Acts 13
Vincent's Word Studies
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

See on Luke 7:26.

Lucius of Cyrene

Attempts have been made to identify him with Luke the evangelist; but the name Lucas is an abbreviation of Lucanus, and not of Lucius. It is worth noting, however, that, according to Herodotus (iii., 131), the physicians of Cyrene had the reputation of being the second best in Greece, those of Crotona being the best; and that Galen the physician says that Lucius was before him a distinguished physician in Tarsus of Cilicia. From this it has been conjectured that Luke was born and instructed in medicine in Cyrene, and left that place for Tarsus, where he made Paul's acquaintance, and was, perhaps, converted by him (Dr. Howard Crosby, "The New Testament, Old and New Version"). But, apart from the form of the name (see above), the mention of the evangelist's name here is not in accord with his usual practice, since he nowhere mentions his own name, either in the Gospel or in the Acts; and if the present passage were an exception, we should have expected to find his name last in the list of the worthies of Antioch. Of the five here named, four are known to be Jews; and therefore, probably, Lucius was also a Jew from Cyrene, where Jews are known to have abounded. Luke the evangelist, on the contrary, was a Gentile. Nothing certain can be inferred from Romans 16:21, where Lucius is enumerated by Paul among his kinsmen. If συγγενεῖς, kinsmen, means here, as is claimed by some, countrymen, it would prove Lucius to be a Jew; but the word is commonly used of relatives in the New Testament. In Romans 9:3, Paul applies the term to his fellow-countrymen, "my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites."

Which had been brought up with (σύντροφος)

Some render foster-brother, as Rev.; others, comrade. The word has both meanings.

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
Ministered (λειτουργούντων)

See on the kindred noun ministration, Luke 1:23. This noun has passed through the following meanings: 1. A civil service, especially in the technical language of Athenian law. 2. A function or office of any kind, as of the bodily organs. 3. Sacerdotal ministration, both among the Jews and the heathen (see Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:21). 4. The eucharistic services. 5. Set forms of divine worship (Lightfoot, "On Philippians," ii., 17). Here, of the performance of Christian worship. Our word liturgy is derived from it.


The Greek adds δή, now, which is not rendered by A. V. or Rev. It gives precision and emphasis to the command, implying that it is for a special purpose, and to be obeyed at the time. Compare Luke 2:15; Acts 15:36; 1 Corinthians 6:20.

And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

On Luke's use of words for sailing, see Introduction.

And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.

The plural implies that the Jews were numerous in Salamis. Augustus, according to Josephus, made Herod the Great a present of half the revenue of the copper-mines of Cyprus, so that numerous Jewish families would be settled in the island. In the reign of Trajan, upon the breaking out of a Jewish insurrection, the whole island fell into the hands of the Jews, and became a rallying-point for the revolt. It is said that two hundred and forty thousand of the native population were sacrificed to the fury of the insurgents. When the rebellion was extinguished, the Jews were forbidden thenceforth, on pain of death, to set foot on the island.

Minister (ὑπηρέτην)

Better, as Rev., attendant. See on Matthew 5:25.

And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:
Sorcerer (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.

Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.
The deputy (ἀνθυπάτῳ)

Better, Rev., proconsul. See Introduction to Luke, on Luke's accuracy in designating public officers.

Sergius Paulus

Di Cesnola relates the discovery at Soli, which, next to Salamis, was the most important city in the island, of a slab with a Greek inscription containing the name of Paulus, proconsul.

Prudent (συνετῷ)

Better, as Rev., a man of understanding. See on Matthew 11:25.

But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.

An Arabic word, meaning the wise, and equivalent to Magus. See on Acts 13:6.


"The position of soothsayer to a Roman proconsul, even though it could only last a year, was too distinguished and too lucrative to abandon without a struggle" (Farrar, "Life and Work of Paul").

Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,
Saul - Paul

The first occurrence of the name of Paul in the Acts. Hereafter he is constantly so called, except when there is a reference to the earlier period of his life. Various explanations are given of the change of name. The most satisfactory seems to be that it was customary for Hellenistic Jews to have two names, the one Hebrew and the other Greek or Latin. Thus John was also called Marcus; Symeon, Niger; Barsabas, Justus. As Paul now comes prominently forward as the apostle to the Gentiles, Luke now retains his Gentile name, as he did his Jewish name during his ministry among the Jews. The connection of the name Paul with that of the deputy seems to me purely accidental. It was most unlike Paul to assume the name of another man, converted by his instrumentality, out of respect to him or as a memorial of his conversion. Farrar justly observes that there would have been in this "an element of vulgarity impossible to St. Paul."

