1. Saul's part in the death of Stephen. Hearty agreement is the verb
To think along with others that something is a good thing.
Acts 22:20, "And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I
also was standing nearby and approving (suneudokeō), and watching over the
cloaks of those who were killing him."
2. He describes it at Acts 26:9 as "it thought to myself that it was
necessary to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth."
3. The scattering of the disciples: "throughout the regions of Judea and
Acts 11:19-20, "made their way to Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch speaking the
word only to the Jews." But later, "men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to
Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks (Greek speakers) as well,
proclaiming the good news of the Lord Jesus."
Verse 2, the burial of Stephen.
SAUL'S PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH
This realizes fulfillment of Christ's prophecy at Mat. 10:17, "they will
deliver you up to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues."
Saul began ravaging the church. The verb is lumainō (only here in the NT).
Throughout the LXX it is used for various degrees of harm, damage or ruin.
Saul began "harming" the church.
The nature of the harm or damage is indicated later in Paul's own words.
1. Galatians 1:13, "I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure (kata
huperbole, according to extreme) and tried to destroy it."
He persecuted and abetted the murder of Christians.
2. "entering house after house; and he would drag away men and women and put
them in prison."
3. Acts 26:10, "not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, after
receiving authority from the chief priests, but I also cast my vote against
them when they were being put to death.
4. Acts 22:4, "I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both
men and women into prisons."
5. "As also the high priest and all the Council of the elders can testify.
From them I also received letters to the brothers, and started off for
Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as
prisoners to be punished.
6. Acts 26:11, "And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried
to force them to blaspheme; and since I was extremely enraged at them, I
kept pursuing them even to foreign cities."
7. Extremely enraged: emmainomai as a present middle participle.
A. The verb, mainomai means to be speaking in a way that makes no sense, has
no logic as at Acts 26:24-25. "you are out of your mind." "I am not out of
1 Cor. 14:23, If the gift of languages was used without a proper
interpretation, the hearers would think the speakers were speaking without
sense or meaning.
B. When the EM is added it intensifies the meaning. Thus, to be so
impassioned with something that you lose ability to be reasonable or
sensible, and in the context of your passion, to be out of control. This is
exactly how Paul acted toward the Christians.
Verse 4, The disciples who were scattered out of Jerusalem went about
proclaiming the message of salvation.
1. The good news of the word. Acts 8:4
2. The good news of the Lord Jesus. Acts 11:20
3. Proclaiming Christ to them. Acts 8:5
4. The good news about the kingdom of God. Acts 8:12
Luke probably acquired knowledge about this history from his interaction
with Philip during his stay with him several years later. Acts 21:8.
Verse 5, "and Philip went down to the city of Samaria and was proclaiming
the Christ to them."
The gospel message of "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be
As Peter later summarized at Acts 10:43, "All the prophets testify of Him,
that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of
And as Paul later stated, "testifying to both Jews and Greeks about a change
of mind toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ." Acts 20:21.
Along with the teaching were the many signs and miracles; healing and
casting out demons (verse 7). These things were designed to draw attention
to the message and the power and authority of God. And the result was that
many "were embracing what was said by Philip." (verse 6).
That is, they trusted in Christ as Savior and in that instant were
transferred "out of the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of the Son
of His love." Col. 2:13.
SIMON'S OCCULT ACTIVITY
Verses 9-11 describe Simon's occult activity in the city of Samaria.
About 10 years earlier (27 AD) Christ's 2-day ministry in Sychar of Samaria
yielded a huge number of people trusting in Him as Savior. (John 4:41-42).
"And many more believed because of His word . . . because we have heard for
ourselves and know that this One is of a truth the Savior of the world."
It is probable that the spread of the gospel reached the city of Samaria
which was just a short distance to the north. By about 36 AD, a strong
Satanic influence had spread throughout the area and Simon was the primary
source of its impact, which was centered in the city of Samaria.
The "magic" that he did was probably through demon influence or possession.
Since many people were having demons cast out, it is likely that Simon
likewise was possessed or strongly influenced.
It has been suggested that whenever a person believes in Christ as Savior,
any demon would be forced to vacate the body. This could be what constitutes
the casting out of demons rather than a specific act of exorcism. However,
in the gospel accounts, there was always a specific interaction with the
demon that resulted in its removal from the possessed person. In either
case, it seems that it is after the removal of the demon that the person was
able to believe in Jesus.
