Acts 13: 4 – 12 On Cyprus
The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
They travelled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There tey me a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 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. But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, ‘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? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able 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. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.
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Barnabas and Saul, with John Mark as their helper, followed the Holy Spirit’s prompting and sailed to Cyprus. They started their mission in the Jewish synagogues. As Jews they would have been welcome, and would have been invited to speak to the congregation.
They must have made quite a stir because soon the most senior Roman official on the island, the proconsul Sergius Paulus, summoned them. Luke says he was an intelligent man. Reading this passage, it would seem also that he was sympathetic to what Barnabas and Saul were telling him, because Elymas, a sorcerer and false prophet, tried to turn him against the faith.
Saul, filled with the Holy Spirit, was then used by God to perform a noteworthy sign. He told Elymas he would be struck blind for a time, ‘not even able to see the light of the sun.’ and, immediately, Saul’s words came true. Elymas couldn’t see, and groped about “seeking someone to lead him by the hand”. This sign was particularly appropriate because it was the physical manifestation of his spiritual reality. Elymas wasn’t guided by the Holy Spirit – he was stumbling about in the darkness of sin.
This convinced the proconsul, and he believed, but note the careful way Luke has written this. “When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.” It was the teaching about the Lord that convinced the proconsul; it was the teaching about the Lord that he believed. The blindness of Elymas was just an authentication of the teaching. It was a sign.
Signs worked by God often seem to accomplish several things at once.
In this case, Sergius Paulus, the proconsul, was won over to the faith. Elymas was shown that he was opposing God’s plan through his sin – but he was left the opportunity to repent; God did not take his life. And Saul’s confidence in his ability to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit would have been boosted.
How great is our God!
Dear Lord Jesus
You are the light of the world. Please help me to always walk in your light and do your will.