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Ancient ecclesiastical writers say that Simon claimed he was the ALMIGHTY GOD, Himself who gave the law to Moses; that he came in the reign of Tiberias as the Son; that he descended upon the disciples at Pentecost in flames of fire; that he was the Messiah, the Paraclete, and Jupiter; and that the woman who accompanied him called Helena was Minerva, or the first intelligence. ► Simon followed the following forbidden pagan rituals: ✿ Sorcery : Greek: mageuo (G3096), practice of the rites or sciences of the magi, the worshippers of fire among the Persians; a magician (Acts: 8:9; Mt. 2:1). Sorcery--same as witchcraft and it biblically forbidden (Ex. 7:11; Isa. 47:9,12; 57:3; Jer. 27:9; Dan. 2:2; Mal. 3:5; Acts 8:9-11; 13:6-8 Rev. 9:21; 18:23; 21:8; 22:15) ✿ Witches and Medium: Greek: existemi (G1839), (bewitched - Acts: 8:9); to drive out of one's senses; to be amazed beyond measure (cp. Acts 2:7,12; Mk. 3:21; 2Cor. 5:13). ✿ Claiming that himself some great one: Claiming to be God, son and Holy Spirit. It is a blasphemy (Acts: 8:9) ✿ Divination--the art of mystic insight or fortunetelling (Num. 22:7; 23:23; Dt. 18:10-14 2Ki. 17:17; 1Sam. 6:2; Jer. 14:14; 27:9; 29:8; Ezek. 12:24; 13:6-7,23; 21:22-29; 22:28; Mic. 3:7; Zech. 10:2; Acts 16:16) ✿ Magic--any pretended supernatural art or practice (Gen. 41:8,24; Ex. 7:11,22; 8:7,18-19; 9:11; Dan. 1:20; 2:2,10,27; 4:7,9; 5:11; Acts 19:19) ✿ Astrology and star gazing--divination by stars (Isa. 47:13; Jer. 10:2; Dan. 1:20; 2:2,10; 4:7; 5:7-15) All the above practices were and still are carried on in connection with demons, called familiar spirits. All who forsook God and sought help from these demons were to be destroyed (Lev. 19:31; 20:6; Dt. 18:11; 1Sam. 28; 2Ki. 21:6; 23:24; 1Chr. 10:13; 2Chr. 33:6; Isa. 8:19; 19:3; 29:4. See 1Tim. 4:1-8 2Th. 2:8-12 Mt. 24:24; Rev. 13; 16:13-16; 19:20).
The Simon mentioned in Acts 8:9-24 is commonly called Simon the Sorcerer or Simon Magus. Simon the Sorcerer had “bewitched” (Acts 8:9, 11, King James Version) the people of Samaria “with his sorceries for a long time” (verse 11). The people of that city mistakenly assumed that he was “the great power of God” (verse 10). “This ‘power’ was considered a spark of God himself” in the New Testament, commentary on Acts 8:10). “They believed Simon was an impersonated power of God” (M.R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, commentary on Acts 8:10). God told the ancient Israelites: “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Since the people Philip baptized had not yet had hands laid on them for the receiving of the Holy Spirit, Peter and John came from Jerusalem to perform this important part of baptism (verses 14-16). Seeing that people received the Holy Spirit through “the laying on of the apostles’ hands,” Simon offered them money if they would give him power to give people the Holy Spirit (verses 17-19). Historically, this is the origin of the word “simony”—the buying or selling of a church office or an ecclesiastical power. Sadly, Simon’s request was based upon impure motives. Perhaps he saw this as an opportunity to make more money or enhance his own reputation. It was common for magicians to purchase tricks from one another, so Simon may have viewed the apostles as religious “magicians” or hucksters and was trying to purchase their “trick.” Realizing that his motive was wrong, Peter strongly corrected Simon the Sorcerer, saying, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (Acts 8:20-23). The final piece of information recorded in the Bible regarding Simon the Sorcerer is that, instead of actually repenting of his sin, he just asked Peter to pray for him that “none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me” (verse 24). Irenaeus said that Simon the Sorcerer had purchased a prostitute named Helena and that, through her, “he [Simon the Sorcerer] conceived the thought of making the angels and archangels” (ibid.). Followers of Simon the Sorcerer were called Simonians. Members of this small gnostic sect combined elements of paganism, Judaism and Christianity in their misguided beliefs. Origen wrote that they mistakenly called Simon the Power of God. Origen and the other early writers previously mentioned regarded Simon as the founder of Gnosticism. As for the sorcerer’s death, several traditions exist. One claims that he told people to bury him in a grave and that he would rise after three days. But he didn’t rise. Another tradition says that he was flying around Rome with the aid of evil spirits but crashed to the ground and died (ISBE, “Simon Magus”). Although it is difficult to know with certainty whether these legends about Simon the Sorcerer are true, there is a sure biblical lesson for us today. In correcting Simon the Sorcerer, Peter told him, “Your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:21-22, emphasis added). The instruction to have a “loyal” and “clean” heart toward God is a theme that runs throughout the Bible (1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 51:10). The point is, God expects us to fully serve Him in our thoughts and deeds.
