What is a sorcerer?


They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.” Acts 13:6-11
            The word for sorcerer in the Greek is magus, the singular for magi.  The same word used for sorcerer in the Bible was used for the wise men who showed up to see Jesus.  Those wise men wanted to meet Jesus.  This sorcerer in Acts 13 was the opposite.
            His name was Elymas which was the Arabic equivalent of the word magus. His other name was Bar-Jesus, which means son of Jesus.  Jesus was a common name so he could have been the son of a guy named Jesus or he was trying to elevate himself to the son of the Son of God.
The word magus has a lot of meanings. It’s a name given by Babylonians (Chaldeans), Medes, Persians, and others, to the wise men, teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, soothsayers, sorcerers etc.  A sorcerer was well-read, educated and easily swayed away from God by his intelligence.  He could have some experience in the dark arts, but it’s unlikely he was like Harry Potter.
In Acts, some sorcerers gave their lives to Christ.
A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. Acts 19:19-20
            Clearly what they believed ran counter to the Gospel, so they needed to repent and walk away from their business.