“…they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus:” Acts 13:6
There is a good reason why the apostle Paul forewarned us of false prophets and ministers in the church. Not only did he witness such first hand, as in this passage, but it was something that had been happening since the garden.
Let us remember that the enemy of our souls was once an angel and, having been one, knows how to portray one brilliantly. The Devil will come after us, not usually in direct assault but, through guile and deceit. What better deceit exists than through the tares sown throughout the Body of Christ?
He simply took the Word of God from the very beginning and twisted it into something that sounds more attractive to our own ears. That is how this whole curse of Sin was initiated, through deceit.
It worked so well that the Old Testament is filled with prophets who “spoke for God,” and yet God says He never spoke such to them. Few and far between were the true prophets and they were not liked because they spoke out against the false teachers, saying what the Lord instructed them to say.
Bar-Jesus, or Elymus, was one such false prophet. It’s interesting that the Bible gives us the full description of who this guy was, that we might see what was really happening.
He was a sorcerer.
This means he was a magician, much like those which served Pharoah in Egypt. He was either using slight of hand or true magic given to him spiritually through the powers and principalities of evil. In any case, from the very onset, he was a deceiver, never really working in truth or reality, having to either lie or bring about things unnaturally. It must be noted that, just as the sorcerers in Pharoah’s court, sorcery works directly against the plans of God.
He was a false prophet.
To be deemed a false prophet, only one thing ever prophesied by an individual must come to pass in such a way as to prove the prophet wrong. This holds true even if the prophet explains it away through a secondary meaning to his original prophecy. If one thing spoken was a lie, everything else spoken is also considered a lie. Now, we aren’t given that particular wrong prophecy, or if there were more than one. All we are told is that he was a false prophet. So, anything he said was to be considered a lie.
He was a Jew.
Interesting throughout history just how many of God’s people have been turned to and swayed by darkness. God chose them, just as He chooses us today who choose to believe. Yet, they would fall for deception because of the promises of power, or position, or prize. This world is not our final destination and the treasures of this world will perish right along with it. When we pass on, it all stays here to rot. It’s disgusting how many of us so easily forget this. Jesus said,
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Since our treasure is where our heart focus is, it is easy to see that when a pastor, a preacher, teacher, or spiritual leader is focused on financial gain, their hearts are far from the Lord. If we are not following someone whose sole focus is Heaven, then we are not heading down the right road. It does not matter how well they speak. It does not matter how good we feel after we hear them. It does not matter if they have motivated us to do good deeds. There are plenty of worldly leaders and motivational speakers for that. What matters is, did they turn our attention to God? Did they inspire us to share our faith that others may come to know Jesus? Did they cause us to refocus on the finish line of Heaven?
If the Blood is not ever mentioned… if repentance and grace are not commonplace in their teaching… if the Cross is considered offensive and therefore eliminated… then, that person is leading down a wrong road of spiritual dryness and very possibly death. It’s that serious.
So, as a Jew, he would have known the scriptures. By the age of 13, he would have been able to recite them word for word by memory. There was no excuse for him not to know Who God is. Yet, he chose not to believe and instead used what he knew of God to benefit himself, with no regard or anyone else.
His name was Bar-Jesus.
This may very well be the nail in the man’s coffin. The Bible does not say whether or not he accepted Christ. However, Bar-Jesus can be translated to “Son of Jesus,” meaning he could have been claiming to be saved by name. We already know he was a deceiver, like his father, the Devil. But, could it be that he had infiltrated the ranks of Christianity as a tare, having heard of the Way before the arrival of Paul and Barnabas? If this were so, then that means he was using Christ Himself to do much of the deception. We can only theorize to this point, but Luke (by the Holy Spirit) felt it necessary to give us this information. He could have simply called the man Elymas, since he also gives us this name in the passage, but he did not. He gave us Bar-Jesus, letting us know the name by which this sorcerer was called. So, to me, this man was very much preaching a false Christ. Nothing much has changed in 2,000 years.
It is flat out awesome that Paul calls the man out. Paul tells him all of these hidden things about himself because Paul was led by the Spirit, and the Spirit caused a curse of blindness to come upon the man, that he could no longer lead by deceit, but instead searched for someone to lead him by the hand.
As a Holy Ghost baptized and filled, tongue talking, disciple of the One True God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, I am telling the church Body right now, look at Jesus. Does your church look like Him? Does your leadership point you consistently to Him? Is the focus on Him or on what the church does? If not, run. Run to a church that preaches Jesus Christ crucified. Run to a church that preaches Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and for ever.
There are most definitely false prophets out there. It would not be a stretch to say that the majority of churches are deceived and deceiving. Jesus said,
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:13&14
If few find the Way, how then can there be so many claiming Christ? Beware, friends. False prophets abound. Chase Christ and not men. Leave those who mislead to be dealt with by the Lord, and find true anointed leadership.
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Matthew 7:15