Panax Corp. yesterday closed down its Globe newspapers in Northern Virginia and sold the paper's name and circulation list to Journal Newspapers Inc., owners of a rival chain of suburban papers.

The transaction was announced by Geoffrey Edwards, vice president and general manager of the Journal and confirmed by Globe Publisher David A. Schansberg.

Edwards said the Journal group's Fairfax paper will be renamed the Fairfax Journal Globe and will be sent to Globe subscribers beginning next week.

The Journal company was approached by Panax "less than seven days" ago and offered an opportunity to acquire the Globe, Edwards said.

The deal was completed yesterday, after the weekly edition of the Globe was published. Thursday's Globe made no mention of the sale and Globe staff members were not told of it until late in the day.

Neither Edwards nor Schansberg would say how much the Journal paid for the Globe's name and subscribers.

The Globe has a weekly circulation of about 21,000 papers, most of it in Fairfax County. With the addition of the Globe subscribers, the Journal's Northern Virginia editions will have a combined circulation of about 70,000, Edwards said.

The Fairfax Journal, he added, will now have a circulation of about 55,000 copies a week, making it the second largest circulation paper in Fairfax County, after The Washington Post.

"It puts us ahead of The (Washington) Star and strengthens our position in the market," said Edwards, "We're becoming a much more important advertising medium in Fairfax County."

The Globe was purchased by Panax Corp. in the spring of 1977 from its previous owners, The McKeesport, Pa., Daily News. At that time, Panax also acquired the free-circulation Advertiser papers which are circulated in the Maryland suburbs. Panax will continue to publish the Advertisers and Antiques Observer, a bi-monthly with a national circulation.

The Journal will also acquire the Globe Merchant, a free circulation "shopper" that serves the Manassas area.

Headquartered in Michigan, Panax publishes some 50 newspapers, most of them weeklies. About 40 percent of Panax stock is owned by conservative publisher John P. McGoff, who once tried to buy The Washington Star.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoened McGoff in an investigation into charges that he purchased control of Panax using $11.5 million secretly provided by the government of South Africa.

A South African government commission last summer reported that the $11.5 million was funneled to McGoff through a Swiss bank, in an apparent effort to buy a large newspaper that would be friendly to South Africa's policy of apartheid.

Schansberg would not comment on the reason Panax had decided to sell the Globe, but he denied reports that the paper is losing money.

Five years ago The Globe was the leading weekly in Fairfax County, with a circulation of about 25,000 compared with the Journal's 22,000.

With separate editions serving Alexandria, Arlington and Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland, the Journal group has expanded rapidly in recent years. Edwards said the total circulation of the Journal papers is now more than 140,000 per week.

Until last January, the Globe included a tabloid insert, called The Washington Weekly, which carried mostly conservative political columnists. The Weekly was sold by Panax to a group headed by Lester Kinsolving, the publication's editor.