What does Acts 13:6 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus,
NASB: When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus,
CSB: When they had traveled the whole island as far as Paphos, they came across a sorcerer, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus.
NLT: 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.
KJV: And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:
NKJV: Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus,
Verse Commentary:
The first stop in Barnabas and Saul's first missionary journey is Barnabas' homeland of Cyprus (Acts 4:36). The two evangelists, along with Barnabas' kinsman John Mark (Colossians 4:10), land in Salamis, on the east coast of the island, and travel west, sharing Jesus' stories in the Jewish synagogues as they go (Acts 13:4–6). It's likely they are supporting the message that Jewish Jesus-followers brought when they fled Saul's persecution in Jerusalem (Acts 11:19).

After traveling the length of the island, the group reaches Paphos, a port town on the southwest coast and the home of the Roman proconsul. The Roman Empire was known for efficiency, productivity, and a culture saturated with the worship of dozens of gods—including the emperor. Many Romans looked east to find more esoteric deities, and opportunistic Jews learned to use their knowledge of God to their advantage.

Bar-Jesus, a name literally meaning "son of Jesus," is identified as both a false prophet and a magician. "Magician" is from the Greek root word magos. The word is much older, however, and of indeterminate origin. It's unclear what Bar-Jesus did that earned him the title. Likely he's a false prophet in that he's a grifter who claims to have supernatural powers, not that he makes up false prophecies about the future. Either way, he has strong influence on the proconsul, and Saul must resort to Spirit-empowered miracles to shut him down (Acts 13:7–12).
Verse Context:
Acts 13:4–12 records the initial stop in Barnabas and Saul's first missionary journey (Acts 13:4—14:26). They sail west from Syrian Antioch to the island of Cyprus: Barnabas' home. As they travel the length of the island, they visit Jewish synagogues to give the Jews the first opportunity to accept Jesus' forgiveness (Romans 1:16), but their work among so many Gentiles impels Saul to make a major change and take on the Roman version of his name: Paul.
Chapter Summary:
Acts 13 transitions Luke's account (Acts 1:1) fully into a record of Paul's ministry to spread the news about Jesus. The Holy Spirit calls Paul and Barnabas for their first missionary journey. They teach about Jesus' offer of forgiveness of sins on the island of Cyprus and in the district of Pisidia in modern-day south-central Asia Minor. Along the way, they face opposition, desertion, and persecution: themes that will follow Paul throughout his life. But they also experience the joy of watching the people they'd least expect come to a saving faith in Jesus.
Chapter Context:
The first chapters of Acts, save for a quick account of Paul's conversion (Acts 9:1–31), cover the ministry of the apostles, particularly Peter. Those passages also detail the spread of the news about Jesus from His followers. That message goes to the Jews of Jerusalem (Acts 2—7) and Judea (Acts 8:26–40; 9:32–43), the Samaritans (Acts 8:4–25), and God-fearing Gentiles (Acts 10—11). Now, Paul's contribution to the ''end of the earth'' portion of Jesus' commission in Acts 1:8 begins, as he and Barnabas start their first missionary journey. Luke will record two more of Paul's journeys (Acts 15:36—18:22 and 18:23—20:38) before settling in on his return to Jerusalem, arrest, and sea voyage to Rome (Acts 21—28).
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
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