- In recent times, Cyprus is known as one of the most religious countries in Europe, with the majority of its population being members of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Cyprus. Therefore, it is interesting to note that Cyprus, as mentioned in the Bible in Acts 13, was the Apostle Paul’s first destination when he was first sent by the Holy Spirit into a missionary journey.
- Born in Tarsus, Silica under the name Saul (he changed his name to the Greco-Roman name “Paul” upon leaving Cyprus), the Apostle Paul together with the Apostle Barnabas went down to Seleucia before sailing to the island of Cyprus.
- His very first visit to the island of Cyprus was not very difficult for Paul as his companion Barnabas grew up in the island (Acts 4:36). In addition, Paul and Barnabas were also accompanied and assisted by Mark the Evangelist (who later left them and returned to Jerusalem).
- In Cyprus, they first went to Salamis then went through the whole island preaching and proclaiming the word of God in synagogues until they reached Paphos, where they met the magician Elymas who was a Jewish false prophet (he was also called “Bar-Jesus”; Acts 13:6).
- Such encounter with Elymas, perhaps, was one of the highlights of Paul’s visit to the island. The magician opposed them when they were supposed to preach God’s words to the Roman Proconsul, Sergius Paulos. However, Paul rebuked Elymas and blinded him temporarily (Acts 13:9–10), and so they were successful in converting Sergius Paulos to Christianity.
Above: Apainting that portrays the Apostle Paul writing his epistles
Below: Saint Paul’s Pillar” found in Paphos
- However, legend says that before Paul was able to make the proconsul Sergius Paulos (the first Roman official to convert to Christianity) believe the teaching of the Lord, the local pagans in Pathos lashed him to a marble pillar and “scourged him 39 times”. The said pillar is now known as “St. Paul’s Pillar”, which is at present one of the most famous tourist attractions in Paphos.