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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

Rufus —See Alexander and Rufus.


1. ( a ) ἀρχή . — Luke 20:20 παραδοῦναι αὐτὸν τῇ ἀρχῇ καὶ τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος, ‘to deliver him up to the rule and to the authority of the governor’ (Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885)—ἀρχή = principatus , ἐξουσία = magistratus or munus (Stephanus, Thesaurus , ed. Hase-Dindorf). Here ἀρχή ‘relates to Pilate’s position and authority [as procurator], ἐξουσία to the executive power connected therewith’ (Cremer, Lex . 115, 237). Pilate’s remitting our Lord to ‘Herod’s jurisdiction’ ( Luke 23:7 ἐξουσίας) was intended as an act of civility to a reigning prince (‘Jesus of Nazareth’ being under Herod’s tetrarchate), and perhaps also in order to gain time.

ἀρχή and ἐξουσία are also used together of earthly rulers,  Luke 12:11,  Titus 3:1; of the ranks of the angelic hosts,  Ephesians 3:10,  Colossians 1:16;  Colossians 2:10; of the powers of evil,  Ephesians 6:12,  Colossians 2:15; apparently incl. of both heavenly and earthly powers,  1 Corinthians 15:24,  Ephesians 1:21.

( b ) ἄρχειν . — Mark 10:42 ‘Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles (οἱ δοκοῦντες ἄρχειν: in ||  Matthew 20:25 οἱ ἄρχοντες) lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them’ (Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885). Lk. reports that words of similar import were spoken at the parting meal, 22:25. οἱ δοκοῦντες ἄρχειν may mean ‘they who are supposed to rule,’ with the implication that they are not rulers in the true sense of the word.* [Note: There are parallels to this idea in Plato: e.g. Rep. 336 A, the tyrant is one who μέγα οἴετκι δύνασθαι: he and his like have really no power (Gorg. 467 A). For the use of δοκοῦντες, cf. Rep. 406 C, ἐπὶ δὲ τῶν τλοαυσίων τε καὶ εὐδαιμόνων δοκούντων εἶναι οὐκ αἰσθανόμεθα, also 420 A, 423 C. Sometimes, however, in classical Greek δοκεῖν does not exclude the reality: e.g. Plato, Rep. 539 A, and Soph. OT 402. [Note by the late Dr. Adam of Cambridge].]

Swete ( St. Mark , 239) renders ‘they who are regarded as rulers,’ and says that our Lord ‘did not admit that the power of such a ruler as Tiberius was a substantial dignity: it rested on a reputation that might be suddenly wrecked, as indeed the later history of the Empire clearly proved.’ Cf. Harnack ( What is Christianity? 106) and Gould ( Com. on Mk . 202) for a somewhat similar view.

In  Galatians 2:2;  Galatians 2:6;  Galatians 2:9 οἱ δοκοῦντες, Lightfoot thinks ( Com. on Gal . 107), is ‘depreciatory,—not indeed of the Twelve themselves, but of the extravagant and exclusive claims set up for them by the Judaizers.’ The Gr. commentators, however, do not find ‘any shade of blame or irony in the expression’ (see Ellicott, Gal . 24b). Cf. also Ramsay ( Com. on Gal . 289, 300), who renders, ‘the acknowledged leaders,’ and shows that the interpretation, ‘the so-called leaders,’ is opposed to the spirit of the narrative.

The two passages referred to by Winer ( Gram. NT 8 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] p. 766) are important: Sus 5 χριτῶν οἵ ἰδόχουν χυβερνᾷν τὸν λαότ, ‘judges who were accounted or recognized as governing the people’; Josephus Ant . xix. vi. 3 οἱ δοκοῦντες αὐτῶν ἐξέχειν, ‘they who are recognized as outstanding men among them.’ In these passages the phrase appears to be used, without any disparagement being implied, in speaking of recognized authorities, or persons of admitted eminence.* [Note: This is the usage in class. Gr., e.g. Eurip. Hec. 295, where αἱ δοχοῦντες is opposed to οἱ ἀδοξοῦντες; Plato, Euthyd. 303 C, τῶν σεμνῶν χαὶ δοχούντών τι εἶναι, ‘the grave and reverend seigniors’ (Jowett’s tr.).]

