Acts of the Apostles
16 - Acts 8:4-25
Acts of the Apostles: 16 - Acts 8:4-25
In this class we will discuss Acts 8:4-25 and talk about Philip traveling in Samaria and learn more about the Samaritans and look into the interesting story of Simon the Magician.
Okay. We are back now, our next class. And we are ready to plunge into the story of Philip and his travels down to the city of Samaria. And you've got a handout regarding this. And for those of you that are watching this later or online, these or handouts that I'm talking about right now are a part of the slide pack that is on the website, I believe, where you download and watch these particular classes. So, we don't have a whole lot going along right now, but we do have one. We do have a map that we have up that deals with the travels of the apostles during this period of time. And so we're looking here at one that deals with the travels of Philip. If you look at that, kind of, I think it's a...let's just call it an orange line on the top one. It's Philip, Peter, and John, which figures into this particular story. And then next to the last, whether the travels of Philip solely, is kind of a turquoise line that runs down from Judea and Jerusalem south toward Gaza, which we'll pick up also here in the story of Chapter 8. But it's centering upon the story now of Philip.
This one deacon, which we'll just go ahead and call him that, who was ordained among the group of seven back in Chapter 7 or Chapter 6 of people who were ordained to an office to serve the needs of the widows and the church as a whole. Stephen comes out of that group and now Philip comes out of this group. And he heads off to the region of Samaria, which, as I explained in the last class, was the capital of the northern nation of Israel after the division of the tribes after the death of Solomon between the two kings, Jeroboam of Judah and Rehoboam, who led a rebellion forming this 10-nation tribe of the northern nation of Israel. And they put their capital at Samaria. Now, let's go ahead and go into what we see here.
Acts 8:4-5 Acts 8:4-5  Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ to them.
American King James Version×"Therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria."
Now, let's stop right there. We've got a geographic distinction to note. Philip went down. Literally, he did go down to Samaria because, Samaria, this map doesn't show it, not being a topographical map, but to go from Jerusalem to Samaria, you go down an elevation. Jerusalem is at a higher point than the surrounding area, certainly with Samaria. There's kind of a spine that runs down the central part of the land on which Jerusalem rested. Jerusalem was kind of toward the southernmost point of this, what they call the central highlands of Israel. And Samaria is up here, but it's at a lower elevation. This, again, just shows, let's say, the historical accuracy, the geographical accuracy of Luke's writing, which is kind of one of those signposts to help us appreciate the truth with which he writes as a historian. And he gets it right. And if he gets this right, then he gets other things right. And I think we can certainly carry that into the spiritual teaching, the miracles, and all that we read about in the Book of Acts that Luke is...you know, he's a trained scientist, he's a doctor, and so he does have a, say, rational, logical mind, you would think. And so he gets these things right. And this is one point that helps us to appreciate the truth with which he does write.
Acts 8:5 Acts 8:5Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ to them.
American King James Version× “He went to the city of Samaria and he preached Christ to them.”
All right? This is the gospel. The gospel is the message of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. And it is, as we have seen, in every utterance beginning in Chapter 2 with Peter's sermon on Pentecost and his subsequent messages in the temple, all the way down to this point, the gospel involves the life, death, and sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins and for the salvation of the world. And that is central to the preaching of the New Testament church, it is central to the preaching of the gospel. And it does not preclude the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God, but Christ is the King of that Kingdom. And He did come not only announcing that coming Kingdom, but also testifying to and giving us understanding of who He was as the Son of God, the bread of life, and what that meant. And remember, even in His post-resurrection period where He was with the disciples for 40 days, Luke tells us at the end of his gospel that Jesus was teaching them from the Old Testament and showing them how those scriptures pertain to Him.
And so we cannot separate the person, the life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth from the total message of the gospel. This is just critical and it's important to understanding the Bible here. He preached Christ and he preached that Christ died, rose in a resurrection, was at the right hand of the Father, as Stephen saw Him, and certainly was coming again...would come again and restore the kingdom to Israel. That was all part of the message as he preached Christ. Now, he's doing this in the area of Samaria. And it says he has success in verse 6.
