Richard Fellows recently suggested the possible connection between the name “Epaenetus” and benefaction:
Now, the name “Epaenetus”, means “praised/commended”, and, like “Stephanas”, also belongs to the semantic field of benefaction. There are numerous inscriptions in which beneficiaries agree to “praise” a benefactor, and Rom 13:3 also appears to use the term in connection with benefactions (so Winter).
Stephen Carlson responded with a related suggestion that the “brother of whom the praise is in the Gospel” in 2 Cor. 8:18 might be identified as Epaenetus:
…the thought occurs to me that Paul was actually making a pun. After all, the name of Epaenetus (Paul’s first-fruit in Asia according to Rom 16:5) means “praised.”
Of course, more epigraphical evidence would strengthen the original argument made by Fellows, but Carlson’s suggestion would certainly fit Paul’s frequent employment of lexical wordplays. In the end, I think one could only posit such a wordplay with a degree of probability since Paul is not more explicit in the 2 Cor 8:18 reference.
Stephen’s suggestion has its charm, but the problem is that the brother in question does seem to be on his way to Jerusalem, whereas Epaenetus would soon be in Rome.