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SIMON (sī'mŭn, Gr. Simōn, hearing)

1. The son of Jonas, and brother of Andrew, a fisherman who became a disciple and apostle of Christ. He was surnamed Peter, “stone,” and Cephas, Aramaic for “rock” (Matt.4.18; Matt.16.17-Matt.16.18). See Peter.

2. Another disciple of Jesus called the “Canaanite” in the KJV, a member of the party later called “the Zealots” (so niv, Matt.10.4; Mark.3.18). The word does not mean “inhabitant of Cana.” Luke properly translates the Hebrew by Zealot (Luke.6.15; Acts.1.13).

3. A leper of Bethany in whose house Jesus’ head was anointed (Matt.26.6; Mark.14.3).

4. A brother of the Lord (Matt.13.55; Mark.6.3).

5. A man from Cyrene, father of Alexander and Rufus, who was compelled to carry the cross of Jesus (Matt.27.32; Mark.15.21; Luke.23.26).

6. A Pharisee in whose house Jesus’ feet were anointed by the sinful woman (Luke.7.40, Luke.7.43-Luke.7.44).

7. Judas Iscariot’s father (John.6.71; John.13.2, John.13.26).

8. Simon Magus, a sorcerer at Samaria and a man of great power and influence among the people (Acts.8.9-Acts.8.13). He “believed” as the result of Philip’s preaching there, though the real nature of his faith is not clear, as his subsequent action reveals. He undoubtedly was especially impressed by the operation of divine power in Philip, a power that exceeded his own. After being baptized he continued with Philip, hoping, no doubt, to learn more of this power. Subsequently Peter and John were sent from the Jerusalem church to Samaria to pray for the new converts and lay hands on them with a view to their receiving the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given by the laying of hands, he wanted to buy this power for himself from the apostles. His request called forth a blistering rebuke by Peter (Acts.8.14-Acts.8.24).

Simon Magus plays a prominent role in postapostolic Christian literature. Irenaeus (Against Heresies 1.23) viewed him as the founder of Gnosticism and the leader the sect of Simonians was named after. According to Justin Martyr (Apology 1.26), he went to Rome during the reign of Claudius, and the Acts of Peter relates how he led Roman Christians astray by his false teachings. In the pseudo-Clementine Recognitions and Homilies he is particularly prominent, appearing as Peter’s chief opponent. The relationship between this Simon and the one in Acts is not clear. The actual founder of the sect of the Simonians may have been confused early in the church with the Simon in Acts.8.1-Acts.8.40.

9. A tanner who lived at Joppa. Peter stayed with him for a period of time (Acts.9.43; Acts.10.6, Acts.10.17, Acts.10.32).

Apostle. One of the Twelve, he is called by Matthew and Mark “the Cananaean” (Matt. 10:4; Mark 3:18 RSV), and by Luke “the Zealot” (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). The latter is a translation of the Aramaic underlying the former. Little is known about him, but his designation suggests that at some stage he had been associated with the active opposition to Roman rule which was characteristic of the Zealot* party. Some early Christian writers identified him with Simeon, son of Clopas, said by Hegesippus to have succeeded James as the head of the Jerusalem church.

2. Another of the twelve disciples of Jesus, Simon called “the Cananaean” (Matt 10:4; Mark 3:18) to distinguish him from Simon Peter; not that he was a Canaanite or from Cana, but a “zealot,” “enthusiast” (from Aram. קַנָאַן). In Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13 he is correctly called “the Zealot” since he was a member of that party of patriotic Jews who so zealously opposed the Rom. rule in Pal. and fanatically resorted to violence in their hatred of the foreign yoke.

3. A brother of the Lord (Matt 13:55; Mark 6:3).

4. A leper in Bethany in whose house Mary anointed Jesus’ head with expensive ointment (Mark 14:3-9; cf. John 12:1-8).

5. A Pharisee in whose house a sinful woman anointed the feet of Jesus with her tears and ointment. Simon’s criticism of the act by an unclean woman of such low reputation drew forth from Jesus a parable which taught Simon the relation between forgiveness and appreciation (Luke 7:36-50). Jesus commended the woman for her love and faith.