One thing is certain, Simon had enough volitional control of his life that
he was able to believe in Christ.
It probably depends on whether the possession is OPPRESSION as in disease or
madness (Mark 5:1-20 9:17-26; Mat. 12:22; Luke 13:11-16) or whether it is
didactic (as in the promulgation of the doctrine of demons; 1Tim. 4:1; Jam.
Concerning the mechanics of casting out demons, in all the "doctrinal" books
of the New Testament (Romans through Jude), the practice or even the idea is
not mentioned at all.
Simon proclaimed himself to be somebody "great" (megas). And the people were
deceived into ascribing deity type status to him. "This man is what is
called the great (megas) power (dunamis) of God."
Verse 11, "because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic arts."
Simon always gets a bad rap.
Church history has latched onto this person and made him an infamous false
teacher who introduced gnosticism into the churches; hounded Peter wherever
he went; and even confronted Peter in Rome in a battle of miracles. None of
these stories can be confirmed as referring to the Simon of Acts 8.
SIMON WAS A BELIEVER
A great multitude of the people believed the gospel as proclaimed by Philip
and summarily rejected the claim and teachings of Simon. Simon did the same.
Upon trusting in Christ as Savior, any demon would have been ejected from
Sometimes, demon influence and possession does not interfere with volition.
The power of the gospel can cut through that influence and allow a person to
trust in Christ.
Verse 13, "Now even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he
continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking
place, he was repeatedly amazed."
We really have no choice but to accept the language of the text at its face
Luke does not even flinch from recording the faith of Simon, nor does he
offer any hint of a false conversion. And as a Spirit inspired recorder of
the account of what Philip encountered, there is no doubt in Philip's mind
that Simon's faith is genuine.
Furthermore, every time the issue of faith for salvation is mentioned in
Acts, it is always seen as genuine "saving" faith. There is no reason to
view "and Simon himself believed" as anything but a genuine trust in Christ
When Simon became a believer he initially rejected the demonic teachings
that had influenced him. Verse 9, "FORMERLY (proupargō) was practicing
He became a faithful student of Philip and continued to learn from him all
the various Christian truths that Philip was teaching as he "proclaimed the
Christ to them."
Although Simon had given up his occult practices when he trusted in Christ,
the occult "mentality" would be hard to discard and would constantly be a
weakness in his life as it was at this moment. He had not progressed in
growth enough to deal with the desires of the sin nature in this area.
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the
apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me
as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy
Luke records the event as seen and heard by those present.
The Holy Spirit revealed to Peter the true nature of Simon's request.
His "wickedness" (kakia) as Peter called it involved three things.
(1) the temptation to be in the limelight; popular and in authority.
(2) the mental attitude of envy. Wanting what someone else had.
(3) the idea that he could BUY "the gift of God with money."
The IDEA that one can BUY some kind of spiritual, material or physical
benefit is a pagan belief that is present in many cults, isms and cultures.
Even the catholic church promotes such superstition as the paying of money
in order to get forgiveness - penance, blessing of some kind or another.
These cultures and religions think that you can and should PAY the "clergy"
or some kind of holy person to pray for you, etc.
It was and is a vital part of the occult - the PAYING of money to acquire
certain benefits from those who have "the gift."
In his request, "give this authority to me as well," he offered money to
Peter in exchange for the ability to bestow the Holy Spirit on someone.
Although Simon had given up his occult practices when he trusted in Christ,
the occult "mentality" would be hard to discard. When he saw the miraculous
manifestation of the gift of languages, he associated it with his past
occult practices, and thus his request to Peter.
Verse 20, But Peter said to him, “May your silver along with you go (be)
unto destruction, because you thought you could acquire the gift of God with
Unto destruction: eis apoleia. The word refers to physical destruction. It
indicates the possibility of physical death as the ultimate expression of
divine discipline that is called the "sin unto death."
Sometimes this extreme expression of divine discipline happens as a lesson
and teaching aid to other believers.
It actually happened to Ananias and Saphira at Acts 5:1-10.
This then is a severe warning to Simon to evaluate his motivations.
1. The NASB reads, "you have no part or portion . . ."
The word, meris is first and then klāros.
They are basically synonyms, but when used together in this manner they must
have some difference between them.
Meris has the idea of present participation or SHARING.