Acts 8:6-7 Acts 8:6-7  And the people with one accord gave heed to those things which Philip spoke, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
American King James Version×"The multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed, and many who were paralyzed, and lame were healed."
So, he is doing some miracles. Again, just like Stephen, he's gone beyond the job of a deacon, setting up chairs, and taking out the trash. As important as that is, I don't mean to diminish that role. But now he's obviously in the role of an evangelist. In fact, he's going tobe called an evangelist when we run into him again. I think it's in Chapter 21. When Paul comes back from one of his trips, he stops off and spends a week with Philip. And he's called an evangelist there. So, he continues on with that.
Acts 8:8 Acts 8:8And there was great joy in that city.
American King James Version× "There was great joy in that city."
And so, that's the city of Samaria. Now, your map will show the region of Samaria in the dark blue, but in the turquoise, you have two cities there, Sychar and Shechem. And we're talking about the same area. I believe it's Sychar that was the name by this time of what was the city of Samaria, and in later times. And this is where Mount Gerizim is. And I don't think you've got that to that point in the Pentateuch where the tribes... Or you have, in Joshua and Judges where you were on Mount Gerizim where the tribes gathered there. It was a significant point in that story, the conquest of the land with Mount Gerizim right there. And there's some interesting archaeological work that's being done today on Mount Gerizim in that area by archaeologists.
We attended an archaeological conference back in August, some of us here, and we heard a lecture by a man named Scott Stripling. He's an American archaeologist, works in Israel through the summer. He's been digging on Mount Gerizim, which is this area right in the center area of ancient Samaria. And he has found something there, which is still being studied, discussed among the experts, but he's found a small relic, a small piece of what is called kind of a cursings. What do I want to call it? It's a piece of... I think it's metal. And he thinks that it would have been something upon which curses would have been written and placed upon an altar at that time in line of what they did with the blessings and cursings that were uttered on Mount Gerizim at the time of the tribal conquest. And they kind of accidentally discovered it in a sifting of stuff and almost missed it. And it's under peer review among archaeologists, which could go on between now and the Second Coming. These guys talk and argue and discuss back and forth.
But it's a very interesting piece. And Scott Stripling is an archaeologist. He's working also there and also at the place of Shiloh or Shiloh, as some call it, which is where the tabernacle was before it was taken to Jerusalem. And he thinks he is actually in Shiloh. He thinks he has found the location where the Ark of the Covenant and the temple, the tabernacle was during the time of the tribes before it was moved to Jerusalem by David. And he thinks he's even found the gate in which Samuel fell backwards and died when he heard about his sons being killed. And so there's some interesting things taking place archaeologically in the land of Israel today by some of these archaeologists and what they are discovering. And, you know, it doesn't necessarily tie into the book of Acts, but I think it's fascinating and important to keep up with a little bit of what's taking place here.
I want to do a sidebar at this point, and you've got it as part of your handout. But let's talk just for a minute about the Samaritans so that we know this group of people and why this episode is important and what some of the background to Philip going down to Samaria at this time. You hear the term, you read about the term of the Samaritans certainly through the Gospels, don't you? Right? Anybody remember a parable Christ talked about in regard to a good Samaritan? Right. Yeah, you know the story of the good Samaritan. So, who were the Samaritans? Beyond the rebellion of Rehoboam and that being the capital of the northern nation of Israel, what have we got going here? In the story of the Old Testament, you read that when the Assyrians took the nation of Israel captive, they deported essentially the Israelites and they imported a group of people that were Gentiles, they were non-Israelite from the area of the east over here in Mesopotamia into Samaria, and they relocated. I mean, the Assyrians were rather thorough in what they did. They just kind of cleaned house and replanted when they conquered an area, and this is what they did.
