So, that was how it came about that, sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they set sail for Cyprus and, arriving at Salamis, proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues there. And they had John with them as their aide- de-camp. Taking in the entire island as far as Paphos, they encounter a certain fellow, a Jewish magician, a false prophet, by name of Son-of-Jesus. He was there with Sergius Paulus, when the proconsul, a man of intelligence, summoned Barnabas and Saul, seeking to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name in Greek) opposed them, wanting the proconsul to turn away from the faith. But Saul, who [by this time] was known as Paul, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed him with his eye and said, "When are you going to stop perverting the straight-ahead paths of the Lord, you who spew out all your snares with all the wreckage they bring forth, you son of the devil, the enemy of all righteousness? And so now, take note, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind and unable to see the sun for as long as it takes." And that was indeed when a mist and darkness fell upon him and he thereafter sought people to lead him by the hand. That was when the proconsul, astonished by the teaching of the Lord, having seen what had occurred, believed. - Acts 13:4-12 transliteration Bruce C Wearne

PaphosSCENE OF CONFRONTATION: Paphos on Cyprus, mentioned in the account in Acts, as it is today. PICTURE: Tsiapinis at English Wikipedia

IN A NUTSHELL

Barnabas took Mark and Saul back to his home in Cyprus and the work continued. Paul stopped a Jewish sorcerer in his tracks. 

Have a look at a map. Consider Antioch and the region of Cilicia. Seleucia is the port city for Antioch. I wonder. Was this the region where Saul had preached when, having been converted, the Apostles sent him home to Tarsus?

There are few things requiring comment here. The first concerns John Mark, Barnabas' nephew. He travelled with Saul and Barnabas as their assistant, their bagman. He helped them. Maybe, because he was "on the run", he needed to stay in the care of his uncle Barnabas. Was he not an eyewitness of Jesus' ministry and arrest? And so, was it for his safety that he was under the care of the Levitical priest. Was it necessary for him to be in the care of his uncle as long as Herod Antipas was alive? Remember, Herod was currying favour with the Jews who wanted this movement stopped in its tracks. And we also know there was a close bond between Peter and Mark. We have been informed that it was at his mother's house that Peter came when freed from prison.

The second matter concerns Luke's change of name for Saul to Paul. A Roman citizen had three names for public use. His praenomen was his first name. His nomen gentile was his family name. His cognomen was an additional name. Luke seems to be telling us that he, from now on in his story, will use Saul's cognomen. This was Paulos - was it chosen by his family to rhyme with Saul'os the Greek version of his Jewish name? In straight-forward terms, Luke tells us that the Pharisee God had chosen to take the 'Good News' to the Gentiles was also a Roman citizen. By converting him on the road to Damascus, God began to build a "Christian bridge" between Jew and Roman.

With John-Mark and Barnabas, God was busy bringing Jews and Cypriots together. Luke reminds his readers that ethnic differences, national backgrounds, are merely enrichments of God's purposes for the earth. They are no barrier to the fulfilment of His purposes. All the earth will hear and God will be honoured in His Son, the Saviour of people from all nations.

The three travelled to Cyprus, covering the entire island. Their "outreach" involved using the synagogue as a base for reaching Jews in the various communities, and reaching out to non-Jews living on the island as well.

Luke has already mentioned Cyprus a couple of times already in this book. The first was when he told us about Joseph, the generous Levite from Cyprus who donated the proceeds from the sale of his land (4:36). The apostles had nicknamed him 'Bar-nabas' or 'Uncle Encouragement'. This was immediately after Pentecost when their synagogue was being set up in Jerusalem, and before the execution of Stephen. In another place, Luke tells us that, with the ruthless crackdown on Hellenistic believers, some fled to Tyre and Sidon, others to Antioch and still others went to Cyprus (11:19). They passed on the Good News about Jesus as they went. It seems there was some affinity between Cyrene in Egypt and Cyprus; we have good reason to believe that Barnabas the Levite knew Simon, the one who carried Jesus' cross. Mark had also noted Simon's involvement (Mark 15:21). So did Luke (23:26).

As a landowner, Barnabas knew his island. He probably also knew this Jewish sorcerer. Being Jewish had not stopped him from the evil practice and Barnabas would know the Levitical code: the penalty for sorcery was death (Leviticus 20:27). On this occasion it was Paul who was the great encouragement to Barnabas. Luke tells us that the worship of the God of Israel had been compromised in that island's synagogues, but there is more. The proconsul had come to believe in Jesus. Sergius Paulus had been under the spell of the Jewish magician but after Paul defiantly eye-balled him, withstood him face-to-face, the Roman official's reliance upon this deceiver was broken. It was no contest. What astounded the proconsul was the teaching of the Lord. Paul taught him about Jesus. This had the effect of putting everything into perspective. What had been out of whack was put right. Sergius now knew himself to be servant of God Almighty, a believer in Jesus Christ, just like Paul his fellow citizen.