Acts 13:12
Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.—The genitive is, probably, that of the object, the teaching which had the Lord, i.e., the Lord Jesus, as its main theme.

Acts 13:12. Then the deputy — Or proconsul; when he saw what was done — What a wonderful miracle was performed, yielding to such convincing evidence; believed the gospel; being astonished Εκπλησσομενος, being struck with astonishment; at the doctrine of the Lord — At the confirmation thus given to it, and probably also at the internal evidence which he soon discovered in it, and which broke in with increasing lustre on his mind. The reader will observe, that at this period of the history, Luke has changed Saul’s name, calling him Paul, without assigning any reason for so doing. Some learned men have supposed that this change was made by Saul himself, in honour of the proconsul, who they think was, perhaps, Saul’s first convert from among the idolatrous Gentiles, or the first person of high rank of that character who was converted. For it was customary among the Romans to assume the name of a benefactor whom they highly esteemed. Thus the Jewish historian, Josephus, took the name of Flavius, in compliment to Vespasian, with whom he was in high favour. But it is more probable, that, coming now among the Romans and Greeks, they adapted his name to their own language, and so called him Paul instead of Saul; as one whose Hebrew name was Jochanan, would be called by the Greeks and Latins, Johannes; by the French, Jean; by the Dutch, Hans; and by the English, John. Perhaps, however, the family of the proconsul might be the first who addressed, or spoke to him, by this name. But in whatever manner it happened, it is certain that ever after this he was known only by this name; and, being the apostle of the Gentiles, he himself used it as a name most familiar to them. From this time forth, likewise, Paul is generally mentioned by the historian before Barnabas: because, by his success in preaching at Paphos, and by the greatness of his miracles, he was now shown to be the principal person; although, formerly, he was mentioned after Barnabas, because he was a younger disciple, and because his apostolical authority was not fully understood.

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.Then the deputy ...believed - Was convinced that Elymas was an impostor, and that the doctrine of Paul was true. There seems no reason to doubt that his faith was what is connected with eternal life; and if so, it is an evidence that the gospel was not always confined to the poor, and to those in obscure ranks of life.

At the doctrine of the Lord - The word "doctrine" here seems to denote, not the "teaching" or "instruction," but the wonderful effects which were connected with the doctrine. It was particularly the miracle with which he was astonished; but he might have been also deeply impressed and amazed at the purity and sublimity of the truths which were now expanded to his view. We learn nothing further respecting him in the New Testament.

12. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord—so marvellously attested; compare Mr 1:27. What fruit, if any, followed this remarkable conversion, or how long after it the missionaries remained at Paphos, we know not. The gospel which Paul preached; finding in it (though a wise man) depths beyond his fathoming; and all accompanied with such a power in doing of miracles, and changing of hearts and lives, as might well amaze so prudent and considering a man.

Then the deputy, when he saw what was done,.... That Elymas was struck with blindness immediately, and that the hand of God was manifestly in it, and there was no juggle nor magic art in the case; it was a plain fact, which was certain and visible:

he believed; in the Lord Jesus Christ, whom the apostle preached:

being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord: both at what was contained in it: for there are many astonishing things in the doctrine of faith; as the birth of Christ of a virgin; the union of the two natures, divine and human, in his person; salvation through his crucifixion and death, and the resurrection of the dead, with others: and also at the miracles which attended this doctrine, and confirmed it; though the Alexandrian copy reads the words thus, "being astonished, he believed in the doctrine of the Lord"; which affords a very easy and natural sense, as that being filled with admiration at the striking of Elymas with blindness, he was induced to believe the doctrine of Christ, preached by Paul and Barnabas, and so the Ethiopic version renders it, "he wondered, and believed in our Lord": and Beza's ancient copy, and others read, "he wondered and believed in God". This deputy we hear no more of afterwards; there is no reason to believe that he quitted his government of this island; though some pretend to say that he did, and followed the Apostle Paul, and went with him into Spain; and that he was left by him at Narbonne in Languedoc in France, and became bishop of that place; which office he held till his death. And though we read of no more converted at this time in Paphos, yet it is highly probable there were others, and that a foundation of a Gospel church state was laid in this place, even though Heathenism still continued. The temple of Venus remained in this place in the "second" century; and in the "fourth" century Venus was worshipped here; yet in the beginning of the "fourth" century, in the council of Nice, Cyril, bishop of Paphos, was present; and in the "fifth" century, a bishop of this place was at the synod of Chalcedon: and in the "eighth" century, Michael, bishop of Taphos, was in the Nycene synod (w). Jerom (x) makes mention of Hilarion, an eminent servant of Christ, who was for some time at Paphos, in the fourth century, and of the many miraculous cures he wrought here; but of the church here, or of any number of believers in Christ, he takes no notice, only of one Hesychius, a disciple; though it is certain there must be a church at this time, as before observed.

