If there is one word that comes to mind as I read this passage, it’s “opposition.”
As Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel, they faced opposition from Elymas and the Jews. One was spiritual opposition, one was opposition sprung from human jealousy and sin (although you could argue that all opposition to the gospel is ultimately spiritual).
How did Paul and Barnabas respond? When the direct hand of Satan was involved, they confronted it by the power of the Holy Spirit, as they did when dealing with Elymas. One thing we cannot do is face spiritual powers on our own. They are more powerful than us. But as John wrote,
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (I John 4:4).
And by the power of the Spirit, Paul and Barnabas vanquished Elymas, and Sergius Paulus and his family were saved.
When confronted by humans in their jealousy and pride, Paul and Barnabas continued to stand boldly and preach the gospel. And when the people hardened their hearts, Paul and Barnabas moved on. First to the Gentiles in the city, and then, ultimately leaving the city to minister to others.
In the same way, we will face people who will oppose us for their own selfish reasons. And we will face others that simply will not believe no matter what we say. And the time will come when all we can do is to leave them over to God and his judgment. We cannot make them believe. All we can do is to preach the gospel. The rest is up to them and God. So when people reject the message, don’t get discouraged. Simply move on, and continue speaking boldly.
All of us will eventually face opposition. But when you do, remember the words of Paul himself, who said,
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)