In the words κατακυριεύουσιν and κατεξουσιάζουσιν,—the latter found only here and in || Mt.—an unfavourable judgment is passed upon the manner in which ‘the recognized rulers’ exercise their authority. ‘Civium non servitus sed tutela tradita est.’ ‘Our Lord spoke at a time when free government all over the world lay crushed beneath the military despotism of Rome’ ( EBr [Note: Br Encyclopaedia Britannica.] xi. 11). There was present to His mind the fundamental law of His Kingdom, ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ ( John 18:36).

But our Lord’s words do not exhibit that ‘moral hatred of all the visible power of the world regarded as a vast selfish manifestation and embodiment of evil,’ which finds expression in the following passage from one of the letters of Gregory vii. (he is writing to Herman of Metz, one of his partisans): ‘Who can be ignorant that kings and nobles took their beginning from those who, not knowing God, by their pride, robberies, perfidy, and murders, in short, by almost every kind of crime, no doubt at the suggestion of the prince of this world, the devil, have in blind ambition and intolerable presumption had a mind to tyrannize over other men who are undoubtedly their equals?’ Milman asks, ‘Are we reading a journalist of Paris in 1791?’ ( Latin Christianity , iii. 191; cf. Mozley’s Sermon on ‘The Roman Council,’ Univ. Serm , p. 1).

Our Lord, it is true, speaks of the exercise of domination and coercion that is characteristic of the rulers of the Gentiles as an example to be avoided by His disciples as members of a Kingdom not of this world: ‘so shall it not be among you.’ With them, greatness is to come through ministering love (cf. art. Minister, 3). At the same time, in His great saying,  Mark 12:17,—a saying which reveals that the whole domain of duty lay open before Him,—our Lord teaches that a kingdom of this world, even the principality of a Tiberius, has its own sphere of right, and that when it keeps within it, and exercises its administrative functions,—of which the levying of tribute is a representative instance,—it is to be obeyed without demur. This saying was probably present to the mind of St. Paul when he wrote, under Nero (but in the earlier and better part of his reign), his weighty exposition of the ethics of citizenship ( Romans 13:1-7).

2. ποιμαίνειν . — Matthew 2:6 ‘And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule (Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ‘be shepherd of’) my people Israel’ (ὅστις ποιμανεῖ τὸν λαόν μου τὸν Ἰσραήλ). Here three things demand our attention.

(i.)  Micah 5:2 ( 1 Heb. ) and its context .—Like his older contemporary Isaiah (Isaiah 9, 11), Micah looks forward to the end of the Assyrian invasion as the time when the Messianic hope shall be fulfilled.

‘The daughter of Zion must pass through the pangs of labour before her true king is born; she must come forth from the city and dwell in the open field; there, and not within her proud ramparts, Jehovah will grant her deliverance from her enemies. For a time the land shall be given up to the foe, but only for a time. Once more, as in the days of David, guerilla bands gather together to avenge the wrongs of their nation ( Micah 5:1). A new David comes forth from little Bethlehem, and the rest of his brethren return to the children of Israel—that is, the kindred Hebrew nations again accept the sway of the new king, who stands and feeds his flock in the strength of Jehovah, in the majesty of the name of Jehovah his God. Then Assyria shall no longer insult Jehovah’s land with impunity’ (W. R. Smith, The Prophets of Israel 1, 291).

