Quintus is a minor character mentioned just twice in the New Testament, but his role provides insight into the growth of the early church. Though little is known about Quintus himself, the contexts where he appears give clues about his identity and importance. By examining the biblical texts and historical background, we can piece together an understanding of who Quintus was and what his life shows about God’s work in the first century.
In the book of Acts, Luke provides only a passing reference to Quintus in Acts 20:4:
And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. Now these men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas. But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days. (NKJV)
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Later in Romans 16:21-23, Paul sends greetings to the church in Rome and includes:
Timothy, my fellow worker, and Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my countrymen, greet you. I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, and Quartus, a brother. (NKJV)
These two verses represent the full biblical record related to Quintus. There are no other direct references to this individual, so any understanding of him requires piecing together details from the texts and historical context.
From the scant biblical information, we can determine a few key facts about Quintus:
- He was a Christian convert and early church member in the 1st century.
- He accompanied Paul on part of his third missionary journey around AD 55.
- He was likely greeted by Paul in his letter to the Romans around AD 57.
With just these details, we may wonder why Quintus warrants a mention at all. But when examined within the broader growth and spread of the gospel in the early church, Quintus provides a valuable example of an ordinary believer and servant of God. His obscurity makes Quintus representative of the many nameless and faithful followers of Christ whose lives and ministries collectively built up the church against all odds in a hostile world.
Quintus the Missionary
The first and clearest impression we get of Quintus is that he was involved in missionary work alongside the Apostle Paul. In Acts 20, Luke describes Paul’s third missionary journey which took him through Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and Greece over a period of 3-4 years in the mid-50s AD. As Paul prepared to sail from Greece to Jerusalem, completing his journey, he was met by a delegation of seven men who had gone ahead of Paul to Troas. Luke names these seven men in Acts 20:4, including Quintus.
The fact that Quintus was among this advance group indicates he was a trusted traveling companion of Paul. Earlier in Acts 19, we find Paul ministering for two years in Ephesus in Asia Minor. The account notes that “all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:10). No doubt Quintus was among those evangelized and converted under Paul’s ministry in Ephesus and the broader region. When Paul undertook his fateful trip to Jerusalem, Quintus and six others were sent as envoys to sail ahead to Troas in northern Asia Minor. Since Troas was a port city not far from Ephesus, Quintus would have been familiar with the region.
Why would Paul send Quintus as part of the advance group? Most likely because Quintus was a native of Asia Minor and knew the route to Troas well. This would have made him an ideal guide to pave the way for Paul’s own sea voyage. The mission team itself was a diverse group, with men from both Greece and Asia Minor represented. For his part, Quintus could have served as a home-missionary of sorts, assisting and encouraging the fledgling church in Troas that had emerged from Paul’s earlier work there (Acts 16:6-11).
Quintus’s selection among the advance group shows he was a trusted fellow laborer alongside Paul. He had proven himself as a faithful brother and capable minister for the gospel. Though he held no prominent office or title, he was valued highly enough by Paul to be sent ahead on a vital part of the apostle’s pivotal end-of-career journey. In this we see how Quintus functioned as part of the wider missionary fervor of the early church. He used his gifts and abilities in coordination with Paul to spread the message of Christ to new regions in fulfillment of Jesus’ commission (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8).
Quintus the Messenger
A second insight into Quintus comes from his likely appearance as Quartus in the greeting list of Romans 16. Let’s take a closer look at the context. Paul’s letter to the Romans was written from Corinth around AD 57 as he completed his third journey and prepared to embark for Jerusalem. Romans 16 contains personal greetings Paul sent ahead to believers in the capital city of Rome. This long list of names served to introduce Paul and his associates to a church that did not know them personally. Paul was hoping to visit Rome soon and wanted to establish connections in the community.
Among approximately 27 names in Romans 16, we find Quartus in verse 23 sandwiched between Erastus and Tertius. It is widely accepted that Quartus is very likely the same person called Quintus in Acts 20. The different spellings come from Latin (Quartus) and Greek (Quintus) versions of the same name. Since Paul wrote Romans in Greek, it makes sense he would use the Greek rendering when referring to his colleague.
