🔼The name Epaphroditus: Summary
- Dedicated to Aphrodite, Very Foamy, Very Lovely
- From (1) the prefix επι (epi), on or upon, and (2) the name Aphrodite, or the noun αφρος (aphros), foam.
🔼The name Epaphroditus in the Bible
The name Epaphroditus occurs twice in the New Testament (Philippians 2:25 and 4:18) and its common shortened form, Epaphras, occurs three more times (Colossians 1:7, 4:12 and Philemon 1:23). It's not clear whether or not Epaphroditus and Epaphras are the same person, but both these names were common enough in Roman times to account for two individuals named such.
In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul tells of Epaphroditus, their messenger to him and his messenger back to them, who had fallen ill to the point that he was nearly dying but had convalesced enough to resume his duties. At the end of his letter, Paul speaks of a gift that the Philippians appear to have sent him by means of Epaphroditus, but it's not clear of what nature that gift might have been.
🔼Etymology of the name Epaphroditus
The name Epaphroditus consists of the prefix of intensification επι (epi), on or upon:
The preposition επι (epi) means on, upon or unto, but often works as an intensifier (very much so, more than so), rather like our word "extra". From this ubiquitous preposition derives the conjunction επει (epei), which mostly means "because" or "since".
The second part of our name comes from the name Aphrodite (Αφροδιτη), and that name probably relates to the noun αφρος (aphros), meaning foam:
The noun αφρος (aphros) means foam: the structure that forms when liquid and air violently mix. It's commonly found on sea waves but also on the mouths of raging beasts or humans, and on wine and blood. The associated verb αφριζω (aphrizo) means to foam or to get very excited or spirited.
It's no longer clear what the name Aphrodite might have literally meant , or even what people from the first century figured it literally meant, because everybody knew Aphrodite as the embodiment of love, beauty and pleasure; the Greek counterpart of the Roman Venus and the Semitic Ashtoreth.
The name Epaphroditus (Very Foamy) probably stems from a dedicative title of Aphrodite worshippers: Dedicated to Aphrodite, but subsequently came to mean Very Lovely or Dedicated To Love and Beauty.