Troublesome Topic: THE NAMES OF ACTS 2

Acts 2:9


We hear the dialects of


those who are MEASURED BY YHVH or recognize they are MEASURED BY YHVH,




Those to be feared because they are from THE LAND OF FINE [WAR] HORSES,

The daring people of THE SEA,

And people who seek importance by  claiming to be THE SOURCE OF GREAT THINGS such as the rising sun or the rise of human reason and advancement.

Acts 2:10




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and also PAMPHYLIA

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and parts of LYBIA

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That are down from

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and those temporarily gathered [here]

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from ROME,

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Those in THE LAND BOUND BY SIN, those from


looking toward those that LORD OVER THEM with submission based on fear,

As well as those who have temporarily left THE PLACE WHERE MANY STRENGTHS CONVERGE and gathered here to worship.

Acts 2:11





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and ARABS,

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we hear them speaking the great things of THEOS in our own dialects.


Those who have PRAISED GOD all their lives,



THOSE WHO FOLLOW THE ALTERNATE LIFESTYLE OF CRISS-CROSSING THE LAND AS NOMADS, we each hear them proclaiming in our respective dialects the wonderful things done by THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS.


This list of names is obviously intended to point to “everyone.” The meanings of some of those names clearly point in that direction, other names indicate the various extremes possible such as the “high and elevated” as well as “the rejects and outcasts.” It includes those who “praise God” and those who are “bound by sin,” as well as those whose strengths are converging to make a flow of great strength and those who live in fearful submission to those who lord over them. It even includes the “alternate lifestyle” of the nomads.



The name Parthia comes from an Old Persian word, and appears to have meant “strong man or champion.” It is also the word from which the name “Persia” came. The region of Parthia became a province of the Persian Empire and later a part of the Seleucid Empire. The Parthians may have originated with a local tribe.  (Abarim Publications).

The people behind think it was the Parni tribe which rebelled against the Seleucid Empire and gained independence, establishing the Parthian Empire, which was successful at stopping the Roman Empire from expanding their direction. The control of their empire stretched from the Mediterranean Sea on the West and reached to India and China on the East. They had control of the steppes and other resource-rich lands. They were also known to be creative and successful in military tactics, architecture, trade, and other aspects of society. See

Every man wants to be a strong champion. Some achieve that status more so than others, but it is the desire of every man. In this context we could say that, in order to fulfill his inner dreams of being a strong champion, every man needs to hear about Jesus and learn to live the Jesus way. When we learn to live in humility and submission to God, to spend ourselves for others instead of for self, to live a life of self-sacrifice instead of self-centeredness, then we will be strong; then we will be the champions for the poor, the needy the hopeless and the lost.


The name Medes refers to Media, originally Madai, which seems to have come from the verb Madad which means “measured by Yah” which is an abbreviated form of “measured by YHVH.” The person with the name Madai was a son of Japheth and a grandson of Noah (Gen 10:2), thus he knew about YHVH. The empire of Media is best known for its important contribution to the Medo-Persian empire due to the actions of King Cyrus to combine elements of both empires into one empire. Another explanation is that the name Media refers to “the middle” and describes the land between two major geographical barriers such as rivers or mountains. The people at Abarim Publications favor a Hebrew meaning of “measured by Yah,” and I am choosing that one because it is associated with the grandson of Noah and thus seems to be the more ancient of the two options.

Actually, all of us are being measured by the Lord and all of us will receive the recompense merited by our actions, unless we are under the blood of Jesus, in which case we will receive mercy instead of getting the punishment we deserve. This name could refer to everyone, because all of us are being measured by YHVH, or it could refer to those recognize they are being measures by them and want to live accordingly. Either way, the message that Jesus is the Messiah was for the people described by this name.


The name Elamites comes from Elam which comes from Alam which means “hidden or concealed.” This was not a reference to something hidden away for safe keeping, but rather a hidden potential that had not yet been revealed publicly. The word is closely associated with the idea of potential (Abarim Publications). The Elamites resided in Mesopotamia on the Northeast shore of the Persian Gulf. They lived on the high ground of a plateau. They carried on extensive trade with people from faraway lands and the religion they developed influenced other religions even after their loose-knit society had come under the rule of other empires. From However, Acts 2 differentiates between the Elamites and other Mesopotamians; It does this possibly because of the richness of the meaning of the names.

Once again, this name refers to everyone because everyone has hidden potential. Everyone needs to hear the message that Jesus is the savior and Lord because we all have God-given potential that will not be reached unless we get connected to our Creator and begin living for His glory, not for ourselves.

4: Residing

This word is a combination of the preposition “down” and the verb “dwell or reside” which in turn comes from the noun “house.” The word used in this verse obviously has a form of the word “house” in it. This word indicates people who have settled “down” in an area, built houses and are living there long term, not just passing through with tents.


Meso means “between, in the middle” and Potamia is a form of the word for “river.” Water is obviously necessary for life, and rivers provide water in large quantities. They also provide fish and a form of navigation, but I believe the intended emphasis here is on life. The ancients saw water as a source of life. However, God is the only source of life, so things like rivers are either secondary sources of life, representations of the true giver of life, or they are things God put in place to help sustain life.

Again, this is a reference to everyone because God has placed representations of His life-giving abilities all around us, on all sides (not just on two sides with us “between” them.


The name Judea simply means the region in southern Israel, but it comes from the name Judah, so I am using the meaning of the name Judah, “those who praise [God].”


Capadocia is thought to mean “land of fine horses.” Horses were mostly used for war, so if a land was known for fine horses, it would mean that they were likely dangerous in warfare. They were to be feared.


