🔼The name Gaius in the Bible
The name Gaius was very common in the first century AD, and its popularity was probably additionally helped by it being the first name of Julius Caesar, and subsequently of Gaius Caesar, who would have succeeded emperor Augustus had he not prematurely died and been replaced by Tiberius.
The name Gaius occurs 5 times in the New Testament — see full concordance — but it's not clear how many different men this covers; it may be anywhere from one to five:
- One of two unfortunate Macedonian companions of the apostle Paul to whom the rage of the Ephesian fans of Artemis was directed; the other one was Aristarchus (Acts 19:29).
- The previous Gaius is probably the same as Gaius of Derbe, who, together with probably the same Aristarchus, was among the seven companions of Paul to travel ahead of him to Troas (Acts 20:4).
- He also may or may not be the same as Paul's host in Corinth (Romans 16:23).
- Who is probably the same as the one who Paul baptized together with Crispus (1 Corinthians 1:14).
- The recipient of John's third epistle, whom the author calls "the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth" and who is otherwise unknown (3 John 1:1).
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Gaius
The name Gaius is old enough to be the product of an obscure etymology, but obscure as the formal etymology might be, this name, then and now, most reminds of the familiar Greek noun γαια (gaia), meaning earth or land (this word does not occur in the New Testament). This noun declines to γαιασ (gaias) in the genitive, and the name Gaius would thus mean Of The Land.
Perhaps the name Gaius reflects the considerations of an agricultural society, but possibly it reflects the same kind of idea that gave us the name Adam in Hebrew, and Gaius primarily means Made Of Earthly Material or in other words: Corporeal Creature.