Many Christians fled Jerusalem after the stoning of Stephen. Acts 8:4 KJV--"Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word." This included Philip, one of Stephen's associates, who traveled north to Samaria. He won Simon the sorcerer to Christ. Simon must have made a profession of faith (Acts 8:12-13)-- amazed by Philip's miracles, Simon accepted Christ and is baptized! The Jerusalem church then sent 2 men, Peter and John, to investigate and to help Philip during his Samaritan crusade, The popularity of Simon is spoken of in Acts 8:10-11 -- many people in Samaria believed his claims because of his magic. Even though Luke, the author of Acts, tells us that "Simon himself believed and was baptized," he fell back into his carnality of craving power. He loved the praises of men, "loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (Jn 12:43). Simon Magus loved flattery. How we have to guard against the perils of popularity! (I know. This has always been my weakness. It almost kept me from coming to Christ!). Says Alexander Whyte, “Starve the self-seeking quack that is still within you. Beat him black and blue, as Paul tells us he did” (1 Cor. 9:27). After the perversion of Simon (Acts 8:18-19) in which he attempted to purchase the power to bestow the Holy Spirit to new converts from Peter and John, we see his punishment (Acts 8:20-23) -- Peter warns Simon that he is being controlled by Satan! Then, the last we hear of Simon, he's asking, begging, pleading Peter to pray for him (Acts 8:24-25). Simon's name, however, lives on in the word simony, referring to a person buying a church job or title.
In Acts 8:9-24, Simon, a long-time practicing and famous sorcerer, believed the message of salvation presented by Philip and followed him. Then, later, when he saw the apostles laying hands on the Samaritans by which they received the Holy Spirit, he offered money that he could do the same (the greed for profit through means of religion is still called “simony”). Many believe that Simon was not saved – that he had only a “head belief” and not the “heart belief.” And it is noted that Peter cursed him, and commanded him to repent of his wickedness to be forgiven. As there is no other word about him from then on, it could be concluded that he died without Christ. But the words are plain. Simon, along with the Samaritans, “also believed.” To say Simon was not a believer makes the respected historian Luke wrong, and makes the Lord unfaithful and a liar. The words of Jesus are clear, that a person believing in Him has everlasting life, John 6:47. For Simon to submit to baptism was a serious decision to yield to the Lord. The flow of the narrative of individual after individual from many different backgrounds coming to believe on Jesus, Acts 8-10, is a strong argument that Simon was saved. If he was not a believer, it would be a glaring exception. Peter never said anything to indicate that Simon had not believed or had rejected the Lord. When he said that Simon would perish with his money, it was not the sense of eternal destruction to hell, where, of course, money will not be found, but it is the sense of “ruin” or “waste.” Simon’s problem was that, as a new believer he was unaware as to how the Spirit works or what the apostles were granted with to do the ministry. Still carrying the baggage of his former life, he mistakenly thought he too could get in on the act by offering some cash for that privilege. Peter pressed upon him the seriousness of his mistake in the eyes of God, hence what sounds like a curse. Simon could not have a part in the ministry as his heart was not right. He was poisoned by the love of money. Peter called on him to repent and pray that God would forgive the thought of his heart. Notice Peter did not call on Simon to believe unto salvation. Also, Simon did not ask for salvation from eternal doom. Simon repented and asked for prayer that he be spared from punishment. Simon was a believer, but also a novice in the faith and liable to err in judgment. Another Simon who had more exposure to God’s ways also erred in judgment. Simon Peter was rebuked by the Lord, Matthew 16:23, Luke 22:31, and he denied the Lord, Matthew 26:69-75. Simon the sorcerer was saved and delivered from Satanic control, but he needed to be corrected about wrong notions. The moment he was rebuked, he repented.
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