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What’s in a name?

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Erastus inscription at Corinth (Credit: Jeff Byrd, Denison Forum on Truth and Culture)

You may never have heard of Erastus, but his name was revolutionary for biblical scholarship.

Paul spent 18 months in Corinth, the first city we visited today on our study tour of Greece and Turkey.  Here he met and apparently won to Christ the city’s public works director (Acts 19:22).  Erastus was a person of high standing in his society.  Skeptics wondered how likely it was that a person of such status would identify with the fledgling Christian movement, and even allow his name to be used in Paul’s letter to the imperial city of Rome: “Erastus who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings” (Romans 16:23).

Then, in 1929 the inscription pictured beside this blog was discovered amid the ruins of ancient Corinth.  In English, it reads: “Erastus in return for his aedileship at his own expense laid this pavement.”  The plaque originally stood over the colonnade that led into the main center of Corinth; its original letters were made of gold, silver, or bronze.  The inscription proves that Erastus existed in that city, lending considerable archaeological credibility to Paul’s statement.

Scholars may not write papers about your name one day, but God knows it and everything else about you.  Jesus told his followers that they could “rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).  Paul assured his fellow workers that their “names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3).

Charles Spurgeon recommended that we write our names on hearts, not monuments.  Buildings will one day turn to dust, but souls live forever.