Although we are not told of any evangelism as they travelled from the east coast of Cyprus to the west coast, our knowledge of both Barnabas and Saul would be that they would not have been able to hold their tongue, especially if they came across Jews or converts to Judaism.
We ought to be like this, and if we are not we ought to ask God to give us a passion for lost souls. People are dying around us all the time. They all enter eternity! The great question though is … “To which eternity are they going?”
We pick up the reading again at:
Ac 13:5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper. 6 They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 7 who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.
1) John Mark was the deacon assisting in all the practical details of ministry. As we have elaborated before, a healthy team has a diversity of gifting. Not everyone can hold center stage, but everyone can make sure center stage is able to do the work of ministry which is the Gospel. Ask God to raise up John Mark’s in your Church to lessen the burden on the pulpit. When the pastor is freed from the mundane, he is released to craft better sermons, pray more effectively and reach lost souls.
2) They arrived at Paphos. This was the capital of Cyprus. The Roman governor had his residence here. It was an important port where ships were constantly arriving from many regions, trading goods, such as Cypriot copper and dropping or collecting passengers from a variety of cultures. It was cosmopolitan in nature. The sea near to the harbor often saw major conflicts taking place. Although a small province of the Roman Empire, the Island had a number of well-known religious sanctuaries. According to Greek mythology, this was the birthplace of Aphrodite and Adonis as well as the home of king Cinyras, Teucer and Pygmalion. Sergius Paulus was proconsul around 45-50 AD. He was also a curator (commissioner) of the Tiber River, managing it banks and the flow of water to enable ships to enter it for trading purposes. Today it is too polluted to even swim in or use for drinking water. Whether he was the curator of the river before or after being proconsul for Rome on Cyprus is unknown. However, he was an important man with full authority to administer all the affairs of the Island.
3) A temporary obstacle in the shape of:
Ac 1:6 a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 7 who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus.
This Bar-Jesus (also called Elymas the sorcerer) was a pseudo-prophet. The name Bar-Jesus means son of Jesus. We will see what Saul calls him later. He was a Jew by birth but not by religion for he mixed his magic arts with false religious doctrines that he, like so many today, fabricate for themselves, to suit the religious slant they desire. Magic was practiced by pagan and Jewish people to bring healing, blessings, cursing or to harm people. Such as this pseudo-prophet, predicting the future was part of their trade. In some manner he attached himself to Sergius Paulus, perhaps because of a fast working mind and quick speaking tongue.
4) Sergius Paulus was an intelligent man. It’s strange that an “intelligent” man fell into the trap of Elymas the sorcerer. History says this Sergius Paulus was writing a book on science and perhaps Elymas’ “evil science” intrigued him. We don’t know … but we do know that the proconsul wanted an audience with Barnabas and Saul. On the one hand he seems to have been influenced by Elymas’ evil religion but on the other it seems as though one of the main purposes of the Holy Spirit taking these missionaries to Cyrus was to have Sergius Paulus hear the Gospel and be saved!
5) Trying to stop the Gospel’s progress.
Ac 13:7 The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith.
(1) The proconsul wanted to hear the Word of God. We need to pray that many political leaders and those appointed to positions of authority in government desire to hear God’s Word preached to them. They might be hard men in government, but before God they are small creatures needing Jesus as Lord. Plead with God to stir their hearts with desire to hear the Gospel and believe.
(2) There will always be opposition preventing political leaders from hearing God’s Word. The devil is cunning! At the same time there will always be family, friends and colleagues who don’t want people to know about Jesus. They will concoct fanciful reasons why people should not hear the Gospel. Pray that God will over rule and that many people, even in our day will desire to hear the Gospel and be saved. Pray especially for those in political power. Irrespective of how hard, harsh or callous they might be … no one is able to stand against God, His Word and His Gospel!
Father, we know You protect Your Word and Gospel. Touch peoples’ hearts, especially those who are political leaders to want to hear the Gospel of Jesus and be saved. Only you have such power to change. Amen.