Bible Society of South Africa

Hungry for the word – 21 June 2022

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

7He was a friend of the governor of the island, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor called Barnabas and Saul before him because he wanted to hear the word of God.

One finds many names in the Bible heard only once; people who play a cameo role and then disappear from the scene. Most of the time, these are people about whom one hears very little, but by their presence on the pages of the Bible, they teach us a valuable lesson. It was the first time that Paul and Barnabas were sent to go out to do missionary work in many different cities and countries. One of the very first places that they visited was the island of Cyprus. They proclaimed the word of God to the Jews in the synagogue in Salamis and then crossed the island to eventually reach the city of Paphos.

In Paphos, they met two people: the governor Sergius Paulus and the Jewish magician called Bar-Jesus or Elymas. It is very interesting that these two very different people seemed to be friends. Sergius was governor of Cyprus in about 47 AD. We know very little about him but he most likely came from an esteemed Roman family. The Bible also calls him an intelligent man. Nothing is known about Bar-Jesus, but what we read here in Acts. It looks as though both Sergius and Bar-Jesus had to have known something about Jesus. The fact that Sergius was eager to hear the word of God points towards some previous knowledge. Bar-Jesus, on the other hand, tried to prevent Sergius from hearing more about the message as he was afraid that Sergius may be converted and become a follower of Jesus.

Two men of whom we know very little but who can teach us a valuable lesson. Sergius, the Roman, would probably have had limited knowledge about the God of the Jews and Jesus. What he knew made him eager to hear more. Bar-Jesus, as a Jew, would have known a lot about God but was not interested. The result is that the hand of the Lord came down on Bar-Jesus and he was blind for some time. About Sergius Paulus we read in Acts 13:12: “… he believed; for he was greatly amazed at the teaching about the Lord.”

Prayer: Today, we pray that you will make people all over the world eager to hear your Word. Use us, Lord, to spread the message to people who are eagerly waiting and make us partners in the distribution of Bibles to all. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.15
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