Who Is Simon In the Bible? (Hint: There’s More Than One)

Readers of the New Testament find the name Simon multiple times in the Gospels and in the book of Acts. “Simon” appears in important stories in the life of Christ, like in the description of Jesus’ family and in the calling of the twelve apostles. The name also appears in passages that describe the establishment of the Christian church.

There are nine different Simons mentioned in the New Testament. The most well-known was Simon Peter, who was a fisherman and an apostle of Jesus Christ. There was another Simon among the 12 apostles and another in Jesus’ immediate family. There were six other Simons as well.

How does the New Testament distinguish between the different Simons? What is each Simon known for in the Gospels and Acts? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Also see Who Is John Mark In the Bible? to learn more.

Simon Peter
Who was Simon the Zealot? See below

All 9 Simons in the New Testament: An Overview

“Simon” is the form of the Hebrew name Simeon, which is found many times in the Old Testament (e.g. Gen. 29:33. The name Simeon refers to Simon Peter twice in the New Testament, depending on the English translation (Acts 15:14 — ESV, KJV, NKJV, NASB; 2 Pet. 1:1, ESV, CSB).

1. Simon Peter

Simon Peter, also called Cephas in the New Testament (e.g. 1 Cor. 3:22), is the most well-known Simon in the Bible. He’s mostly called “Peter” in the Gospels and Acts. Most Christians, including pastors and theologians, have referred to him as “Peter” or “Simon Peter” for 2,000 years.

The New Testament mentions Simon Peter more than any other Simon. The table below is a sample of passages in which Simon Peter appears.

Matthew 4:18While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.
Mark 3:16He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter)
Matthew 16:16-19Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (v. 16)
Matthew 17:1-4And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (v. 4)
Matthew 26:69-75And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (v. 75)
Luke 24:12But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
Luke 24:34saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”

2. Simon the Zealot

Simon the Zealot was one of the 12 apostles. Although he held a key position, the New Testament says relatively little about him.

Matthew 10:4Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Mark 3:18Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot
Luke 6:15and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot
Acts 1:13And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James.

Also see How Many Marys Are In the Bible? to learn more.

3. Simon, the brother of Jesus

The New Testament rarely mentions Jesus’ half-brother, Simon.

Matthew 13:55Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
Mark 6:3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

4. Simon the leper

The New Testament sometimes uses a unique description to distinguish between people with the same name. In this case, Matthew and Mark identify a man named Simon with the description, “the leper.”

Matthew 26:6Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,
Mark 14:3And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.

Also see Do Roman Catholics Study the Bible? to learn more.

Apostle Peter
Who was Simon Iscariot? See below

5. Simon of Cyrene

This Simon is described in reference to his hometown of Cyrene.

Matthew 27:32As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.
Mark 15:21And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.
Luke 23:26And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.

6. Simon, a Pharisee

Jesus has an important conversation with a Pharisee named Simon, which is recorded in Luke 7.

Luke 7:36-44Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” (v. 43)

7. Simon, father of Judas Iscariot

Simon was the name of the father of the infamous figure Judas Iscariot.

John 6:71He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.
John 13:2During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him
John 13:26Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.

Also see Why Are There More Books In the Catholic Bible? to learn more.

Saint Peter
Who was Simon the Tanner? See below

8. Simon the sorcerer

Acts 8 tells the story of a man named Simon who practiced magic and had an encounter with Jesus’ disciples in the days of the early church.

Acts 8:9-13But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. (v. 9)
Acts 8:18-24Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money. (v. 18)

9. Simon the tanner

The Simon mentioned in Acts 9 and 10 was a tanner by trade.

Acts 9:43And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.
Acts 10:6He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.
Acts 10:17Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate.
Acts 10:32Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’

Also see What Is the Longest Book of the Bible? to learn more.

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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