Archive for July 1st, 2021

Showdown On Cyprus

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

Showdown On Cyprus

Pastor Don Carpenter

The Gospel On Tour / Acts 13:6–12

Reports the DENVER POST: “Like many sheep ranchers in the West, Lexy Fowler has tried just about everything to stop crafty coyotes from killing her sheep. She has used odor sprays, electric fences, and ’scare-coyotes.’ She has slept with her lambs during the summer and has placed battery-operated radios near them. She has corralled them at night, herded them at day. But the southern Montana rancher has lost scores of lambs–fifty last year alone. “Then she discovered the llama–the aggressive, funny-looking, afraid-of-nothing llama…’Llamas don’t appear to be afraid of anything,’ she said. ’When they see something, they put their head up and walk straight toward it. That is aggressive behavior as far as the coyote is concerned, and they won’t have anything to do with that… Coyotes are opportunists, and llamas take that opportunity away.’”

1. Apparently llamas know the truth of what James writes: “Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you” (4:7). The moment we sense his attack through temptation is the moment we should face it and deal with it for what it is.

Barry McGee.

Paul and Barnabas must have been excited. They were the first missionaries. They had been given a direct commission by God that was also witnessed by the local church at Antioch. They had been teaching and soul winning where they were, but now it was time for them to launch out and plant churches. The Gospel was marching on!

Satan hates soul winners and church planters. Make no mistake, missionaries who are effective will receive opposition. In our story tonight, when the Apostle Paul faced a threat, he met that threat like the brave and determined Llama. Let us learn about the Showdown On Cyprus.

It was Seleucia was Antioch’s port city on the Mediterranean, less than twenty miles to the west. The island of Cyprus is a natural destination if Barnabas knows the culture and has relatives there (4:36)

Acts 4:36 KJV

And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

1 Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ac 13:4. to Cyprus that Paul and Barnabas ?rst went. Barnabas was a native of Cyprus (Acts 4:36), and it would be typical of his gracious heart that he should want to share the treasures of Jesus ?rst of all with his own people. Cyprus was a Roman province, famous for its copper mines and its shipbuilding industry. It was sometimes called Makaria, which means the Happy Isle, because it was held that its climate was so perfect and its resources so varied that it was possible to ?nd everything necessary for a happy life there. Paul never chose an easy way. He and Barnabas preached in Paphos, the capital of the island. Paphos was notorious for its worship of Venus, the goddess of love.1

1 William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, 3rd ed. fully rev. and updated., The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 116.

Salamis. Seaport on the eastern shore of Cyprus where Barnabas and Saul landed near the beginning of their first missionary journey. Here they “proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews” (Acts 13:5). Tradition states that the city was 1000 years old when the missionaries arrived, having been found by Teucer after his return from the Trojan war.

Recently archaeologists have found evidence of Mycenaen residence centuries earlier. For centuries it was a major seaport, shipping copper, timber, ceramics, and agricultural products to Europe, Africa, and Asia. The Ptolemies encouraged Jews to settle there, hence the “synagogues of the Jews” in which Barnabas and Saul presented the good news. Barnabas’ tomb is at nearby Ali Barnaba monastery (discovered in ad 477).1

1 Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Salamis,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1882.

They went through the whole island  and ended up in Paphos.

PAPHOS (?????, Paphos). A proconsular city on the southwest coast of Cyprus, founded in 320 bc. There actually were two ancient cities about 10 miles (16 km) apart: Nea Paphos (“New Paphos”), the setting of Acts 13:6–12, and Palaepaphos (“Old Paphos”), which was first inhabited during the fourth millennium bc.

Encountering The Enemy

Acts 13:6 KJV

And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus:

  • His name was Bar-jesus or Elymas

Bar-Jesus This name means “son of Jesus.” Fitting to his name, he is an imitator who is attempting to compete with Jesus Christ. Paul calls him not a son of Jesus but a son of the devil (v. 10).1

1 John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Ac 13:6.

New Paphos, a Greek harbor town on the north and west of Cyprus, had long been the provincial capital and maintained some trade relations with Judea. Jewish magicians were reputed to be among the best in the Roman Empire (though forbidden in Scripture and mistrusted among pious Jews). It was not unusual for Roman aristocrats to attach philosophers to their court; while magicians would be less appealing, the proconsul probably sees Bar-Jesus (“son of Joshua”) as a useful adviser from a “Jewish” perspective. (Romans generally distrusted magic, but Josephus said that Felix, a Roman governor of Judea, counted among his friends a Cyprian Jew reputed to be a magician. His name is not Bar-Jesus, but Bar-Jesus and he attest to the same activity of Jewish magicians on Cyprus and their appeal to some Roman officials.)1

1 Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ac 13:6.

