The number in a Roman legion varied at different periods, from three thousand to more than twice that number. In the time of Christ a legion contained six thousand, besides the cavalry. There were ten cohorts in each legion; which were divided each into three maniples or bands, and these into two centuries containing one hundred men each. In the Bible a legion means a number indefinitely large. The Savior cured a demoniac who called himself "Legion" as if possessed my myriads of demons, Mr 5:9. The expression, "twelve legions of angels," Mt 26:53, illustrate the immensity of the heavenly host, and their zealous devotion to Christ.
a regiment of the Roman army, the number of men composing which differed at different times. It originally consisted of three thousand men, but in the time of Christ consisted of six thousand, exclusive of horsemen, who were in number a tenth of the foot-men. The word is used (Mt 26:53; Mr 5:9) to express simply a great multitude.
The largest division of the Roman army, of which it was, in order and armament, the miniature; 6,000 foot, with a body of horse. Mt 26:53, "thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels," against this band from the Roman "legion"; not merely My twelve apostles, but twelve "legions," and these "angels?" (compare 2Ki 6:17; Da 7:10.) In Mr 5:9 the demon-possessed says, "my name is legion, for we are many," "because many demons (Greek) were entered into him."
This term, which means literally 'a gathering,' looks back to the early days of the Roman citizen army. In the time of the Empire it indicated a force of about 6000 infantry, together with complements of other arms. The infantry proper were divided into ten cohorts (the word is tr 'band' [wh. see] in Mt 27:27; Mr 15:16; Joh 18:3,12; Ac 10:1; 21:31; 27:1), each containing about 600 men, and each commanded on occasion by a military tribune. Of these tribunes there were six to a legion. A cohort was itself subdivided into ten centuries, each commanded by a centurion. It is not necessary to remember all these facts in studying the NT use of the word 'legion' (Mt 26:53; Mr 5:9,15; Lu 8:30). What chiefly impressed Semites was apparently the size of the legion, and 'legion' appears to have become a proverb among them for a large number of persons in orderly combination.
In the Roman army a body of troops consisting of from three to five thousand; but the term is also used for an indefinite number. The Lord said that His Father on His request would send Him more than twelve legions of angels. Mt 26:53. The demons who possessed the man among the Gadarenes said, "My name is Legion; for we are many." Mr 5:9,15; Lu 8:30.
the chief subdivision of the Roman army, containing about 6000 infantry, with a contingent of cavalry. The term does not occur in the Bible in its primary sense, but appears to have been adopted in order to express any large number, with the accessory ideas of order and subordination.
LEGION. The Roman legions were composed each of ten cohorts; a cohort, of fifty maniples; a maniple, of fifteen men; consequently, a full legion contained six thousand soldiers. Jesus cured one who called himself "legion," as if possessed by a legion of devils, Mr 5:9. He also said to Peter, who drew his sword to defend him in the olive garden: "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, who shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" Mt 26:53.