9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.” (Acts 13:9–12)
People who do not know the Lord as their Savior often do not want others to know Him either. They will do whatever is necessary in order to prevent a friend’s or relative’s conversion.
I recall one occasion when I was sharing the Gospel to an individual on the front porch of their house. When the time came for the individual to respond to the invitation to receive Christ, another person in the house took the opportunity to turn the stereo on, loudly, at that very precise moment. The person I was witnessing to became distracted and immediately lost interest for what I was sharing from God’s Word.
Elymas the magician did not want Sergius Paulus to repent of his sin and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He opposed Barnabas and Saul and continually sought to turn the proconsul away from the faith (Acts 13:8). He did not want Sergius Paulus to be converted.
Saul recognized this for what it was: Satanic opposition. Being filled by the Holy Spirit, Saul looked right into Elymas’ eyes and said, ““You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?” Saul was not intimidated by Elymas but rather was bold in his evaluation of the man. Saul’s behavior and speech were reminiscent of an Old Testament prophet heralding an oracle of woe.
Dr. John Walvoord writes, “In Aramaic, Bar-Jesus means “Son of Jesus.” But Paul told him that instead of being a son of Jesus (“Jesus” means “Yahweh is salvation”), Elymas was a child (huie, lit., “son”) of the devil. Paul lashed at him with strong language: Bar-Jesus was an enemy of everything that is right (lit., “righteousness”), he was full of … deceit (dolou) and trickery (rhadiourgias, “unscrupulous mischief, work that easily deceives,” used only here in the NT) and perverting the right ways of the Lord. Sorcery, exercising power by the help and control of demons, had led him into all kinds of deception of others and distortion of the truth. The occult is indeed dangerous.”
What followed next was godly condemnation and judgment. Saul continued by saying, “And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.”
Elymas’ spiritual blindness is now complimented by a God ordained physical blindness. The child of God had significantly more authority and power over a child of the devil. The so-called seeker of leaders now seeks others to lead him by the hand.
This miracle of judgment resulted in Sergius Paulus becoming a believer in Christ. Physical blindness upon Bar-Jesus resulted in the proconsul’s spiritual eyes to be opened. He trusted in, committed to, depended upon and began worshiping Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The Lord also caused him to be amazed in the things of God. Sergius Paulus now understood that Saul/Paul was the true prophet of God and Elymas was a fraud.
As Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “Barnabas and Paul began their ministry preaching to the Jews, but the first convert mentioned is a Gentile, a Roman, a servant of the Empire, and one who had been taught by a false prophet. He (Sergius Paulus) was an unlikely prospect, but God delights in the unexpected.”
What works of God have surprised you the most recently? Who do you know who needs the same kind of conversion as happened to Sergius Paulus? Pray for them today.
Soli deo Gloria!