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JUPITER jōō’ pə tər (Ζεύς, G2416). The supreme deity of the Greeks and Romans.

The concept of Zeus, the sky-God who revealed himself by the thunderbolt, was presumably brought into Greece by migrating Hellenic tribes. In early cult worship he was associated with human sacrifice and fertility. On Crete he was the infant consort of Rhea, the mother-goddess. In Homer he was a mixture of the amorous and cruel primitive deity with a noble, supreme “all-father.” It remained for the philosophers to represent Zeus as the supreme power. He became universal reason, law, and the source of life. The other deities of the pantheon were considered manifestations of Zeus.

Barnabas was mistaken for Zeus at Lystra and was so worshiped (Acts 14:12, 13).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

joo’-pi-ter, ju’-pi-ter (Zeus): "Jupiter" is mentioned in 2 Macc 6:2; Ac 14:12,13, with "Zeus" in the Revised Version margin in all cases. In addition the Greek stem appears in diopetous, in Ac 19:35, English Versions of the Bible "which fell down from Jupiter"; but the word means "from the clear sky" (compare "from heaven" in the Revised Version margin). "Jupiter" was considered the Latin equivalent of the Greek "Zeus," the highest god in the developed Greek pantheon, and Zeus in turn, in accord with the syncretism of the period, was identified with countless deities in the local cults of Asia Minor and elsewhere. So in Ac 14:12,13, "Zeus" and "Hermes" are local deities that had been renamed. On the other hand, the Zeus of 2 Macc 6:2 is the genuine Greek deity, who had been adopted as a special patron by Antiochus Epiphanes and to whose temple in Athens Antiochus had contributed largely. The title "Olympius" (2 Macc 6:2) is derived from the early worship on Mt. Olympus, but had come to be thought one of the god’s highest appellations; Xenios, "protector of strangers," was a title in a cult particularly popular with travelers.

See Abomination of Desolation, and Smith, HGHL, 333-34.

See also

  • Zeus