In Mark 15:21 (KJV), the account reads:

And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

In Romans 16:13 (KJV), the account reads:

Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

While I understand that even in the Apostleship there were two named Judas, I was curious if there were any Apocryphal or extra-biblical accounts which could confirm or disprove that both verses speak of the same Rufus. Bonus points if the family's conversion story is included.


2 Answers 2


The same Rufus may have been mentioned in Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians (ch. 9):

Παρακαλῶ οὖν πάντας ὑμᾶς, πειθαρχεῖν τῷ λόγῳ τῆς δικαιοσύνης καὶ ἀσκεῖν πᾶσαν ὑπομονήν, ἣν καὶ εἴδατε κατ’ ὀφθαλμοὺς οὐ μόνον ἐν τοῖς μακαρίοις Ἰγνατίῳ καὶ Ζωσίμῳ καὶ ῾Ρούφῳ, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν ἄλλοις τοῖς ἐξ ὑμῶν καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ Παύλῳ καὶ τοῖς λοιποις ἀποστόλοις

I exhort you all, therefore, to yield obedience to the word of righteousness, and to exercise all patience, such as ye have seen [set] before your eyes, not only in the case of the blessed Ignatius, and Zosimus, and Rufus, but also in others among yourselves, and in Paul himself, and the rest of the apostles.

Pseudo-Hippolytus enumerates Rufus as one of the Seventy Apostles (Luke 10), and lists him as "Bishop of Thebes".

Rufus is in commemorated in the Synaxarion of the Eastern Orthodox Church on April 8. An entry in the Synaxarion of the Monastery of Simonos Petra on Mt. Athos (Greece) states:

Saint Rufus may have been the son of Simon of Cyrene mentioned in Mark's Gospel (15:21). In his Epistle to the Romans, Saint Paul writes: Salute Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine (16:13). He later became Bishop of Thebes, in Greece.

The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, Vol. 4 (March-April), p.371

This, of course, is a modern work, but the Simonas Petras compilation is derived from a long stream of written tradition on Mt. Athos that dates back to at least 800 AD.

The latter Great Collection of The Lives of the Saints, by the Russian Sergius of Radonezh (d.1392) does not mention the connection with the Rufus of Mark, nor does Nikolai Velimirovic' Prologue. These latter two, along with the Simonas Petra volumes, are the most comprehensive Synaxaria that have been translated into English, so from an Orthodox Christian perspective the best one could say is that the connection with the Rufus of Mark is tentative.


The evidence is indirect, but many comment on the possibility that the Rufus of Rom 16:13 is Rufus the son of Simon mentioned in Mar 15:21. The argument is that there seems to be no reason for Mark to mention Simon's sons unless he expected his readers to know them or at least know about them. See, for example, this page.

But note again Mark's account. Why would Mark mention names in a gospel he is writing to brethren a continent away? Well, one reason would be that those in Rome knew either Alexander or Rufus or both.

The argument seems probable, that Mark expected (at least some of) his readers to know the Rufus he mentions in his gospel. I don't see enough evidence that the Rufus of Rom 16 is the same one. Paul mentions a number of people by name, so it is not clear that the Rufus he names here is special in any way. Nevertheless, Mark's Rufus is likely to be special, as someone his readers know personally, and it's at least plausible that the two could be the same person.

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