This being the meaning of the prophecy, it is evident that it was never literally fulfilled. But when we look at the deeper side of the Messianic hope which it sets forth—the heart-felt longing for a true Kingdom of God, ‘the perception that that Kingdom can never be realized without a personal centre, a representative of God with man and man with God,’ who shall attain to true greatness through humility—we see that the purpose which was in the mind of God, when He moved the prophet to write, was fulfilled in the highest sense when He sent His Son into the world, and when Jesus Christ entered, by being born and that in a low condition, on that life of humiliation that led to His exaltation to the place of power, and will finally lead to ‘all things being put under His feet.’

(ii.) The quotation in Mt. —It is not in verbal agreement with the LXX Septuagint or with the Heb. text. The most important differences from the latter are the following:—

(α) Instead of צָעִירלִחְיוֹת, lit. ‘little for being’ (‘a town too small to be reckoned as a canton in Judah,’ W. R. Smith, l.c. ), Mt. has οὐδαμῶς ἐλαχίστη εἶ, ‘art in no wise least’ (Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885). Turpie ( OT in the New , 190) translates the Heb. ‘And art thou, Bethlehem, little for being (=so little as not to be) among the thousands of Juda?’—following Grotius ( Opera , ii., Amst. 1679), who received the suggestion from Pesh., where the clause is rendered interrogatively. Others conjecture that a לֹא has dropped out of the Heb. text (cf. W. C. Allen in ExpT [Note: xpT Expository Times.] xii. [1901] 283; Com. on Mt . p. 13). These suggested emendations are unnecessary. Micah says that the ideal king is to come out of Bethlehem, a town held in little estimation; and Mt., in view of the dignity bestowed on the town by the birth of Christ, says, ‘Thou art by no means the least.’ They agree in spirit.

(β) The words of Micah, ‘he that is to be ruler in Israel,’ are expanded by Mt. into ‘a ruler who shall be shepherd of my people Israel.’ He thus introduces into his quotation the words of the promise to David, ‘And thou shalt be shepherd of (תִּרְעֶה) my people Israel’ ( 2 Samuel 5:2 ||  1 Chronicles 11:2). But in  Micah 5:4 (3 Heb.) the words, ‘And he shall stand and be shepherd of’ (וְרָעָה), are a reminiscence of the promise to David. The Evangelist simply gives the promise at full length.

To most Biblical scholars these differences will not seem of much account. The quotations in the NT are an important subject of study, but it is not now considered necessary, in the interests of revelation, to make out a verbal correspondence between these quotations and their OT equivalents. See art. Quotations.

(iii.) The nature of Christ’s rule as set forth by ποιμαίνειν.—רָעָה is first applied to God by Jacob,  Genesis 48:15, (‘who shepherded me’),  Genesis 49:24 (prob. ‘the shepherd of the stone of Israel,’ and = ‘the God of Bethel’ [Driver, Gen. [Note: Geneva NT 1557, Bible 1560.] 1 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] Addenda xvii]). His people are ‘the sheep of his pasture’ ( Psalms 95:7;  Psalms 100:3); He led them and fed them in the wilderness as a shepherd ( Psalms 77:20;  Psalms 78:52;  Psalms 80:1,  Hosea 13:5 [LXX Septuagint] ἐποίμαινόν σε ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ,  Isaiah 63:11,  Jeremiah 2:2 ‘thou wentest after me’—the shepherd leading); He will bring them back from the Dispersion ( Ezekiel 34:12, cf.  Psalms 147:2); His care for His flock comprehends the most considerate tending of individuals ( Psalms 23:1-3 a,  Isaiah 40:11,  Psalms 119:176 seeking the lost sheep). To David, as His vicegerent, He commits the care of His flock ( 2 Samuel 5:2,  Psalms 78:71), and He will yet set up one shepherd over them, who shall be pre-eminent in those qualities which David in a large measure manifested as a ruler ( Micah 5:4,  Ezekiel 34:23;  Ezekiel 37:24,  Psalms 2:9 [LXX Septuagint, following Pesh., ποιμανεῖς αὐτοὺς ἐν ῥάβδῳ σιδηρᾷ, so quoted  Revelation 2:27;  Revelation 12:5;  Revelation 19:15; cf. Briggs, Com. on Psalms , i. 22]). To Mt. this shepherd is Jesus Christ, and it is fitting that in this early chapter he should employ this title respecting Him whose life on earth, as set forth in the succeeding chapters of his Gospel, was to illustrate so abundantly His shepherd-rule in its tenderness and strength. Christ is the compassionate Shepherd ( Matthew 9:36;  Matthew 15:24); His flock fear no evil, because He is with them ( Luke 12:32); He goes after that which is lost till He finds it ( Matthew 12:11,  Luke 15:4-6); He is the noble (καλός) Shepherd, who gives His life for His sheep ( John 10:2;  John 10:11;  John 10:16), who provides for their being fed and tended after His departure to heaven ( John 21:15-17; cf.  Acts 20:28,  Ephesians 4:11,  1 Peter 5:2), and who still carries on in glory His own work as ‘the great shepherd of the sheep’ ( Hebrews 13:20) and the ἀρχιποίμην ( 1 Peter 5:4—a title combining the two words of our present study);—moreover, their being under His shepherd-rule will be the blessedness and joy of His people to all eternity ( Revelation 7:17).

