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Bible Gem 286 - Tryphena, Tryphosa (Rom 16:12)

April 1, 2019

Tryphena and Tryphosa:


These two were women and are said to be noble women of Iconium whom the apostle converted there, and afterwards went to Rome. The names are Greek. Their labour must have been because of their great usefulness and untiring efforts in serving the interest of the Lord with their purses; in relieving the poor of the church, in entertaining and supplying the ministers of the Gospel, as well as by their private instructions, exhortations, and giving an account of their own experience, whereby they might greatly encourage and strengthen young converts, and other Christians. They were unwearied in doing everything that they were capable of, in promoting the Gospel and kingdom of Christ: 


There is one point to note about these women and that is the meaning of their names. Tryphena’s name means dainty and Tryphosa’s name means delicate. Imagine for a moment these two delicate and dainty women giving their all for Jesus. There is no thought on their part of using their femininity as an excuse. “Oh I can’t scrub the floors, it would ruin my nails” and “I can’t lift heavy things, I am a woman. Find a man to do it”. Here are these two women “Dainty” and “Delicate” and yet they are giving everything for the Lord and for his work. So noteworthy that Paul comments on them and sends his greetings to them. These are women who were in Rome, a place Paul has never been to. Their fame has spread far and wide. These two women are legendary in the degree to which they serve the Lord. 


Furthermore, I cannot imagine Paul writing this or rather dictating this to his Emanuensis (Secretary/Scribe) without a smile on his face. You see Paul has used a very different word for the word “work”. The normal word for work as used across the New Testament is ἐργάζομαι [ergazomai] or  ἐνεργέω [energeō] or ἔργον [ergon] from which we derive energetic and ergonomic in English. This is the standard usage. 

But Paul choses a new word to use in the case of Tryphena and Tryphosa. That word is Κοπιάω [kopiaō] - to work hard to the point of being weary or worn out. I would say the colloquial way of saying it in English is to “bust their gut” or “working their fingers to the bone”.  There is a dramatic sense of irony in the fact that Paul has used this word for the two who are dainty and delicate and not the normal word. I imagine him smiling as he says this. Greet Dainty and Delicate who are busting their guts for the Lord. I wonder if his emanuensis looked up and made a comment. “Really you want me to write that?” “Are you sure you want me to use that word for Dainty and Delicate?”  I believe Paul would have said “Yes that is exactly the word I want you to use.” There was purpose in his writing. 


Do you bust your gut for the Lord, work your fingers to the bone? When there is a church working bee are you there with your shovel or your mop or do you find a reason not to go? Are you full of excuses when it comes time to serve the Lord at the church? What about on the mission field? Are there certain things you don’t do? They are too lowly a job for you to do. Get a national to do it. We could all learn from Tryphena and Tryphosa who captured Paul’s attention even though he had never met them. Or maybe he had as indicated above. Whatever the truth they were giving their all for Jesus. 


Inspiring stuff. Let it inspire YOU. More tomorrow. 



Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is Youer than You.  Dr. Seuss


Be yourself… Everyone else is already taken.  Oscar Wilde



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