The Power of the Holy Spirit
Afterward they traveled from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Barnabas and Saul said. He was trying to keep the governor from believing.
Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye. Then he said, “You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? Watch now, for the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time.”
Instantly mist and darkness came over the man’s eyes, and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him. When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.
Acts of the Apostles 13:6-12 NLT
In this passage in Acts, we see the launching of the first official missionary work of the early Church. They sent out Saul, Barnabas, and John Mark. This act became the pattern for missionary work—they worked in teams, traveled to cities, and began by going to Jewish synagogues to teach about Jesus as the resurrected Messiah. When they were rejected in the synagogues, they then went to the Romans.
In this portion of scripture, they found themselves in a Roman, Gentile city with a governor who was “intelligent.” This description implies the governor was open to the truth. But his openness had led a false prophet named Bar-Jesus to attach himself to the governor. He was a sorcerer who used magic tricks and incantations to impress the governor and probably get financial support for himself.
Then the author makes a subtle shift and tells us Saul was now going by the name Paul. Saul was his Hebrew birth name, and Paul was a Roman name. It seems that he was born with both names, but from this point forward, he chose to identify with his Roman name because his kingdom work was going to focus more on the Gentile world. This focus was the turning point of the spread of the gospel.
Paul was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” This statement is powerful because it reminds us that the work of God is never dependent on mere human intellect or giftings. It was the Holy Spirit of God working through Paul that gave him a revelation of the demonic force behind the work of Bar-Jesus. It was the power of the Holy Spirit that allowed Paul to identify and call out the falsework of Bar-Jesus. Not only did he call out the falsework of Bar-Jesus, but he spoke a curse on him. Instantly Bar-Jesus was blind.
Then the governor believed—but the author noted the governor’s faith was not rooted in the miracle he saw but in the teaching of Paul and Barnabas. True faith should not be based on a miracle but on the truth of God.
Satan can perform miracles—evidenced by the false magic of Bar-Jesus. But miracles worked by God will always lead people to the truth of God’s Word.
In summation, I see that we should always be open to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We should listen when the Spirit speaks to us. We should be willing to call out those who are blocking the work of the Spirit. And we should be sure we are teaching the truth of God’s Word.
Father God, I want the fullness of Your Spirit in my life. Confusing spirits working in my world are deceiving many. I want to know right from wrong and be open to what You want to be said and done. I want to build my faith on Your Word.
Scroll down to share what you feel God is saying to you based on today’s reading.