Acts 13:8

ESV But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
NIV But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith.
NASB But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
CSB But Elymas the sorcerer (that is the meaning of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
NLT 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.
KJV But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.

What does Acts 13:8 mean?

The proconsul Sergius Paulus has asked Barnabas and Saul to share with him the message they have been teaching in the synagogues throughout the island of Cyprus (Acts 13:5–7). His spiritual advisor, the Jewish false prophet Bar-Jesus, quickly realizes his position is threatened and goes on the defense.

Elymas is the same person as Bar-Jesus, the magician named earlier (Acts 13:6). Scholars debate what "Elymas" means and where it's from. Some say it is from the Greek root word elumas or "wise man." Others say it is Semitic for magos or "magician." Formally, the title indicates someone like the magi in Babylon who performed sorcery and provided information (Matthew 2:2). Luke (Acts 1:1; Luke 1:1) is using it in a more generic sense, since a Jew wouldn't be a priest of the magi.

Juvenal, a Roman satirist, explained that despite its myriad gods and goddesses, religion practiced in the Roman empire had no passion or wonder. Romans often gravitated toward the superstitions and cults of eastern cultures like Egypt, Judea, and Babylon. Charlatans from those areas, like Elymas and the unfortunate exorcists in Acts 19, were happy to take advantage of their spiritual hunger. Despite his attachment to Bar-Jesus, Sergius Paulus is wise enough to recognize the truth when he finally finds it. Saul decisively shuts down Bar-Jesus, and Sergius Paulus believes in Jesus (Acts 13:9–12).
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