🔼The name Apphia: Summary
- She Who Shields, Protected One
- From the verb חפף (hapap), to cover or shield.
🔼The name Apphia in the Bible
Apphia is mentioned by Paul in his letter to Philemon (Philemon 1:2). Because her name is mentioned directly after that of Philemon, some scholars allow the "reasonable conjecture" that she is Philemon's wife (Spiros Zodhiates — Complete Wordstudy Dictionary New Testament).
🔼Etymology of the name Apphia
The name Apphia shows up all over the Greek classics, and in various forms. Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon lists απφιδιον (Apphidion) and απφιον (Apphion) as diminutive forms of either απφα (Appha) or our name απφια (Apphia). Some say that Apphia is a Greek name. The only Greek word it looks like is απφυς (apphus), which is the word for papa or daddy, which would put our name Apphia on a par with Patricia (from the more formal pater).
The venerated theologian Joseph Henry Thayer submits that the name Apphia is "apparently a Phrygian name expressive of endearment" (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament) but doesn't sound very sure, or interested for that matter.
Some sources insist that Apphia is a transliteration of a Hebrew name and that it means Increase. If so, then the name it came from must have been related to the verb יסף (yasap) meaning to add, increase, do again. In itself that's not unthinkable because this verb is also the source of the names Joseph and Josiphiah. Still, our name doesn't start with a J-sound and also has no s.
Much more attractive is the Hebrew verb חפף (hapap), meaning to cover or shield:
The verb חפף (hapap) means to surround, cover and protect. Noun חוף (hop) means shore or coast and noun חפה (huppa) means canopy. Adjective חף (hap) refers to one's mental order and stability.
Verb חפה (hapa) means to cover or overlay with a protective layer of sorts, and verb חפא (hapa') means to do covertly or secretly.
The name Apphia thus means Darling in Phrygian, but for those who didn't speak Phrygian but Hebrew (there must have been a few), the name Apphia may have sounded to mean She Who Shields, or Protected One. As such, this name is somewhat on a par with Sophia.