So, there now arose from that time of the Assyrian conquest in the 6th century BC and to down now 700 years, roughly to the time of the apostles, this group of people called Samaritans who were there. You read about this group of people who opposed the rebuilding of the temple in the 5th century when the Jews went back. And in the story of Ezra and Nehemiah, you read that among those who opposed the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple were Samaritans. All right? So, they kind of filtered down, they got nosy, what's going on down here, and things were kind of wide open in that period of time. And they didn't like the rebuilding, and so they clashed with the Jews. This group of Samaritans had built their own temple on Mount Gerizim. And it was kind of modeled after the Temple of Solomon. And that's not unusual. Throughout that region, temples on the model of what was built at Jerusalem were extant. I saw the ruins of one back in April up near the city of Antioch. They took us to an archaeological site and there was a temple laid out that on the footprint was kind of similar to that of Solomon's temple.
Well, the Samaritans built a replica temple on Mount Gerizim. The story of Mount Gerizim was, you know, they found out about it, they heard about it. They also adopted the Pentateuch, the Pentateuch, the five books, but they modified it. They kind of altered it. And they also were around in the 2nd century BC, when the Greeks come in, you have the Maccabean rebellion. The Samaritans joined with the Seleucid Greeks against the Jews in that Maccabean revolt of the 2nd century. And so that's why when the New Testament story opens up in the Gospels and you see the animosity between Samaritans and Jews, that's why that story is there. This group of people, pseudo-Jews, Jewish wannabes if you want to look at it that way, but not quite Jews, were opposed and you had this problem. And they were even circumcised. And this is what is interesting, why you see in a sense no qualms about Philip going up there. And even this is not an issue because the Samaritans did practice circumcision. And so Philip now evangelizing up there can do so because he's among a circumcised grouping of people very close to the tenets of the Old Testament, and yet there's this animosity because, you know, "You can't be like us. You don't have stars upon bars." You may have a star or you don't have it exactly like we've got it. If you know the old Dr. Seuss story. You're close but you're not close enough.
This is what was going on here in Samaria, which is, again, why when you read the story of the Good Samaritan, the way Jesus crafts it, the Jews, the priests, and all, they passed by the man who's been laying on the side of the road. They wouldn't help. But it was a Samaritan who helped. And it was Christ's way of making His point that, you know, it's the heart, it's not the bloodline. And He was making a very strong point to them through that parable of the good Samaritan. And so when we come now to Philip going down and doing this, we've got some interesting situations, so let's move on. Let's look at verse 9.
Acts 8:9-10 Acts 8:9-10  But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
American King James Version×"Among those who heard him, there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, 'This man is the great power of God.'"
That's quite a statement. Put that on your marquee. Put that on your flyer that you distribute around the city to get people to come to listen to you. "The great power of God, I Am." That will grab attention, if not complete allegiance, but many did follow him.
Acts 8:11-13 Acts 8:11-13  And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
American King James Version×It says, "They heeded him because he astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed, and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done."
Now, let's pause there. Again, I just want to note at verse 12 where it says that, "Philip preached the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ." I just want to point that out again as to what the church preached. The church preached the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. So, we've got here between verse 9... No, not verse 9, but verse 5 and verse 12, you put those two together, you see a pretty good composite. This is not the only spot in the book of Acts where I'll point this out to you that they preached the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. When we crafted our vision or mission statement at the beginning of the United Church of God, we took it straight from the Bible. And it's a complete expression of the gospel. And that's important to understand there.
So, let's talk for a moment. Let's look at another sidebar here of this man called Simon the Magician. This is an interesting point in the story. Simon the Magician or Simon Magus as he is called in a more popular expression. Simon, you will recognize as a symbol...you know, also the name of Peter, but Simon the Magician, and he is also called...that also sometimes comes out as Magus, Simon Magus. He's this legendary mythical, semi-mythical. He's not mythical, he did exist. But the stories about him are, let's say, semi-mythical to one degree or the other to try to figure it all out. He was a real person. Luke records the encounter with him here in the city of Samaria as being a magician, a sorcerer. He's a practitioner of the black arts. And so he conjures, he tells fortunes. He does everything that you can well imagine, you know, a fortune teller, sorcerer, magician doing to seduce people to gain a following, and Simon did this.
