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Fortunatus (1 Cor 16:17)

Role: Messenger

Gender: Male

Date: mid-first century CE

Place: Corinth

Language:  Greek

Literary Genre: Letter

Title of Work: 1 Corinthians

Reference:  1 Cor. 16:15–17

Original Text:

Παρακαλῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί· οἴδατε τὴν οἰκίαν Στεφανᾶ, ὅτι ἐστὶν ἀπαρχὴ τῆς Ἀχαΐας καὶ εἰς διακονίαν τοῖς ἁγίοις ἔταξαν ἑαυτούς· 16 ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς ὑποτάσσησθε τοῖς τοιούτοις καὶ παντὶ τῷ συνεργοῦντι καὶ κοπιῶντι. 17 χαίρω δὲ ἐπὶ τῇ παρουσίᾳ Στεφανᾶ καὶ Φορτουνάτου καὶ Ἀχαϊκοῦ, ὅτι τὸ ὑμέτερον ὑστέρημα οὗτοι ἀνεπλήρωσαν· (NA28 1 Cor. 16:15-17)

English Translation:

Now, brothers and sisters, you know that members of the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints; I urge you to put yourselves at the service of such people, and of everyone who works and toils with them.  I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence. (NRSV 1 Cor. 16:15-17)


Fortunatus appears alongside Achaicus and Stephanas as members of the Corinthian assembly with whom Paul had been in contact previously. Near the end of 1 Corinthians, Paul notes that the household of Stephanas were the first Jesus-followers in the province of Achaia. What is less clear is the relationship of Fortunatus to Stephanas and Achaicus. It is possible that Fortunatus is an enslaved member of Stephanas’s household alongside Achaicus. His name also lends itself to this possibility, since it is a Latin term meaning “lucky” or “fortunate.” Fortunatus is a well-attested name for enslaved persons on Latin funerary monuments (e.g., CIL 6 8645; CIL 8 12597; CIL 15 1343,4). 

Given that Paul mentions the arrival of Fortunatus alongside Stephanas and Achaicus, it is possible that Fortunatus was one of the messengers sent from the Corinthian assembly to Paul with a letter that preceded 1 Corinthians. If this is the case, it is also possible to consider whether Fortunatus was involved in the reading or interpretation of the letter preceding 1 Corinthians to Paul, or if Achaicus was involved in the transportation, reading, or interpretation of 1 Corinthians to the Corinthian assembly.

Keywords: Christian; Messenger; New Testament; Paul


Head, Peter M. “Named Letter-Carriers among the Oxyrhynchus Papyri.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 31.3 (2009): 279–299.

Horn, Friedrich Wilhelm. “Stephanas und sein Haus – die erste christliche Hausgemeinde in der Achaia: ihre Stellung in der Kommunikation zwischen Paulus und der korinthischen Gemeinde.” Pages 83–98 in Paulus und die antike Welt: Beiträge zur zeit- und religionsgechichtlichen Erforschung des paulinischen Christentumes: Festgabe für Dietrich-Alex Koch zum 65. Geburtstag. Edited by David C. Bienert et al. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008.

Last, Richard. “The Neighborhood (vicus) of the Corinthian ekklēsia: Beyond Family-Based Descriptions of the First Urban Christ-Believers.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 38.4 (2017): 399–425.

How to Cite:

Bonar, Chance E. “Fortunatus (1 Cor 16:17).” Ancient Enslaved Christians. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR. <URL>


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