Pontus means “the sea” and referred to people living on the South shore of the Black Sea. This assumes that they were likely involved in lots of maritime activity. Sailors were held in a strange kind of awe because the sea was an unknown and dangerous place. Despite other possible bad reputation issues with sailors, they were considered courageous risk-takers because they faced death in ways that normal people never did.


The name Asia, applied in Bible times to Asia Minor, seems to mean “the place of rising” and most scholars consider it to refer to the rising of the sun. Others (such as Abarim Publications) say such an idea is unlikely because there were other people living further East than they were, and therefore the idea of “rising” probably referred to something else such as “the rise of human reason.” However, they did not have to be the Eastern-most people group to claim the name “place of the rising of the sun.” Thus, either option is possible. My conclusion is that they claimed to be important because they saw themselves as the source (place of the rising) of important things, such as the sun and reason and advancement.


The name Phrygia appears to come from an ancient indo-european word meaning “height or elevation” and was used of mountains heights. The people called Phrygians moved from the Balkan mountains to the mountains of modern central Turkey.


Pamphylia comes from the words pas, meaning “all or every” and phulé, meaning “clan or tribe.”


The name Egypt means “to bind, to fortify, or to defend.” However, in the Bible, Egypt is always  a picture of sin. Therefore, I have put those two ideas together in my paraphrase and rendered the name as “the place that is bound by sin.” The Egyptians would never think of their name in that way; but this was the Jewish perspective and the one that was likely being used in this passage.


Lybia comes from the word meaning “lip, bank or shore.” The name came to be used of “the west bank of the Nile,” which in turn really means “the nation West of Egypt.” I am using it in my paraphrase to indicate someone “living on the edge.”


This preposition denotes “the movement from a high position to a lower one, with the emphasis on the final state.” Thus, “down from” is the most basic meaning, but it can also be rendered “according to, against, through, throughout, toward, regarding, and a few other options.” Because its use in this verse has to do with direction, I think its physical meaning may be most accurately stated as “toward Cyrene,” although many translations say something like “near or around Cyrene,” which are not altogether wrong.

Of greater interest to me here is the symbolic meaning. I think the idea of “toward” probably expresses here, and in other places, the concept of looking toward someone for leadership, or assistance. This was not often done in ancient times out of love, but usually out of necessity or fear. That shows the difference between other lords and the Creator and LORD of the universe whom we do not need to be terrified of if we live in communion with him. He is perfectly holy and perfectly gracious at the same time. He wants to make us holy too, but He will accept us as we are and then help us become what He designed us to be, if we allow Him to do His refining work.


Cyrene was the capital of Lybia in ancient times, but now the capital is Tripoli. The name appears to come from a Greek word which means “powerful one,” It is associated with the Greek word from which we get our word “Lord.” Thus, it would point to someone who is powerful due to his authority.

16: “Temporarily gathered [here]”

This word is made by adding together the preposition “upon” and a participial form of the noun that refers to “people who are bound together by common ties assembled publicly in one place;” or it can be expressed as: “people unified in conviction and showing it in the expression of public opinion.” This is the word from which we get our English word “democracy” which in turn comes from the word “bound or tied together.” The union of “upon” and “people who are bound together by common ties assembled publicly in one place” was used to refer to two seemingly opposite things: it could mean “to be at home in one’s own land” or “to make one’s self at home in a foreign land, to be a foreign resident, temporarily out of place and visiting a land that was not his own.” It is agreed that the latter meaning is the one in view in this verse.


Rome is named after its legendary founder, Romulus, whose name means “to strengthen or make firm.” But it is more than just the one name; there are several words associated with the founding of Rome and they all come together to emphasize the converging of dynamic elements into a flow of strength. As time went on this was proven true as men aligned within social codes and pooled their various resources into a culture (Abarim Publications). It seems best to use “strengthen” as a starting point and end up with a meaning which emphasizes “strength in numbers, a strength of unified people.” My final choice for the rendering of this name is “the place where many strengths converge.”

Instead of relying on the strength which comes from bringing together many people with their individual strengths, these people realized that the kind of strength necessary to do good comes from submitting to the Creator God as described in the Old Testament (they did not have the New Testament yet).


Crete was to Greece what Australia once was to England, a place to send the rejects and the outcasts. It is thought that the name came from a Hebrew verb meaning “to round up and cut off,” and then it was given a Greek quasi-equivalent which means “a judge,” which comes from the verb “to separate or distinguish.” Those outcasts ended up taking the island from its other inhabitants. We do not know what they chose to call themselves or their new island home; all we have is the name given to it by outsiders. Paul in Titus 1:12 perpetuated the common sentiment when he referred to Cretans as “always liars, evil brutes and lazy gluttons.”


Arabia comes from Arab, which means “to criss-cross or traverse” and refers to a nomadic lifestyle. It did not refer to a specific nation or ethnic group, but to a region that was occupied by various people groups, and to the way of life adopted by those who lived in that region – the nomadic lifestyle. According to Abarim Publications, it referred to people “who move around without a particular headquarter, or drifters from no specified location.” There were many connections between the people of Israel and the people of Arabia. Israel passed through, and spent 40 years in the Arabian desert, and many Jews continued living a nomadic lifestyle even after they entered the land promised to them. It appears that nomads were accepted in society, yet theirs was an alternate lifestyle, different from the established life of farm lands, villages, towns or cities. It is mentioned in this passage because it pointed to an alternate lifestyle, different from the rest.

The people at Abarim Publications  ( surmise that “the name Arabia also belonged to the phenomenon of large-scale international information exchange; a kind of proto-internet that was governed by the tales of caravan men, or the slow but grand unification of the world’s wisdom traditions by means of the informal exchange of stories and legends, and this as a side-effect of international trade.