It is well known that τοιμαινειν is a favourite figure with Greek writers to denote the kingly office. Plato is very fond of the comparison; see Rep . 343 A with the note in Adam’s ed. (Camb. 1902). In a passage in the Nicom. Ethics (viii. 11), Aristotle refers to Homer’s well-known words, εὖ γὰρ ποιεῖ τοὺς βασιλευομένους, εἱτερ ἀγαθὸς ὦν ἑτιμελεῖται αὐτῶν, ἵν εὖ πραττωσιν, ὦστερ νομεὺς τροβατων · ὁθεν καὶ Ὅμηρος τον Ἀγαμέμνονα τοιμένα λαῶν εἶπεν. ‘It seems to me desirable,’ Dr. Adam observes, ‘whenever possible, to quote classical Greek parallels to the figures of the NT, as well as parallels from the Hebrew: the use of figures already familiar to the Greeks cannot but have made the NT writings more acceptable to Greek readers.’

James Donald.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

Son of Simon the Cyrenian who bore Christ's cross. Mark ( Mark 15:21) wrote at Rome (Clemens Alex.). Now if "Rufus (Whom Paul Salutes As At Rome) chosen in the Lord" ( Romans 16:13) be the same Rufus as Mark mentions in writing a Gospel for the Romans, the undesigned coincidence will account for what otherwise would be gratuitous information to his readers, that Simon was "father of Rufus," which the other evangelists omit, and which Mark himself seemingly turns to no advantage.

Rufus according to Paul was a disciple of note at Rome; how natural then to designate Simon, who was unknown, to the Romans by his fatherhood to one whom they well knew, Rufus! Mark gives the Romans whom he addresses a reference for the truth of the narrative of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection to one who was accessible to them all, and who could attest the facts on the authority of his own father, the reluctant bearer of the Lord's cross ( Luke 23:26). The "compelling" of him to bear the cross issued in his voluntarily taking up his own cross to follow Jesus; then through Simon followed his wife's conversion, and that of Rufus whose mother by nature she was, as she was Paul's mother by kindnesses bestowed for Christ's sake. "Salute Rufus ... and his mother and mine."

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

RUFUS . 1 . The brother of Alexander and son of Simon of Cyrene (  Mark 15:21 only). 2 . A Christian at Rome greeted by St. Paul (  Romans 16:13 ) as ‘the chosen in the Lord,’ together with ‘his mother and mine.’ It has been conjectured that these two are the same person, that Simon’s widow (?) had emigrated to Rome with her two sons, where they became people of eminence in the Church, and that this is the reason why the brothers are mentioned by St. Mark, who probably wrote in Rome.