This is the only scriptural reference that we have of him. We do have references about Simon from other primarily 2nd-century church writers. I'm going to put two names on the board just for reference. In the middle of the 2nd century AD, there's a Christian called Justin Martyr. And he writes about Simon. And from his writings, we have knowledge about him. Late in the 2nd century, there's another church writer called Irenaeus. Late 2nd century. And he writes about Simon. So, from some other extrabiblical sources and other Gnostic-type writings, we do read about this man called Simon. But this is the only biblical reference that we have to him. From these different writings, we gain an interesting bit of information. I've given you a handout that I compiled a number of years ago. It's a four-page handout. Simon Magus has some articles from the Catholic Encyclopedia. This is what is called the New Catholic Encyclopedia. And other references on page three, one from Irenaeus is mentioned there. Another writer named Harold Brown. There's the Acts 8 quote there, plus some other Gnostic references to him, just to give you an indication.
I will tell you that the Catholic article basically is kind of a modernistic view of this Simon and it discounts and, in a sense, dismisses some of the more traditional views of Simon Magus that have associated him with the beginnings of Catholicism. Okay? Because that's not popular today. And obviously, in the New Catholic Encyclopedia, they don't want to give credence to that. So, when you read that, you'll at least see how they kind of dismiss it, while at the same time, they can't just dismiss all the other, let's say, closer to the original source writings like Irenaeus and Justin Martyr on the topic, but as they say, "Most modern scholars today dismiss," which is a sign telling you that we don't believe that what they said about Simon Magus and his connections to the Catholic Church are true.
However, I'm of the school of historical thought that the closer to the original or time of certain events, some of the closer sources that we have, especially in some of these historical matters, we should pay very close attention to them and not just dismiss them. And I know that in more recent decades, the anti-Catholic polemic within religious studies has diminished. But you go back 150 years ago, people weren't afraid to say certain things about Roman Catholicism that were true and connecting them to certain things from the Bible like, you know, Revelation 17, etc.
And so that's the nature of history and whatever. But let's kind of look at just a few of the things that we do know from the writings. I've summarized a few in this slide. He was considered by some as the father of Gnosticism. Gnosticism is a phrase that's a huge study. I used to go into it when I was teaching a module on church history here at ABC years ago. I think Mr. Petty will do that with you in his class. But Gnosticism is something that we begin to...we do read elements of it and its infiltration within the church when we read Colossians and certain statements that John makes in his epistles. But Simon is connected and called by some to be the father of this body of Gnostic thought that is a whole body of mythical ideas about the creation, about God, about Christ, and writings that we have records of that come from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th century AD that some say were writings that didn't make it into the New Testament canon, but they're called the Gnostic writings, the Epistle of... I think one of them is called... There's one called the Epistle of Jude. But every once in a while, I used to see these come up as if they were brand-new discoveries. They would usually come out in the spring of the year, some big articles either in the National Geographic or in the press about some Gnostic writing.
There's a lot of material out there on the internet about it that show it being a deviation from the Christianity of Scripture, it's considered heresy. And even by these early church fathers like Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, Gnosticism was attacked. They attacked it. In fact, we know about these two is because of their writings against Gnosticism. And if they believe that Simon was the father of that, then I think there's truth to that. And I think the fact that God caused Luke to record this incident of Simon in the Scriptures is a marker for us to understand and to realize that this is a significant person. The stories about him are interesting. He was a part of this grouping in Samaria. And again, where did the Samaritans come from? Well, the Samaritans came from the area of ancient Babylon. If this is Samaria right here, they were imported by the Assyrians. They came from this region, which is where Babylon was.
Now, again, the writings are very clear that part of Simon's teaching and some of the things that were even brought in by the Samaritans were remnants of the Babylonian religious ideas. As we were going through the Book of Daniel, we did talk about, I use this term The River of Babylon that begins to flow from this region throughout the cultures that we study of Persia, Greece, and Rome into the prophetic story. But Simon seems to be a purveyor of a lot of these Babylonian mystery ideas, religious ideas brought here, and then according to the stories, later taken to Rome because the stories of Simon from these sources put him in Rome where they say that he died around 45 AD. We don't need to put a stake in the ground on that date, but that's what the various stories of Simon have him dying during the time of the Emperor Claudius. So, he does go to Rome. And in the story, this is where a lot of the ideas that eventually get put into false Christianity, how they get there from Simon and Gnostic ideas. Simon had a consort called Helen. The story is he picked her up in a brothel in the city of Tyre. And he claimed that she was the first mother, Mother Earth, and she was worshiped as a female deity. But she had... Her background was, as like a lot of... She was a whore according to the story.
