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Acts 13:10

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

O full of all subtilty - Δολου, Deceit, pretending to supernatural powers without possessing any, and having only cunning and deceit as their substitutes.

And - mischief - Ῥᾳδιουργιας, from ῥᾳδιος, easy, and εργον, a work; one who is ready at his work; a word which excellently well defines a juggler, one who is expert at sleight of hand; though it is often employed to signify an abandoned and accomplished villain.

Child of the devil - Υἱε διαβολου, Son of the devil, possessing his nature; filled with his cunning; and, in consequence, practising deceit.

Enemy of all righteousness - Εχθρεπασης δικαιοσυνης ; Opposed in thy heart to all that is just, true, and good.

Wilt thou not cease to pervert, etc. - Ου παυσῃ διαϚρεφων . Wilt thou not cease perverting? He had probably labored in this bad work from the beginning of Paul's ministry in the place; and God in his mercy had borne with him; and no doubt the apostle had warned him, for thus much seems implied in the reproof. What a terrible character is given of this bad man! He no doubt passed among the people for what we call a clever fellow; and he was so clever as to hide himself under a pretty dense mask; but God, who searches the heart, plucked it off, and tells him, and those who were perverted by him, what an accomplished deceiver and knave he was.

The right ways of the Lord - Τας ὁδους Κυριου τας ευθειας, The ways of the Lord, the straight ways. This saying is very emphatical. The ways of Elymas were crooked and perverse; the ways of the Lord, the doctrine taught by him, plain and straight. What is here said of the conduct and teaching of Elymas, for he was a false prophet, is true of all false doctrine: it is complex, devious, and tortuous: while the doctrine of God is simple, plain, and straight; directing in the way, the sure way, that leads to present peace and everlasting happiness. From the phraseology which the apostle employs in this terrible address to Elymas, we may learn, as well as from his name Bar-Jesus, that he was by birth and education a Jew. On this account he was the greater enemy to Christianity; and on this same account he was the less excusable.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

O full of all subtilty and all mischief - The word “subtilty” denotes “deceit and fraud,” and implies that he was practicing an imposition, and that he knew it. The word rendered “mischief” ῥᾳδιουργίας radiourgiasdenotes properly “facility of acting,” and then “sleight of hand; sly;, cunning arts, by which one imposes on another, and deceives him with a fraudulent intention.” It is not used elsewhere in the New Testament. The art of Elymas consisted probably in sleight of hand, legerdemain, or trick, aided by skill in the abstruse sciences, by which the ignorant might be easily imposed on. See the notes on Acts 8:9.

Child of the devil - Under his influence; practicing his arts; promoting his designs by deceit and imposture, so that he may be called your father. See the notes on John 8:44. Satan is represented here as the author of deceit and the father of lies.

Enemy of all righteousness - Practicing deceit and iniquity, and thus opposed to righteousness and honesty. A man who lives by wickedness will, of course, be the foe of every form of integrity. A man who lives by fraud will be opposed to the truth; a panderer to the vices of people will hate the rules of chastity and purity; a manufacturer or vendor of ardent spirits will be the enemy of temperance societies.

Wilt thou not cease to pervert - In what way he had opposed Paul and Barnabas is not known. It may have been either by misrepresenting their doctrines, or by representing them as apostate Jews thus retarding or hindering the progress of the gospel. The expression “wilt thou not cease.” implies that he had been engaged sedulously in doing this, probably from the commencement of their work in the city.

The right ways of the Lord - The straight paths or doctrines of the Christian religion, in opposition to the crooked and perverse arts of deceivers and impostors. Straight paths denote “integrity, sincerity, truth,” Jeremiah 31:9; Hebrews 12:13; compare Isaiah 40:3-4; Isaiah 42:16; Luke 3:5. Crooked ways denote “the ways of the sinner, the deceiver, the impostor,” Deuteronomy 32:5; Psalm 125:1-5; Proverbs 2:15; Isaiah 59:8; Philemon 2:15.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Satan is in a special manner busy with great men and men in power, to keep them from being religious, for their example will influence many. Saul is here for the first time called Paul, and never after Saul. Saul was his name as he was a Hebrew; Paul was his name as he was a citizen of Rome. Under the direct influence of the Holy Ghost, he gave Elymas his true character, but not in passion. A fulness of deceit and mischief together, make a man indeed a child of the devil. And those who are enemies to the doctrine of Jesus, are enemies to all righteousness; for in it all righteousness is fulfilled. The ways of the Lord Jesus are the only right ways to heaven and happiness. There are many who not only wander from these ways themselves, but set others against these ways. They commonly are so hardened, that they will not cease to do evil. The proconsul was astonished at the force of the doctrine upon his own heart and conscience, and at the power of God by which it was confirmed. The doctrine of Christ astonishes; and the more we know of it, the more reason we shall see to wonder at it. Those who put their hand to the plough and look back, are not fit for the kingdom of God. Those who are not prepared to face opposition, and to endure hardship, are not fitted for the work of the ministry.
Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 125.4

Satan will seek to entice you to enter into the paths of sin, promising that some wonderful good will result from the transgression of God's law, but he is a deceiver. He would only work your ruin.... Christ came to break the rule of the evil one.... Man was so weakened through transgression that he did not possess sufficient moral power to turn from the service of Satan to the service of the only true God; but Jesus, the Prince of life, to whom is committed “all power in heaven and earth,” will impart to every soul who desires salvation the strength necessary to overcome the enemy of all righteousness.42 TMK 125.4

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 90.2

Ask yourselves the question, “What is my life toward God and toward my fellow men?” There is no one that liveth to himself. No life is lived on neutral ground. Our conceptions of life may be influenced by the enemy of all righteousness so that we do not realize its vast importance, but ... we cannot cast off our responsibility and live without reference to the future, immortal life, and still do our duty to God and to our fellow men. Each one is a part of the great web of humanity, and each one has a far-reaching influence. We cannot fulfill the obligations that rest upon us in our own strength alone. We must have divine aid in meeting our responsibilities, that our influence may ... gather with Christ. TMK 90.2

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 355.2

Christ bids us watch, that we may be accounted worthy to escape the things that are coming on the earth. It is of the greatest importance that we heed this warning. The enemy of all righteousness is on our track, seeking to lead us to forget God. HP 355.2

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 320.2

A pure fountain will not send forth an impure stream, neither will a true Christian utter words of abuse, or enter into contention with those around him. When we set our hearts on God, we shall have a constant battle to fight, for we have the enemy of all righteousness to contend with. In every conceivable way he will seek to discourage us and cast us down. The world stands opposed to Christ and His work. But those who are striving to do the will of God have this consolation—they are united with the highest authorities of heaven. Trusting in Christ, and advancing step by step, the children of God will gain the victory. TDG 320.2

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