It’s a conversion story we don’t often talk about from the book of Acts. It’s found in Acts 13. Paul and Barnabas had been sent out by the Holy Spirit from Antioch. They went to Salamis, Acts 13:5. Luke records, “When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought them to hear the word of God”, Acts 13:6-7. Sergius Paulus was interested in hearing the truth, but Bar-Jesus was not. Bar-Jesus did not want Sergius Paulus to hear it either. Luke records:

“But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.” Acts 13:8

Exactly how as Elymas opposing Paul and Barnabas? The text doesn’t say. I would imagine he would have made it difficult for these men of God to get in front of Sergius. He may have been refuting the message Paul and Barnabas were sharing as well. Elymas did his best to oppose the gospel. Luke then records the following:

“But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, and said, ‘You are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?” If you think Paul’s words were harsh and not kind, you’re wrong. Paul was filled with the Spirit and could see who Elymas really was. As a result of Elymas and his wicked ways, he would blind for a season, Acts 13:11. After this miracle occurred which Paul performed, Sergius Paulus believed. The text says, “Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.” What can we learn from this story?

  1. False teachers exist. They seek to suppress the truth.
  2. Know we will meet opposition as we teach the gospel.
  3. There are hearts who are willing to listen to the truth.
  4. God will open doors on our behalf. We must walk by faith.
  5. While miracles are not occurring today, we have the miracles recorded in scripture. Let’s share them with others!
  6. The gospel has the power to save souls. Do you believe that? If so, share it with others!

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Benjamin Lee