🔼The name Pamphylia: Summary
- All The Tribes, The Whole Of [Human] Nature
- From (1) the preposition πας (pas), all or the whole, and (2) the noun φυλη (phule), tribe.
🔼The name Pamphylia in the Bible
The name Pamphylia belonged to a kingdom, and later a region and finally Roman province in Anatolia or Asia Minor (now Turkey), namely the central part of the horizontal southern coast. Pamphylia was situated in between Cilicia to its east, Lycia to its west and Pisidia and Lycaonia to its north. The island Cyprus lies directly to the south of Pamphylia.
Pamphylia was by no means some isolated backwater. The names of a dozen or so Pamphylian thinkers and dignitaries survived from pre-Christ antiquity. Major trade routes cut through Pamphylia and Pamphylian travelers were present at the outpour of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem (Acts 2:10).
After their stint on Cyprus (and skirmish with Elymas the magician), Paul, Barnabas and John Mark set sail and arrived at Perga, in Pamphylia (Acts 13:13). John parted ways with them there and they traveled on to Antioch in Pisidia (which is not the famous one in Syria). After traversing Lycaonia they came south again, passing through Pisidia and Pamphylia (Acts 14:24) and continued east to Syrian Antioch, where they met the disciples (14:28).
Paul wanted to return to Asia Minor and Barnabas insisted they would take John Mark along with them. But Paul wouldn't hear of it since John Mark had abandoned them in Pamphylia (Acts 15:38). Barnabas ended up traveling to Cyprus with John Mark and Paul took Silas along through Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:39-41).
Much later, Paul appealed to Caesar and was subsequently shipped off. The Adramyttian ship he was put on sailed from Caesarea, north of Cyprus, via the coasts of Cilicia and Pamphylia, and landed in Myra in Lycia (Acts 27:5). There Paul boarded an Alexandrian ship with which he would famously shipwreck on Malta.
Pamphylia is mentioned 5 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
🔼Etymology of the name Pamphylia
The name Pamphylia consists of two elements. The first part comes from the familiar word πας (pas) or παν (pan), which means all:
The adjective πας (pas) declines into the more familiar forms παν (pan) and παντος (pantos) and expresses oneness, wholeness or totality.
The second part of our name comes from the noun φυλη (phule), meaning tribe:
The verb φυω (phuo) means to sprout and grow up. Noun φυλη (phule) refers to that which sprouted and grew up as one, i.e. a race or tribe. Noun φυσις (phusis) denotes things that sprout up in nature (as opposed to manufactured things) and may also refer the "nature" of people as opposed to their acquired properties.
The name Pamphylia literally means All The Tribes or The Whole Of [Human] Nature. The Pamphylians sported a mostly Greek culture but were of proverbially mixed origin: traces of various indigenous tribes and several migrations abound and demonstrate that even the Pamphylians themselves considered themselves a multi-cultural and multi-ethnical union.
On a Biblical platform, the name Pamphylia resounds with the covenantal promise of YHWH to Abraham: "In you shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:3, Acts 3:25, also see Ephesians 3:15) as well as John the Revelator's vision of the great multitude: "a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb" (Revelation 7:9).