Tryphaena and Tryphosa

By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Women in the Early Church

  • Supposedly these two were sisters.
  • Their names mean “dainty” and “delicate,” which probably indicates they were from an aristocratic family.
  • There is some irony in Paul’s identification of them as women who “work hard in the Lord.” They traded a potential life of ease to be hard workers in the early church.
  • It is also noteworthy that in the Acts of Paul and Thecla (a non-canonical book), Thecla is saved by a woman named Tryphaena, who is identified as Caesar's kinswoman. Scholars believe Tryphaena was probably Thecla’s patron. It is not known whether they are one and the same person.


1 Morris, Leon. "The Epistle to the Romans." The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1988. p.534.

Best, Ernest. "The Letter of Paul to the Romans." The Cambridge Bible Commentary. Cambridge: At the University Press, 1969.

Black, Matthew. "Romans." The New Century Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1981.

Duling, Dennis and Norman Perrin. The New Testament. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1994.

Edwards, James. "Romans." New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992.

Gaebelein, Frank. "Romans." Expositor's Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1985.

Mills, Watson and Richard Wilson. Mercer Commentary on the Bible. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1995.

Smith, Robert. "Matthew." Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1989.

Bible Characters