Summary: To get the listener to understand that although we will face opposition from many, we are still on the winning side.
OPPOSITION AT PAPHOS
My brothers and sisters life is full of opposition. Even in the smallest of things such as playing your favorite game or choosing a place of worship there will always be someone who will oppose you. Even in nature we find something called law of gravity that prevents us from floating away, it is the opposition of gravitational pull against weightlessness. If you put your hand out the window of your car while it is in motion, you will discover the law of resistence, and in this text we see the law of human nature, the good verses the bad. As assured as you are living, there is hardly a day that goes by that someone will not oppose something we say or do. Just this week I was opposed by someone because of my thoughts on the way the media influences people to believe that everything they say is true, in particular I was referring to the Barry Bonds accusations. The point I would like to make is that you will be opposed in one way or another. In our last lesson, we covered Barnabas and Saul, being set apart for missionary work. I can imagine some in the group who probably thought that they were as qualified for the mission as those who were chosen, but it was the Holy Spirit that chose Barnabas and Saul to do the work. We noted how the church, including the prophets and the teachers of the Way were ministering to the Lord through their worship and fasting. They were desiring to hear from the Lord concerning their next ministry action. As they were in worship the Holy Spirit spoke and told them to set apart Barnabas and Saul for a work that he had called them for. So after fasting and praying once again they laid their hands on them and the Holy Spirit led them in their missionary work to Seleucia, then to Cyprus. Now the isle of Cyprus was the home land of Barnabas who lived in the city of Salamis. And it was in Salamis that they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. In reading verse five it caused me to wonder if the Gospel was accepted there or not because the text didn’t share the results of the preaching experience.
In this lesson while still on the island of Cyprus, they moved from Salamis to the city of Paphos. It is in this lesson that we will witness the first bit of opposition that these men of God would face as missionaries and that opposition will come from a man who was a sorcerer, a false prophet, and a Jew, whose name was Bar-Jesus.
So, let’s investigate the opposition that these Spirit led men of God will face in this text.
First of all we see . . .
1. TWO WORTHY OPPONENTS(Vv.6&7)
“And when they had gone through the isle unto Pathos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7. Who 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 first thing we should note in the text is two worthy opponents. Their names were Bar-Jesus and Sergius Paulus, one a Jew, the other working toward his Roman citizenship. First let’s deal with Bar-Jesus. His character was nothing like his name. He was a sorcerer and a false prophet. The first three letters were Syrian which meant “son,” It came from his father whose name was Jesus or Joshua. In this country we use a suffix “Jr or the III.” In the text they used the prefix “Bar.” It simply meant the son of Jesus or Joshua. Without reservation we should note that the name Jesus was a common name during that time and he was not a relative of our blessed Savior. The text described him as a sorcerer, false prophet, and a Jew. Now although he was Jewish, he did things that a devout Jew dared not do and that was to deal in the black art of sorcery. But as we look at this text we see that Bar-Jesus was an attendant of one named Sergius Paulus who was the proconsul or governor of the country that was appointed by the emperor. It was Paulus who desired to hear the word of God. Now the text described him as a prudent man, and the word prudent here in the text meant “intelligent or wise.” He was the country’ resident philosopher, and had a yearning to know things and his intent to hear the gospel coming from Saul and Barnabas was at first to gain knowledge of what he deemed as truth more so than to gain eternal life. Together they had their own motives. Bar-Jesus as a sorcerer and false prophet had the motive to influence and to deceive Sergius Paulus to think that he had the gift of prophecy. And Sergius Paulus’ motive was to be knowledgeable of all things so that it would aid him in impressing those that were in the halls of knowledge.