Bible Question:

When Paul speaks about Apphia and Archippus who have a home church, Paul mentions the woman's name first. Therefore she must have been the pastor. Is this correct?

Bible Answer:

The passage you refer to is as follows:

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house . . . (NASB) Philemon 1:1-2


This is the only place in the New Testament where Apphia is mentioned. Consequently, we do not know anything about her except that she was “our sister,” that is, a Christian. That is the meaning of the term “sister.” Apphia appears to have been a faithful servant whom Paul knew. Nothing in this passage suggests that she was a pastor. In fact, the passage implies the church was in Philemon’s home.

Historical records say that Apphia was the wife of Philemon and Archippus may have been their son. This would explain why these two people are mentioned along with Philemon and his home. It is important to remember that the letter of Philemon was written about a domestic issue. This would explain why the family was included in the greeting. Tradition says that she, Archippus, and Philemon died during the reign of Nero. Apphia could not have been a pastor since God does not allow a woman to be a pastor in the church (1 Tim. 3:2).


The name Archippus appears in Colossians 4:17.

Say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” (NASB) Colossians 4:17

In this passage the Apostle Paul tells him to perform his ministry. Apparently he was not working hard enough in his ministry. Here we discover that Archippus had a ministry, but we cannot be sure what type of ministry he had. He may have been a pastor, but we cannot be certain.


The Apostle Paul depended on a number of faithful men and women believers. It would have been wonderful to have known the apostle. It would have been even better to have experienced his love for and sensed his intimate relationship with Jesus.