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Crescens (Polycarp, Phil. 14)

Role: Literate Worker

Gender: Male

Date: ca. 110 CE

Place: Smyrna

Language: Latin

Literary Genre: Letter

Title of Work: Letter to the Philippians

Reference: Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians 14

Original Text:

Haec vobis scripsi per Crescentem, quem in praesenti commendavi vobis et nunc commendo. conversatus est enim nobiscum inculpabiliter; credo quia et vobiscum similiter, sororem autem eius habebitis commendatam, cum venerit ad vos. (Pol. Phil. 14)

English Translation:

I am writing these things to you through Crescens, whom I commended to you recently [Or: when I was with you] and now commend again. For he has conducted himself blamelessly among us; and I believe that he will do the same among you. And his sister will be commended to you when she comes to you. (Pol. Phil. 14)

Text and Translation adapted from Bart D. Ehrman, The Apostolic Fathers (Loeb Classical Library 24; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), 150–1.


Crescens is the individual “through” (per) whom Polycarp, the mid-second century Bishop of Smyrna, wrote his Letter to the Philippians. The Latin preposition almost certainly suggested that Crescens was the messenger who carried the letter, if not also Polycarp’s secretary. Similar language is used in several Ignatian epistles (Ign. Phld. 11.2; Ign. Smyrn. 12.1; Ign. Rom. 10.1). Polycarp recommends both Crescens and his unnamed sister to group, identifying him as having conducted himself “blamelessly” (inculpabiliter), a likely translation of the underlying Greek ἄμεμπτος (Hartog).

The name Crescens is found in the pseudepigraphical letter 2 Tim 4:10 as a companion and, perhaps, emissary of Paul. It is a common cognomen appearing, for example, among members of a voluntary association dedicated to Silvanus in Philippi (CIL 3.633). 

Keywords: Apostolic Fathers; Christian; Literate Worker; Polycarp; Secretary


Hartog, Paul. Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians and the Martyrdom of Polycarp. Oxford Apostolic Fathers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 

Kleist, James A. The Didache. Ancient Christian Writings 6. Paramus, NJ: Paulist Press, 1948.

How to Cite:

Moss, Candida R. “Crescens (Pol. Phil. 14).” Ancient Enslaved Christians. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR. <URL>.


1 Kleist, Didache, 196 n100.



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