —a "people that dwell alone, and are not reckoned among the nations." ( Numbers 23:9) Hence God the Father, speaking of them to his dear Son, saith,"Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." ( Psalms 110:1-7) And elsewhere the Lord saith, "Thou art an holy people to the Lord thy God; the Lord, thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth." ( Deuteronomy 7:6) And it is wonderful to observe how distinguishing the grace of God is manifested towards them. They are given of the Father to the Son, and set apart in the counsel and purpose of God from all eternity; they are the object of Jesus's love before all worlds; and they are brought; under the anointings of God the Holy Ghost, with pepeculiar marks of his love during the whole of their eventful pilgrimage-state, from the first dawnings of grace unto the fulness of glory. Such are the characters of the redeemed of the Lord. "Oh! bless, our God, ye people, and make the voice -of his praise to be heard." ( Psalms 66:8)

Webster's Dictionary [7]

(1): ( n.) One's ancestors or family; kindred; relations; as, my people were English.

(2): ( v. t.) To stock with people or inhabitants; to fill as with people; to populate.

(3): ( n.) The body of persons who compose a community, tribe, nation, or race; an aggregate of individuals forming a whole; a community; a nation.

(4): ( n.) Persons, generally; an indefinite number of men and women; folks; population, or part of population; as, country people; - sometimes used as an indefinite subject or verb, like on in French, and man in German; as, people in adversity.

(5): ( n.) The mass of comunity as distinguished from a special class; the commonalty; the populace; the vulgar; the common crowd; as, nobles and people.

(6): ( n.) One's subjects; fellow citizens; companions; followers.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [8]

pē´p ' 50  : In English Versions of the Bible represents something over a dozen Hebrew and Greek words. Of these, in the Old Testament, עם , ‛am , is overwhelmingly the most common (about 2,000 times), with לאום , le'ōm , and גּוי , gōy , next in order; but the various Hebrew words are used with very little or no difference in force (e.g.   Proverbs 14:28; but, on the other hand, in Ps 44 contrast  Psalm 44:12 and   Psalm 44:14 ). Of the changes introduced by the Revised Version (British and American) the only one of significance (cited explicitly in the Preface to the English Revised Version) is the frequent use of the plural "peoples" (strangely avoided in the King James Version except  Revelation 10:11;  Revelation 17:15 ), where other nations than Israel are in question. So, for instance, in  Psalm 67:4;  Isaiah 55:4;  Isaiah 60:2 , with the contrast marked in  Psalm 33:10 and   Psalm 33:12;  Psalm 77:14 and   Psalm 77:15 , etc. In the New Testament, λάος , láos , is the most common word, with ὄχλος , óchlos , used almost as often in the King James Version. But in the Revised Version (British and American) the latter word is almost always rendered "multitude," "people" being retained only in  Luke 7:12;  Acts 11:24 ,  Acts 11:26;  Acts 19:26 , and in the fixed phrase "the common people" (ὁ πολὺς ὄχλος , ho polús óchlos ) in  Mark 12:37;  John 12:9 ,  John 12:12 margin (the retention of "people" would have been better in   John 11:42 , also), with "crowd" ( Matthew 9:23 ,  Matthew 9:25;  Acts 21:35 ). The only special use of "people" that calls for attention is the phrase "people of the land." This may mean simply "inhabitants," as  Ezekiel 12:19;  Ezekiel 33:2;  Ezekiel 39:13; but in  2 Kings 11:14 , etc., and the parallel in 2 Chronicles, it means the people as contrasted with the king, while in  Jeremiah 1:18 , etc., and in  Ezekiel 7:27;  Ezekiel 22:29;  Ezekiel 46:3 ,  Ezekiel 46:9 , it means the common people as distinguished from the priests and the aristocracy. A different usage is that for the heathen ( Genesis 23:7 ,  Genesis 23:12 ,  Genesis 23:13;  Numbers 14:9 ) or half-heathen ( Ezra 9:1 ,  Ezra 9:2;  Ezra 10:2 ,  Ezra 10:11;  Nehemiah 10:28-31 ) inhabitants of Palestine. From this last use, the phrase came to be applied by some rabbis to even pure-blooded Jews, if they neglected the observance of the rabbinic traditions (compare  John 7:49 the King James Version). For "people of the East" see Children Of The East .