Raising the Sails


Chapters 13 and 14 of Acts give us an amazing glimpse into Paul’s first missionary journey. It is this first journey that would be the spark lighting the fire of the gospel across the Gentile nation. God chose a brilliant man in Paul: a tremendous writer, a gifted communicator, and a man of great self-discipline. Or did he? Did God use a broken and humble man operating out of the power and grace that can only come from God himself?

  • What kind of person seems the best spokesperson for the gospel?


4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. 6 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. 7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Reread verses 6-8, and define in your own words the conflict that is taking place between the proconsul (the highest Roman government official), the magician, and the apostles.
  2. How did Paul respond to this magician/false prophet (vss. 9-11)?
  3. What did Luke emphasize in both verses 4 and 9?
  4. Why do you believe Luke emphasized the Holy Spirit’s direction and power right at the beginning of Paul’s first missionary journey?
  5. How have you seen your life be different when you walk in the Spirit instead of the flesh?


Luke purposefully reminds us of where Paul’s power is grounded. Paul did not confront a false prophet in his own strength; he did it solely through the power of the Holy Spirit. Is it possible that we are made stronger than we could ever imagine when we humble ourselves before the Lord and cry out for his strength instead of our own strength? Saint Augustine once said, “God provides the wind, man just has to raise the sails.” Let us raise the sails and engage God’s strength instead of our own strength.

  • Lord, my natural inclination is to rely on my own strength. Give me a supernatural inclination today to walk with you, instead of walking alone.