🔼The name Lystra: Summary
- Unknown but perhaps from the verb λυω (luo), to loose or unbind.
🔼The name Lystra in the Bible
The name Lystra belonged to a city in the south-west of central Anatolia (modern Turkey), and is known today as Klistra. In Biblical times it was counted among the cities of Lycaonia, together with Derbe and perhaps Iconium.
When Paul and Barnabas visited Lystra and Paul healed a lame man there, the people of Lystra began to worship Paul as Hermes and Barnabas as Zeus. Paul tried to stop them, but Jews from Iconium stirred up the crowd and Paul ended up being stoned by the mob. He survived the assault and he and Barnabas journeyed on to Derbe (Acts 14:6-20).
A while later, Paul together with Silas returned to Derbe and Lystra, and there they found young Timothy, who was spoken well of by the brothers of Lystra and Iconium, and took him under their wing (Acts 16:1). In a later letter to his young protégé, Paul reminisced about the persecutions he endured in Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra (2 Timothy 3:11).
The name Lystra occurs 6 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
🔼Etymology of the name Lystra
It's not clear what the name Lystra was supposed to mean, or even from what language it stems. But to a Greek ear it probably sounded like it had to do with the verb λυω (luo), meaning to loose or unbind:
The verb λυω (luo) means to loose, unbind or disintegrate, and may also be used in the sense of "breaking" a law. It comes with a handsome list of compound derivations.
The second part may have been taken to be short for something, perhaps τραγος (tragos), meaning he-goat, or τρανοω (tranoo), meaning to make clear or distinct, or even τραυμα (trauma), meaning wound, hurt or damage.
The name Lystra might perhaps also be construed to have had to do with the verb λυσσα (lussa), meaning rage or fury. The word λυσσητηρ (lusseter) denotes someone who is raging or raging mad.
The formal meaning of the name Lystra is lost, but to a Greek audience it may have sounded like Loose Goats, Pain Relief or City Of Madness.