Acts 13:6
And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(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 Œdipus revile Tiresias under this name, as practising magic arts (Œd. 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.

Acts 13:6-8. When they had gone through the isle unto Paphos — Which lay on its western coast; they found a certain sorcerer — Or magician; a false prophet — Who falsely pretended to foretel future events; a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus — Or the son of one Jesus, or Joshua. “There were many instances of real or pretended sorcery among the Jews in those days, which seems to have been designed by Satan and wicked men to bring into disrepute the miracles of Christ and his apostles. But by comparing them, in several instances, the Christian cause was magnified yet more than it would otherwise have been. Nevertheless, it is to be feared they wrought on many, who were not wise and candid enough to examine, so as to introduce a general contempt of all pretences to supernatural powers as false or inconclusive.” — Doddridge. Which was with the deputy — Which Jew was with the Roman proconsul there, as ανθυπατος, the word here rendered deputy, properly signifies; Sergius Paulus, a prudent man — A man of a steady conduct and thoughtful temper; and therefore not overswayed by the sorcerer, but desirous to inquire further; who called for Barnabas and Saul — Having received some general information of their character and doctrine; and desired to hear the word of God — That he might know what was the purport of their preaching, and what regard was due to it. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation — That is, the word, Elymas, of Arabic or Hebrew derivation, signifies sorcerer, or magician) withstood them — Being sensible that he should be no more regarded if their doctrine was received, and therefore setting himself with all his might to hinder the effect of it. Seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith — To prevent his embracing it, by a variety of crafty and false insinuations.

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 - The length of the island, according to Strabo, was 1,400 stadia, or nearly 170 miles.

Unto Paphos - Paphos was a city at the western extremity of the island. It was the residence of the proconsul, and was distinguished for a splendid temple erected to Venus, who was worshipped throughout the island. Cyprus was fabled to be the place of the birth of this goddess. It had, besides Paphos and Salamis, several towns of note Citium, the birthplace of Zeno, Areathus, sacred to Venus, etc. Its present capital is Nicosia. Whether Paul preached at any of these places is not recorded. The island is formerly supposed to have had one million inhabitants.

A certain sorcerer - Greek: magus, or magician. See the notes on Acts 8:9.

A false prophet - Pretending to be endowed with the gift of prophecy; or a man, probably, who pretended to be inspired.

Bar-jesus - The word "Bar" is Syriac, and means "son." Jesus (Joshua) was not an uncommon name among the Jews. The name was given from his father - son of Jesus, or Joshua; as Bar-Jonas, son of Jonas.

6. when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos—on the opposite or west side of the island, about one hundred miles by land, along the south coast; the Roman capital, where the governor resided.

they found a … sorcerer—one of a numerous class of impostors who, at this time of general unbelief, were encouraged even by cultivated Romans.

Unto Paphos; this city was on the west end of Cyprus, so that going from Salamis they went through the island: this place was famous for the worshipping of Venus.

A certain sorcerer; there were many magicians about this time amongst the Jews, who by their false miracles endeavoured to bring the real miracles of our Saviour into contempt. As the magicians and sorcerers of Egypt, by their enchantments, for a while did seem to do such wonders as Moses had wrought by the finger of God, Exodus 7:11.

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.

And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:
Acts 13:6-7. Ὅλην τὴν νῆσον] For Paphos, i.e. New Paphos, the capital and the residence of the proconsul, sixty stadia to the north of the old city celebrated for the worship of Venus, lay quite on the opposite western side of the island. See Forbiger, Geogr. I. p. 469 f.

μάγον] see on Acts 8:9. Whether he was precisely a representative of the cabalistic tendency (Baumgarten), cannot be determined. But perhaps, from the Arabic name Elymas, which he adopted, he was an Arabian Jew. μάγον, although a substantive, is to be connected with ἄνδρα (Acts 3:14).

Βαριησοῦς] i.e. בַּר יֵשׁוּע, filius Jesu (Josuae). The different forms of this name in the Fathers and versions, Barjeu, Barsuma, Barjesuban, Βαριησουσάν, have their origin in the reverence and awe felt for the name of Jesus.

ἀνθυπάτῳ] Cyprus, which Augustus had restored to the senate, was, it is true, at that time a propraetorian province (Dio Cass. liv. 4); but all provincial rulers were, by the command of Augustus, called proconsules, Dio Cass. liii. 13.

συνετῷ] although the contrary might be suspected from his connection with the sorcerer. But his intelligence is attested partly by the fact that he was not satisfied with heathenism, and therefore had at that time the Jewish sorcerer with him in the effort to acquire more satisfactory views; and partly by the fact that he does not feel satisfied even with him, but asks for the publishers of the new doctrine. In general, sorcerers found at that time welcome reception with Gentiles otherwise very intelligent. Lucian. Alex. 30, Wetstein in loc.

τὸν λόγ. τοῦ Θεοῦ] Description of the new doctrine from the standpoint of Luke. See, moreover, on Acts 8:25.

