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Sergius Paulus

PAULUS, SERGIUS (pô'lŭs, sûr'jĭ-ŭs, Gr. Paulos Sergios). When Paul and Barnabas visited Paphos, the capital of Cyprus, on their first missionary journey, they were called before Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul, because this man of understanding “wanted to hear the word of God” (Acts.13.6-Acts.13.12). When Elymas, his court magician, attempted to turn him against the gospel, Paul through a miracle struck him with blindness. The incident so affected Sergius Paulus that he “believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord” (Acts.13.12). It is often said that Paul, then known as Saul of Tarsus, took his name from this first Gentile convert, but this may be only coincidence.

PAULUS, SERGIUS. Sergius was an old Rom. senatorial name. Lucius Sergius Catilina, the notorious renegade of 53 b.c., was a member of the same aristocratic family. The Sergius mentioned in Acts 13:7 was proconsul (anthypatos) of Cyprus in a.d. 47, 48, when he came into contact with Paul, and appears to have become a Christian. It is likely that he was the Lucius Sergius Paulus who was a member of the board that controlled the Tiber under Claudius (CIL. vi. 31545). A Cyprian Gr. coin inscr. from Soli mentions a proconsul Paulos who is prob. the same official. The great work on natural history composed by the elder Pliny mentions a Sergius Paulus as his authority for certain information, two details of which are connected with Cyprus. The fact that Sergius is called a “deputy,” or proconsul, indicates that Cyprus was at the time a senatorial province; within the system of disguised autocracy that Augustus had invented, Cyprus was placed under the control of the senate. Augustus made this transfer in 22 b.c. Luke is notable for his use of correct official terminology.


A long documented note will be found in EGT, II, 286 (R. J. Knowling).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)