6 Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus,
7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.
8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him
10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?
11 And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.
12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
gone through (v.6) — a word used throughout Acts to describe a journey with stops along the way to teach
Paphos (v.6) — the capital of Cyprus where the Roman governor lived — in the southwest corner of the island
Like Simon Magus, Bar-Jesus was one of the magi, one of the wise men of the time. Things true and false were strangely mixed among these men. The accurate science of today was born in the midst of them. Chemistry is the outcome of their alchemy, as astronomy is the outcome of their astrology. It is not easy to discover how far these men were deceived, and how far they were right. Elymas was a man dwelling on the borderline of the occult, able to touch it, professing to be able to work wonders by it.
But he was also a false prophet; and immediately following that statement we are told that he was a Jew. Here then was a man who had been brought up with a knowledge of Hebrew literature, and the things of Hebrew religion; a man who by birth and training had been brought into closest understanding of the highest things in religion. but he was a false prophet, he was uttering things that were not true. Go back to the Old Testament and discover its teaching about false prophets, as to the nature of the sin committed, as to the judgment that fell upon them. There might have been excuse for Bar-Jesus if he were merely one of the magi, for there was much of light in their teaching, as well as error. But that a Jew should become a false prophet, by professing to be able to do the things he was doing, was sin. — Morgan, page 316.
false prophet (v.6) — He mixed religious teaching with his magic.
Bar-Jesus (v.6) = “Son of Jesus or Joshua” — his Jewish name — Paul called him a “son of the devil.”
proconsul (v.7) — The official title of the governor of a Roman province subject to the authority of the Senate. We find it used again in 18:12; 19:38. Cyprus had, at one time, been an imperial province, when its governor bore the title of “pro-praetor,” but Augustus transferred it to the Senate in 22 B.C. Luke, therefore, is strictly accurate in calling the governor proconsul at this period. — Walker, pages 283-284.
Sergius Paulus (v.7) — a Roman
an intelligent man (v.7) — interested in learning, which accounts for why he had Elymas in his entourage (although he obviously wasn’t satisfied with what the sorcerer had told him as he sought to hear the Word of God).
called (v.7) — He, no doubt, had heard of Paul and Barnabas’ teaching in the synagogues.
Elymas (v.8) — probably the Greek form of the Arabic Alim, “wise”) —used by Muhammadans for their theologians. His position was threatened by the teaching of Paul and Barnabas.
dark mist (v.11) — technical medical term for an ophthalmic disease
went around seeking (v.11) — the tense indicates that this continued in vain. Nobody dared help him after seeing what had happened.
Paulus’ astonishment was at the teaching, not the fate of his sorcerer.
This false prophet, the Jew Bar-Jesus, Elymas the sorcerer, is a type of apostate Judaism, which has turned away from the truth, rejected the Gospel and perverts the right ways of the Lord. Such Judaism became after rejecting the offer of God’s mercy.
As Elymas tried to keep the Word of God from the Roman Sergius Paulus, so the Jews tried to keep from the Gentiles the gospel, which they themselves had rejected. The judgment which fell upon the sorcerer is likewise significant. Blindness has been put judicially upon the Jews and without a leader they are groping around in the darkness. This judicial blindness was repeatedly predicted by the prophets. We find it mentioned in Isaiah 6:9-1. Their eyes were to be shut. Our Lord quotes this twice and each time in connection with His rejection in Matthew 13:15 and John 12:40. Then the apostle Paul uses these words for the last time in the New Testament. See Acts 28:25-28. The salvation of God was sent to the Gentiles after the Jews refused to accept it, and the Jews were blinded. But the blindness is not permanent. “Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). Corresponding to this is the blindness of Elymas, which was to be “for a season.” The season is this present age. When this age is over, the judicial blindness, the veil which is upon their hearts , will be removed. — Gaebelein, pages 237-238.