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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Tertius

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(Τέρτιος, a Latin name)

Tertius is the amanuensis of St. Paul who in Romans 16:22 interposes a greeting in his own name to the Apostle’s readers, ‘I Tertius, who write the epistle, salute you in the Lord’ (Revised Version ), or possibly, ‘I Tertius salute you, who write the epistle in the Lord’ (ἀσπάζομαι ὑμᾶς ἐγὼ Τέρτιος ὁ γράψας τὴν ἐπιστολὴν ἐν κυρίῳ). That St. Paul generally dictated his letters and added a few words in his own handwriting is clear from 1 Corinthians 16:21, Galatians 6:11, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17, and probably Philemon 1:19. The amanuensis no doubt took down the Apostle’s words in shorthand, which was extensively used at the time, and later wrote out the letter for transmission (the employment of different amanuenses has been thought to account to some extent for the considerable diversity of style in the Pauline Epistles; see Sanday-Headlam, International Critical Commentary , ‘Romans’4, 1900, p. lx). Then St. Paul took up the pen and authenticated the letter, thus guarding against the palming off of forged documents under his name. Other postscripts of this kind have been suspected in the doxology (Romans 16:25-27) and in 2 Corinthians 13:11 ff., Philippians 4:21 ff., 1 Thessalonians 5:25 ff. All this was quite in accordance with the custom of the time. If we can suppose, with some, that the ‘stake in the flesh’ from which the Apostle suffered was ophthalmia, or that he was unfamiliar with the use of the pen owing to his manual labour of tent-making, there would seem to be sufficient reason for St. Paul following the custom. Nothing further is known of Tertius. It is quite as unlikely that St. Paul kept a regular secretary as that Tertius was a slave whom he hired to do the work. He must have been a faithful attendant and companion of the Apostle, who, whether the alternative rendering given above be correct or not, ‘wrote the epistle in the Lord,’ i.e. as a Christian, in a spirit of loving service (see G. Milligan, Thessalonians, 1908, Note A, p. 124 ff.). His personal salutation does not necessarily imply that he was known to those to whom the letter was directed. If its destination was Rome, it is just possible that, as he bears a Latin name and was perhaps a Roman, he may have had friends among those whom the Apostle greets. If we suppose that the salutations were sent to Ephesian Christians, we may conjecture that Tertius had met many of them on the missionary journeys on which he may have accompanied St. Paul.

T. B. Allworthy.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Tertius'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/t/tertius.html. 1906-1918.

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