Rufus and His Mother

By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Early Church Workers

  • Rufus simply means “red.”
  • This might be a reference to the Rufus mentioned in Mark 15:21, who was the son of Simon of Cyrene, the man who carried Jesus’ cross. (Since most scholars think Mark’s gospel was written from Rome, this would indicate that he was sufficiently well known within the Roman community to be specially named by Mark [whose gospel, by the way, was written decades after Paul’s letter].)
  • Paul claims that he was “chosen by the Lord,” which is an interesting designation since all Christians were “chosen.” But clearly, Paul is again marking some distinction regarding this individual.
  • Noteworthy, as well, is Paul’s recognition of his mother, a woman who treated him like her own son.
  • Some scholars have deduced that Paul and Rufus might have been brothers, based on this text, but that is not the general consensus. Most people think this family essentially adopted Paul after he became a Christian. They would have been an extended family at best.


1 Morris, Leon. "The Epistle to the Romans." The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1988. p.534.

Best, Ernest. "The Letter of Paul to the Romans." The Cambridge Bible Commentary. Cambridge: At the University Press, 1969.

Black, Matthew. "Romans." The New Century Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans, 1981.

Duling, Dennis and Norman Perrin. The New Testament. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1994.

Edwards, James. "Romans." New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992.

Gaebelein, Frank. "Romans." Expositor's Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1985.

Mills, Watson and Richard Wilson. Mercer Commentary on the Bible. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1995.

Smith, Robert. "Matthew." Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1989.

Bible Characters