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Silvanus (2 Cor.; 1-2 Thess.)

Role: Literate Worker

Gender: Male

Date: mid-first century CE

Place: Thessalonica; Corinth(?)

Language:  Greek

Literary Genre: Letter

Title of Work: 2 Corinthians; 1 Thessalonians; 2 Thessalonians

Reference:  2 Cor. 1:19; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1

Original Text:

ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ γὰρ υἱὸς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς ὁ ἐν ὑμῖν δι’ ἡμῶν κηρυχθείς, δι’ ἐμοῦ καὶ Σιλουανοῦ καὶ Τιμοθέου, οὐκ ἐγένετο ναὶ καὶ οὒ ἀλλὰ ναὶ ἐν αὐτῷ γέγονεν. (NA28 2 Cor. 1:19)

Παῦλος καὶ Σιλουανὸς καὶ Τιμόθεος τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεσσαλονικέων ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη. (NA28 1 Thess 1:1)

Παῦλος καὶ Σιλουανὸς καὶ Τιμόθεος τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεσσαλονικέων ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ, (NA28 2 Thess 1:1)

English Translation:

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not “Yes and No”; but in him it is always “Yes.” (2 Cor. 1:19)

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. (1 Thess 1:1)

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess 1:1)


Silvanus appears near or at the beginning of three letters attributed to Paul. In both 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians, he is listed as a co-author alongside Timothy and Paul. In 2 Corinthians, Paul and Timothy note that Silvanus was one of the main teachers present with them during their time among the Corinthian congregation. It is unclear if Silvanus’s presence in Corinth suggests that this was his hometown. Silvanus’s status as an enslaved or formerly enslaved person is unclear, given what little information Pauline epistles provide about him.

Silvanus—a name meaning “of the woods” that is also used of a Roman forest deity—was a popular Latin name that was occasionally given to enslaved and formerly enslaved persons (e.g., CIL 2 3336; CIL 8 12607; CIL 9 219).

It is unclear whether the Silvanus named here is meant to be the same Silvanus who functions as Peter’s literate worker in 1 Peter 5:12. To complicate matters further, scholars disagree on whether 2 Thessalonians is a letter that Paul composed or dictated; thus, the attribution of 2 Thessalonians to Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy may have been a forger’s attempt at mimicking the authorial attribution of 1 Thessalonians.

Keywords: Christian; Literate Worker; New Testament; Paul; Secretary

Related Entries: Timothy; Silvanus (1 Pet 5:12)


Bonar, Chance E. “Coauthorial Attribution in the Teachings of Silvanus (NHC VII,4).” Pages 127–150 in Authorial Fictions and Attributions in the Ancient Mediterranean. Edited by Chance E. Bonar and Julia D. Lindenlaub. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2.Reihe. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2024.

Richards, E. Randolph. “Silvanus Was Not Peter’s Secretary: Theological Bias in Interpreting διὰ Σιλουανοῦ …εγραψαιν 1 Peter 5:12.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 43.3 (2000): 417–432.

Sargent, Benjamin. “Chosen Through Sanctification (1 Pet 1,2 and 2 Thess 2,13): The Theology or Diction of Silvanus?” Biblica 94.1 (2013): 117–120.

How to Cite:

Bonar, Chance E. “Silvanus (1 Pet. 5:12).” Ancient Enslaved Christians. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR <URL>


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