What does Acts 8:21 mean?
ESV: You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.
NIV: You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.
NASB: You have no part or share in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.
CSB: You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart is not right before God.
NLT: You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God.
KJV: Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
Verse Commentary:
Philip has fled persecution in Jerusalem and come north to Samaria where he has been preaching the gospel and baptizing new believers. Peter and John have followed to verify that the Samaritans are really accepting Christ and to welcome them into the church. They lay their hands on the converts and as they do, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell the Samaritans. Simon, a popular magician, was fairly interested in Jesus' story until he saw the Holy Spirit come on his neighbors. Now, he has asked Peter if he can buy the power to impart the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:5–20).

Simon is a grifter: a petty swindler who tricks people for money. Alternatively, he might have been legitimately empowered, but by demons. He seems to think he's talking to other grifters who through trickery or demonic power are convincing people they have spiritual power. Simon seemingly has no concept of sacrificing for others (1 John 3:16), laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19–21), or giving up worldly comforts for the cause of Christ (Luke 18:18–30). If he believes in Jesus, it is shallow and has no effect on his actions, not as the man who cast out demons in Jesus' name—despite not being in Jesus' company (Mark 9:38–41), or even the doubting but desperate father of the possessed boy who cried out, "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24).

Peter's words are a strong warning for anyone in Christian ministry. Earlier, he established that serving God is not about gaining earthly approval; when Ananias and Sapphira donated money to look good, they were killed instead (Acts 5:1–11). Peter's warning that ministry is not for financial gain comes with an even more serious threat—the destruction of Simon's soul (Acts 8:22–23).

Any self-labeled "Christian" leader who uses their position for fame, power, or money should be warned they have "no part or share in this ministry." Simon's attitude not only marks him as a false minister, but seemingly as a non-believer. It's fitting, then, that the bulk of Peter's rebuke involves a call for repentance.
Verse Context:
Acts 8:9–25 further describes the apostles' pursuit of Jesus' plan to bring salvation to those He chooses. Simon, a popular and presumably wealthy sorcerer, sees Philip's miracles. He especially notices the way the Holy Spirit comes on people when Peter and John lay their hands on them. Simon offers to buy their power. Meanwhile, Peter and John are in Samaria. The thought of Samaritans following Jesus goes against longstanding Jewish traditions. Yet the Samaritans are accepting Christ, and these messengers of the church are there to see the Holy Spirit come on them. God is not impressed by worldly popularity or wealth but on repentant, submissive hearts.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus told the apostles they would spread the gospel (Acts 1:8) and persecution makes that happen. Upon the death of the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:54–60), a young Pharisee named Saul builds on the momentum to arrest and, if possible, execute Jesus followers (Acts 8:1–3; 26:10). The apostles mostly stay in Jerusalem, but the church members flee, spreading the gospel to Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. Important encounters in this passage include a magician named Simon and the conversion of an Ethiopian court official.
Chapter Context:
Acts 1:8 gives the outline of the book of Acts; Acts 1—7 describes the spread of the gospel through Jerusalem; Acts 8:1—11:18 shows the gospel spreading in Judea and Samaria; Acts 11:19—28:31 sees the gospel spread to the ''end of the earth,'' finalizing in Rome. Ironically, although Paul is the central figure in spreading Jesus' good news to the ends of the earth, his early persecution of the church in Jerusalem is instrumental in spreading the gospel through Judea and Samaria.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 4/16/2024 1:08:36 PM
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