If Quartus and Quintus are in fact the same individual, it provides another piece of the puzzle about his identity and role. Paul refers to Quartus simply as “a brother” which denotes his status as a fellow believer but without any other title or distinction. The fact Paul includes him in the Credentials List of Romans 16, however, indicates Quartus held some standing in the Christian community.
An important clue is that Paul wrote Romans from Corinth during his extended stay there toward the end of his third journey. It was probably around this time—following his dispatch of the advance team to Troas—that Quintus/Quartus arrived in Corinth having completed his trip. Paul then entrusted Quintus with delivery of the Roman epistle when he set out for Jerusalem shortly thereafter. This was a strategic mission since the letter served as Paul’s formal introduction to the Roman church in anticipation of visiting.
Quintus was likely selected as the courier because his home territory of Asia Minor required him to travel on the way toward Rome. This made him the ideal messenger to carry Paul’s letter and pass through Roman Asia and other provinces where Paul had planted churches. Quintus could share news about Paul’s journeys and plans to visit Rome, offering encouragement and teaching to congregations along the route. When Quintus reached Rome, he would have been welcomed as an emissary from Paul and delivered the apostle’s greetings with the epistle.
So in the brief mention of Quartus, we gain insight into Quintus’ reliability as a dedicated messenger for the gospel. Paul’s willingness to entrust him with the vital letter to Rome indicates Quintus was a faithful brother committed to furthering Paul’s apostolic mission. He was not just a supporter but an active participant and instrument of the gospel.
Quintus the Brother
Considering the full biblical portrait, what can we conclude about who Quintus was? He only earns a sentence in Acts and gets three words in Romans, yet this obscure figure provides a compelling profile of an early church member. Though unimportant by worldly status, Quintus exhibits virtues and values prized by God: faith, service, sacrifice, and community.
From the limited information given, we know Quintus was a resident of Asia Minor—probably converted under Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. When Paul needed advance support for a missionary trip, Quintus answered the call, willing to go wherever the gospel demanded. Whether navigating new regions or connecting with known brethren, Quintus gave his time and talents to build up the church.
He earned such trust that Paul later picked him as the ideal carrier of a sensitive and theologically rich letter to churches hundreds of miles away. This was no small task but a great privilege given to a proven brother. Though Quintus lacked an official office, he possessed the qualities of character that qualified him for significant responsibilities in service to Christ.
In many ways, Quintus epitomizes the average early Christian. He was not a theologian, church elder, or noted evangelist. He was simply a faithful convert Christened in Asia who contributed his abilities to the small but growing movement. Quintus shows that ordinary believers exercised outsized impact through mutual support and unified purpose. His service on two great missionary ventures indicates a spirit of sacrifice and dedication shared by most early Christians. They understood themselves as stewards of the gospel message, willing to go and do whatever necessary to spread the good news.
Quintus exemplifies qualities Paul prized in fellow workers like Timothy and Titus—commitment, trustworthiness, humility, and courage (Philippians 2:19-22). The frequent mention of such individuals highlights their indispensability to accomplishing God’s will. Though people like Quintus seldom grab headlines, they demonstrate that the true work of the faith often happens locally and anonymously through small acts of sacrifice. Quintus responded to the gospel by enlisting as an ordinary foot soldier for Christ, helping pave the way for extraordinary growth of the early church.
Key Takeaways on Quintus
- Quintus appears briefly in Acts and Romans as an obscure early church member important to Paul’s missionary travels.
- His role as advance envoy and letter carrier shows he was trusted and capable servant valued by Paul.
- Though having no office, his faithful service contributed significantly to the gospel’s spread in the early church.
- His anonymity represents countless ordinary believers whose collective work and sacrifice built up the early Christian movement against great odds.
- The example of Quintus illustrates principles of mutual support, community, humility, courage, and dedication needed in the church today.
In summary, Quintus provides a small but insightful portrait of the early church in action. As part of Paul’s apostolic circle, he fulfilled vital coordination roles that supported gospel expansion. Quintus embodied the missional ethos and communal spirit that allowed Christianity to flourish. His brief mention in Acts and Romans fully accords with the values and teachings of Christ conveyed through Paul. Though the biblical record tells us little, the character and life of Quintus offer an inspirational model for modern believers. May we all aspire to serve Christ humbly, bravely, and faithfully as Quintus did, finding our purpose in community, and power in the Spirit, to carry the gospel forward.