Acts 13:11

Honoring the pilgrims of the Mayflower.

Thursday, 22 December 2022

“And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Acts 13:11

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, had just verbally come against Elymas. Now, to confirm that his words were those led by the Spirit, he will utter a divine punishment against him. That begins with, “And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you.”

The meaning is “the chastisement of the Lord.” Saying “The hand of the Lord” is a device known as anthropomorphism. It is ascribing human traits to the divine working of God. In this case, the word epi, or upon, is used. But the meaning of its use is derived from the context. In this case, it means that the Lord is as a foe to him. The word is used in this manner, for example, in Matthew 10:21 –

“Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.”

This thought is expressed in the Old Testament where the hand of the Lord is upon a person for strengthening and power (such as Ezekiel 1:3), or it is against him indicating disaster is upon him (such as in Psalm 81:14). In the case of Elymas, the obvious meaning is that the Lord’s hand was set as a foe against him. And so, he will now be punished. That is indicated in the next words, “and you shall be blind.”

As noted before, the Holy Spirit is speaking through Paul, and the punishment He determines is the same as that which came upon Paul when he was made blind for three days (Acts 9:9). So complete was Elymas’ blindness to be that it next says, “not seeing the sun.”

One can see a similarity to what occurred with Paul. It says in verse 9:3 that light shone around him from heaven. In verse 22:6, it notes that this great light came about noon. The meaning is that the light from heaven was more radiant than the sun itself. In this, the Lord alerted Paul to the error of his ways, blinding him.

Now, the same punishment has come upon Elymas, even if the manner in which it occurred is different. Paul simply spoke out the word to Elymas, but when he did, his words indicate that what occurs is a corrective punishment. This is seen in the continued proclamation, saying, “for a time.”

The meaning and intent of this is that the Lord, even in His judgment, has granted mercy. The punishment will not be permanent, and it is – like that of Paul’s blindness – intended to give Elymas the opportunity to view his conduct in a different manner and in hopes of him changing his mind about the life he has been leading. With that understood, it next says, “And immediately a dark mist fell on him.”

Rather, it is two separate nouns and more correctly reads, “and fell upon him mist and darkness.” The word translated as “mist” is achlus. It signifies a dimness of sight, as if a cataract. It is found in the writings of various classical poets and authors. At times, it is used metaphorically of a mist of the mind. Exactly what came upon Elymas is uncertain, but its effect was total, and it was also immediate, as it says, “and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.”

These words reveal the suddenness and the scope of what occurred. Elymas had sought “to turn the proconsul away from the faith” (13:8). He acted as a guide on the path, leading Sergius Paulus in the direction he determined, but which was contrary to the straight ways of the Lord. Now, God had frustrated his efforts, causing him to be blind and unable to even direct himself. The contrast is stark and ironic.

Life application: Within the Bible itself certain claims about it are made in various ways and at various times. One of the most memorable is from Psalm 119:105 –

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.”

The sense is that our lives are like a journey. The way we go and the path we are on is confusing and dark. We cannot truly know if we are taking the right way or not without a guide. Parents teach their children, and the children learn from them. Schools educate young minds and form those minds in various ways. But the Bible alone can light up our path of life to reveal where we should place our spiritual feet. The path becomes knowable because of the words of Scripture.

Elymas did not follow the word of the Lord and his walk in life was confused, even if he thought he was walking properly. When the Holy Spirit spoke through Paul, the physical blindness that came upon him was simply a reflection of the spiritual blindness in which he existed. The punishment of the Lord was intended to show him this and bring him to the right path.

Nothing is stated as to whether Elymas came to the truth or not, but he was given the opportunity to hear the word and see its effective power spoken forth by Paul. And we too have such an opportunity. We can see the lives changed by the power of the word. Alcoholics become sober. Brawlers become gentle, kind souls. Adulterers find new love and faithfulness in their marriages.

These things testify to the power of the word. Let us consider it and cherish it all our days. It truly is the light and the lamp that we need to know the proper place where each step we make should be.

Glorious God, we thank You for Your word. It illuminates our path, and it leads us on our trek back to You. May we hold it close in our lives, thinking about it and applying it to our walk every moment. To Your glory, may it be so. Amen.