Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rufus: Some speculation

Romans 16, which is basically Paul’s greetings to some of the members of the Early Church, may seem like a boring chapter to read. But there are some interesting tidbits we can pull from these seemingly boring verses.

“Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.” (Romans 16:13)

Mark 15:21 mentions a Rufus. It says that a Cyrenian man named Simon was forced to carry Christ’s cross when Jesus was too weak to carry it. It also mentions that Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus. Why would Mark mention the names of his parents? Likely because Alexander and Rufus were well-known, and also because Mark’s gospel was especially written for the church at Rome, which gives a probable identification for this Rufus mentioned by Paul in Romans. So, very likely, this Rufus that Paul mentions was the son of the man who carried Christ’s cross.

If so, then Rufus’ dad, Simon, was a Jew. To be forced by a Roman soldier to carry the cross of a condemned man would have been a bitter experience for him. But something may have happened to Simon during that experience. Instead of holding a grudge and hating this Roman soldier for forcing him to do a despicable job that was beneath him, he may possibly have been struck by the person of Jesus, and may even have (possibly out of awe or curiosity) remained to watch the crucifixion. And, just as one of the thieves on the cross next to Jesus accepted Jesus as Lord and God and Savior, Simon may also have done the same, as he watched Jesus being crucified. If this is true, he would likely have returned to Cyrene and told his family about his experience, which may have led to his family becoming Christians.

Acts 11:20 says that it was "men from Cyprus and Cyrene” who came to Antioch and first preached the gospel to the Gentiles. Could Simon have been one of these men from Cyrene? And was Rufus with him?

In Ephesus, people who served Diana of the Ephesians instigated a riot, and the crowd would have killed Paul if they could have gotten to him. But in Acts 19:33, a man by the name of Alexander is “pushed to the front.” Could this be the brother of Rufus mentioned in Romans 16:13? And is it the same Alexander mentioned in Mark 15:21? And if so, how did their mother be “as a mother” to Paul? Maybe she comforted or helped him in time of need when his own family was unable or unwilling to do so.

10 comments:

Greg said...

Hi, Jeff. These are some interesting connections. I find this kind of stuff fascinating. Hard to know for sure, since most people at the time just went by their first name.

thekingpin68 said...

Interesting Rufus speculation, Jeff.:)

There is an update at the beginning of my thekingpin68 article.

Russ)

Jeff said...

Greg,

Yeah, I suppose we can't know those things for sure, but they seem to be likely probabilities, and, like you said, its interesting to make such connections, and it also shows that those weren't just storybook characters, but they were real people.

Jeff said...

thekingpin68,

Interesting Rufus speculation, Jeff.:)

There is an update at the beginning of my thekingpin68 article.


Thanks, Russ, and I'll check out your site.

My heart is still beating fast, and I'm still taking deep breaths. I just got home from work a little bit ago and just finished eating, and then listened to the messages on my answering machine. My sister left a message saying my mom was having problems getting out of bed, and that she wet the bed, and they were either going to take her to the hospital or call an ambulance. I tried calling my sister back, but there was no answer. I called my one brother back, and thankfully, he and his wife were still in town and have not gone back to St. Augustine. He said my mom will be released from the hospital shortly, and they will bring her home tonight, and that apparently, she only has the flu, and has not been hydrating herself. So my brother and his wife will stay at her home with her. I asked him how much longer they will be staying in town, and he said he has no idea. I e-mailed my other brother to let him know, since he has no phone.

Man, I am still taking deep breaths. It was just a few years ago when I got a phone call saying my dad had a heart attack, and when I went to the hospital he couldn't even talk plainly, and then, about 4 months after that (after he had spent days in the hospital and then more days in rehab, and, though he had made a remarkable recovery, he had some memory loss), I got another phone call saying my dad had gone into a coma, and then at the hospital I watched as he died from bleeding in the brain. Losing my dad was the hardest and most horrible thing I have ever gone through. It was like a heavy crushing weight was pressing down hard on my chest, making it almost impossible to breathe. There was also an unbelievable feeling of depression. When my mom dies, it may be even harder. One of the things that made it all the more difficult losing my dad was that I don't know whether he went to Heaven or Hell, and I had to stop thinking about it, or else I would have gone mad. It was also incredibly difficult realizing that, for the first time in my life, praying for my dad would do no good whatsoever (since, if he is in Heaven, he needs no prayers; and, if he is in Hell, which I really, really hope he is not, no prayer will ever help him anymore).

Thankfully, I know for certain that my mom is saved, and that is one thing that may make it easier when she finally goes home to Heaven, than it was when my dad died. Nevertheless, I hope my mom is around a good number of years more, as long as her health stays good. I know that physical death is a result of Adam's Fall, and it is indeed a curse. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, and offers us eternal life with Him through the sacrificial death of God the Son.

satire and theology said...

Jeff, I pray for your peace now, in Jesus name.

Russ:)

Jeff said...

Thanks, Russ.

My mom is the one who really needs the prayers, but thank you. I will call her in the morning to check on her, but apparently it is nothing serious. She went into the hospital shortly before my dad had his heart attack, after she collapsed at church, and they had to put her on the operating table. She is also not as strong as she used to be, and gets exhausted much easier than before. But as I said, at least she is saved, so no matter what, I will see her in eternity. Therefore, any future separation by death, whenever that happens, will only be temporary.

Jeff said...

I called my mom at 10:30 this morning, and she had labored breathing and could not talk clearly. But I called again at 1:00, just 35 minutes ago, and she sounded a little better. She still sounds bad, but at least this time she merely sounded like someone who has the flu. With her being 76 years old, and my dad having died 4 years ago (he died at 81), I worry about her very easily.

thekingpin68 said...

I pray for blessings for your Mom and yourself.

Jeff said...

Thanks, Russ. I just got off the phone with a friend (a retired nurse) in Miami, who was concerned about my mom (she didn't want to call my mom since it was so late, so she called me instead). She had called my mom yesterday and talked to her. She said that someone needs to be with my mom, and I told her that my brother and his wife are still staying with her for now. She also said that my mom had told her that the doctor had given her two different medicines for nausea, which didn't make sense to my friend. She said that antibiotics would make more sense.

My stomach is still hurting a little, but I think I will be able to go back to work tomorrow.

All this probably sounds theatrical, but like I said, I get concerned when it comes to my mom.

thekingpin68 said...

Well, Jeff, you are just doing the best you can. I respect you for that fact.

Russ:)

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