According to the Greek idiom, all other nations, however learned and polite they might be, were "barbarians." Hence Paul comprehends all mankind under the names of "Greeks and barbarians," Ro 1:14. Luke calls the inhabitants of the island of Malta, "barbarians," Ac 28:2,4. Indeed, "barbarian" is used in Scripture for every stranger or foreigner who does not speak the native language of the writer, Ps 114:1, and includes no implication whatever of savage nature or manners in those respecting whom it is used.
a Greek word used in the New Testament (Ro 1:14) to denote one of another nation. In Col 3:11, the word more definitely designates those nations of the Roman empire that did not speak Greek. In 1Co 14:11, it simply refers to one speaking a different language. The inhabitants of Malta are so called (Ac 28:1-2,4). They were originally a Carthaginian colony. This word nowhere in Scripture bears the meaning it does in modern times.
All not Greek, in contrast to the Greeks (Ro 1:14). Primitively all speaking an unknown tongue (1Co 14:11); the Maltese, as speaking a Punic dialect (Ac 28:2,4). Subsequently the word implied cruelty and savagery. Distinguished from Scythians, the wild races beyond the Roman empire; "barbarians" were within it (Col 3:11).
The Eng. word is used in Ac 28:2,4; Ro 1:14; 1Co 14:11; Col 3:11 to translate a Gr. word which does not at all connote savagery, but means simply 'foreign,' 'speaking an unintelligible language.' The expression first arose among the Greeks in the days of their independence, and was applied by them to all who could not speak Greek. When Greece became subject to Rome, it was then extended to mean all except the Greeks and Romans. There may be a touch of contempt in St. Luke's use of it, but St. Paul uses it simply in the ordinary way; see esp. 1Co 14:11.
????????. The word signifies 'foreigner, alien:' it was used by the Romans for any people who did not understand Latin or Greek. In Ro 1:14 they are in contrast to the Greeks. In 1Co 14:11, a person hearing another speak in a language he did not understand would account him and be accounted a foreigner. The inhabitants of Melita were so called by Luke. Ac 28:2-4. In Col 3:1 the 'barbarian' is in contrast to the uncultivated Scythian.
every one not a Greek is a barbarian is the common Greek definition, and in this strict sense the word is sued in
It often retains this primitive meaning, as in
BARBARIAN. The word ??? (rendered barbarian; LXX, ????????,) in the Hebrew sense of it, signifies a stranger; one who knows neither the holy language nor the law. According to the notions of the Greeks, all nations who were not Greeks, or not governed by laws like the Greeks, were barbarians. The Persians, Egyptians, Hebrews, Arabians, Gauls, Germans, and even the Romans, were, in their phraseology, barbarians, however learned or polite they might be in themselves. St. Paul comprehends all mankind under the names of Greeks and barbarians: "I am a debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians; to the wise and to the unwise," Ro 1:14. St. Luke calls the inhabitants of the island of Malta barbarians, Ac 28:2,4. St. Paul, writing to the Colossians, uses the terms barbarian and Scythian almost in the same signification. In 1Co 14:11, he says, that if he who speaks a foreign language in an assembly be not understood by those to whom he discourses, with respect to them he is a barbarian; and, reciprocally, if he understand not those who speak to him, they are to him barbarians. Barbarian, therefore, is used for every stranger or foreigner who does not speak our native language, and includes no implication whatever of savage nature or manners in those respecting whom it is used. It is most probably derived from berbir, "a shepherd;" whence Barbary, the country of wandering shepherds; Bedouins, Sceni, Scythei, as if, wanderers in tents; therefore barbarians.