Daily Word

Opposition to the Gospel | Acts 13:4-12

4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them.

6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.

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 13:4-12 (ESV) 中文

First Missionary Journey

In this text we learn about the first missionary journey of the church. God spoke to this listed group of prophets and teachers to send Baranabas and Saul as their first missionaries. Yes, they were sent out, in obedience, by the church at Antioch. But verse 4 tells us they were sent out by the Holy Spirit. Those that are sent need to be sent by the Spirit, not my man (including themselves); yet must also remember they are sent by the Spirit! Some may wonder how Barnabas and Saul knew where to go. That’s the answer. They were led by the Spirit (Glatians 5:18).

Opposition to the Gospel

On the island of Cyprus, they were preaching in synagogues (Jewish churches); they were preaching to Jews. In their canvassing the island, they are asked to share the gospel with the Roman proconsul. “A Roman proconsul was responsible for an entire province and answered to the Roman Senate.” (enduringword.com) What an amazing opportunity!  But this Jewish magician opposes not Paul and Barnabas, but the Gospel. 

Response to opposition

 Paul didn’t pull any punches. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he calls him out publicly and immediately. Not only did he blast him with the truth, he pronounced the Lord would blind him. It’s almost as if Paul is speaking to a demon and casting it out. But for sure, the battle is not against flesh and blood but, as Paul will write later, “spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

The Gospel result? The proconsul, being drawn by the Lord, heard Paul’s preaching and experienced the miracle of the Lord and believed. 

Saul is Paul

Luke subtly informs us that Saul’s name is also Paul. And from this point on, Paul is how he is referred to. It’s also a transition point. Up to now, Saul has been kind of in the background and at most, part of the leadership. Now he steps into the limelight. In v2 the Spirit called the church at Antioch to set apart Barnabas and Saul (Barnabas listed first). In v13 we will see “Now Paul and his companions…”.


  • What if Paul hadn’t followed the Spirit’s leading? Consider the opportunity lost with the proconsul but worse, how Elymas would have continued in his opposition to the Gospel. Are you aware of opposition to the work of God? Is the Spirit calling you to take a bold stand for the Gospel? First be filled with the Spirit, then obey!
Paul’s first missionary journey. Image from the-bible.net *

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