Paul Confronts a Sorcerer at Cyprus

I once heard about a confrontation between a young boy and his mother. The mother asked her son, “Young man, there were two cookies in the pantry this morning! May I ask how it happened that there’s only one now?” The boy didn’t flinch but said, “It mus … More


Chapter 13 marks a major division in the book of Acts. The focus shifts away from Peter and the church in Judea, towards Paul and the churches he planted during his travels. The Lord called Paul and Barnabas to minister to the Gentiles. They were what we today call foreign missionaries. The church confirmed their calling, commissioned them, and sent them forth (vv. 2-3). Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they had decided, quite deliberately, to take the Gospel out into all the world. Paul and Barnabas took another young man, John Mark, with them, and they sailed for the island of Cyprus, arriving on the eastern costal village of Salamis (v. 4). They traveled 90 miles across the island walking from synagogue to synagogue preaching the Word of God (v. 5).  

In the home of Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul, the new missionaries faced their first real challenge: the Jewish, false prophet, magician Bar-Jesus (Elymas) (vv. 6-12). Sergius had wanted to hear the Word of God preached by Paul and Barnabas, but Elymas opposed them. Recognizing the devil’s influence, Paul, full of the Spirit, denounced Elymas as a son of the devil, an enemy of all righteousness, a deceiver, and a villain. By God’s power Paul took away Elymas’ eyesight for a time. Elymas had tried to make the road to God crooked, so it was only fitting that he should be reliant on others to travel anywhere. When the governor saw this, he was amazed at the power of God and believed in their teachings.   

From this point on Saul is called Paul. In those days nearly all Jews had two names. One was a Jewish name, by which they were known in their own circle; the other was a Greek name, by which they were known in the wider world. It may well be that he determined to use only his Gentile name from this time on because he was now launched on the career for which the Holy Spirit had marked him out. He fully accepted his mission as the apostle to the Gentiles.


Do I think that Satan is still trying to stop the gospel from being preached? Yes, and I need to realize that the task is too large for me. I must constantly be calling on the Lord (I John 5:14-15).

Acts 13:1-12 (English Standard Version)

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