Acts 8:20 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 8:20, NIV: Peter answered: 'May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!

Acts 8:20, ESV: But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!

Acts 8:20, KJV: But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

Acts 8:20, NASB: But Peter said to him, 'May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire the gift of God with money!

Acts 8:20, NLT: But Peter replied, 'May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God's gift can be bought!

Acts 8:20, CSB: But Peter told him, "May your silver be destroyed with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!

What does Acts 8:20 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

After Philip teaches the Samaritans about Jesus and baptizes them, Peter and John come from Jerusalem. Their visit validates that these converts are members of the new church that follows Jesus of Nazareth as the Jewish Messiah and the Son of God. One of the residents of Samaria, a magician named Simon, sees the Holy Spirit come down as Peter and John lay their hands on the people. He immediately sees the financial potential and asks to buy the ability to give the Holy Spirit to people (Acts 8:5–19). Peter responds negatively.

Simon is not the first to try to use God to get money. Elisha's servant Gehazi conned money from Naaman after God healed him; in response, God gave Naaman's leprosy to Gehazi (2 Kings 5:15–27). Money changers and vendors filled the temple court to make money from traveling Jews who had come to worship; Jesus overturned their tables (Mark 11:15–17). Eli and his sons took meat from sacrifices that were supposed to be dedicated to God; God caused the sons to die in battle and Eli to die, in part, due to obesity (1 Samuel 2:29; 4:17–18). Samuel's sons took bribes for favorable judgments; God allowed them to be replaced with a king (1 Samuel 8:1–9). It is true that God's ministers should receive their living from their work (1 Corinthians 9:14), but no one should use God for earthly blessings and no one can bribe God for His blessings (Psalm 50:8–11). We cannot transfer God's power as if it were water in a bucket.

Simon does get long-lasting notoriety, however. His name develops into the word "simony," which means to pay for a church office or privileges like pardons. The simony of the Roman Catholic Church, such as in selling indulgences, led Martin Luther to nail his 95 Theses on the church door in protest, an act which accelerated the Protestant Reformation.