Name Giving By Paul And The Destination Of Acts -- By: Richard G. Fellows

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 67:2 (NA 2016)
Article: Name Giving By Paul And The Destination Of Acts
Author: Richard G. Fellows


Name Giving By Paul And The Destination Of Acts

Richard G. Fellows

(rfellows@shaw.ca)

Summary

It is proposed that Paul gave new names to the most courageous and prominent founding members of his churches. Crispus, Jason, Lydia, and Titius Justus seem to have received the names Sosthenes, Aristarchus, Euodia, and Stephanas respectively. Epaenetus and Theophilus may also be new names. The names have meanings that reflect leadership roles and a similar cluster of leadership names in Third Corinthians witnesses to the renaming phenomenon. Acts may have been written for the Aegean believers, who already knew that Crispus was Sosthenes and that Jason was Aristarchus.

1. Introduction

Abram became Abraham (Gen. 17:5), Sarai became Sarah (Gen. 17:15), Jacob became Israel (Gen. 32:28), and Hoshea became Joshua (Num. 13:16). These were prominent, founding members of the nation of Israel. Similarly, some of the prominent, founding members of the Jesus movement were given new names. Matthew 16:18 famously reads, ‘And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it’,1 and this has strong parallels with the cases of Abraham and also Augustus.2 Jesus

called the sons of Zebedee ‘Boanerges’ (sons of thunder) (Mark 3:17), and the apostles named Joseph ‘Barnabas’ (son of exhortation) (Acts 4:36). Ignatius was also called ‘Theophorus’ (bearer of God), and Hegessipus recorded that James the brother of Jesus was called ‘Oblias’ (bulwark of the people).3 This paper will explore whether Paul likewise gave new names to the prominent, founding, members of his congregations.

It will first be argued that Acts was written for at least some of the Aegean churches. It will then be argued that Crispus, Jason, Lydia, and Titius Justus were the leading founding members of the congregations in their cities and that they were probably given the new names Sosthenes, Aristarchus, Euodia, and Stephanas respectively. Epaenetus and Theophilus will then be added as further possible examples of the renaming phenomenon in the region. After addressing objections to the renaming theory, we wi...

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