And so you get this idea of a spiritual father, Simon, as he portrays himself, with this female consort as this great mother. And you see these ideas just kind of mixing and flowing from Babylon into Samaria. They wind up in Rome, they become Christianized. Simon is supposedly created a lot of statues. There is one idea about Simon Magus. This is part of the story. I'll tell you this. Those of you that have been to the Vatican, you go into the Vatican today, and down on the right as you are heading toward the great Bernini altar at the center of the church, there's this statue called the Black Peter. All right? You've seen it. Sage, you've seen it. It's called the Black Peter. And you said that it was blocked off when you were there, right? The last time I was there...it's a pilgrimage point. People go there and they kiss the foot. And you can see where the foot's been worn down through the centuries by pilgrims that have kissed and rubbed this foot of the statue that is...some say it's Peter, some say it's Simon Magus, that that statue was kind of brought into the Vatican in the earliest of times. One part of the story is that Simon, when he died, he was buried in the area on Vatican Hill where the Vatican today rests. That's part of the story.
And then, of course, according to the story, of course, the Catholic story is that the bones of St. Peter are under the Vatican, but the other part of that story is that's not St. Peter or Peter the Apostle, that's Simon Peter, the false Simon, the false Peter who went to Rome. So, there's all kinds of stories, and you can see then why the Catholic Church wants to kind of dismiss that as part of its story. So, you can read a lot about this. We need to be careful that we don't make too much of some of those myths. I think it's always good to just take a step back and recognize what they are saying, but always match it up with what we're told in Scripture. With this man, we are told something, and I think God is telling us, this man is an originator of something false. And that to me, lends credence that there's a line of truth to a lot of these Gnostic stories, mythical stories, semi-mythical stories, etc., about Simon. Many of them are just preposterous and untrue. I mean, there's one that has him contending with the Apostle Peter in front of the Roman emperor. And Simon Magus claims he can fly. And he leaps out of some building, falls, and breaks his leg or something in part of it.
Another has it that he has himself buried and saying that he will come out of that grave alive after three days and three nights. That's one of the parts of the mythical stories about Simon Magus. He did die, and whatever happened to him, he's passed into the story of these early writers, but anchor ourselves in this biblical story. And I think we're going to be safe. He was a magician. And he was a part of something that was moving historically from Babylon to Rome. This is one of the stopping-off points of it here in Samaria. And he has an encounter, not only with Philip, but as we're going to see with John and Peter. This is the true encounter with Peter. So, let's go on with the story in verse 14.
Acts 8:14 Acts 8:14Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John:
American King James Version×"Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them."
Okay? Peter and John go down.
Acts 8:15-17 Acts 8:15-17  Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
 (For as yet he was fallen on none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version× "And when they came down, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for as yet, he had fallen upon none of them, they had only been baptized in the name of Jesus. And when they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit."
Now, let's pause there. Philip baptized, but he didn't lay hands upon them. Why? He performed other miracles. Did he lay hands upon the sick? We would assume so. We're not told explicitly in the text. But in this particular case, he doesn't lay hands upon them, they don't receive the Spirit until Peter and John go down and do it. Let's kind of parse that for a moment. What we are told is that it is by the laying on of hands that we receive the Holy Spirit. Now, this is a very important point in the story of baptism as we pull it together from the Book of Acts, baptizing in the name of Christ with repentance. Now we see here clearly that they receive the Holy Spirit with the laying on of hands. In Chapter 19, we're going to see another part of the story when Paul is in Ephesus, but we'll talk about that there. So, just take that as a truth that with the laying on of hands, the Spirit is given, which is why that's a part of our baptism ceremony. We just don't know exactly why Philip didn't do it. Was he not fully delegated with the powers? Was it just the apostles doing this at the time? A lot of questions, not a firm answer other than what we are explicitly told here. So, with that, let's go back, again, to verse 14, and let's go between the verses for a moment.