Klāros has the idea of future benefit (inheritance).
The same 2 words are used in the LXX at Deut. 12:12 speaking of the
foreigner who has no portion (meris, with a PRESENT idea) or inheritance (klāros,
with a FUTURE idea) with the Israelites.
2. "in this teaching." The word is didiachā. It means teaching or doctrine.
The "teaching" that Peter is talking about is the whole realm of Christian
DOCTRINE in whatever categories Philip and the apostles had taught.
The ministry of Peter to administrate the formal entrance into the body of
Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit was new information to these
new believers in Samaria.
Much has been taught, but Simon has not applied it to the temptation that
has come from his old way of life.
Under the control of his sin nature and the frame of reference of his old
occult activity, Simon has no present share in the experiential blessings of
And he has no future share in the blessings of grace until he lets go of
that old way of life.
Peter treats him quite harshly even though he is a new believer, because it
is indeed, a very serious matter.
We never know whether Simon recovers or not from this error, although, in
his ignorance, it seems that he is repentant at verse 24.
Peter's evaluation of Simon's spiritual condition is found at verses 21-23.
He clarifies that it is a mental attitude issue. "Your heart is not right
This is a teaching situation to exhort a new believer into right thinking
1. change the mind from this wickedness: metanoeō
2. wickedness is kakia and usually refers to overt action that is contrary
to the standards of God.
3. Peter calls it "the intention of your heart."
4. and he calls it "the gall (poison) of bitterness."
In Simon's case, he had a strong desire to possess the same ability as the
apostles. It is both jealousy and envy.
It was poison to his soul, and if not weeded out, it would render him
5. and "the bondage of iniquity." This refers to the influence and control
of the sin nature. Every time bondage or slavery is mentioned in reference
to sin, it refers to the controlling influence of the sin nature. This of
course is something that every new believer is severely challenged by.
6. pray to God for forgiveness. This is instruction to apply the principle
of Prov. 28:13. "One who conceals his wrongdoings will not prosper, But one
who confesses and abandons them will find compassion."
7. Peter tells him to change his mind about what he did. That is recognize
and acknowledge that his thoughts and action are sinful. This is what
confession of sin for the believer means.
Verse 24, "Pray to the Lord for me yourselves." This is not rejection of the
instruction. Simon is a new believer and does not fully understand all the
issues about living the Christian life. He appeals to the authority of the
apostles for additional prayer.
Of course, Peter cannot pray for him to recover or repent.
Only he himself can change his mental orientation and choose the right
course from that moment forward.
This request for someone else to pray for "my recovery" is still part of the
occult mentality that appeals to and depends upon others (those with "the
gift") to intercede for "me." But it still reflects Simon's positive
attitude after being instructed about his error.
We leave him in the narrative thus expressing the attitude of a change of
mind and of prayer.
But there is a message for us that is very beneficial and pertinent in view
of the strong self-centeredness of the sin nature.
At verse 23, Peter described the sinful attitude of which Simon was guilty.
verse 23, "I see you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of
1. gall of bitterness:
Gall is the word cholā (only here and Mat. 27:34. It refers to something
that is not only distasteful, but poisonous as well (both physically and to
one's soul). It therefore causes a negative effect on the soul or body,
whichever is in view in the context.
By comparing Mat 27:34 and Mark 15:23, the unpleasant item (gall) mixed with
wine was myrh, which is something that can deaden the senses; kind of like a
mental poison. Of course, Jesus rejected this mixture because he wanted to
maintain total mental acuity.
It is used nine times in the LXX.
Deut. 29:18: It is used with bitterness (pikria) and indicates a poison that
affects the character of the people. Following the immoral, idolatrous
activity of the Canaanites will corrupt the entire character and life of the
people, both individually and collectively as a society. Such activity will
be a root that grows up into poison and bitterness (anger and hatred toward
Ps. 68:22 (69:21): They gave me gall (poison) for my food. Prophecy
fulfilled at Matthew and Mark as above.
Here it is used to indicate a concoction that affects the function of the
Prov. 5:4: As at Deut. 29:18, it refers to the moral poison that affects
one's life through sexual immorality.
Lam. 3:15: "He has filled me with bitterness (pikria) and; He has drenched
me with gall (cholā )."
It refers to the negative events that have attacked his soul and affected
his mental attitude causing sorrow and depression. In this context it refers
to what God has permitted in the nation and in Jeremiah's life.
