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Apostle Paul

The apostle Paul’s connection to the island of Cyprus can be found in the 13th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament. In this chapter, there are nine verses (5-13) detailing the missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas on the island of Cyprus, which was part of the his First Journey. According to Acts 13, the two missionaries first landed in Salamis. Located on the east coast of the island, Salamis was the primary port and commercial centre of Cyprus. Paul and Barnabas preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews while they were in the city. After Salamis, Paul and Barnabas made their way across the island before reaching Paphos.

 

Although Acts does not mention the route taken by the two men, it is likely that they took the southern coastal Roman road. Along the route were such urban centres as Kition, Amathus, and Kourion where the two men would have stopped and preached. At Paphos, Paul and Barnabas encountered an alleged false prophet by the name of Elymas, known also as Barjesus, and the incident is recounted in verses 6-11.

According to Acts, Paul and Barnabas sought an audience with the Proconsul of Cyprus, a man by the name of Sergius Paulus. Elymas, however, prevented this from happening resulting in a confrontation with Paul. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Paul is said to have chastised Elymas and temporarily blinded the false prophet. When the proconsul witnessed all that had happened, he immediately believed. After this Paul and Barnabas left Cyprus for Pamphylia.


The torture endured by Paul when he arrived in Paphos is not mentioned in Acts but found in local narratives. During the time of the Roman Empire, it was common for Roman officials to appoint Jewish civic leaders as personal advisors. Elymas was likely to have been a close counsellor of Sergius Paulus. It is possible that one of the means employed by Elymas to stop Paul from preaching was to have him tortured. According to reports, Paul was tied to a pillar and scourged with 39 lashes five times. In 2 Corinthians 11: 24, Paul mentions that he received ‘forty lashes minus one’ five times from the Jews while preaching the Gospel and therefore his scourging at Paphos is very likely. 

Apostle Paul, Barnabas, and Mark soon board a ship and sail to Perga. Mark then abruptly leaves the group and returns to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). The issue of Mark suddenly abandoning the first missionary journey will be the catalyst for the separation of the evangelists before Paul's next journey (Acts 15:36 - 41). They leave Perga and travel to Antioch in Pisidia (also called Pisidian Antioch, to distinguish it from the Antioch located in Syria).

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