Acts 8:14 Acts 8:14Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John:
American King James Version×It says, "When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard Samaria had received the Word, they sent Peter and John."
Why did they send Peter and John? Philip was already there. Now, Peter and John are obviously two luminaries, two apostles, original, been with Christ. Their rank or their position within the church is pretty clear. And yet the church hears about this in Jerusalem, they said, "You guys better go down there and see what's going on." Keep in mind the story of Samaria. It's kind of an out-region. And the Samaritans aren't really friendly to the Jews. There's not good relationships, and so the church is, you know, "What's going on down there? What's Philip up to? " How do they find out about it? Well, people were passing through Samaria going to Jerusalem and back and forth all the time. It's part of a trade route. All right? So, the 18-wheelers were going back and forth up and down the central part of the land all the place, so communication was pretty good for the time.
Obviously, we see here that the centrality of the position of Jerusalem as the church at this particular time. Everything's been centered in Jerusalem. The apostles are there. So, there's a recognized seat of authority within the church, but there's also something interesting working here. Peter is sent and John. And they're sent to Samaria. Now, if you turn back to Luke, hold your place here, turn back to Chapter 9 of Luke, and let's notice something about John. Luke 9, the story begins about verse 51.
Luke 9:51-55 Luke 9:51-55  And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, will you that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, You know not what manner of spirit you are of.
American King James Version×"It came to pass when the time had come for Him to be received up that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem." They've been up in the Galilee and they're going toward Jerusalem. "And He sent messengers before His face and they went and they entered a village of the Samaritans to prepare for Him.” See if anybody's got a place for us to stay and maybe a cup of stew. "But they did not receive Him because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem." He says, "No vacancies. We don't have any room for you."The village didn't...they weren't hospitable to Jesus and His disciples at this point. Verse 54, "When His disciples, James and John, saw this, they said, 'Well, Lord, do you want us to just command fire to come down from heaven and consume them like Elijah did? '" Pretty nice, right? "Can we just torch them? Can we kind of just incinerate them right here because they slighted us, they dissed us?" which is what was happening. Samaritan village dissed them. And James and John, who were the sons of Zebedee, but also called the sons of Thunder, that tells you about their personalities. They wanted to call down fire from heaven. What does Jesus say? "He rebuked them, " in verse 55, "You don't know what manner of spirit you are of. I haven't come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village."
So, Jesus basically said, "You guys, you know, stop it. We're not going to do this." Now, fast forward to Chapter 8, who does the church send down to Samaria now as an emissary of the gospel but John? He goes with Peter, not his brother, James. But now John has to go down, and it's almost like Christ is rubbing John's nose into it and say, "You know, John, you can..." John's probably thinking, "Wait a minute. Years ago, I didn't like these people, and I wanted to nuke them." And now he has to go down and deal with them as a shepherd and consider that now they're brothers. So, he's got to swallow and eat a lot of whatever you have to eat to admit you're wrong in this. So, that's a little bit of the backstory to understand what is happening here. And so they do this. And so let's pick it up at verse 18.
Acts 8:18 Acts 8:18And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
American King James Version×"When Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands, the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money."
Now, this magician, he had certain powers that were granted to him by Satan, and he did tricks, and he did conjuring. If people wanted to get in touch with their dead loved one, he could do just like the witch at Endor did, and conjure up a spirit that could impersonate a dead whatever, or create a voice, or do all these things. He had these abilities. He'd already wowed the people, but now he was seeing through the spirit something different, if you will, maybe a tool in his box he didn't have, but something that he wanted, my precious. He had to have my precious there, didn't he? And that's what he went after. See, I watch all kinds of movies, folks. I know them all. All right? And so he offers to buy it. What happens?
Acts 8:19-21 Acts 8:19-21  Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
 But Peter said to him, Your money perish with you, because you have thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
 You have neither part nor lot in this matter: for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
American King James Version×"Give me this power that I may... On anyone I may lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "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."
I guess this is the same Peter that called down Ananias and Sapphira earlier. God had given... Obviously, Peter had a gift of discernment. It is a gift. Sometimes people have that. But he discerns that he's of the wrong spirit.
