TROPHIMUS (trŏf'ĭ-mŭs, Gr. Trophimos, nourishing). A Gentile Christian of Ephesus (Acts.21.29) and companion of Paul. He was one of Paul’s travel companions apparently chosen by the churches to bear the collection to the poor in Jerusalem (2Cor.8.19ff.), mentioned in Acts.20.4. In Jerusalem he was the innocent cause of the tumult resulting in Paul’s imprisonment when hostile Asian Jews hastily “assumed” that Paul had illegally taken him into the temple itself (Acts.21.29). He is conjectured to be one of the two brothers sent to Corinth with Titus to complete the collection (2Cor.8.18-2Cor.8.22). Shortly before his final Roman imprisonment Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus (2Tim.4.20).
A Gentile Christian who accompanied Paul to Jerusalem as a representative of the churches of Asia (Acts 20:4). He is identified as an Ephesian by the and in Acts 21:29. The supposition that Paul had brought him into the forbidden area of the Temple occasioned the riot which resulted in Paul's arrest and appearance before Felix and eventually his appeal to Caesar. 2 Timothy 4:20 refers to Trophimus as left behind sick at Miletus, ostensibly when Paul himself had been hurried under arrest to Rome with few trusted companions remaining.
The name is frequently recorded from Ephesus and district (e.g., British Museum Inscrs. 591; Jahreshefte des österreichischen archäologischen Instituts XLIV, 1959, Beiblatt, col. 369).
An early bishop of Arles named Trophimus is first mentioned in the fifth century. Tradition has attempted to identify him with the companion of Paul.
In 2 Timothy 4:20, Paul says that he left Trophimus ill at Miletus. Such a notice does not fit the recorded journeys in Acts since Paul did not leave Trophimus when they were together in Miletus (Acts 20:15) nor did he go to Rome via Miletus. If this is the same man, it shows him traveling again with the apostle, freed from his first imprisonment in Rome before 2 Timothy was written.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(Trophimos, literally, "a foster child" (Ac 20:4; 21:29; 2Ti 4:20)): An Asiatic Christian, a friend and companion-in-travel of the apostle Paul.
1. An Ephesian:
In the first of the three passages in which Trophimus is mentioned, he and Tychicus are called Asianoi, that is, natives of the Roman province of Asia; and making it still more definite, in Ac 21:29, he is termed an "Ephesian." Trophimus was one of eight friends, who accompanied Paul at the close of his 3rd missionary journey, and traveled with him from Greece through Macedonia into Asia, and onward by sea until Jerusalem was reached (see Tychicus). Trophimus went with Paul all the way, for, in the second of the passages referred to, he is mentioned as being with Paul in Jerusalem immediately on the close of this journey.
2. Cause of Paul’s Arrest:
He was the innocent cause of Paul being assaulted, in the courts of the temple by the Jewish mob, and then of his being arrested and imprisoned by the Romans. The occasion of this outrage was that the Jews supposed that Paul had "brought Greeks also into the temple, and .... defiled this holy place" (Ac 21:28). The modicum of fact lying at the root of this false accusation was that they had seen Paul and Trophimus in each other’s company in the city. On this slender basis "they supposed" that Paul had brought Trophimus past the barrier or middle wall of partition (Eph 2:14; see PARTITION), beyond which no Gentile was allowed to penetrate on pain of death. They supposed that Trophimus who was neither a Jew nor a proselyte, but Gentile Christian, had been introduced into the temple itself by Paul--which would have been profanation. Hence, their fury against the apostle.
How strongly they insisted on the crime which Trophimus was falsely alleged to have committed on that occasion, is seen again in the way in which the orator Tertullus repeated the charge against Paul before the Roman governor Felix, who moreover assayed to profane the temple" (Ac 24:6).
3. At Miletus:
The third reference to Trophimus is in 2Ti 4:20, "Trophimus I left at Miletus sick." This final notice shows that he was again--several years after the date indicated in the previous passages--traveling with Paul on one of the missionary journeys which the apostle undertook after being liberated from his first imprisonment in Rome. It is exceedingly difficult, perhaps impossible, to trace the course of the different journeys which Paul now made, as there is no such narrative as is given in Ac for the former journeys, but merely incidental notices of his later travels, in the . In this, the last of all his letters--2 Timothy--Paul indicates various places which he had visited, and also the names of friends who traveled with him on this the last of his apostolic journeys.
Among other places, he had visited Miletus, a city on the coast of the province of Asia; and there his old friend Trophimus had been laid down with illness, so severe that he could travel no farther, but Paul left him "at Miletus sick." It is to be noted that Miletus was not far from Ephesus, which was Trophimus’ native city. There would be much intercourse between the two cities (see Ac 17, where Paul sends for the elders of the church at Ephesus to come to him at Miletus, which they did). Trophimus therefore, in his sickness, could easily reach Ephesus, or his friends from that city could quickly come to him at Miletus, and give him whatever attention and nursing he might require.
4. The Description of 2 Corinthians 8:18:
It has been conjectured that Trophimus is to be identified with the person mentioned in 2Co 8:16-24. Paul there speaks in the highest terms of one of his companions--but without giving his name--whom he sent with Titus. Titus and this disciple were evidently those to whose care Paul entrusted the carrying of the to its destination. The apostle says of this unnamed brother, not only that his praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches, but also that he was chosen by the churches to travel with him, i.e. with Paul, with this grace, i.e. with the contribution of money collected in the Gentile churches for the poor saints in Jerusalem.
Now it is certain that at the close of his 3rd missionary journey Paul carried these gifts to Jerusalem ("I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings," Ac 24:17); and some of the eight friends who accompanied him on the journey (Ac 20:4) were those who had been entrusted by the churches with the safe conveyance of the money. Speaking of these collections, Paul writes (1Co 16:3-4). "Whomsoever ye shall approve, them will I send with letters to carry your bounty unto Jerusalem: and if it be meet for me to go also, they shall go with me." These conditions were fulfilled, when Paul and his eight friends traveled from Greece to Jerusalem, carrying the money with them. There is therefore certainty that one of the eight is the brother referred to in 2Co 8:18, whose praise in the gospel was in all the churches, and whom the churches had appointed to travel with Paul for the purpose of carrying the money contribution, and whom Paul had "many times proved earnest in many things" (2Co 8:18,19,22). The eight were Sopater of Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus, both from Thessalonica, Gaius of Derbe, Timothy, Tychicus and Trophimus, both "Asians," and lastly Luke.
There is certainly the possibility that the unnamed brother was Trophimus: if not Trophimus, then he was one of the other seven. Of these seven, by the process of elimination, the unnamed brother could only be one of those who traveled with Paul the whole distance as far as Jerusalem, for this was the work which "the brother" had been appointed by the churches to do. Now it is certain that Luke and Trophimus were with him on his arrival in Jerusalem (Ac 21:17,29). Therefore the brother whose praise in the gospel was in all the churches may very well have been Trophimus: if not Trophimus, then possibly Luke or Aristarchus. Gaius and Aristarchus are termed "Paul’s companions in travel" (Ac 19:29); and Aristarchus was afterward with Paul in Palestine, and sailed with him to Rome. It is quite remarkable that the same word, sunekdemos, "companion in travel," is applied to the unnamed brother (2Co 8:19), and to Gaius and Aristarchus in Ac 19:29.
As the conditions do not seem to be satisfied in Sopater, Secundus or Timothy, the brother so highly commended must have been either Luke or Gaius or Aristarchus or Tychicus or Trophimus.