6. A man from Cyrene in N Africa who was compelled to carry the cross of Christ (Matt 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26). Mark calls him “the father of Alexander and Rufus” who were well-known to Mark’s readers (prob. in the church at Rome, cf. Rom 16:13). Because of this relation, Simon was not likely a Negro, but one of many Jews living in Cyrene, now in Jerusalem, perhaps on business.

7. The father of Judas Iscariot (John 6:71; 12:4 KJV; 13:2, 26).

8. See Simon Magus.

9. The tanner of Joppa in whose house Peter stayed “for many days” (Acts 9:43; 10:6, 17, 32). His house was by the seaside outside the city wall, because the handling of dead bodies made tanning ceremonially unclean to a Jew.


“Simonians,” J. H. Blunt, ed., Dictionary of Sects, Heresies, Ecclesiastical Parties, and Schools of Religious Thought (1874); R. M. Grant, Gnosticism and Early Christianity (1960), ch. 3.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(Simon, Greek form of SIMEON (which see)): The persons of the name of Simon mentioned in the Apocrypha are:

(1) Simon the Maccabean (Hasmonean), surnamed THASSI (which see), the 2nd son of Mattathias and elder brother of Judas Maccabeus. On his deathbed, Mattathias commended Simon as a "man of counsel" to be a "father" to his brethren (1 Macc 2:65), and a "man of counsel" he proved himself. But it was not till after the death of Judas and the capture of Jonathan that he played the chief role. Dispatched by Judas with a force to the relief of the Jews in Galilee he fought with great success (1 Macc 5:17 ff; Josephus, Ant, XII, viii, 1 f). We find him next taking revenge along with Jonathan on the "children of Jambri" (1 Macc 9:33 ff), and cooperating in the successful campaign around Bethbasi against Bacchides (circa 156 BC) (1 Macc 9:62 ff), and in the campaign against Apollonius (1 Macc 10:74 ff). In the conflict between Tryphon and Demetrius II, Simon was appointed by Antiochus VI "captain from the Ladder of Tyre unto the borders of Egypt" (1 Macc 11:59). After the capture of Jonathan at Ptolemais by Tryphon, Simon became acknowledged leader of his party. He thwarted Tryphon in his attempts upon Jerusalem, in revenge for which the latter murdered Jonathan (1 Macc 13:23). Simon then took the side of Demetrius on condition of immunity for Judea, and so `in the 170th year’ (143-142 BC) `the yoke of the heathen was taken away from Israel’ (1 Macc 13:41). Simon applied himself to rebuild the strongholds of Judea, reduced Gazara, captured the Acra (citadel) and made Joppa a seaport. He showed his wisdom most of all in his internal administration: "He sought the good of his country"; commerce and agriculture revived; lawlessness was suppressed and "the land had rest all the days of Simon (1 Macc 14:4 ff). His power was acknowledged by Sparta and Rome (1 Macc 14:16 ff). In 141 BC he was appointed by the nation leader, high priest and captain "for ever, until there should arise a faithful prophet" (1 Macc 14:41 ff), and thus the Hasmonean dynasty was founded. A new chronological era began with the first year of his administration, and he minted his own coins. A few years later Simon again meddled in Syrian politics (139 BC), this time at the entreaty of Antiochus VII (Sidetes) in his contest against Tryphon; when, however, Antiochus was assured of success, he refused the help of Simon and sent Cendebaeus against Judea. Judas and John, sons of Simon, defeated the invaders near Modin (137-136 BC). In 135 BC Simon met his death by treachery. Ptolemy the son of Abubus, Simon’s own son-in-law, determined to secure supreme power for himself and, in order to accomplish this, to assassinate the whole family of Simon. He accordingly invited Simon and his sons to a banquet in the stronghold of Dok near Jericho, where he treacherously murdered Simon with his two sons Mattathias and Judas. The other son, John Hyrcanus, governor of Gazara, received intimation of the plot and saved himself to become the head of the Hasmonean dynasty. "The significance of Simon’s administration consists in this, that he completed the work of Jonathan and left the Jewish people absolutely independent of Syria" (Schurer).


(2) Simon I, the high priest, son of Onias I, whom he succeeded circa 300 BC. He was one of the last of the Great Synagogue, and to him is attributed the saying, "On three things the world depends--the Law, Worship and the showing of kindness." According to Josephus (Ant., XII, ii, 5) this Simon was called "the Just" (ho dikaios), "on account of his piety and his benevolent disposition toward his countrymen."