Acts 8:22 Acts 8:22Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
American King James Version×He says, "You should repent," verse 22, "Repent of this your wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you."
Why wasn't he struck down like Ananias and Sapphira? We don't know. He essentially kind of says the same thing. "Your heart is not right. You're a false teacher and a false liar.
Acts 8:23 Acts 8:23For I perceive that you are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
American King James Version× “I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity."
And that speaks pretty strongly to the power that Simon was representing, satanic evil power that he was the agent for in Samaria and subsequent episodes of his life.
Acts 8:24 Acts 8:24Then answered Simon, and said, Pray you to the LORD for me, that none of these things which you have spoken come on me.
American King James Version×Well, Simon answered and said, "Pray to the Lord for me, that none of these things which you have spoken may come upon me."
He couldn't do it himself. His out was, "Well, you pray for me. You do this for me. I can't do it myself, but if you do it..." It's almost like he was saying, "I recognize you as very powerful as a servant of God, if you will, a priest of God. You do this for me." Pray to God for me that none of these things that are spoken will come upon me." And so that's the last we hear of Simon.
Acts 8:25 Acts 8:25And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
American King James Version×"So, when they had testified, preached the Word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans."
Now, before we leave the story of Simon, you should know that his offer to purchase by money the Spirit of God is what gives rise to the term "simony," coming from his name, Simon. And that is the purchase of spiritual benefits, if you will, for money. Simony is something that became an entrenched part of the Roman Catholic faith, whereby people paid a priest to do spiritual works for them as well as even their deceased loved ones who may be in purgatory and needing to be prayed out of purgatory into heaven or other benefits and people would pay the church. And through the generations in the centuries of Roman Catholicism, this became a primary, if not the primary source of money for the Catholic Church, and led to a great deal of corruption and a great deal of wealth.
And it is when a priest from Germany in the 1500s went to Rome and saw all of this glamor, glory, and the artwork, and the statues, and the paintings of the Vatican, and the gold and everything else, and recognized that it was financed by the monies of the peasant who gave to a corrupt priesthood to pray for them that he had it up to here with the Catholic Church and went back to his home in Germany, his home parish, and nailed to the door of his church, what was it? Ninety-five theses, 95 statements. And that monk or priest was named Martin Luther. And he sparked the Protestant Reformation and led to Protestantism, and the rise of the Lutheran Church. But it all came about in large part, many other things as well, but because of this practice of simony that he saw the excesses of as he looked at it in Rome. And so the beginning... This is where the term comes from, this man who tried to buy all of this. If again, you look at what Simon said in verse 24, he said to Peter, "Pray to the Lord for me."
That's at the heart of simony practiced within the Catholic Church. And frankly, it's still...it's an ingrained part of the Catholic teaching of the role of the bishop, the priest to pray for the sinner, to absolve the sinner, to tell them in a sense kind of what to do, but to hold this very high position between the member and God. And, of course, you know, the prayer to saints, to Mary, to the saints of Roman Catholicism kind of echo out of this as well as people pray to a saint to intercede for them or to do this or to do that for them. It's still an ingrained idea. And you see a lot of the origins here that are a part of this. And some of these things still go on. Simony, I think, is still practiced. My daughter-in-law came from a Polish Catholic family, and her father and her brother came into the church in their youth, but they came from this large Polish Catholic family, and all the other siblings have to this day remained Catholic.
And part of what they do is they still will annually or on a fairly regular basis, the family, other than the two brothers that are in the church, they will go to a priest and they will pay for a special mass to be said for their dead parents. But it costs them money to do that. So, these things still go on today within Catholicism. And so it's a practice that's pretty well embedded. And to look at the story here tells us a great deal. To look only at what we find, I think, is enough to see that God wants us to remember this individual and we can piece together from the other stories enough to see that he at least is embedded in some of this false Christianity then that begins to rise with and through him and in subsequent years. That takes us through the end of the story here in Samaria. We're not done with Philip. When we come back here in the next class, we'll talk about his encounter with this Ethiopian eunuch on the road to the area of Gaza and keep moving as we go through the Book of Acts. So, we'll pick that up with the next class.