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LINUS (lī'nŭs). A Christian in Rome joining Paul in sending salutations to Timothy in 2Tim.4.21. According to Irenaeus and Eusebius, he became the first bishop of Rome.

FIRST CENTURY. Beginning with Irenaeus and further documented by Eusebius, Linus is identified as the first appointed bishop of Rome “after the martyrdom of Paul and Peter” and taken to be the same as that one named in 2 Timothy 4:21 as companion in Rome with Paul. His term of office was put at twelve years terminating in the second of the emperor Titus-thus approximately 68-80. The language of this documentation would indicate him to be successor to “Paul and Peter.”

LINUS lĭ’ nus (Λίνος, G3352). Mentioned along with others in 2 Timothy 4:21, as sending greetings to Timothy: “Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.”

Irenaeus (Her. III. iii) says that this Linus was given the office of the episcopate of the church in Rome by the apostles Peter and Paul. Linus’ successor, Irenaeus says, was Anacletus (Anencletus), and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was given the bishopric. Eusebius (Hist. III. ii) similarly asserts that, after the martyrdom of Paul and of Peter, Linus was the first who obtained the episcopate at Rome. He too identified this Linus with the Linus who was mentioned by Paul at the end of 2 Timothy. Eusebius says also that Linus served as bishop for twelve years (ibid. xiii). Numerous church writers have recorded the type of tradition found in Irenaeus and Eusebius, and of course some elaboration has occurred. The Apostolic Constitutions (VII: xlvi) refers to Linus as the son of Claudia. On “Early Roman Succession,” see J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, Part I. S. Clement of Rome (1890), I, 201-345.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(Linos (2Ti 4:21)): One of Paul’s friends in Rome during his second and last imprisonment in that city. He was one of the few who remained faithful to the apostle, even when most of the Christians had forsaken him. And writing to Timothy when he realized that his execution could not be very far distant--for he was now ready to be offered, and the time of his departure was at hand (2Ti 4:6)--he sends greeting to Timothy from four friends whom he names, and Linus is one of them. There is a tradition that Linus was bishop of the church at Rome. "It is perhaps fair to assume, though of course there is no certainty of this, that the consecration of Linus to the government of the Roman church as its first bishop was one of the dying acts of the apostle Paul" (H.D.M. Spence, in Ellicott’s New Testament Commentary on 2 Tim).

Irenaeus--bishop of Lyons about 178 AD--in his defense of orthodox doctrine against the Gnostics "appeals especially to the bishops of Rome, as depositories of the apostolic tradition." The list of Irenaeus commences with Linus, whom he identifies with the person of this name mentioned by Paul, and whom he states to have been "entrusted with the office of the bishopric by the apostles ..... With the many possibilities of error, no more can safely be assumed of Linus .... than that he held some prominent position in the Roman church" (Lightfoot’s "Dissertation on the Christian Ministry," in Commentary on Phil, 220 f).

"Considering the great rarity of this Greek mythological name as a proper name for persons, we can hardly doubt that here, as Irenaeus has directly asserted, the same Roman Christian is meant who, according to ancient tradition, became after Peter and Paul the first bishop of Rome. Among the mythical characters in Apostolical Constitutions, vii, 46 occurs Linos ho Klaudias, who is declared to have been ordained by Paul as the first bishop of Rome. He is thus represented as the son or husband of the Claudia whose name comes after his in 2Ti 4:21.

"These meager statements have been enlarged upon by English investigators. The Claudia mentioned here is, they hold, identical with the one who, according to Martial, married a certain Pudens (85-90 AD), and she, in turn, with the Claudia Rufina from Britain, who is then made out to be a daughter of the British king, Cogidumnus, or Titus Claudius Cogidubnus. For a refutation of these assumptions, which, even chronologically considered, are impossible, see Lightfoot, Clement, I, 76-79" (Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament, 20).