Anonymous. By the time we get to Acts 13, the church had already experienced a powerful wave of persecution from both Jewish and Roman authorities. Prominent Biblical characters include people such as Moses, King David, the apostle Paul, and so on. Many church leaders were in favor of including the Gentiles just as they were, but others were not. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and … The Book of Acts largely tells the story of the early church, including its launch at the Day of Pentecost all the way through the missionary journeys of Paul, Peter, and other disciples. He is presumed to be an African gentile who had transplanted to Antioch and met with Jesus. Here is where this interesting man named Simeon enters the pages of the Bible: This calls for a bit of background. That shouldn't be news, of course. 2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. At the beginning of Acts 13, we find a list of additional leaders in the Antioch church. Because of that phrase added to his name in Acts 13:1: "Simeon who was called Niger.". Many of these individuals are well-known and have been studied throughout history because they played major roles in the events recorded throughout Scripture. This is the Bible's only mention of this Simeon. Thus, Simeon was called “Niger” … M.A., Christian Studies, Union University, B.A., English Literature, Wheaton College. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 13 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. A man named Simeon, who was also called Niger, is one of these characters. Acts 13. So why is Simeon significant in this story? And a striking one, at that! He is a former editor for Christianity Today and LifeWay Christian Resources. At the beginning of Acts 13, we find a list of additional leaders in the Antioch church. Acts 13:1 Context 1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. Leaders were also discussing whether the Gentiles should convert to Judaism. Acts 13 - NIV: Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 13 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. Outside of some dedicated New Testament scholars, very few people have heard of him or know about his story. But most of the people mentioned in the Bible are buried a little deeper within the pages, people whose names may not be recognized right away. Who Was the Ethiopian Eunuch in the Bible? These leaders, including "Simeon who was called Niger," had a hand in sending Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey to other gentile cities in response to the … Holman Bible Publishers, 2009, Nashville, Tennessee. Therefore, many scholars have concluded in recent years that Simeon "who was called Niger" was indeed a black man. We know that Nigeria consists of dark-skinned persons, as Nigeria is African in descent. And yet his presence in the New Testament may signal some important facts about the early church of the New Testament, facts that point to some surprising implications. All Scripture says about the man, in addition to being a prophet and teacher, is that he was “Simeon who was called Niger” (Acts 13:1). In the original language of the text, the word "Niger" is best translated as "black." Smith, William, 1813-1893 Barnum, Samuel W. (Samuel Weed), 1820-1891, ed/Flickr/Public Domain. There are literally thousands of people mentioned in the Bible. Acts 13:1-3 King James Version (KJV). But given the history of prejudice and exclusion demonstrated by the church in recent centuries, the presence of Simeon surely provides an example of why things should have been better — and why they still can be better. 13 1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. King James Version (KJV), KJV, Vest Pocket New Testament & Psalms, Leathersoft, Black, Red Letter Version: Holy Bible, King James Version, KJV, Word Study Bible, Red Letter Edition: 1,700 Key Words that Unlock the Meaning of the Bible, KJV, Reference Bible, Personal Size Giant Print, Red Letter Edition, Comfort Print: Holy Bible, King James Version, KJV, Journal the Word Bible, Large Print, Red Letter Edition: Reflect, Journal, or Create Art Next to Your Favorite Verses, KJV Study Bible, Red Letter Edition: Second Edition, KJV, Baby's First Bible, Hardcover, Multicolor: A special keepsake for your new arrival. Barnabas and Paul were at the forefront of the church leaders who wanted to evangelize the Gentiles. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. Think about it: There's a good chance that more than 1,500 years before the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, a black man helped lead one of the most influential churches in the history of the world. The word “Niger” here, the Greek niger, refers to the man Simeon as black. We can't know for sure whether Simeon was black, but it's certainly a reasonable conclusion. 13 1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. More importantly, the church leaders had begun discussing whether Gentiles (non-Jewish people) should be told about the gospel message and included within the church. These leaders, including "Simeon who was called Niger," had a hand in sending Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey to other gentile cities in response to the work of the Holy Spirit. Earliest Days of the Roman Christian Church, Overview: the Epistles of the New Testament, Introduction to the Catholic Religion: Beliefs, Practices and History, Exploring the New Testament City of Antioch, The Stoning of Stephen: A Bible Story Study Guide. Acts 13:1 German Bible Alphabetical: who and Antioch at Barnabas been brought called church Cyrene had Herod In Lucius Manaen Niger Now of prophets Saul Simeon teachers tetrarch tetrarch that the there up was were who with 2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. Sam O'Neal is the co-author of "Bible Stories You May Have Forgotten" and "The Bible Answer Book." Black men and women have proven themselves as capable leaders for thousands of years, both inside and outside of the church. In fact, they were leaders in the church at Antioch, which was the first church to experience large numbers of Gentiles converting to Christ. νιγερ (niger), the original word of Latin origin that is translated "Niger" (Acts 13:1), literally means "black," so Simeon most likely was from Africa, whose most populous country today is Nigeria. The Greek word Niger is from where the name Nigeria comes.

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