Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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Monday, June 3, 2024

Who are Tryphaena and Tryphosa? (Rom 16:12)

As we all know, some information from Greek is often left out of an English translation. Usually, it is just nuances, but the information is a little more important in this passage.

Paul is greeting the people he knows in Rome, and in 16:12 he says, “Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa” (ESV, and most translations). ἀσπάσασθε Τρύφαιναν καὶ Τρυφῶσαν τὰς κοπιώσας ἐν κυρίῳ. What is missing?

Τρύφαιναν and Τρυφῶσαν are both feminine nouns, and the participle κοπιώσας is therefore feminine. While this is obvious in Greek that these two people are women, it is totally hidden in English.

Strangely, at least to me, the NIV is the only major translation that makes the Greek clear. “Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord.”

The same is true for the second half of the verse. “Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord” (ESV). “Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord” (N IV).

It is significant that Paul had connections with women as well as men in his ministry, and we should try to translate all the meaning we can from the Greek.