🔼The name Erastus in the Bible
There appear to be two different men named Erastus in the Bible:
- An assistant of Paul, whom he sent to Macedonia together with Timothy (Acts 19:22). In his second letter to Timothy he informs the latter that Erastus remained in Corinth (2 Timothy 4:20).
- The city treasurer in Corinth, who appears to be friends with Paul while he was there (Romans 16:23).
Over the centuries several fierce debates have tried to establish whether these two Erastuses could be the same one. If so, Erastus who was once with Timothy would have to have swerved from his calling and taken a money-related job in Corinth, and that's considered by some to be quite heinous. And to add insult to injury, in 1929 a first century inscription was found in Corinth that mentions an Erastus, who boastfully paid for something. Could this be the same Erastus as the second one, or even the first?
The trouble is that Paul identifies his acquaintance with one difficult Greek word (treasurer or chamberlain) while the inscription uses another difficult Greek word. Some scholars insists that never the twain shall meet, but others see no problem in one Erastus who first interns for a spell with Paul, then becomes Timothy's travelling companion, then takes on a job that in Greek is described by one difficult word and rises to the rank of the other difficult word. Here at Abarim Publications we feel that scholars need to remember that there is nothing wrong with working for money, not even in Paul's optic (Acts 18:3).
🔼Etymology of the name Erastus
The name Erastus is a fairly common noun meaning beloved or adjective meaning lovely. It's an unusual form because the alternative ερατος (eratos) is much more common. Both have to do with the noun ερασις (erasis), meaning love. Which nuance of love these words cover is difficult to establish, but this entire word cluster is omitted in the Bible. The verb these words are associated with is εραω (erao), meaning to love, which appears to have most to do with sexual passion: to desire passionately, to lust after. Another verb of the same form εραω (erao) means to pour forth or vomit.
The name Erastus could be translated with Beloved but probably more accurate is Desired or, slightly more down to earth: Randy. Note that in the classical world, certain bodily and psychological functions were not classified with the same vehemence as they are today (whether negative or positive).