What Was Apostle
Paul's First Miracle?

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What is the first Biblically recorded miracle performed by the Apostle Paul? Was it a healing or something else? How long after he began his ministry did it occur? What are the New Testament milestones achieved when Paul carried out this miracle?

Miracle Background

Apostle Paul's ministry began in 33 A.D. In 44 A.D. God commanded the Antioch church to separate and consecrate both him and Barnabas for a special preaching mission (Acts 13:1 - 3). The two men, along with John Mark, soon set out for the island of Cyprus. Their trip would ultimately become the first of Paul's five missionary journeys!

"It could not be unnatural to suppose that the truth would be welcomed in Cyprus, when it was brought not only by Paul but by Barnabas and his kinsman Mark to their own connections or friends." (Life and Epistles of St. Paul).

The Apostle Paul
The Apostle Paul
Andrey Rublyov, 1410s

The trio of evangelists visit several synagogues on their westward journey across Cyprus until the reach the port city of Paphos.

Paul vs. False Prophet

Paul, Barnabas and Mark, upon reaching Paphos, are invited to meet the Roman Proconsul of the island named Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7). Proconsuls, appointed by the Roman Senate, were governors over territory controlled by Rome. They differed from procurators (e.g. Pontius Pilate) who were appointed directly by the emperor.

Accompanying Sergius to the meeting is a man named Bar-jesus (Elymas), a Jewish false prophet and magician (a known practitioner of black magic).

And when they had gone through the island as far as Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-jesus (Acts 13:6, HBFV throughout).

Bar-jesus, as he notices Sergius' growing interest in hearing what Paul has to say, no doubt fears his influence and status are being threatened. His attempt to counteract the gospel in order to protect his position ends up receiving a supernatural response he did not expect!

But Elymas the sorcerer (for so was his name interpreted) withstood them (Paul, Barnabas and Mark), seeking to turn away the proconsul from the faith.

But Saul, who was also called Paul, being filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on him, and said, "O full of all guile and all craftiness, you son of the devil and enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to pervert the straight ways of the Lord?

"And now behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a season." And immediately a mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking someone to lead him by the hand (Acts 13:8 - 11).

The lesson of this contest of good versus evil is clear. The deceptions and lying wonders of those inspired by evil are no match against God's precious truth!

The astonished proconsul, after witnessing the display of God's power through the miracle, became a believer (Acts 13:12).

New Testament Milestones

Paul's display of God's power on Cyprus is his first recorded Biblical miracle. It took place an amazing 11 years after his ministry started! Compare this to Peter and John's first miracle which was performed the same year as Jesus' resurrection (Acts 3). Stephen, the first Christian martyr, "worked wonders and great signs" (Acts 6:8) very shortly after he was appointed to serve as a deacon.

Sergius is the first person recorded in the Bible whose conversion is directly attributable to the Apostle Paul.

Acts 13:9 marks the last time Saul (which means "desired" or "asked"), and the first time Paul (meaning "small" or "little"), is used in Scripture to reference the apostle. His new name will ultimately be recorded 163 times in 159 King James New Testament verses.

Paul becomes the central character of the book of Acts, and arguably most of the rest of the Bible (not including Christ), after the miracle of Acts 13.

Before the miracle of Acts 13 Barnabas' name is always listed first in the six times he and Saul are mentioned together in the King James (Acts 11:25, 30, 12:25, 13:1 - 2, 7). After this miracle, however, Paul's name is listed first 8 out of 12 times. Apostle Paul is clearly considered the leader of the pair after this point in Biblical history.

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