"the chief man of the island" of Malta ( Acts 28:7 ), who courteously entertained Paul and his shipwrecked companions for three days, till they found a more permanent place of residence; for they remained on the island for three months, till the stormy season had passed. The word here rendered "chief man" (protos) is supposed by some to be properly a Maltese term, the official title of the governor.
the chief man --probably the governor-of Melita, who received and lodged St. Paul and his companions on the occasion of their being shipwrecked off that island. ( Acts 28:7 ) (A.D.55.)
pub'-li-us (Poplios, from the Latin praenomen Publius, derived from populus, "popular"; according to Ramsay it is the Greek form of the Latin nomen Popilius; the Greek title meaning "first," applied to Publius in Acts 28:7, was an official one, and has been found on an inscription from the island of Gaulus near Malta (compare Bockh, Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum, number 5, 754)):
Publius held office under the governor of Sicily. As the leading official in Malta, he was responsible for any Roman soldiers and their prisoners who might land there, but the account in Acts 28:7 implies that he displayed more than ordinary solicitude for Paul and his shipwrecked company, for, according to the writer, he "received us, and lodged us three days courteously" (the King James Version). The Apocryphal "Ac of Paul" (see APOCRYPHAL ACTS, sec. B, I) states also that "he did for them many acts of great kindness and charity" (compare Budge, Centendings of the Apostles, II, 605). On this occasion Paul miraculously healed the father of Publius, who "lay sick of fever and dysentery" (Acts 28:8). The exactitude of the medical terms here employed forms part of the evidence that the writer of Ac was a physician. Tradition relates that Publius was the first bishop of Malta and that he afterward became bishop of Athens.
C. M. Kerr
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