Acts 8:14-25

14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,

15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.

16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,

19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!

21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.

22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.

23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”

24 Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”

25 So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.

Simon’s offer of money is the root of the word “Simony.”

John (v.14) — This is the last mention of John in Acts. He had previously wanted the Samaritans destroyed (Luke 9:54).

Simon thought the giving of the Spirit was an occult secret (v.19). He had lost his influence over the Samaritans to Philip and wanted it back.

neither part nor portion (v.21) = no share whatsoever

in this matter (v.21)  = lit. “in this word” — the apostles’ gospel

not right (v.21) = not straight, perverted

wickedness (v.22) = an evil habit of mind

the thought of your heart (v.22) = matured plan, project

poisoned by bitterness (v.23) — Deuteronomy 29:18

bound by iniquity (v.23) — Isaiah 58:6 — both of these terms from verse 23 refer to Simon’s influence over other people

pray to the Lord for me (v.24) — Simon thought the apostles had occult powers and could use them to pray for him. There is no indication that he prayed.

Simon was alarmed. He trembled like the demons, who believe and tremble. There is no confession from his lips, no self-judgment. He does not exhibit confidence in the Lord nor does he ask for forgiveness. He was not moved by repentance, but only by fear. We do not read anything again of him in the Word of God.

Much is reported of Simon the sorcerer by the most ancient sources, the writings of the so-called fathers. Justin Martyr, who was a native of Samaria, who lived about a hundred years later, tells us that Simon held the doctrines of Gnosticism (the same which have appeared in a modern garb in Christian Science) and that the Samaritans worshiped him as a divine being. Epiphanius declares that he claimed deity among the Samaritans and that he was a Messianic pretender. Other sources say that he became after this a greater enemy of the truth, and having lost his prestige in Samaria he went to Rome and there established a wicked movement, which became a gall and bitterness to the true believers there. That he should have met Peter again in Rome and found his end there is only a legend. It is certain that he did not repent. — The Acts of the Apostles, by Arno C. Gaebelein, pages 152-153

returned (v.25) — the tense suggests a journey with halts for preaching

Why had not those who had believed and been baptized received the Holy Spirit according to the program of the “great commission” (Mark 16:16-17) and of Pentecost (Acts 2:38)?

The answer to this question is again found in the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans. As we have seen, the schism between Jerusalem and Samaria must be healed before Christ can reign. Israel and Judah, the ten tribes and the two must be reunited (Ezekiel 37:15-19) for Christ is to reign over all twelve tribes. The apostles recognized this, for had not our Lord promised them twelve thrones in the kingdom? (Matthew 19:28). Nor was it enough that the two factions should be brought together. It was the ten tribes which had apostatized and had made Samaria their capital city and had set up their own temple at Mt. Gerizim. They must not renounce all this and recognize Jerusalem as the seat of authority, for there Christ and the twelve must reign.

Meantime this fact is also impressed upon the Samaritan believers, for though these Samaritans had believed and been baptized, they did not receive the Holy Spirit until two apostles had come from Jerusalem and had prayed for them and laid their hands upon them.

Two apostles were enough for this, for it is written: “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15; 2 Corinthians 13:1) and Peter and John, with Philip, made three witnesses. Indeed our Lord had specified that any two of the apostles could act officially for Him in His absence:  “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:18-20).

Thus the  believers at Samaria recognized the authority of the twelve at Jerusalem and, had the kingdom been accepted, would have become one nation with the Jews. As it is, the restoration of the United Kingdom of Israel under Messiah awaits a future day. — Acts Dispensationally Considered, by C.R. Stam, pages 165-167

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