(w) Magdeburg. Hist. Eccles. cent. 2. c. 15. p. 193. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 5. c. 15. p. 865. cent. 5. c. 2. p. 6. cent. 8. c. 2. p. 6. (x) Vita Hilarion. fol. 86. C.

Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 13:12. Ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ τ. Κυρίου] For he rightly saw, both in that announcement of punishment by Paul, and in the fate of his sorcerer, something which had a connection with the doctrine of the Lord (that is, with the doctrine which Christ caused to be proclaimed by His apostles; see on Acts 8:25). Its announcer had shown such a marvellous familiarity with the counsel of God, and its opponent had suddenly experienced such a severe punishment, that he was astonished at the doctrine, with which so evident a divine judgment was connected. Comp. on the connection of the judgment concerning the doctrine with the miracle beheld, Mark 1:27. The ἐπίστευσεν obviously supposes the reception of baptism; comp. Acts 4:4, Acts 11:21, Acts 19:18.

Whether the sorcerer afterwards became a believer the text does not, indeed, inform us; but the presumption of a future conversion is contained in ἄχρι καιροῦ, Acts 13:11, and therefore the question is to be answered in the affirmative; for Paul spoke that ἄχρι καιροῦ: ὅριον τῇ γνώμῃ διδούς, Oecumenius. The Tübingen criticism has indeed condemned the miraculous element in this story, and the story itself as an invented and exaggerated counterpart of the encounter of Peter with Simon Magus, chap. 8—a judgment in which the denial of miracles in general, and the assumption of dogmatic motives on the part of the author, are the controlling presuppositions (see Baur and Zeller; comp. also Schneckenburger, p. 53).

Acts 13:12. ἐπίστευσεν: “the blindness of Elymas opened the eyes of the proconsul” (Felten). If the verb is understood in its full sense, viz., that Sergius Paulus became a convert to the faith, Acts 13:48, Acts 2:44, Acts 4:4, Acts 11:21, baptism would be implied, Acts 8:12.—ἐκπλησσ., Matthew 7:28, Mark 1:22; Mark 11:18, Luke 4:32; Luke 9:43, etc., so in classical Greek with ἐπί. The verb is also found in Ecclesiastes 7:17 (16), Wis 13:4, 2Ma 7:12, 4Ma 8:4; 4Ma 17:16. Bengel’s comment is suggestive, “miraculo acuebatur attentio ad doctrinam”: the conversion is not represented as the result of the miracle alone. The conversion of a Roman proconsul is regarded as absolutely incredible by Renan (so more recent critics). But if the narrative had been a mere fiction to magnify Paul’s powers in converting such an important personage in his first encounter with the powers of heathenism, the forger would not have contented himself with the brief Σαῦλος ὁ καὶ Π. of Acts 13:9; see Zöckler’s Apostelgeschichte, p. 245, second edition, on this and other objections against the narrative. See Introd. for the favourable light in which St. Luke describes the relations between the Roman government and Christianity.

12. Then the deputy [proconsul], when he saw what was done, believed] He was convinced by the miracle and by the words with which it was accompanied, that the Apostles were teachers of the way of the Lord after which he had been seeking in vain from Elymas. We are not told that Sergius was baptized, but we have other instances of the like omission of notice (see Acts 13:48), yet as baptism was the appointed door into Christ’s Church, such omission of the mention thereof should not be thought to warrant us in believing that the sacrament was neglected on any occasion.

Acts 13:12. Τὸ γεγονὸς, what had happened) Often the obstacles which have stood in the way of the truth, when overcome, are subservient to it.—διδαχῇ, the doctrine) By the miracle his attention was sharpened in relation to the doctrine.[71]

[71] Bengel, J. A. (1860). Vol. 2: Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (A. R. Fausset, Trans.) (610–621). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

Verse 12. - The proconsul for the deputy, A.V.; teaching for doctrine, A.V. Believed. We cannot, perhaps, conclude positively from this that Sergius was baptized and became an avowed Christian, though the usual language of the Acts rather leads us to infer it (see ver. 48; Acts 2:44; Acts 4:4; Acts 8:12, 13; Acts 11:21; Acts 19:18). Farrar thinks that if so marked a person had become a lifelong convert, we should have heard of him as such in other writings, Renan says, "La conversion d'un Romain de cet ordre, a cette epoque est chose absolument inadmissible." Alford and Olshausen speak doubtfully. Lange and Howson and Meyer look upon him as a genuine convert. The 'Speaker's Commentary' speaks of him as "the first fruits of heathenism." Being astonished at the teaching. "For the connection of the judgment concerning the doctrine with the miracle seen, comp. Mark 1:27" (Meyer). Acts 13:12Astonished (ἐκπλησσόμενος)

See on Matthew 7:28.

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