Set his eyes on him

See on Luke 4:20.

And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
Mischief (ῥᾳδιουργίας)

Only here in New Testament. Originally, ease or facility in doing; hence readiness in turning the hand to anything, bad or good; and so recklessness, unscrupulousness, wickedness. A kindred word (ῥᾳδιούργημα, lewdness, Rev., villany) occurs at Acts 18:14.

Right ways

Or straight, possibly with an allusion to Elymas' crooked ways.

And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.
Mist (ἀχλὺς)

Only here in New Testament. The word is used by medical writers as a name for a disease of the eyes. The mention of the successive stages, first dimness, then total darkness, are characteristic of the physician. "The first miracle which Paul performed was the infliction of a judgment; and that judgment the same which befell himself when arrested on his way to Damascus" (Gloag).

Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
Astonished (ἐκπλησσόμενος)

See on Matthew 7:28.

Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.
Loosed (ἀναχθέντες)

See on Luke 8:22.

Paul and his company (οἱ περὶ τὸν Παῦλον)

Lit., those aroused Paul. In later writers, used to denote the principal person alone, as John 11:19, came to Mary and Martha; where the Greek literally reads, came to the women around Mary and Martha. Paul, and not Barnabas, now appears as the principal person.

But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.
And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

See on Acts 9:31.

Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.

See on Acts 12:17.

Men of Israel

See on Acts 3:12.

The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.
People (λαοῦ)

Restricted in the Acts to the people of Israel.

And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.
Suffered he their manners (ἐτροποφόρησεν)

From τρόπος fashion or manner, and φορέω, to bear or suffer. The preferable reading, however, is ἐτροφοφόρησεν; from τροφός, a nurse; and the figure is explained by, and probably was drawn from, Deuteronomy 1:31. The American revisers properly insist on the rendering, as a nursing-father bare he them.

And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.
Divided by lot (κατεκληρονόμησεν)

The A. V. gives the literal rendering. The Rev., gave them their land for an inheritance, is correct, so far as the meaning, inheritance is concerned (see on 1 Peter 1:4), but does not give the sense of distribution which is contained in the word.

And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.
And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.
And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:
When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
Before his coming (πρὸ προσώπου τῆς εἰσόδου αὐτοῦ)

Lit., before the face of his entrance. A Hebrew form of expression.

And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.
Think ye (ὑπονοεῖτε)

Originally, to think secretly: hence to suspect, conjecture.

Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.
To you

The best texts read to us.

For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.
And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.
And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.
But God raised him from the dead:
And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.
And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,
God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
Hath fulfilled (ἐκπεπλήρωκε)

Completely fulfilled; force of ἐκ, out and out.

And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.
The sure mercies (τὰ ὅσια τὰ πιστά)

Lit., the holy things, the sure. Rev., the holy and sure blessings.

Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Suffer (δώσεις)

Lit., give.

For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
Was laid unto (προσετέθη)

Lit., was added unto. Compare Acts 2:47; Acts 5:14.

But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;
Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.
Perish (ἀφανίσθητε)

Lit., vanish.

Declare (ἐκδιηγῆται)

Only here and Acts 15:3. See on shew, Luke 8:39. The word is a very strong expression for the fullest and clearest declaration: declare throughout.

And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.
Next (μεταξὺ)

The word commonly means intermediate, and hence is explained by some as referring to the intermediate week. But the meaning is fixed by Acts 13:44; and though the word does not occur in the New Testament elsewhere in the sense of next, it has that meaning sometimes in later Greek.

Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
Religious (σεβομένων)

Lit., worshipping. Compare Acts 13:50 and Acts 16:14.

Proselytes (προσηλύτων)

Originally, one who arrives at a place; a stranger; thence of one who comes over to another faith.

And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
Envy (ζήλου)

Rev., jealousy. See on James 3:14.

Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
Put (ἀπωθεῖσθε)

Not strong enough. Better, as Rev., thrust, denoting violent rejection.

Lo (ἰδοὺ)

Marking a crisis.

For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.
Honorable (εὐσχήμονας)

See on Mark 15:43. Women of rank, or, as Rev., of honorable estate.

Coasts (ὁρίων)

Not a good rendering, because it implies merely a sea-coast; whereas the word is a general one for boundaries.

But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
Shook off

See on Matthew 10:14.


See on Luke 10:11.

And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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