Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis
Allow me firstly to introduce a new woman – Persis, and then to revisit three old friends.
Greet my dear friend Persis, who has worked very hard in the Lord.Romans 16:12
She was perhaps of Persian original, and might have her name from her country name; her labour must be understood of the same kind with the former, only with this addition, that she abounded and exceeded in it; she is said by Syriac scholars to be the wife of Rufus.
Κοπιάω [kopiaō] is the verb used for each of these four women – to work hard to the point of being weary or worn out. There is no other place it is used, especially by Paul. But neither is it used anywhere else in the New Testament by other writers. Only in these cases with these women. The translation for her could be Greet my Persian friend. It could be more a name linked to her origin. This foreigner showed up all the others. Even Tryphena and Tryphosa, the two extremely feminine ones. In the case of Persis [kopiaō] is used with the intensifier polus/polos, meaning much or great. Her work rate was a level above the other women.
But now to the point I want to make, notice this word is only used in the New Testament by Paul for four women. Mary (16:6) and Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis (16:12). The word “working their guts out”, “working their butt off” is not used for any man. Now that is telling. The men were conspicuous by their absence.
May I now return to the field of mission. Well I will anyway, with or without your permission because I am the one writing this. It is notable that the numbers of men involved in mission meetings, gatherings, committees or even the mission field itself are significantly less than their female counterparts. Wycliffe’s members in New Zealand have a ratio of 46 males to 55 females. Kartidaya has significantly more women involved than men. The worldwide figures for Wycliffe are not available to me but I am sure the women outnumber the men significantly. One only has to go to a Wycliffe base around the world and see that with you own eyes. I remember visiting the centre in Papua New Guinea in the Eastern Highlands and finding there were many more woman that men. Each new male candidate who arrived on the centre became the centre of attention for the single available ladies on the base. The women significantly outnumbered the men. One woman who worked for Wycliffe in the Philippine Branch, on attending her first “singles” picnic at the Biennial conference one year said “there were 50 single woman and 2 single men (the other older “bachelor”) didn’t come. You can imagine how the new single man from the USA reacted when he saw all of us! As it happened, he ended up marrying one of the Filipinas working with TAP!” So the imbalance wasn’t reduced even just a little.
I have attended many mission events on university and Bible college campuses and experienced the same disproportion among the attendees. In one particularly case it was so obvious it was ridiculous and prompted me to comment. Out of 120 people in attendance only 26 were men. The majority who attend many of the mission prayers meetings I have been to are women. Recently we attended a meeting with the Mission group at a local church here in New Zealand and I made comment. They were all women.
Where are the men? How is it that the challenge of this important task that God gave to the church has been picked up by women and not as many men? Why is it in Paul’s time he commented on four women who worked their butts off but no men?
Guys – it’s time to take up the challenge and run with it.Ian Vail
How you respond to crisis in your life, is the greatest message you’ll ever preach.A R Bernard
All change begins with a DECISION. Once the decision is made, DISCIPLINE becomes the bridge between desire and accomplishment.A R Bernard