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Acts 13:1-12

Context
The Church at Antioch Commissions Barnabas and Saul

13:1 Now there were these prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch: 1  Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, 2  Lucius the Cyrenian, 3  Manaen (a close friend of Herod 4  the tetrarch 5  from childhood 6 ) and Saul. 13:2 While they were serving 7  the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart 8  for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 13:3 Then, after they had fasted 9  and 10  prayed and placed their hands 11  on them, they sent them off.

Paul and Barnabas Preach in Cyprus

13:4 So Barnabas and Saul, 12  sent out by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia, 13  and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 14  13:5 When 15  they arrived 16  in Salamis, 17  they began to proclaim 18  the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. 19  (Now they also had John 20  as their assistant.) 21  13:6 When they had crossed over 22  the whole island as far as Paphos, 23  they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 24  13:7 who was with the proconsul 25  Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. The proconsul 26  summoned 27  Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear 28  the word of God. 13:8 But the magician Elymas 29  (for that is the way his name is translated) 30  opposed them, trying to turn the proconsul 31  away from the faith. 13:9 But Saul (also known as Paul), 32  filled with the Holy Spirit, 33  stared straight 34  at him 13:10 and said, “You who are full of all deceit and all wrongdoing, 35  you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness – will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 36  13:11 Now 37  look, the hand of the Lord is against 38  you, and you will be blind, unable to see the sun for a time!” Immediately mistiness 39  and darkness came over 40  him, and he went around seeking people 41  to lead him by the hand. 13:12 Then when the proconsul 42  saw what had happened, he believed, 43  because he was greatly astounded 44  at the teaching about 45  the Lord.

1 sn Antioch was a city in Syria (not Antioch in Pisidia).

map For location see JP1 F2; JP2 F2; JP3 F2; JP4 F2.

2 sn Simeon may well have been from North Africa, since the Latin loanword Niger refers to someone as “dark-complexioned.”

3 sn The Cyrenian refers to a native of the city of Cyrene, on the coast of northern Africa west of Egypt.

4 sn Herod is generally taken as a reference to Herod Antipas, who governed Galilee from 4 b.c. to a.d. 39, who had John the Baptist beheaded, and who is mentioned a number of times in the gospels.

5 tn Or “the governor.”

sn A tetrarch was a ruler with rank and authority lower than a king, who ruled only with the approval of the Roman authorities. This was roughly equivalent to being governor of a region. Several times in the NT, Herod tetrarch of Galilee is called a king (Matt 14:9, Mark 6:14-29), reflecting popular usage.

6 tn Or “(a foster brother of Herod the tetrarch).” The meaning “close friend from childhood” is given by L&N 34.15, but the word can also mean “foster brother” (L&N 10.51). BDAG 976 s.v. σύντροφας states, “pert. to being brought up with someone, either as a foster-brother or as a companion/friend,” which covers both alternatives. Context does not given enough information to be certain which is the case here, although many modern translations prefer the meaning “close friend from childhood.”

7 tn This term is frequently used in the LXX of the service performed by priests and Levites in the tabernacle (Exod 28:35, 43; 29:30; 30:20; 35:19; 39:26; Num 1:50; 3:6, 31) and the temple (2 Chr 31:2; 35:3; Joel 1:9, 13; 2:17, and many more examples). According to BDAG 591 s.v. λειτουργέω 1.b it is used “of other expression of religious devotion.” Since the previous verse described the prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch, it is probable that the term here describes two of them (Barnabas and Saul) as they were serving in that capacity. Since they were not in Jerusalem where the temple was located, general religious service is referred to here.

8 tn Or “Appoint.”

9 tn The three aorist participles νηστεύσαντες (nhsteusante"), προσευξάμενοι (proseuxamenoi), and ἐπιθέντες (epiqente") are translated as temporal participles. Although they could indicate contemporaneous time when used with an aorist main verb, logically here they are antecedent. On fasting and prayer, see Matt 6:5, 16; Luke 2:37; 5:33; Acts 14:23.

