Saul (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


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 went from synagogue to synagogue where they preached the Word of God (v. 5). Day after day they walked, stopping to preach and teach in many places, until they had traveled ninety miles to the west end of the island (v. 6). At their very last stop on the island, the governor heard about these strange men with a strange message from God, and sent for them. However, the governor had on his staff a fortune-teller called Elymas, who was a child of the devil (John 8:44) (vv. 7-8). Paul recognized that Satan was using Elymas to try to keep the governor from hearing the Gospel. Led by the Holy Spirit, Paul spoke out boldly, denouncing the false prophet and bringing blindness on the man by the power of God in divine judgment (vv. 9-11).

Elymas was so blinded that he could not even see the sunlight. When the governor saw this he was amazed at the power of God and said to them, “Now I believe that what you have been trying to tell me is true (v. 12).” The big question is - Was Servius Paulus converted? There is no evidence that there was a change of heart and life. 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. So Cephas is the Hebrew name and Peter the Greek name for a rock; Thomas is the Hebrew name and Didymus the Greek name for a twin. So Saul was also Paul. 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, so I must constantly be calling on the Lord (I John 5:14-15).

Acts 13:4-12 (English Standard Version)

So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, "You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time." Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

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