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PUBLIUS (pŭb'lĭ-ŭs, Gr. Poplios). The chief person on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean. He gave lodging and food to Paul and his companions after their shipwreck on the island’s rocky coast. Paul healed the man’s father and many others (Acts.27.27-Acts.27.44; Acts.28.7-Acts.28.10).

PUBLIUS pub’ lĭ əs (Πόπλιος, G4511; Lat. Publius). The leading man on Malta who for three days hospitably entertained Paul and members of the shipwrecked party (Acts 28:7, 8). His father, sick with fever and dysentery, was healed by Paul (v. 8). The epithet ὁ πρω̂τος, “the chief man,” has been confirmed by two Maltese inscrs. as an official title. He was apparently the chief Rom. official on Malta. Ramsay suggested that the peasantry on his estate called Publius by his praenomen, and Luke used the name he commonly heard. Tradition points to Publius as the first bishop of Malta and a martyr.


W. M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller (1909), 343; F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the Book of the Acts (1954), 523; C. W. Carter and R. Earle, The Acts of the Apostles (1959), 415f.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(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 Ac 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 Ac 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" (Ac 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.