Elymas, a form of the Greek word for sorcerer, was the name of a magician on Cyprus who opposed Paul and Barnabas by attempting to influence the Roman proconsul of the island, Sergius Paulus, from becoming a believer in the Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God (conversion to true Christianity was not an easy psychological task for most Roman officials; they were some of the most militarily-aggressive, politically-arrogant men that ever lived, who regarded their Emperor as divine and their Roman Empire to be the self-appointed ruler of all other kingdoms on earth). Like Paul and Barnabas (Paul was actually of the tribe of Benjamin, and Barnabas was of Levi, but both were Jews in a religious sense) Elymas was a Jew; his Jewish name was Bar-jesus, which in Hebrew means "son of Jesus" (Jesus was not an uncommon name) or "son of Joshua" (Jesus is the Greek form of the also-common Hebrew name Joshua, which means "The Lord is his Saviour"). In response to Elymas' hostile spiritual blindness, Paul, by the power of the Holy Spirit, miraculously made the sorcerer unable to see - an apt lesson of why, when he would again be able to see the light, that he should open his eyes and see the Light just as Paul himself did after Jesus struck him blind On The Road To Damascus.
A Lesson For Elymas
It wasn't all that long after Saul's conversion (after which he became known as Paul, which is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Saul), but Paul was already demonstrating why The Lord chose him as one of the key witnesses of the Gospel in his time, and for all time - his writings later formed much of the New Testament (see New Testament Fact File and Epistles):
"Now in the church at Antioch [see Antioch Of Syria] there were prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch [see The Herods], and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off."
"So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John [i.e. Mark, who wrote the New Testament book of Mark, see John Mark] to assist them."
"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, withstood them, seeking to turn away the proconsul from the faith. But Saul, who is 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 shall 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. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord." (Acts 13:4-12 RSV)
Fact Finder: (a) On which of Paul's missionary journeys did he encounter Elymas? (b) Where did Paul go on his other major missionary journeys?
(a) See Paul's First Missionary Journey (b) See Paul's Second Missionary Journey and
Paul's Third Missionary Journey