🔼The name Derbe: Summary
🔼The name Derbe in the Bible
Derbe was situated within a day's journey of Lystra, where Paul was stoned by an angry mob, and from where he went to Derbe with Barnabas (Acts 14:20). Sometime later, Paul returned to Derbe and Lystra and appears to have met young Timothy there (16:1).
The name Derbe occurs 4 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
🔼Etymology of the name Derbe
It's unclear what the name Derbe means, or even from which language it stems. And if that isn't bad enough: it's not even clear whether Derbe was actually called Derbe, or perhaps Derme, Divle, Devli, or even Delbia or Delbeia. The latter was reported by the sixth century author Stephanus of Byzantium, who also submitted that the word δελβεια (delbeia) denoted the Juniper Tree in the Lycaonian language.
The name Derbe doesn't mean anything in either Latin or Greek, but the Latin word derbiosus means scabby and denotes a (class of) pustular skin disease. The Greek word δερβιστηρ (derbister) is a variant of δερος (deros) and δερας (deras), which in turn derive from δερμα (derma), meaning skin.
It's ultimately unclear what the name Derbe might have meant or what it may have resembled to a first century audience. Local Lycaonians might have recognized their word for Juniper Tree and Greeks and Romans might have heard their word for Skin.