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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Πάφος, of unknown etymology), a city of Cyprus, at the western extremity of the island, of which it was the chief city during the time of the Roman dominion, and there the governor resided. This functionary is called in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 13:7) "deputy," and his name is said to have been Sergius Paulus. The word deputy signifies proconsul, and implies that the province administered by such an officer was under the especial rule of the senate. (See DEPUTY).

Cyprus had originally been reserved by the emperor to himself, and governed accordingly by a propragator; but finding the island peaceful; and troops wanted in other parts of the empire, Augustus exchanged it with the senate for a more distant and troubled province, and the governor is therefore correctly styled in the Acts deputy or proconsul. At this time Cyprus was in a state of considerable prosperity; it possessed good roads, especially one running from east to west through the whole length of the island, from Salamis to Paphos, along which Paul and Barnabas traveled; an extensive commerce, and it was the resort of pilgrims to the Paphian shrine from all parts of the world (Fairbairn). The two missionaries found Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of the island, residing here, and were enabled to produce a considerable effect on his intelligent and candid mind. This influence was resisted by Elymas (or Bar-Jesus), one of those Oriental "sorcerers" whose mischievous power was so great at this period, even among the educated classes. Miraculous sanction was given to the apostles, and Elymas was struck with blindness. The proconsul's faith having been thus confirmed, and doubtless a Christian Church having been founded in Paphos, Barnabas and Saul crossed over to the continent and landed in Pamphylia (Acts 13:13). It is observable that it is at this point that the latter becomes the more prominent of the two, and that his name henceforward is Paul, and not Saul (Σαῦλος καὶ Παῦλος, Acts 13:9) (Smith). (See PAUL).

The name of Paphos, without any adjunct, is used by poets and by writers of prose to denote both Old and New Paphos, but with this distinction, that in prose writers. it commonly means New Paphos, while in the poets, on the contrary for whom the name Palae-Paphos would have been unwieldy it generally signifies Old Paphos, the more peculiar seat of the worship of Aphrodite. In inscriptions also both towns are called "Paphos." This indiscriminate use is sometimes productive of ambiguity, especially in the Latin prose authors.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Paphos'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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