The three-man missionary team of Barnabas, Saul, and John Mark, left Antioch, traveled the fifteen miles to the coastal city of Seleucia, and boarded a ship to the Island of Cyprus (Acts 13:4-5). The island is 140 miles long east to west and 60 miles wide from north to south. Much of Cyprus is mountainous with peaks reaching to nearly six thousand feet.
“Arriving in Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues” (Acts 13:5). The port city of Salamis, located on the eastern end of the island, was the most import city in Cyprus, large enough to have multiple “Jewish synagogues.”
The evangelistic strategy of going first to the synagogues became the pattern used in each of Paul’s missionary journeys. On his second missionary journey, “they passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As usual, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and rise from the dead: ‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah’ ” (Acts 17:1–3).
In Salamis, the missionary team visited each of the synagogues, preaching and teaching that Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament Scriptures. Dr. Luke’s narrative leaves us to speculate concerning the fruit produced by their work. I’ll hazard a guess... churches were planted, and young pastors were ordained to disciple the new converts. That’s certainly how it happened in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. “After they had preached the gospel in that town and made many disciples, they ... strengthening the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith... When they had appointed elders for them in every church and prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:21–23).
Having completed their work in Salamis, they traveled through the sparsely populated interior until they came to the west coast and the capital city of Paphos. That’s where “they came across a sorcerer, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus” (Acts 13:6). Bar-Jesus, or the son of Jesus, was pals with the proconsul, something like a governor, whose name was Sergius Paulus. Apparently, “Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man” was interested in the Truth because he “summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God” (Acts 13:7).
Spiritual warfare ensued when a evil sorcerer “opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith” (Acts 13:8).
Paul, “filled with the Holy Spirit, stared straight at Elymas and said, ‘You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery, you son of the devil and enemy of all that is right. Won’t you ever stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord?’ ” (Acts 13:9-10). Trusting faithfully in God’s authority, Paul declared, “the Lord’s hand is against you. You are going to be blind, and will not see the sun for a time. Immediately a mist and darkness fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand” (Acts 13:11). “When (Sergius Paulus) saw what happened, the proconsul believed, because he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord”(Acts 13:12).
Like Paul demonstrated, we must “put on the full armor of God so that (we) can stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand” (Ephesians 6:11–13).