🔼The name Trophimus: Summary
- Nourishing, Foster Child
- From the verb τρεφω (trepho), to nourish, feed, nurture.
🔼The name Trophimus in the Bible
The name Trophimus occurs three times in the Bible, and although these three occurrences seem to refer to the same person, it may very well have been a code word for some kind of effort of school of thought. By the time these texts were written, followers of Jesus Christ were routinely condemned to death on account of atheism (that is: having no effigies). Paul and Luke knew that their works would be mass copied and widely published, and it would seem rather inconsiderate to use people's real names (for more on this, see our article on the name Onesimus).
We hear first of Trophimus when Paul returns to Macedonia, after the Artemis incident at Ephesus and a stint of three months in Greece. Trophimus is mentioned among the men who accompanied him, although it's not clear when he joined the group (Acts 20:4). What is clear is that he was from Ephesus, and was with Paul when he returned to Jerusalem and was arrested (Acts 21:29). After his initial release and prior to his second incarceration, Paul appears to have left Trophimus sick at Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20).
🔼Etymology of the name Trophimus
The name Trophimus is curious because although it is identical to a very common Greek word, it's not used as name prior to Biblical times (and only very sparsely after). It also does not occur in the New Testament (apart from the name) but in Greek literature it is either an adjective meaning nourishing or nutritious, or a substantive meaning nursling or foster-child, or figuratively: pupil. It comes from the verb τρεφω (trepho), meaning to nourish, feed or nurture:
The verb τρεφω (trepho) means to nourish, feed or nurture and emphasizes a guided upbringing into maturity.
For a meaning of the name Trophimus, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Nourishing and Spiros Zodhiates (The Complete Wordstudy Dictionary New Testament) has Foster Child.