Matthew 27:29-32, “And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.”

Mark 15:21, “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.”

Luke 23:26, “And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.”

These are all the verses that speak of Simon the Cyrenian. We know very little about him, but what he did on the day the Lord was crucified is known worldwide. As his name suggests, Simon was from Cyrene, a city in modern day Libya, in northern Africa. We know absolutely nothing about his parents, but we do know he had two sons, Alexander and Rufus. Later, the Apostle Paul was evidently close to Rufus. He wrote in Romans 16:13, “Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.” Rufus’ mother was presumably Simon’s wife. Paul claiming Rufus’ mother as his own was a sign of affection. Perhaps Simon was dead at this time and therefore was not mentioned.

Because Simon was from Cyrene, does not necessarily mean that he lived in Cyrene. There seems to have been a Cyrenian population in Jerusalem. In Acts 2:10, we learn that there were Cyrenians in the crowd who heard Peter speaking on the day of Pentecost. Let’s read Acts 6:8-10, “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and CYRENIANS, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.” This shows the Cyrenian Jews attended their own synagogue. We also read in Acts 11:9-10 that there were faithful Cyrenians preaching the Gospel in Antioch. Acts 13:1 tells us of a Cyrenian name Lucius that lived in Antioch.

To read more about Simon of Cyrene, please click on these Answers From the Book links: (313.4)