Alexander & Rufus (Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ)

In Greek the name Alexander means ‘defending men’ and Rufus means “red-haired’. Both the names were common in Jesus’ time in Palestine and there are more than one Alexander and one Rufus mentioned in the New Testament. Here we refer only to Alexander and Rufus who are mentioned in Mark’s Gospel as sons of Simon of Cyrene.

Jesus is condemned to death on a Cross. He is on his way to Calvary, the place of crucifixion carrying the Cross. Mark writes, “On the way they met a man named Simon, who was coming into the city from the country, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ Cross. (Simon was from Cyrene and was the father of Alexander and Rufus” (Mk 15, 21).

Simon of Cyrene is mentioned by name in the synoptic (first three) Gospels according to Mathew (27,32), Mark (15,21) and Luke (23, 26). But only Mark mentions his two sons by name. Ronald Brownrigg says that, “perhaps because they had become Christians and were known to his readers.” (Who’ Who the New Testament, p. 2).

Paul in his letter to the Romans greets Rufus and his mother. “I send greetings to Rufus, that outstanding worker in the Lord’s service, and to his mother, who has always treated me like a son” (Rom 16, 13).

As Brownrigg says, “Mark’s Gospel is said to have been written in Rome during the year AD 64-65. Here two things are not certain. First, it is not certain Rufus and his mother mentioned by Paul do belong to the family of Simon of Cyrene and second, it is also not certain that this greeting of Paul is addressed to people in Rome or in Ephesus.

Early traditions maintain that Simon of Cyrene’s family became proment Christian. Agreeing with the tradition, Bible scholar Brownrigg writes, “The respect of Paul for the mother of Alexander and Rufus, coupled with Mark’s mention of them by name, would seem, however, to strengthen the tradition that Simon of Cyrene and his family were converted to Christianity” (P. 2). (contact the author: यह ईमेल पता spambots से संरक्षित किया जा रहा है. आप जावास्क्रिप्ट यह देखने के सक्षम होना चाहिए. )

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