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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Acts 8:9-25 – Simon the Sorcerer

People can become interested in the gospel for many reasons, some of which indicate that the individuals were not true believers when they professed faith. One such person was Simon.

As a magician Simon had been an attraction to Samaritans for a long time and they connected his power to God. Perhaps even Simon assumed that this was the case. He recognised that Philip too had power and that it was in his interests to identify with the new movement in Samaria. Should we be surprised that Philip does not seem to have identified Simon as a false convert? Not really, because such identification could only be made when Simon made comments that revealed the priority of his heart.

The new converts in Samaria had not received the Spirit when they believed. This does not mean that they became converts without having been regenerated. Instead they did not receive outward signs that indicated the presence of the Spirit in their hearts. It may be that Jesus withheld sending those signs because he wanted a clear expression of the spiritual fact that his people in Jerusalem and in Samaria were united together. That expression was given when the representatives of the Jerusalem apostles became the instruments through whom the Spirit was given to the Samaritan converts.

Simon realised that Peter and John had more power than Philip. Perhaps the magician was afraid that he would lose his influence over the people unless he could get hold of this new power. His words revealed the priority of his heart, which was holding on to his position in the community. He imagined that he could use God’s power for personal gratification.

Peter realised that Simon was unconverted. Therefore he warned the magician that he was in spiritual danger. At the same time he offered hope to Simon by urging the possibility of repentance. In saying this, Peter revealed that he understood that God could show mercy to Simon. Simon’s response seems to say that he did not see any need to pray to God for himself. Instead he assumed that it would be better for him if Peter prayed for him.

Simon is an example of the devil sowing spiritual weeds alongside the wheat that Jesus sows (Matt. 13:25). Persecution had not hindered the growth of the church, so the devil tried to get his agent Simon into a place of prominence in it. The fact that he failed is proof that Jesus in heaven was protecting his kingdom on earth.

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