🔼The name Aristarchus: Summary
- Best Ruler
- From (1) the verb αριστευω (aristeuo), to be the best, and (2) the noun αρχη (arche), chief or ruler.
🔼The name Aristarchus in the Bible
The name Aristarchus occurs five times in the New Testament. Aristarchus was a Macedonian of Thessalonica (Acts 27:2) and a traveling companion of Paul. He was manhandled together with Gaius when Demetrius stirred Ephesus into an uproar (Acts 19:29) and accompanied Paul on his subsequent missionary journey to Macedonia and Greece (Acts 20:4).
Aristarchus was with Paul when the ship they sailed on to Rome went down off the coast of Malta (Acts 27:2). Both men made it to Rome, where they both were imprisoned (Colossians 4:10, Philemon 1:24).
The name Aristarchus occurs 5 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
🔼Etymology of the name Aristarchus
The name Aristarchus consists of two elements, the first being an adjective derived from the verb αριστευω (aristeuo), meaning to be the best:
The prefix αρι- (ari-) means "very," and works basically as an amplifier of what comes next. The noun αρετη (arete) means excellence and virtue. Verb αριστευω (aristeuo) means to be best or bravest and yields the noun αριστος (aristos), best or brave one.
The second part of our name comes from the noun αρχη (arche), in this case meaning chief or ruler:
Noun αρχη (arche) and prefix αρχι (archi-) both speak of beginning (hence our words archaic and arch-father). This may be a beginning in time but also in quality or political hierarchy, and so these words often express primality and hence being boss or best or highest (hence our word archangel). The word αρχων (archon) denotes a ruler or chief-in-office.
The name Aristarchus means Best Ruler. According to Liddell and Scott (An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon), Aristarchus was also an epithet of Zeus. Up to the Christian era, the most famous Aristarchus in history was probably Aristarchus of Samos, whose model of the heliocentric universe Archimedes used for certain calculation about the universe (published in his 3rd century BC book Psammites). In our article on the verb στεφω (stepho) we argue that this model was the norm in antiquity, and suggest that the notion of a flat earth came with the general degradation of wisdom in the post-Alexandrian world.