When Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel in Cyprus they encountered opposition from a false prophet name Bar-Jesus.
When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
The Holy Spirit empowered Paul to put an end to this opposition by blinding Bar-Jesus.
But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.
The proconsul to whom Paul had been speaking was convinced that Paul’s message was true and Paul and Barnabas continued they preaching tour. But nothing is said about what happened to Bar-Jesus. The fact that Paul said he would be unable to see the sun for a time shows that his blindness was temporary and that he eventually regained his sight but that is all we know about the rest of his life.
Paul experienced some of the same things Bar-Jesus did. He opposed the preaching of the gospel and suffered temporary blindness as a result.
Paul is first mentioned in the Bible in connection with the stoning of Stephen.
Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
And Saul approved of his execution.
He advanced from approving of persecution to being an active persecutor.
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
He was blinded while in the act of persecuting believers.
Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.
His sight was later restored.
Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight.
We know something about Paul that we don’t know about Bar-Jesus. We know what he thought when he was blinded and how he responded. His first words when he was blinded were “Who are you, Lord?” He realized that God’s power was behind what was happening to him and he ended up being a follower of Christ rather than a persecutor.
We aren’t told anything about what Bar-Jesus thought. It is possible that he recognized God’s power at work and became a follower of Christ just as Paul did. But there are some people who will refuse to repent and turn to God no matter what judgment they suffer.
The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.
The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.
Did Bar-Jesus repent and turn to God or did he continue to resist the truth? We won’t know until we get to Heaven. But here is what Paul says about his conversion.
He who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me.
It is possible that Bar-Jesus was also set apart before his birth and God blinded him physically in order to open his spiritual eyes and reveal the Son to him.
Posted on April 14, 2013, in Bible study and tagged Bar-Jesus, Barnabas, blindness, oppostion to gospel, Paul, persecution, repentance, Saul, Saul of Tarsus, Stephen. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.