Vermont capitol staircase.
Wednesday, 21 December 2022
and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? Acts 13:10
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).
In the previous verse, Paul was preparing to speak to Elymas, looking intently at him. With that, it next says, “and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud.”
Paul lays into Elymas with heavy words of accusation. Using the word “full” to begin the description is the same way we speak even today. It implies that there is no room for anything except that which a person is full of. In this case, it is first “all deceit.” The word signifies bait. In other words, Elymas used bait to hook his prey and thus deceive. Because of the use of this word, it means that Elymas wasn’t just one who deceives. But more, he is one who intentionally does so. Accompanying that, Paul adds in “all fraud.”
This is a word found only here in Scripture, rhadiourgia. The original sense was “ease in doing.” Therefore, it signifies recklessness because the person is always ready to turn and act, whether it is good or bad. In this case, it is in a highly negative way. Fraudulent intention defined his actions at all times. Because of this, Paul – under inspiration of the Spirit – calls out “you son of the devil.”
There is no article before “devil” in the original. Hence, he is the son of a devil. Remembering that Elymas is also known as Bar-Jesus, it is an ironic pun. Bar-Jesus means “Son of Salvation,” and yet the Spirit, through Paul, makes a complete and ironic contrast to that saying he is the son of a devil. The word diabolos [devil] is defined by HELPS Word Studies as “literally someone who ‘casts through,’ i.e., making charges that bring down (destroy).” Elymas brings destruction instead of salvation. And more, Paul speaks, saying, “you enemy of all righteousness.”
The words are based on the previous descriptions. As Elymas is “full of all deceit and all fraud,” then he can be filled with nothing else. As he is a “son of the devil,” then that is how his character is defined. In other words, in Hebrew thought, the term “son of” defines the nature of a person. In 2 Samuel 12:5, David uses the term, “son of death” to describe someone who has done a despicable thing –
“And the anger of David burneth against the man exceedingly, and he saith unto Nathan, ‘Jehovah liveth, surely a son of death is the man who is doing this” (YLT).
Likewise, Jesus called Judas a “son of perdition” in John 17:12 –
“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”
Using the term “son of” in these cases defines the very nature of the person. Saying that Elymas is a “son of the devil” defines his nature. Today, we would use the term “spawn of a devil,” or “spawn of Satan” to convey the same intent. Or, more specifically, we would say, “Like father, like son.” Because of his completely unholy character, Paul next says, “will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?”
It is an obvious reference to Isaiah 40 –
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;
5 The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’” Isaiah 40:3-5
John proclaimed the coming Messiah and the straight ways of the Lord. Jesus came and revealed that straight path, but Elymas – by his word – caused those who would seek the Lord’s straight ways to turn from them, as the word diastrephó implies. It signifies to twist or turn thoroughly.
Life application: Remembering that Luke specifically said that Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit, this tells us that the words of Paul were carefully guided by the Spirit. Every one of them was given to describe the object of them (meaning Elymas) adequately and fully.
Today, we have the inspired word of God fully expressed to us in the pages of the Bible. In other words, what is recorded there can be described just as Paul was described – “filled with the Holy Spirit.” As this is so, every word in Scripture is given to tell us exactly what God wants us to see and to know in the areas it refers to. If we want to know what an unrighteous person is like, all we need to do is go to Scripture. If we want to know how the Bible anticipates the coming Messiah, Scripture will tell us.
If you want to know if you are pleasing to God or not, you will find out by going to Scripture. In examining it, we can find out if we are pleasing to God in the matter of salvation. Have we trusted the gospel alone, through faith? If so, then we have pleased God for salvation. From there, we can find out if we are pleasing to God in our salvation. Are we living according to what the epistles tell us in that regard? If so, then we will receive rewards. If not, then we will suffer loss, but we will not lose our salvation (1 Corinthians 3:15).
The Bible is God’s word to us. Let us consider it at all times and apply it to our walk before the Lord all our days.
O, Glorious God, You have breathed out Your word in a way that we can know exactly what to do so that we may be pleasing to You. Give us the wisdom to learn it and live by it all our days. To Your glory, we pray. Amen.