Apostle Paul met and traveled with many people during his missionary journeys. Some of them are mentioned including Barnabas and Silas. However, some remain anonymous but they still played an important role in Paul’s ministry. Atticus is often thought of as one of these unnamed people who traveled with Paul at least once. But what does the Bible say about this?
What Does the Bible Say About Atticus?
The Bible doesn’t mention anyone by the name of Atticus. However, Herodes Atticus lived during the 2nd century AD and there is some speculation that he was part of the team that traveled with Paul. Historically speaking, Atticus was an influential and wealthy orator, philosopher, and aristocrat in the Roman Empire.
The name Atticus is derived from the Greek word “Attikos,” which loosely translates to “Man from Attica.” Attica is a region in Greece that was known for noble and strong people. It was also the birthplace of Socrates (philosopher), Demosthenes (Orator), and Sophocles (playwright). The name Atticus is often associated with these famous figures and with the ideals of wisdom, courage, and eloquence.
Early Life of Herodes Atticus
Atticus is believed to have been born in Marathon, a tiny town in the region of Attica, Greece. He came from a wealthy family and his full name was Lucius Vibullius Hipparchus Tiberius Claudius Atticus Herodes. As a result of his family, Atticus had a great childhood and he enjoyed the privileges and trappings of power that come with wealth and connections. As a result of his family wealth, Atticus not only got the best education but also had plenty of exposure opportunities which opened his eyes to intellectual and cultural developments that were ahead of time.
Like most other Roman elites, Atticus studies philosophy, rhetoric, and arts. Philosophy left a lasting impression on him and he was particularly influenced by the teachings of Peregrinus Proteus, who was a famous Athenian philosopher. It was this education that shaped Atticus to be the notable Roman figure that he turned out to be.
Rise to Prominence
As we have established, Herodes Atticus came from privilege. However, that was not the only reason why he rose to prominence. His place of privilege was a stepping stone but there are lots of accomplishments that he made. These include:
- Oratory skills: Atticus was not only a great philosopher but also a gifted orator. His oratory skills and philosophical knowledge got him lots of respect and admiration among his peers. His ability to engage in philosophical debates is arguably what made him a sought-after figure for intellectual discourses in the Roman Empire.
- Philanthropy: Atticus had great wealth most of which was from inheritance. Unlike most wealthy people of his time, he spent a great deal of his money on philanthropic activities. Some of his notable philanthropic initiatives include the construction of public buildings, educational institutions, and theaters. His philanthropy endeared him to both the ruling elite and the general public.
- Politics: Atticus held a couple of public offices including serving as a senator. During his tenure, he made lots of administrative contributions that helped to enhance the standing of Rome in the region.
- Cultural Patronage: Atticus Herodes was a famous patron of education and the arts. He sponsored lots of cultural events in his hometown and across the empire. Some of the events he sponsored include musical contests and diverse theatrical performances.
Suffice it to say that Atticus’ support for artists contributed to his reputation as a cultured and influential figure.
Atticus’ Appearance in the Bible
Atticus is not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the Bible. However, some scholars believe that Atticus must have crossed paths with the Apostles especially Apostle Paul. There are two main schools of thought that lead to this conclusion. First, Atticus was widely traveled – just like the Apostle Paul. It is therefore highly probable that their paths crossed during their different journeys. It might even be possible that Atticus joined Paul in one of his ministry trips either within or beyond the Roman empire. The second school of thought stems from the fact that Paul brushed shoulders with the high and mighty during his ministry. He even got an opportunity to meet Caesar in person which was a rarity.
If Paul met many noble people in the course of his ministry, there is a chance that Atticus was one of them. The closest we get to a reference to this is in Acts 16 which records that many of the people, including the noblemen, heard and believed the gospel as presented by Apostle Paul.
Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. Acts 17:12
As we have seen, Atticus was a prominent person during his time and there is a chance – however slight – that he was one of those mentioned in the scripture above. However, these are just thoughts that cannot be confirmed because scripture doesn’t mention them. Additionally, there is no verifiable historical document that confirms that Atticus was in one of the Christian meetings. Atticus is believed to have authored lots of material but sadly, none of them survived which is a shame because he might have mentioned something in them.
Atticus traveled widely both in and out of the Roman Empire. While he lived during the same era as the Apostle Paul, there is no historical evidence to suggest that they traveled together. Herodes Atticus was primarily focused on his own pursuits and contributions to Roman society.
Atticus travels took him to Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor. He also traveled extensively within the Roman empire due to his political and philanthropic duties. His travels helped Him to form a wider worldview as he interacted with people from different cultures. This in turn influenced his philosophical stands and views as well as his oratory skills.
There is no denying that Atticus was a noteworthy individual in the Roman Empire. Even though some believe him to have been one of the unmentioned disciples of Paul, there is no mention of him by name in the Bible. His name is also not linked directly to Paul or the other apostles in any of the verifiable historical documents from his era. It is therefore safe to infer that we will never know for sure whether or not Atticus was one of the unmentioned companions of Paul.