Simon Of Cyrene In The Bible

Simon of Cyrene is mentioned in three places in the Bible. In Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21 and Luke 23:26, Simon of Cyrene was the father of Alexander and Rufus if we are to believe that the Apostle Paul was addressing these two men at Romans 16:13. Simon was a Cyrenian, who was recruited by Roman soldiers to help Jesus carry His cross from the Praetorium to Golgotha (Mark 15:21).

Simon of Cyrene (simon kyrenaios, simon the Cyrenian, Simeon of Kerioth) was a man forced by the Romans to carry the cross of Jesus Christ to Golgotha. He is often incorrectly regarded as being Simon of Bethany, who according to all four canonical Gospels was near the cross as one of Jesus’ followers, along with his own wife and Mary Magdalene. Simon’s role in the Easter story became viewed as an example of the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, including Isaiah 53.

Simon of Cyrene is a figure mentioned in the New Testament. He was the man compelled by Roman soldiers to help Jesus carry his cross (Matthew 27:32, Mark15:21). Mentioned only in Matthew (27:32, Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26), Simon of Cyrene was forced to carry the cross for Jesus. He is referred to only as Simon of Cyrene. Some scholars believe that he was originally named Simon the Cananite.

Simon of Cyrene was a man born in the city of Kerioth of Judaea, a city located in the lowland between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. When he was born is unknown although it is believed he lived during the first century. Not much is known about Simon or his family other than he had a brother named Alexander who also joined Jesus on his journey to Calvary.

Simon Of Cyrene In The Bible

Scripture does not give us much information about Simon of Cyrene. That is part of the mystery of Simon. Below are the only Bible references with his name included.

Matthew 27:32 says, “Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross.”

Mark 15:21 says, “A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.”

Luke 23:26 says, “Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.”

What this tells us is that Simon was given Jesus’ cross. He was likely married and was a father to two sons. He was foreign. He was a visual representation of Luke 14:27 which tells us, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Notice how the verse in Luke tells us that Simon bore the cross after Jesus. I love that imagery of how Christ carried the cross first so that we might carry ours after him.

Luke 9:23 says, “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” How can we follow Jesus into our suffering moments? How can we bring honor to Jesus by carrying His name with us daily? The Lord reminds us through Simon to follow after Jesus in bravery and in trust, knowing that He is worth the sacrifice. We love because Jesus first loved us (1 John 4:19). Jesus carried the weight of the world, so may we consider it a joy to carry the weight of our crosses daily.

Simon Of Cyrene In The Bible

Simon of Cyrene is mentioned in three of the four Gospels as the man impelled by the Roman soldiers to carry Jesus’ cross out of Jerusalem. His place of origin has led many to wonder if he was of African descent (and therefore black), or if he was simply born there as were many others of Greek, Roman, and Jewish descent.

Cyrene was situated in modern-day Libya, on the northern coast of the African continent. Settled by the Greeks in 630 B.C. and later infused with a significant Jewish population, Cyrene was the capital of the Roman district of Cyrenaica at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. By then, Cyrene was home to a large number of Greek-speaking, or Hellenistic, Jews.

Many Jews from Cyrene had returned to their native Israel and were part of a community in Jerusalem called the Synagogue of the Freedmen comprising Jews from many other provinces including Alexandria (Egypt), Cilicia and Asia (Acts 6:9). Luke records men from Cyrene being among those converted at Pentecost (Acts 2:10). After the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7), believers from Cyrene were among the first to be scattered by the persecution in Jerusalem; arriving in Antioch, they preached to the Gentiles there (Acts 11:20). These believers were instrumental in the formation of the church at Antioch, where, for the first time, “the disciples were called Christians” (Acts 11:26).

Simon of Cyrene is mentioned in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Matthew only records his name and place of origin (27:32), but Mark and Luke say that he was “on his way in from the country” (Luke 23:26). Mark, uncharacteristically, provides the most information about Simon, adding that he was “the father of Alexander and Rufus” (Mark 15:21), men obviously well known to Mark’s readers. It is speculated that the Rufus mentioned here may be the same man Paul greets in his letter to Rome, whom he calls “chosen in the Lord” and whose mother “has been a mother to me, too” (Romans 16:13). Paul’s knowledge of Rufus’s family indicates that at some point they lived further east.

So does any of this indicate whether Simon was black? Ultimately, we don’t know for sure. There is always the possibility that Simon was an African who converted to Judaism, or that he was of mixed descent. However, considering that people of Jewish lineage lived throughout the Roman Empire, it is also possible that Simon of Cyrene was olive-skinned.

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