Acts 13:6. διελθόντες δὲ (ὅλην) τὴν ν.: “and they made a missionary progress through the whole island,” Ramsay, St. Paul, pp. 72 and 384, and “Words demoting Missionary Travel in Acts,” Expositor, May, 1896; on ὅλην, see critical notes. Ramsay gives nine examples in Acts of this use of διέρχεσθαι or διελθεῖν with the accusative of the region traversed, the only other instance in the N.T. being 1 Corinthians 16:5. In each of these ten cases the verb implies the process of going over a country as a missionary, and it is remarkable that in 1–12 this construction of διέρχομαι never occurs, though there are cases in which the idea of a missionary tour requires expression. Ramsay therefore sees in the use of the word in the second part of the book a quasi technical term which the writer had caught from St. Paul himself, by whom alone it is also employed.—Πάφου: Nea Paphos—the chief town and the place of residence of the Roman governor—some little distance from the old Paphos (Παλαίπαφος, Strabo) celebrated for its Venus temple. The place still bears the name of Baffa, Renan, St. Paul, p. 14; O. Holtzmann, Neutest. Zeitgeschichte, p. 101; C. and H., smaller edition, p. 125.—μάγον, cf. Acts 8:9; “sorcerer,” A. and R.V. margin, cf. Matthew 2:1, but word used here as among the Greeks and Romans in a bad sense. Wycl. has “witch,” and this in its masculine form “wizard” has been suggested as an appropriate rendering here. On the absurd attempt to show that the whole narrative is merely introduced as a parallel to St. Peter’s encounter with Simon, chap. 8, see Nösgen, p. 427; Zöckler, in loco, and Salmon, Introduction, p. 310. The parallel really amounts to this, that both Peter and Paul encountered a person described under the same title, a magician—an encounter surely not improbable in the social circumstances of the time (see below)! For other views see Holtzmann, who still holds that the narrative is influenced by Acts 8:14 ff. The word is entirely omitted by Jüngst, p. 120, without any authority whatever. Elymas, according to the narrative, says Jüngst, was either a magician or a false prophet. But the proconsul is styled ἀνὴρ συνετός, and this could not have been consistent with his relation with a magician: Elymas was therefore a kind of Jewish confessor. But neither supposition does much to establish the wisdom of Sergius Paulus.—ψευδοπροφήτην like ψευδόμαντις in classical writers, here only in Acts; and Luke 6:26, by St. Luke. But frequently used elsewhere in N.T., and in the LXX, and several times in Didaché, xi. On the “Triple beat,” Magian, false prophet, Jew, see Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 415.—Βαρϊησοῦς, on the name see critical notes.

6. And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos] Probably teaching at other places in the same way as they had done in Salamis. Paphos was the capital of Cyprus, and therefore the residence of the Roman governor. It was the more modern city, not the old city of Paphos, to which Paul and Barnabas came. See Dictionary of Bible.

they found a certain sorcerer [magician], a false prophet, a Jew] That there were living among the Jews persons well known as pretenders to magic powers we can see from a story told T. B. Berakhoth 59 a, of a certain Rab Katina who, in his walk, as he was passing the door of one who was known as a professor of witchcraft and magic arts, felt a slight shock of an earthquake. He thereupon called out and asked “Does this wizard diviner know what that shock is?” Upon this the man cried with a sanctimonious promptness worthy of his profession, “In the hour when the Holy One, blessed be He, remembers His children who dwell in sorrow among the nations of the world, He lets fall two tears into the great sea, and that is the cause of the tremor of the earth.” Chaldæan astrologers and impostors are mentioned by Juvenal (vi. 562; xiv. 248) and Horace (Sat. i. 2. 1) and by many other Latin writers, and these were probably Babylonian Jews. See Lucian, Necyomantia, where a wonderful story is told of a magician named Mithrobarzanes. Also Lucian, Philopseudes, where one of the wonder-workers is described as “a Syrian from Palestine.”

Bar-jesus] This was his Jewish name. The Arabic name or title Elymas = wise, was a self-assumed designation; and for that reason he is called “Magus” = the magician, a name originally applied to the Persian priests, who were deemed the wise men of the realm both in policy and religion, though their title in after times was degraded to baser arts and persons.

Acts 13:6. Πάφου) Paphos was a city in the west: Salamis, in the east.—μάγον ψευδοπροφήτην, a sorcerer, a false prophet) Two predicates very closely joined together.—Βαριηοὺ) Bar-Jehu was in itself a name, equally as Jehu, applicable to a man, but one very convenient to a sorcerer, a false prophet, for arrogating the claim of divinity. Jehu and Jehovah are kindred names (Collactanea); which also seems to be the reason why the Syriac version has translated Barjehu as Bar Schumo. In Barschumo and in Elymas the Syria Græca of Hermann von der Hardt, pp. 110, 114, states that there is contained the notion of blindness: but even from the fact, that Barschumo is a most frequent name among the Syrians, as is evident from the Bibliotheca, or. T. 2, c. i., of Assemann, a more pleasing notion is to be looked for in it. Ludovicus de Dieu interprets it, the son of ulcers, a physician healing ulcers; as Elymas, in his view, is חלומא, healer. Paul calls that Barjehu, Son of the devil, rebutting thus by a parody the impostor’s arrogant assumption of a name expressive of divinity.[69]

[69] Some MSS. of Vulg. read Barjehu: others, Βαριησοῦ, Barjesu: and so Memph. B (judging from the silence of the collators) CEe Theb. read Βαριησοῦς: AD corrected, Βαοιησοῦν: Lucif. 209, etc. Barjesuban.—E. and T.

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.). Acts 13:6Sorcerer (μάγον)

That the man was an impostor is told us in the next word, but not in this term. It is the word used of the wise men who came to the Saviour's cradle. See Matthew 2:1, Matthew 2:7, Matthew 2:16. Elymas was a magian; of what kind is shown by false prophet. See on Matthew 2:1.


Son of Jesus or Joshua.

Acts 13:6 Interlinear
Acts 13:6 Parallel Texts

Acts 13:6 NIV
Acts 13:6 NLT
Acts 13:6 ESV
Acts 13:6 NASB
Acts 13:6 KJV

Acts 13:6 Bible Apps
Acts 13:6 Parallel
Acts 13:6 Biblia Paralela
Acts 13:6 Chinese Bible
Acts 13:6 French Bible
Acts 13:6 German Bible

Bible Hub

Acts 13:5
Top of Page
Top of Page