Many authorities (Herzfeld, Derenbourg, Stanley, Cheyne) assert that Josephus is wrong in attaching this epithet to Simon I instead of Simon II, and Schurer is not certain on this question. But the Talmud passage which Derenbourg cites means the opposite of what he takes it, namely, it is intended to show how splendid and holy were the days of Simeon (ha-tsaddiq) compared with the later days. Besides, Josephus is more likely to have known the truth on this matter than these later authorities. The same uncertainty obtains as to whether the eulogium in Sirach 50:1 ff of "the great priest" refers to Simon I or Simon II. Schurer and others refer it to Simon II. It is more likely to refer to the Simon who was famous as "the Just," and consequently to Simon I. Besides we know of no achievements of Simon II to entitle him to such praise. The building operations mentioned would suit the time of Simon I better, as Ptolemy captured Jerusalem and probably caused considerable destruction. The Talmud states that this Simon (and not Jaddua) met Alexander the Great.

(3) Simon II, high priest, son of Onias II and grandson of Simon I and father of Onias III, flourished about the end of the 3rd century BC, and was succeeded by his son Onias III circa 198 BC. Josephus says that this Simon in the conflict of the sons of Joseph sided with the elder sons against Hyrcanus the younger. Schurer (probably incorrectly) thinks he is the Simon praised in Sirach 50:1 ff. See (2) above (3 Macc 2:1; Josephus, Ant, XII, iv, 10).

(4) Simon, a Benjamite, guardian of the temple, who, having quarreled with the high priest Onias III, informed Apollonius of the untold sums of money in the temple treasury. Apollonius laid the matter before the king Seleucus IV, who sent Heliodorus to remove the money. An apparition prevented Heliodorus from accomplishing his task (2 Macc 3:4 ff). It is further recorded, that Simon continued his opposition to Onias. He is spoken of as brother of the renegade Menelaus (2 Macc 4:23). Of his end we know nothing.

(5) Simon Chosameus (Codex Vaticanus (and Swete) Chosamaos; Codex Alexandrinus Chosomaios), one of the sons of Annas who had married "strange wives" (1 Esdras 9:32). Simon apparently = "Shimeon" (shim`on) of the sons of Harim (Ezr 10:31); Chosameus is probably a corruption standing in the place of, but not resembling, any of the three names: Benjamin, Malluch, Shemaraiah, which Esdras omits from the Ezra list.


(1) Simon Peter.

See Peter (SIMON).

(2) Another of the Twelve, Simon "the Cananean" (Mt 10:4; Mr 3:18), "the Zealot" (Lu 6:15; Ac 1:13).

See Cananaean.

(3) One of the brethren of Jesus (Mt 13:55; Mr 6:3).

See Brethren of the Lord.

(4) "The leper" in Bethany, in whose house a woman poured a cruse of precious ointment over the head of Jesus (Mt 26:6; Mr 14:3). He had perhaps been healed by Jesus; in that case his ungracious behavior was not consistent with due gratitude. However he was healed, the title referred to his condition in the past, as lepers were ostracized by law.

(5) A Pharisee in whose house a woman, "a sinner," wet the feet of Jesus with her tears, and anointed them with ointment (Lu 7:36 ). By some he is identified with (4), this being regarded as Luke’s version of the incident recorded in Mt 26 and Mr 14. Others as strongly deny this view.

For discussion see MARY, IV.

(6) A man of Cyrene, who was compelled to carry the cross of Jesus (Mt 27:32; Mr 15:21; Lu 23:26). Mark calls him "the father of Alexander and Rufus," well-known members of the church at (probably) Rome (compare Ac 19:33; Ro 16:13).

See Cyrenian.

The father of Judas Iscariot (Joh 6:71; 12:4 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) omits; Joh 13:2,26).

(8) Simon Magus (Ac 8:9 ). See separate article.

(9) Simon, the tanner, with whom Peter lodged at Joppa. His house was by the seaside outside the city wall, because of its ceremonial uncleanness to a Jew, and also for reasons of sanitation (Ac 9:43).