Posts Tagged ‘magician’

Acts 8: Saul, Philip, Simon, Ethiopian

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I look at Acts 8 as a historical chapter, in that it’s telling what happened in the early church rather than reporting on Biblical truths.

Starting with Saul, who soon would exchange his S for a P and become Paul, we read in the first four verses that while the beloved Stephen was being buried, Saul ratcheted up his persecutions of the church. It said he “made havock” among many Christians, which my Bible notes say carries the idea of the ravagings of a wild animal. Yikes! He’d enter houses, drag out the Christians and place them in prison.

Moving onto Philip, this apostle did the unthinkable: he preached in–GASP!–Samaria! As we know from the Gospels, the Jewish people had virtually no dealings with the Samaritans and considered them beneath the Jews. To evangelize undesirables must’ve seemed disgusting for many.

Verse nine to 25 tells us that among Phil’s converts was a sorcerer named Simon. Unlike the book of Revelation, where the word “sorcerers” come from the Greek word pharmakeus is what we borrow to create our word pharmaceutics, this time sorcerer in Greek is mageuō, which carries the idea of being a magician. Apparently Simon could perform tricks, and based on the reading it looks like it was an elaborate sleight-of-hand but even, to an extent, something supernatural. He was able to use this to his advantage over the people.

Which leads us to Simon seeing the apostles performing miracles. When he saw them lay hands on people and impart on them the Holy Ghost, Simon offered to pay the disciples to give him the ability to do this also.

Peter and the others rebuked him. Peter told him he’d sinned thinking that God’s gifts could be bought with money and that his heart was in the wrong place.

This leads to an important question: was Simon really saved?

One school of thought is no. He saw the miracles and was enthralled by them and then “converted” as a way of trying to get closer to learning how to perform this elaborate trick that, no doubt, he would’ve loved to add to his repertoire.

Another school of thought is yes. Simon was simply a brand-new Christian who had a lot to learn about God and the Christian walk.

What do I think? I think it’s a mixture of both. Yes, he did get saved but he also didn’t grasp the concept of spiritual gifts. It is possible that his conversion was a scam, but only God knows for sure.

Finally, in verses 26-40 Philip met with an Ethiopian eunuch. The text suggests this eunuch was very well respected back home. He read Isaiah 53 and had questions about it. Philip then explained to him what the verses meant and how they pointed to Jesus as the Messiah.

And in verse 36, the Eunuch saw water and asked about being baptized. In 37, Philip told him if he believed in all his heart, he could be baptized, to which the eunuch replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

The chariot was stopped, and both Phil and the eunuch went into the water as Phil baptized him.

I notice that some versions omit verse 37 while some notes say that this verse isn’t found in some/many/most manuscripts. Could it be Satan’s way of trying to subtly point people towards a baptism-is-required-for-salvation viewpoint?

The baptism completed, the Holy Spirit transported Philip to Azotus.

Richard Zowie hopes someday to blog about every chapter of the Bible. Post comments here or e-mail him at