The Power Encounter: Acts 13:4-12
“4) So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5) When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper. 6) When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7) who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8) But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9) But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, 10) and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? 11) Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. 12) Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.” Acts‬ ‭13‬:‭4‬-‭12‬
The first missionary team was sent out by the Holy Spirit. In was comprised of Barnabas, Saul and John Mark. It is intriguing that the Holy Spirit did not specifically called John Mark to be on this team. (See Acts 13:2) One might argue that he did not have the same grace, unction and calling for this trip. That becomes significant later in the story. He ended up dropping off the team.
Having been sent out by the Holy Spirit, they knew God was going before them. They did not have an agenda other than preaching the gospel wherever they went. As they traveled, they preached in every Jewish synagogue they encountered. It made for a ready audience.
When they reached Paphos, they encountered a magician who was a Jewish false prophet. His name was Bar-Jesus or Elymas. He had some degree of demonic powers and had attached himself Sergius Paulus, who was the proconsul over the region. Satan often sends his false workers to influence both people and policy in the political domain. This deceitful practice can be seen throughout the entire Bible.
The text says that the proconsul himself was a man of intelligence. I have discovered that many political figures are intelligent, gifted and reasonable people. They are valid targets for evangelism and the gospel.
Seek to build bridges with them no matter their political affiliation. Put them toward the top of your prospect and prayer list. (See 1 Timothy 2:1-8) Paul consistently sought a hearing with political and community leaders wherever he traveled. It was part of his calling. (See Acts 9:15)
The resistance did not come from Sergius Paulus, it came from Elymas the magician. The proconsul himself sought to hear the word of God, but Elymas was actively running interference against the mission team and the gospel. (Acts 13:7-8)
This set up a power encounter between Paul and Satan’s deceitful worker. Paul immediately took authority over Elymas and both exposed and bound the false worker through the authority of Jesus Christ. The magician was immediately rendered powerless and was blinded for a period of time. The same fate happened to Saul earlier in his life and led to his conversion. (See Acts 9:1-9) Jesus has strong ways of dealing with those aligned against Him and the gospel.
Upon seeing what unfolded right before his eyes, the proconsul became a believer and was amazed at the teaching of the Lord. In a real sense, this showdown became a “sign” or “open the door” for the gospel. The same was true of Moses and the magicians of Egypt centuries earlier. God seems to thrive on Power Encounters with Satan’s deceitful workers. Some of them become open to the gospel. (See Acts 8:9-13)
Let me make a strong point, spiritual warfare is not to be feared; rather it is consistently seen in the four gospels and in the book of Acts as a huge open door to advance the gospel. Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. He wins every power encounter without exception. (See Philippians 2:9-11; Colossians 2:15)
This story screams of the surpassing greatness of Jesus Christ over the false gods of this world. If you are a Christian, then you are a soldier for Christ. Stand in your authority and expose, resist and rebuke the devil. James 4:7-8 and 1 Peter 5:8-9 both say the same thing. When believers actively resist firm in their faith, the devil will flee.
This story in Acts 13:4-12 is an common example of how the early churched engaged in spiritual warfare and confronted Satan’s false workers. There are numerous stories like this in the book of Acts. Once you train yourself to see them, the New Testament is full of similar stories.
Every believer has been given the same authority “in Christ” over the demonic realm. If you are not equipped for Spiritual Warfare, attend one of my Freedom Quest Workshops in person or contact the GoServ Global office and order a workbook. With the overwhelming volume of Scripture on this subject, ignorance is both pathetic and inexcusable!
(Note: You may want to host a live Freedom Quest Workshop for your church or community. It is very easy to schedule, biblically sound, very practical and a major blessing. God often uses these workshops to lay the groundwork for regional revival and awakening. Ordering and reviewing a Freedom Quest Workbook is a great starting point. Please contact me for more information.)
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global