I’m surprised that more first-time parents don’t get divorced over the choice of their newborn’s name.
When my wife was pregnant with our first child, we did the prerequisite purchasing of baby name books. “The Multicultural Guide to Naming Your Baby” was one of my personal favorites. We fairly quickly settled on a girl’s name; but since we didn’t know the gender of our baby, we went through the process of trying to choose a male name. Tonya used one color of highlighter and I had another. We would go through the book and highlight our favorite names. If the other person didn’t like it, we would make a check next to it. We each had veto power.
Since I love baseball, I tended to pick names that I thought would set up our potential new son for baseball success. Tonya veteod “Juan Hensley” although I thought it sounded like a good baseball name. She argued that we weren’t Hispanic. I argued that it didn’t matter. I lost.
Even up to the point of delivery, we still hadn’t settled on a boy’s name. God spared us further grief and the possibility of divorce by blessing us with a girl — Hannah Grace Hensley. We had chosen Hannah from the Old Testament story that features a godly woman by the same name. “Grace” was my grandma’s name on my father’s side.
One boy name we never considered was Epaphroditus. In fact, I’ve never met anyone named Epaphroditus. And I’m not sure why.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippian church, he describes his friend Epaphroditus this way:
But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. — Philippians 2:25-27
Epaphroditus sounds like a great friend. Paul uses terms of endearment and closeness to describe their relationship: brother, co-worker, fellow soldier. This is not a mere acquaintance. This was a person that had earned Paul’s trust and affection. Epaphroditus even grew distressed because he found out that the Philippians were worried about him.
Because of the nature of their relationship, when God spared Epaphroditus from death, he was also sparing Paul from sorrow. That’s real friendship.
Which brings me back to my original question: Why doesn’t anyone name their son Epaphroditus? You could easily nickname him “Ep” or “Ro.” Both good baseball nicknames.