  • He probably was doing all kinds of witchcraft that deceived and controlled the people.
  • He was a Jew

It is unusual to find a Jewish false prophet and sorcerer, for the Jews traditionally shunned such demonic activities. The name Elymas means “sorcerer” or “wise man” (cf. the “wise men” of Matt. 2).

This event is an illustration of the lesson that Jesus taught in the Parable of the Tares (Matt. 13:24–30, 36–43): wherever the Lord sows His true children (the wheat), Satan comes along and sows a counterfeit (the tares), a child of the devil. Paul recognized that Elymas was a child of the devil (John 8:44), and he inflicted blindness on the false prophet as a judgment from God. This miracle was also evidence to Sergius Paulus that Paul and Barnabas were servants of the true God and preached the true message of salvation (Heb. 2:4). The Roman official believed and was saved.1

1 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 457.

Encountering A Seeker

Acts 13:7 KJV

Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.

  • Sergius Paulus

Sergius Paulus was proconsul of Cyprus (the highest Roman official on the island) about a.d. 45–46. As always, Luke has the correct, specific local title of the Roman official, even though these titles varied from place to place and decade to decade, and the only way to check all the proper titles would be to go to those places. It is uncertain if this is the Sergius Paulus whose family is known from later inscriptions.

1 Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ac 13:7–8.

 • A deputy

 • A prudent man

 • Called for the missionaries

 • Desired to hear the word of God.

Encountering Direct Opposition.

Acts 13:8 KJV

But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.

  • The opposition came from the sorcerer.’

The governor of Cyprus was Sergius Paulus. These were intensely superstitious times—and most great men, even an intelligent man like Sergius Paulus, kept private wizards, fortune-tellers who dealt in magic and spells. Bar-Jesus, or Elymas—an Arabic word which means the skilful one—saw that if the governor was won for Christianity he would no longer be needed. Paul dealt effectively with him.

1 William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, 3rd ed. fully rev. and updated., The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 116.

  • He withstood the missionaries.

Withstood. “The position of soothsayer to a Roman proconsul, even though it could only last a year, was too distinguished and too lucrative to abandon without a struggle” (Farrar, “Life and Work of Paul”).1

1 Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 1 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), 515.

  • His goal was to keep the deputy from the faith.

Engaging The Enemy

Acts 13:9–11 KJV

Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, 

And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? 

And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.

If your going to walk in known disobedience and try to resist the devil you are wasting your energy.

– Michael West

 • He was filled with power for a purpose.

 • He looked him in the eye.

 • He called him on his subtility

 • He called him on his mischief

Mischief (???????????). Only here in New Testament. Originally, ease or facility in doing; hence readiness in turning the hand to anything, bad or good; and so recklessness, unscrupulousness, wickedness. A kindred word (???????????, lewdness, Rev., villany) occurs at ch. 18:141

1 Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 1 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), 516.

 • He identified him as a child of the devil

 • He identified him as the enemy of all righteousness.

 • He asked if he would ever stop perverting the ways of the Lord. – perhaps this bothered Paul especially because Elymas started out as a Jew.

 • Elymas was struck blind for a season. – Perhaps this was to give him space to think and maybe eventually repent. He was not struck dead like Ananias and Sapphira perhaps because God still wanted to save him.

Mist (?????). Only here in New Testament. The word is used by medical writers as a name for a disease of the eyes. The mention of the successive stages, first dimness, then total darkness, are characteristic of the physician. “The first miracle which Paul performed was the infliction of a judgment; and that judgment the same which befell himself when arrested on his way to Damascus” (Gloag).1

1 Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 1 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), 516.

Romans 9:1–4 KJV

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 

That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 

For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 

Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Paul’s rebuke of Elymas sounds like an Old Testament judgment oracle or the utterance of a signs prophet. In Jewish literature, temporary blindness was sometimes a judgment to prevent further damage from sin (the Letter of Aristeas 316); see comment on 9:8.1

1 Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ac 13:10–11.

 • As a result of this boldness and demonstration of God’s power over bullies of darkness, the deputy was saved!

Acts 13:12 KJV

Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

The royal palace in Tehran, Iran has one of the most beautiful entrances of all palaces in the world today. As one enters the royal palace the doomed ceilings, sidewalls, and columns seemed to be covered with diamonds. When the Royal Palace was planned, the architects sent an order to Paris for mirrors to cover the entrance walls. The mirrors finally arrived in their crates. When they took the crates apart, all the broken pieces fell out. They were all smashed while being transported. They were going to throw them all away when one of the men had an idea to see how the broken pieces would look if they fitted them together. The result is an enormous distortion in reflections, and it sparkles with diamond like rainbow colors.

Broken to be more beautiful!

That is exactly what God can do with the broken pieces of our lives if we will just turn it over to Him.

God uses broken vessels like us to stand for truth, even if it comes down to a showdown like the one on Cyprus.

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 6:28 PM July 1, 2021.