Acts 13:1

Barnabas and Saul Sent Off

1 Now there were in the church at Antioch 1prophets and 2teachers, 3Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger,[a] Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of 4Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

Acts 13:1 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 13:1

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch
This was Antioch in Syria, where was a Gospel church, and where the disciples were first called Christians; from whence Saul and Barnabas had been sent to Jerusalem, with a supply for the poor saints there, in a time of famine, and from whence they were now returned: and here were

certain prophets and teachers;
who were both prophets and teachers, though these are sometimes distinguished; who had both a gift of foretelling things to come, as Agabus and others, and of explaining the prophecies of the Old Testament, and of teaching the people evangelic truths; these, at least some of them, came from Jerusalem hither, ( Acts 11:27 ) .

As Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger;
the former of these was a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, who sold his land and brought the money to the apostles; and who was first sent hither by the church at Jerusalem, upon hearing that many in this place believed, and turned to the Lord, ( Acts 4:36 Acts 4:37 ) ( 11:22 ) but of the latter no mention is made elsewhere; by his first name he appears to be a Jew, who by the Romans was called Niger; very likely from the blackness of his complexion, for that word signifies "black": and so the Ethiopic version interprets it:

and Lucius of Cyrene;
who very probably was one of the synagogue of the Cyrenians, and seems manifestly to be one of the men of Cyrene, that went abroad upon the persecution raised at the death of Stephen, ( Acts 6:9 ) ( Acts 11:19 Acts 11:20 ) he is said to be bishop of Cyrene; some take him to be the same Lucius mentioned in ( Romans 16:21 ) and others think he is the same with Luke the Evangelist:

and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch:
or his foster brother. The Syriac version calls him Manail, and one of Stephens's copies Manael, and the Ethiopic version Manache, and renders what is said of him, "the son of king Herod's nurse"; which accounts for their being brought up, nourished, and suckled together: the name seems to be the same with Menachem, or Menahem, a name frequent with the Jews; there was one of this name, who was very intimate with Herod the great, and was in his service, though before he was vice president of the sanhedrim: the account that is given of him is this F26:

``Hillell and Shammai received from them (i.e. from Shemaia and Abtalion, who were presidents before them), but at first there were Hillell and Menahem, but Menahem went out, (dlmh tdwbel) , "into the service of the king", with fourscore men clad in gold---Menahem was a very wise man, and a sort of a prophet, who delivered out many prophecies; and he told Herod when he was little, that he should reign; and after he was king, he sent for him, and he told him again, that he should reign more than thirty years, and he reigned thirty seven years, and he gave him great riches.''

Of this Menahem, and of his going into the king's service, mention is made elsewhere F1: now though this Menahem cannot be the same with Manaen here, yet this Manaen, as Dr. Lightfoot conjectures, might be the son of him, and called after his name; who might be brought up with the son of Herod the great, here called the tetrarch; and who was Herod Antipas, the same that beheaded John the Baptist: and Saul; who afterwards was called Paul.


F26 Juchasin, fol. 19. 1.
F1 Misn. Chagiga, c. 2. sect. 2. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. & T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 16. 2.

Acts 13:1 In-Context

1 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
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 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them.

Cross References 4

  • 1. Acts 11:27; Acts 15:32; Acts 19:6; Acts 21:9, 10; Romans 12:6, 7; See 1 Corinthians 12:28, 29
  • 2. Acts 11:27; Acts 15:32; Acts 19:6; Acts 21:9, 10; Romans 12:6, 7; See 1 Corinthians 12:28, 29
  • 3. Acts 11:22-26
  • 4. See Luke 3:1

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Niger is a Latin word meaning black, or dark
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.