In the USA, February is designated Black History Month.
So in honor of Black History Month, let’s look at a Black prophet and teacher mentioned in Acts 13.
1 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. 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 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.Acts 13:1-3
The term “Niger” is from the same root as the word “Nigeria.” It means Black. So Simeon was a Black prophet and/or teacher at the church in Antioch.
While most of the people in the Bible, including Jesus, probably didn’t much physically resemble European Renaissance artists’ renditions of them to which we’ve grown accustomed, it is a blessing that the Bible specifically mentions that Simeon was Black.
Understanding the Bible as God-breathed truth, it could not be accidental that Simeon’s ethnicity is mentioned. I believe that God wanted His Word to teach us about the diversity of the early Christian Church, to help us understand that the Church was founded as a diverse and multi-ethnic body right from the very beginning.
Unlike European Renaissance artists who painted their impressions of Biblical events as though they were populated entirely by white Europeans, I believe the God-breathed text of Acts 13 specifically tells us that is not an accurate picture.
Happy Black History Month!