🔼The name Lucius: Summary
- Of Light, Of The Day
- From the Latin noun lux, light or day(-time).
🔼The name Lucius in the Bible
There are two men named Lucius mentioned in the Bible:
- A kinsman of Paul (which probably means fellow Jew) who was with him when he wrote the epistle to the Romans, at the end of which he forwards the greetings of several men, including Lucius (Romans 16:21). Paul most likely wrote his letter to the Roman congregation while he was in Corinth, and the 4th century work called the Apostolic Constitutions mentions among those "whom the holy apostles sent and ordained" one Lucius, bishop of Cenchrea, as one who was ordained by Paul himself. Now, Cenchrea — or Chenchraea or Kenchreai — was a "sizable community with an established church located ca. 8 km from Corinth" (says Joseph L. Rife in Corinth in Context: Comparative Studies on Religion and Society), which could certainly support its own bishop even when Corinth had one, and therefore it's quite possible that the Lucius Paul mentions is the same as bishop Lucius of Cenchrea. In his commentary on Romans, the second century church father Origen, however, equated this Lucius with the evangelist Luke (10.39).
- Lucius of Cyrene, who was in Antioch when Saul or Paul and Barnabas were there (Acts 13:1). It's possible but not specifically told that this Lucius was among the Cyrenians who came to Antioch to converse with the Greeks there (Acts 11:20). Tradition (dubiously) dictates that Lucius became the first bishop of Cyrene, and was as such ordained by Mark.
Also significant is senator Lucius Pontius Aquila, one of the Liberators (see our article on the Battle of Philippi) and frequent recipient of Julius Caesar's verbal outbursts. This member of the family of Pontius Pilate was also among the assassins of Julius Caesar.
Another note worth making is that the proconsul of Cyprus, namely the Sergius Paulus, mentioned in Acts 13:7, came from the great family of the Sergii, whose main praenomen was Lucius. That means that although this man's praenomen isn't mentioned in Acts, it would have been unusual if it hadn't been Lucius. The plot thickens when we observe that Paul's name is identical to the cognomen of Sergius Paulus, and that Paul was called Saul until his encounter with Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:9). The latter's protégé, the pseudo-prophet Bar-Jesus was struck with blindness after continuously making the straight paths of the Lord crooked (Acts 13:10), which is obviously a pun on Isaiah 40:3: "Make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God". The first people of Christ called themselves People of the Way (see our article on οδος, hodos, road or way), which was the community that Paul (then still Saul) was prosecuting (Acts 9:2), because of which he was struck with blindness (Acts 9:8).
🔼Etymology of the name Lucius
The name Lucius is a common Roman praenomen which derives from the Latin noun lux, meaning light or day(-time), which in turn comes from the familiar Greek/Latin root that yields words that have to do with light or white:
The adjective λευκος (leukos) primarily means white, and secondarily shiny or glittery. Noun λυχνος (luchnos) means a light (a lamp). The Latin verb luceo primarily means to shine and secondarily to be white. Noun lux means light or day(-time), and noun lumen means light or brightness.
The name Lucius means Of Light or Of The Day. Note the Lucius-related pun contained in the pseudo-name Lucifer. In his lament on how everything is his time had to be marked, labeled and locked to prevent pillaging by nameless slaves, Pliny the Elder reminisces about the good old days when people would have only one slave, who was named after his master. The slave of Lucius, namely, would be called Lucipor, which is a contraction of Lucii puer, or Slave(-Boy) Of He Who Pertains To The Light.