Acts 13:4-12 Barnabas And Waging War In Political Courts.
That Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the church, with the laying on of hands, and the right hand of fellowship, was all secondary to the reality that the Holy Spirit had spoken and sent them (v. 4). We know much about Saul or Paul, but Barnabas was one of those essential people that every team needs, an encourager. It is somewhat ironic that his original name was Joses or Joseph, because like the Patriarch he largely seems forgotten. However, the apostles knew and respected him highly, and seeing his gifts and calling as an encourager, they renamed him Barnabas, a “son of encouragement,” a consoler. He was a true genuine Levite, and he was now returning to his hometown of Cyprus (4:36). They sailed from Seleucia to the port city of Salamis on the island of Cyprus (v. 5a).
Perhaps it is the nature of encouragers to be content with staying out of the limelight, as they sit alongside those who are struggling, but Saul and the other apostles understood his worth. As we see later on, it was largely through Barnabas that John-Mark travelled with them as their assistant (v. 5c). As was their practice, even though they would primarily become messengers to the Gentiles, they first went to the synagogue and “preached the word of God” (v. 5b). Paphos was the capital of this province, and as they travelled through the island they came upon “a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus” (v. 6 Cf. 8:9). The law forbade sorcery and other associated practices (Dt. 18:9-14; Ex. 22:18; Cf. Gal. 5:20). Any practicing these things was indeed a false prophet, the very opposite of the true (Dt. 18:15-22).
Upon arriving in the provincial capital of Paphos, Barnabas and Saul found this Elymas “seeking to turn the proconsul way from the faith” (v. 8). Evidently the government official had come under the hearing of the gospel, and Elymas or Bar-Jesus was trying to persuade him otherwise. However, knowledge of Barnabas and Saul had come to Sergius Paulus, so he called for them. Paul had to oppose the false prophet, and by the Holy Spirit he charged him with being “full of deceit and all fraud,” and he regarded him as a “son of the devil,” and an “enemy of all righteousness,” “perverting the straight ways of the Lord” (vv. 9-10 Cf. II Tim. 3:8). A man who claimed to have unique insight and light, would go blind for a time (v. 11). He could not inflict the same thing upon the apostle. This must surely have had a dramatic affect upon the proconsul, and he believed (v. 12)!