Sorcerers (v.6) were like magicians (cf.Ex.7:10,11). But Bar-jesus is also said to be a “false prophet” (Acts 13:6), so he probably practiced the kind of religious sorcery that “bewitched” the Galatians (Gal.3:1), i.e., false doctrine.
And that’s sad, because he must have had good parents to have named him Bar-jesus. The “bar” part means “son of” (cf. Mark 10:46), and “Jesus” means Jehovah Savior. Lots of parents named their sons “Jesus” (Col.4:11) and Bar-jesus in the hopes their boys would grow up to be true, saved, sons of Jehovah Savior. This one became a false prophet instead.
He was “with” the Roman “deputy” (Acts 13:7). Government officials like him often had sorcerers on their staff as advisers (cf.Dan.2:2). Sergius was probably called “prudent” because he was wise enough to have a Jewish adviser.
The sad thing is: by this time in Acts, Jews like Bar-jesus weren’t supposed to be advising government officials; they were supposed to be government officials, judging the Gentiles in the kingdom as spiritual kings (Rev.5:10). But the Jews lost their right to reign as kings when they rejected their King and the kingdom He came to offer them.
Bar-jesus knew he’d be fired if his boss got saved, so he opposed Paul (Acts 13:8). That makes him a type of the entire nation of Israel (cf.Mt.23:13). He was an unsaved Jew who was trying to keep a Gentile from being saved (cf.I Thes. 2:14-16). The wrath of God fell on Israel when they crucified Christ and stoned His prophet, and God was about to pour out His wrath on them in the Tribulation. Instead, He poured out His grace on Paul and introduced the age of grace. But God’s wrath remains on Israel. They aren’t the people of God; they’re the people of God’s wrath (Isa.10:6).
“Elymas” (Acts 13:8) means wise man, the interpretation of sorcerer. The original word is magos, like the magi that visited the Lord. But while he claimed to be a magi, he rejected the wisdom of a man wiser than Solomon (Mt.12:42).
The Lord probably gave Saul the Gentile name of “Paul” (Acts 13:9) when He sent him to the Gentiles, similar to how He predicted Peter would quit running from the Lord like Jona, and become steady as a rock (Mt.16:17).
When the Lord saved Paul, He filled him with the Spirit in a way that enabled him to blind Elymas (Acts 13:10,11). Elymas was a type of Israel. Israel was full of subtilty, like Satan (Gen.3:1), and “mischief” (Acts 13:10), i.e., evil (cf. Pr.24:8). But they are “beloved” for the sake of the promise of a kingdom that God gave their fathers (Rom.11:28,29).
When Paul said Elymas wouldn’t stop perverting the right ways of the Lord, he was quoting Hosea 14. God told Israel to repent (Hos.14:1,2), promising to give them the kingdom (v.4,9). But only “prudent” men like the deputy ended up walking in God’s ways. God set His eye on Israel “for evil” (Amos 9:4), as Paul set his eye on Elymas in this type of that.
God blinded apostate Israel the way Paul blinded Elymas (Rom.11:7,8). But the calling of God is without repentance (Rom.11:29), so their blindness is only temporary, like Ely-mas’ temporary blindness pictured. It kept Israel from seeing “the sun” for a season (cf. Mal.4:2). The “mist” and “darkness” that fell on Elymas are words used to describe hell (II Pe.2:1,17). Israel has been experiencing hell on earth for 2,000 years, instead of the heaven on earth in the kingdom they could have been experiencing.
Paul must explained to the deputy how Jews are blinded in this age while Gentiles are getting saved, for he was astonished “at the doctrine of the Lord” (Acts 13:12). That doctrine includes how Gentiles are getting saved in spite of Israel (Rom.11:11,12) instead of through her (cf.Isa.60:1-3).
A video of this sermon is available on YouTube: “The Sorcerer of Israel” Acts 13:6-12