It has caused bitterness because he WANTS what he cannot have or experience.
And it has caused a poison to affect the rest of his thinking and actions.
The negative results from the events occur because of failure on the part of
the believer to trust in the character and plan of God. Eventually, Jeremiah
recovered and found peace and joy in the character and plan of God.
Job 20:14: Zophar uses it to refer to the poisonous character of the wicked
with subtle accusations against Job.
2. bitterness: The noun pikria occurs only 4 times in the NT and about 20
times in the Old Testament.
Bitterness is an attitude of discontent and unhappiness because you don't
have something that you desire.
It starts out as a minor offense but can quickly poison the soul, leading to
envy, jealousy, anger and strife.
Simon had become influenced by his sin nature and had become poisoned by
this envious attitude. It will eventually lead to antagonistic thoughts
toward the apostles.
Rom. 3:14 (Psalm 10:7), "whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness."
It is used here to describe some of the characteristics of the unbeliever.
The two are coupled together, but the mental attitude precedes any verbal or
overt expression of strife.
Pikria is an attitude of discontent and unhappiness because you don't have
something that you desire. Cursing (ara) is the verbal expression of anger
that is called clamor (kraugā) at Eph 4:31. It then progresses to envy and
jealousy, and overtly to anger and strife.
The chain of progression is actually seen at Ephesian 4:31.
Eph. 4:31, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor (verbal
strife) and slander be put away from you along with all malice."
Malice (kakia) is the intent to do physical harm in order to get what you
From unhappiness and discontent, the erring believer will express both
emotional anger (thumos) and intentional anger (orgā), leading to verbal
strife and slander, which ultimately leads to the intent to do harm (malice)
and overt strife.
James warns us of this using the adjective, pikros. "If you have bitter
jealousy and strife in your heart." James 3:14.
He uses the adjective to describe jealousy (zālos). It expresses the
INTENSITY of the jealousy (harsh). It is paired with the word "strife" (eritheia),
which is the mental attitude that leans toward violence in order to fulfill
the jealousy. Such attitudes cause societal chaos (disorder, akatastasia,
verse 16). The result of such attitudes is stated at James 4:2, "you are
envious and cannot obtain so you fight and quarrel."
From envy comes jealousy and then verbal and overt strife.
It is an attitude that "causes trouble and many become defiled." Heb. 12:15.
That indicates that because of your sin (bitterness) others might likewise
fall into various expressions of sin (judging, anger, retaliation - verbal
Heb. 12:15, "see to it that no one falls short of the grace of God; that no
root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many become
The verb: pikrainō at Col. 3:19, "do not be embittered agaisnt them (the
wife)." Indicates an attitude of anger, indifference, neglect that could
possibly have the same effect as at Heb. 12:15.
The adverb: pikrōs at Mat. 26:75, Lk. 22:62, "wept bitterly" - with guilt
(extreme mental anguish, pain and a degree of self-hatred), sorrow and
anger. Once Satan left Judas, he was extremely stricken with guilt and
sorrow. Such torture to his soul led him to suicide.
Protection against this temptation is to cultivate the attitude of
benevolent love; that which seeks the divine viewpoint benefit of everyone
within the sphere of your life.
Eph. 5:1, "walk in love just as Christ loved you, and gave Himself for us."
Col. 3:14, "put on the love which is the unifying bond of maturity."
And of course, love is characterized by all the attributes listed at
1 Cor. 13:4-8.
But this does not happen over night or just by wanting it.
It requires diligence in spiritual growth as per 1Peter 2:2.
"As newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word so that you may grow
in respect to your salvation."
"The goal of the instruction is LOVE, out from a pure (purified) heart, and
a good conscience, and an un-hypocritical faith." 1 Tim. 1:5.
1. The purified heart (mind) is what has been described (taught) as the
self-centered desires of the sin nature.
2. The good conscience refers to the NEW standards of God's righteousness
which are taught and fill the mind.
3. The un-hypocritical faith refers to the consistent CHOICE to use (apply)
those new standards in every area of your life.
Faith is how we live as Christians. "in the way that you received Christ
Jesus the Lord,
in that way BE WALKING in Him." Col. 2:6.
Gal. 5:6, "In Christ the issue is faith expressing itself (working) through
See Topic: Beneficent love