A. J. Maclean.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Ru'fus. (Red). Rufus is mentioned in  Mark 15:21, as a son of Simon, the Cyrenian.  Luke 23:26. (A.D. 29). Again, in  Romans 16:13, the apostle Paul salutes a Rufus, whom he designates as "elect in the Lord." This Rufus was probably identical with the one to whom Mark refers.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

Son of Simon the Cyrenian who was constrained to carry the cross on which the Saviour was to be crucified,  Mark 15:21 . If he is the same person whom Paul salutes in  Romans 16:13 , as is probable, we may see in this instance the divine blessing abiding on the household of one who befriended Christ and bore his cross.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [6]

1. Son ofSimon, the Cyrenian, who was compelled to bear the Lord's cross.  Mark 15:21 .

2. A believer in Rome to whom Paul sent a salutation.   Romans 16:13 . Possibly the same as No. 1

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

 Mark 15:21 Romans 16:13  Mark 15:21

Holman Bible Dictionary [8]

 Mark 15:21 2 Romans 16:13

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [9]

(Lat. for red, Graecized ῾Ροῦφος ) is mentioned in  Mark 15:21, along with Alexander, as a son of Simon the Cyrenmean, whom the Jews compelled to bear the cross of Jesus on the way to Golgotha ( Luke 23:26). A.D. 29. As the evangelist informs his readers who Simon was by naming the sons, it is evident that the latter were better known than the father in the circle of Christians where Mark lived. Again, in  Romans 16:13, the apostle Paul salutes a Rufus whom he designates as "elect in the Lord" ( Ἐκλεκτὸν Ἐν Κυρίῳ ), and whose mother he gracefully recognizes as having earned a mother's claim upon himself by acts of kindness shown to him. A.D. 55. It is generally supposed that this Rufus was identical with the one to whom Mark refers; and in that case, as Mark wrote his gospel in all probability at Rome, it was natural that he should describe to his readers the father (who, since the mother was at Rome, while he, apparently, was not there, may have died or have come later to that city), from his relationship to two well known members of the same community. It is some proof at least of the early existence of this view that in the Acta Andrew et Petri both Rufus and Alexander appear as companions of Peter in Rome. Assuming, then, that the same person is meant in the two passages, we have before us an interesting group of believers a father (for we can hardly doubt that Simon became a Christian, if he was not already such, at the time of the crucifixion), a mother, and two brothers, all in the same family. Yet we are to bear in mind that Rufus was not an uncommon name (Wettstein, Nov. Test. 1, 634); and possibly, therefore, Mark and Paul may have had in view different individuals. Smith. The name is Roman, but the man was probably of Hebrew origin. He is said to have been one of the seventy disciples, and eventually to have had charge of the Church at Thebes.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

rōō´fus ( Ῥοῦφος , Rhoúphos ): The name is mentioned twice: (1) Simon of Cyrene, who was compelled to bear the cross of Jesus, is "the father of Alexander and Rufus" (  Mark 15:21 ); (2) Paul sends greetings to Roman Christians, "Rufus the chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine" ( Romans 16:13 ). Rufus was well known among those for whom Mark primarily wrote his Gospel, and according to tradition this was the Christian community at Rome. There seems no reason to doubt, therefore, that the Rufus of Mark and the Rufus of Paul are the same person. The name, meaning "red," "reddish," was, however, one of the commonest of slave names; the identification of these two is therefore merely a conjecture. The Rufus whom Paul greets is "the chosen in the Lord," i.e. "that choice Christian" (Denhey). Since all Christians are "chosen," this title must express some distinction. The mother of Rufus had played the mother's part to Paul on some occasion of which we are ignorant, hence the phrase "his mother and mine" (compare  Mark 10:30 ).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [11]

Ru´fus. A person of this name was one of the sons of Simon the Cyrenian, who was compelled to bear the cross of Christ : he is supposed to be the same with the Rufus to whom Paul, in writing to the Romans, sends his greeting in the remarkable words, 'Salute Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine' . He is said to have been one of the seventy disciples, and eventually to have had charge of the church at Thebes.