So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus. There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant. Afterward they traveled from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Barnabas and Saul said. He was trying to keep the governor from believing. Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye. Then he said, “You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? Watch now, for the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time.” Instantly mist and darkness came over the man’s eyes, and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him. When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord. (Acts of the Apostles 13:4-12 NLT)
Barnabas and Saul, now Paul (see verse 9), traveled from Antioch of Syria southwest to the seaport of Seleucia. This was a major harbor and bustling city of about 30,000 inhabitants. It is possible that they set sail in early March when the sailing season opened in those waters due to the better wind conditions. Likely, they boarded a cargo ship since passenger ships were not common in that time. Imagine being nestled between some kind of goods as you make your way on your first missionary excursion. Exciting isn't it (little sarcasm). There were no first class reservations with tea and dinner. What dedication these men had to carry the gospel to the world. They landed at the seaport city of Salamis on the eastern end of the island of Cyprus (the third largest island in the Mediterranean. The island was 140 miles long and 60 miles wide. It was mountainous on the western and northern ends (up to 5900 feet in elevation). This was not an easy place to traverse. It is believed that believers from Jerusalem that fled during the persecution in Acts 8 made their journey to this island and preached to the Jews who had settled there. This would have paved the way for Barnabas and Paul to come in and fully instruct and disciple.
From Salamis (eastern seaport) they began their quest to carry the gospel to every possible city as they crossed the island. This was a time consuming and physically demanding task. There were no Holiday Inns or fancy restaurants. No cars, busses, motorcycles, telephones, or any of the conveniences we now know. Sheet love for Jesus and determination to preach the gospel. True men of God!
John Mark (Barnabas nephew) traveled along with them. They made their way across the entire island and came to the western seaport, and Roman proconsul, Paphos. There they were able to preach the gospel to the governor Sergius Paulus.
Bar-Jesus (Elymas) was a director who had made himself close to the governor. He was a sorcerer and when he heard Barnabas and Paul teaching the truth of Jesus to the governor, he tried to discourage the governor from believing in Jesus.
His attempts were so interruptive that the Holy Spirit spoke through Paul and smote the man with blindness. When the governor saw the power of Jesus he immediately surrendered his life to Christ.
Rev. Curtis Norris