Acts 13:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 13:1, 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."

Acts 13:1, ESV: "Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul."

Acts 13:1, KJV: "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."

Acts 13:1, NASB: "Now there were prophets and teachers at Antioch, in the church that was there: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul."

Acts 13:1, NLT: "Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called 'the black man'), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul."

Acts 13:1, CSB: "Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul."

What does Acts 13:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

To this point, the narrative of Acts has mostly focused on Peter and the spread of Jesus' offer of forgiveness to those in Judea and Samaria. Acts 9:1–31 records the conversion of Saul, which occurred far north of Jerusalem, in Damascus, and his gentle exile back home to Tarsus. Acts 11:19–26 records how Saul is called up again by Barnabas to help manage the church in Syrian Antioch, even farther north than Damascus. Now Saul, still under the mentorship of Barnabas, begins his powerful mission to reach the "end of the earth" (Acts 1:8) with the offer of salvation.

There are five different cities named Antioch, two of which feature in the book of Acts. Antioch in the district of Pisidia sits slightly southwest of central modern-day Asia Minor. Syrian Antioch, where Saul and Barnabas have their base of operations, is south of the northeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea in modern-day Antakya, where Turkey dips down into the otherwise Syrian coast.

Ironically, the church in Syrian Antioch started because of Saul's persecution of the church (Acts 8:1–3). Jesus-followers who fled from his violence in Jerusalem made their way north and witnessed to the large Jewish population while those from Cyprus and Cyrene introduced Jesus to Gentiles. It was here that Jesus-followers were first called "Christians." When the church in Jerusalem first heard that Gentiles in Antioch were accepting Jesus, they sent Barnabas, a faithful Jesus-follower from Cyprus, to confirm the news. He found a thriving church and sent for Saul, who was not too far away in Tarsus, to help (Acts 11:19–26).

The other prophets and teachers mentioned are not well known. Simeon is connected to the Latin word "Niger," which seems to have been a common name among Romans. It literally means "black" or "dark," but we're not sure if that description actually applies to Simeon. There is also no indication he is the same as Simon of Cyrene from Luke 23:26. Lucius may be the Lucius of Romans 16:21, but it is not Luke, the author of the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts; the Latin for "Luke" is "Lucanus," from "Luciania," the district in Lower Italy. "Lucius" comes from the Greek "Loukianos" and is related to the word for "light."

Manean is not mentioned again in the New Testament, but his "lifelong friend" is well known. "Herod the tetrarch" is Herod Antipas, the ruler of Perea and Galilee who killed John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1–12) and questioned Jesus before the crucifixion (Luke 23:6–12). The divergent paths of the two close men is striking.