10 tn Normally English style, which uses a coordinating conjunction between only the last two elements of a series of three or more, would call for omission of “and” here. However, since the terms “fasting and prayer” are something of a unit, often linked together, the conjunction has been retained here.

11 sn The placing of hands on Barnabas and Saul (traditionally known as “the laying on of hands”) refers to an act picturing the commission of God and the church for the task at hand.

12 tn Grk “they”; the referents (Barnabas and Saul) have been specified in the translation for clarity.

13 sn Seleucia was the port city of Antioch in Syria.

14 sn Cyprus was a large island in the Mediterranean off the south coast of Asia Minor.

15 tn Grk “And when.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

16 tn The participle γενόμενοι (genomenoi) is taken temporally.

17 sn Salamis was a city on the southeastern coast of the island of Cyprus. This was a commercial center and a center of Judaism.

18 tn The imperfect verb κατήγγελλον (kathngellon) has been translated as an ingressive imperfect.

19 sn See the note on synagogue in 6:9.

20 sn John refers here to John Mark (see Acts 12:25).

21 tn The word ὑπηρέτης (Juphreth") usually has the meaning “servant,” but it is doubtful John Mark fulfilled that capacity for Barnabas and Saul. He was more likely an apprentice or assistant to them.

sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

22 tn Or “had passed through,” “had traveled through.”

23 sn Paphos. A city on the southwestern coast of the island of Cyprus. It was the seat of the Roman proconsul.

24 sn Named Bar-Jesus. “Jesus” is the Latin form of the name “Joshua.” The Aramaic “bar” means “son of,” so this man was surnamed “son of Joshua.” The scene depicts the conflict between Judaism and the emerging new faith at a cosmic level, much like the Simon Magus incident in Acts 8:9-24. Paul’s ministry looks like Philip’s and Peter’s here.

25 sn The proconsul was the Roman official who ruled over a province traditionally under the control of the Roman senate.

26 tn Grk “This one”; the referent (the proconsul) is specified in the translation for clarity.

27 tn Grk “summoning Barnabas and Saul, wanted to hear.” The participle προσκαλεσάμενος (proskalesameno") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

28 sn The proconsul…wanted to hear the word of God. This description of Sergius Paulus portrays him as a sensitive, secular Gentile leader.

29 tn On the debate over what the name “Elymas” means, see BDAG 320 s.v. ᾿Ελύμας. The magician’s behavior is more directly opposed to the faith than Simon Magus’ was.

30 sn A parenthetical note by the author.

31 sn The proconsul was the Roman official who ruled over a province traditionally under the control of the Roman senate.

32 sn A parenthetical note by the author.

33 sn This qualifying clause in the narrative indicates who represented God in the dispute.

34 tn Or “gazed intently.”

35 tn Or “unscrupulousness.”

36 sn “You who…paths of the Lord?” This rebuke is like ones from the OT prophets: Jer 5:27; Gen 32:11; Prov 10:7; Hos 14:9. Five separate remarks indicate the magician’s failings. The closing rhetorical question of v. 10 (“will you not stop…?”) shows how opposed he is to the way of God.

37 tn Grk “And now.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

38 tn Grk “upon,” but in a negative sense.

39 sn The term translated mistiness here appears in the writings of the physician Galen as a medical technical description of a person who is blind. The picture of judgment to darkness is symbolic as well. Whatever power Elymas had, it represented darkness. Magic will again be an issue in Acts 19:18-19. This judgment is like that of Ananias and his wife in Acts 5:1-11.

40 tn Grk “fell on.”

41 tn The noun χειραγωγός (ceiragwgo") is plural, so “people” is used rather than singular “someone.”

42 sn See the note on proconsul in v. 8.

43 sn He believed. The faith of the proconsul in the face of Jewish opposition is a theme of the rest of Acts. Paul has indeed become “a light to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:47).

44 tn The translation “greatly astounded” for ἐκπλησσόμενος (ekplhssomeno") is given by L&N 25.219.

45 tn Grk “of,” but this could give the impression the Lord himself had done the teaching (a subjective genitive) when actually the Lord was the object of the teaching (an objective genitive).



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