RUFUS (rū'fŭs, Gr. Rhouphos). The brother of Alexander and the son of Simon of Cyrene who bore the cross (Mark.15.21). A Rufus is also greeted by Paul in Rom.16.13: “Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too,” is the apostle’s affectionate wording. If the two references are to one man, it may be conjectured that Simon or Simon’s widow became a Christian and emigrated from Cyrene to Rome, this being the reason for Mark’s cryptic reference. Mark was probably writing in Rome.
RUFUS rōō’ fəs, Gr. ̔Ρου̂φος, G4859, a Hellenized form of the Lat. name Rufus, “Red,” used frequently by Gr. authors of the 3rd and 2nd cent. b.c. The name appears twice in the NT. In the passion narrative (Mark 15:21) a Rufus is mentioned as the son of the Simon of Cyrene who carried the Savior’s cross. In the greetings of Romans 16:13, a Rufus is greeted as “eminent in the Lord, also his mother and mine.” Needless to say the romantic bent of 19th-cent. expositors was sufficient for the task of equating the two men and spinning a wonderful web about them. The fact that Rufus was a Lat. name, a Rom. military governor of Judea was so named, lends credence to the possibility that this same family might indeed find its way to Rome, and there play an active role in the church. The martyrdom of a Rufus is noted in Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians XI:1 c. a.d. 135.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
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" (Mr 15:21);
(2) Paul sends greetings to Roman Christians, "Rufus the chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine" (Ro 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 Mr 10:30).