Acts 13:6 MEANING

Acts 13:6
(6) When they had gone through the isle.--The better MSS. give, through the whole island. Paphos lay at its western extremity, and appears to have been the head-quarters of the Roman governor. A local tradition, reported by M. de Cesnola (Cyprus, pp. 29, 223), points out a marble column to which St. Paul was bound and scourged by the citizens of Paphos, who are represented as having been among the most wicked of mankind.

They found a certain sorcerer.--The word so rendered, Magos, is the same as that used for the "wise men" of Matthew 2:1 (where see Note), but it is obviously used here in the bad sense which had begun to attach to it even in the days of Sophocles, who makes ?dipus revile Tiresias under this name, as practising magic arts (?d. Rex. 387), and which we have found in the case of Simon the sorcerer. (See Note on Acts 8:9.) The man bore two names, one, Bar-jesus, in its form a patronymic, the other Elymas (an Aramaic word, probably connected with the Arabic Ulema, or sage), a title describing his claims to wisdom and supernatural powers. We have already met with a character of this type in the sorcerer of Samaria. (See Note on Acts 8:9.) The lower class of Jews here, as in Acts 19:14, seem to have been specially addicted to such practices. They traded on the religious prestige of their race, and boasted, in addition to their sacred books, of spells and charms that had come down to them from Solomon.

Verse 6. - The whole island for the isle, A.V. and T.R. Paphos; on the south coast at the further extremity of the island, now Baffa. It had once a convenient harbor, which is now choked up from neglect. The chief temple of the Cyprian Venus was here. A certain sorcerer. The Greek word μάγος, whence magic and magician, is the same as in Matthew 2:1 is rendered "wise men." But here, as in Acts 8:9, it has a bad sense. It is a Persian word, and in its original use designated a Persian religious caste, famous for their knowledge, wisdom, and purity of religious faith. They were attached to the court of the Babylonian monarchs, and were deemed to have great skill in astrology, in interpretation of dreams, and the like (see Daniel 1:20; Daniel 4:7; Daniel 4 in the LXX.). In Jeremiah 39:3, 13, the name Rab-mag seems to mean "the chief of the magi." But in process of time the word "magus" came to mean a sorcerer, a magician, a practicer of dark arts, as e.g. Simon Magus (see the chapter on magic in Pliny, 'Nat. Hist.,'lib. 30. cap. 1.).

13:4-13 Satan is in a special manner busy with great men and men in power, to keep them from being religious, for their example will influence many. Saul is here for the first time called Paul, and never after Saul. Saul was his name as he was a Hebrew; Paul was his name as he was a citizen of Rome. Under the direct influence of the Holy Ghost, he gave Elymas his true character, but not in passion. A fulness of deceit and mischief together, make a man indeed a child of the devil. And those who are enemies to the doctrine of Jesus, are enemies to all righteousness; for in it all righteousness is fulfilled. The ways of the Lord Jesus are the only right ways to heaven and happiness. There are many who not only wander from these ways themselves, but set others against these ways. They commonly are so hardened, that they will not cease to do evil. The proconsul was astonished at the force of the doctrine upon his own heart and conscience, and at the power of God by which it was confirmed. The doctrine of Christ astonishes; and the more we know of it, the more reason we shall see to wonder at it. Those who put their hand to the plough and look back, are not fit for the kingdom of God. Those who are not prepared to face opposition, and to endure hardship, are not fitted for the work of the ministry.And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos,.... The Alexandrian copy, and the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions read, "the whole isle"; for through the midst of the whole island they must go, to go from Salarnis to Paphos; for Salamis was on the east, and Paphos on the west of the islands (q): it had its name from the Phoenician word, , "peathpaoth", "the corner of corners"; because both old and new Paphos were situated in the extreme part of the island; and not from Paphus, the son of Pygmalion, by any ivory statue which he had made, whom Venus, at his request, according to the fables of the Heathens, turned into a woman: some say (r), that Cinyras, a king of the Assyrians, coming into Cyprus, built Paphos; but Pausanias (s) affirms, that Agapenor, who came hither after the Trojan war, was the builder of this place, and also of the temple of Venus in it, for which it was famous (t); and in a certain area of which, Pliny (u) says it never rained; and from this place, Venus was called Paphia: according to Chrysostom, it was the metropolis of Cyprus; and it is indeed mentioned by Pliny (w), first of the fifteen cities that were in it; and seems at this time to have been the seat of the Roman deputy Paulus Sergius, afterwards spoken of: concerning this place Jerom says (x),

"Paphus, a city on the sea coast, in the island of Cyprus, formerly famous for the sacred rites of Venus, and the verses of the poets; which fell by frequent earthquakes, and now only shows, by its ruins, what it formerly was:''

so Seneca (y) says, "quotiens in se Paphus corruit?", "how often has Paphus fell within itself?" that is, by earthquakes: the ruins of many goodly churches and buildings are to be seen in it; and the walls of a strong, and almost impregnable tower, situated upon a hill in the middle of the city, supposed to be the habitation of Sergius Paulus; there is also shown, under a certain church, a prison divided into seven rooms, where they say Paul and Barnabas were imprisoned, for preaching the Gospel; what remains of it, is now called Bapho: here

they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus, or the son of Jesus; Jesus was a name frequent among the Jews, and is the same with Joshua, and was in use long before our Saviour's time; there was Jesus the son of Sirach, the author of Ecclesiasticus, and who had a grandfather of the same name, the Syriac version here calls him "Barsuma", which some render "the son of a name"; that is, a man of note, a famous person, of great renown; others, "the son of a swelling", or "the son of ulcers"; he professing to be a physician, and to cure them, with which they make the name of Barjesus to agree, deriving it from a root, which signifies to heal: Jerom (z) pronounces this name Barieu, and observes, that some corruptly read it Barjesu; and he makes it to signify an evil man, or one in evil; and Drusius says, he found the name "Barjeou", in some papers of his; and a very learned man (a) of later years says, it is the same with Bar-Jehu, the son of Jehu; and affirms, that the Greek word is "Barjeus", which others wrongly turn into "Bar-jesus"; the Magdeburgensian Centuriators call him, "Elymas Barjehu"; the reason Beda gives, why it should be so read, and not Bar-jesus, is because that a magician was unworthy to be called the son of Jesus, the Saviour, when he was a child of the devil; but the Greek copies agree in Barjesus; his name shows him to be a Jew, as he is here called: and he was one of those false prophets our Lord said should arise, and deceive many; he pretended to foretell things to come, and practised sorcery, and was given to magic arts.

(q) Ptolom. Geograph. l. 5. c. 14. (r) Apollodorus de deorum orig. l. 3. p. 193. (s) Arcadica, sive l. 8. p. 461. (t) Philostrat. Vita Apollonii, l. 3. c. 16. (u) Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 96. (w) Ib. l. 5. c. 31. (x) De locis Hebraicis, fol. 96. F. & Vita Hilarion, fol. 86. C. (y) Ephesians 91. (z) De nominibus Hebraicis, fol 105. 1.((a) Hileri Onomasticum Sacrum, p. 760.

Courtesy of Open Bible