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late 14c., "civil officer in charge of administering laws," from Old French magistrat, from Latin magistratus "a magistrate, public functionary," originally "magisterial rank or office," from magistrare "serve as a magistrate," from magister "chief, director" (see master). Related: Magistracy.
a public civil officer invested with authority. The Hebrew shophetim, or judges, were magistrates having authority in the land (Deut. 1:16, 17). In Judg. 18:7 the word "magistrate" (A.V.) is rendered in the Revised Version "possessing authority", i.e., having power to do them harm by invasion. In the time of Ezra (9:2) and Nehemiah (2:16; 4:14; 13:11) the Jewish magistrates were called _seganim_, properly meaning "nobles." In the New Testament the Greek word _archon_, rendered "magistrate" (Luke 12:58; Titus 3:1), means one first in power, and hence a prince, as in Matt. 20:25, 1 Cor. 2:6, 8. This term is used of the Messiah, "Prince of the kings of the earth" (Rev. 1:5). In Acts 16:20, 22, 35, 36, 38, the Greek term _strategos_, rendered "magistrate," properly signifies the leader of an army, a general, one having military authority. The _strategoi_ were the duumviri, the two praetors appointed to preside over the administration of justice in the colonies of the Romans. They were attended by the sergeants (properly lictors or "rod bearers").