What does Acts 8:9 mean?
ESV: But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great.
NIV: Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great,
NASB: Now a man named Simon had previously been practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great;
CSB: A man named Simon had previously practiced sorcery in that city and amazed the Samaritan people, while claiming to be somebody great.
NLT: A man named Simon had been a sorcerer there for many years, amazing the people of Samaria and claiming to be someone great.
KJV: But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
Verse Commentary:
Few things are more despicable, spiritually, than when genuine seekers are deceived by frauds. Ever since the northern kingdom of Israel was established, the people of Samaria have been pushed away from legitimate worship in Jerusalem and toward idolatry (1 Kings 12:25–33). Jesus promised the Samaritan woman at the well that her people would soon be welcome to worship God properly in their own land (John 4:20–24). But before that time comes, an imposter moves in. This person doesn't just say or believe wrong things, he actively tells other people they should see him as "great."

We're not told who Simon is—whether he's a Jew, a Samaritan, or some other nationality. We do know that some Gentiles are so intrigued by the Jewish culture that hucksters sometimes defrauded the people, claiming to be from God but using power from a demonic source. This was similarly the case with Bar-Jesus, also known as Elymas, whom Paul and Barnabas will meet on Cyprus (Acts 13:4–12) and possibly the sons of Sceva in Corinth (Acts 19:11–16). Such trickery was not a new practice, we even see it in the time of Judges when a man named Micah convinced a Levite to be his personal priest (Judges 17).

It's important to remember that all supernatural power comes from one of two sources: God or demons. There is no such thing as "white" magic; every supernatural ability or event not of God is evil. The people of Corinth realize this when the evil spirits throw the sons of Sceva out of the house, naked and wounded. Presented with Paul's Holy Spirit-empowered miracles and the stripped and wounded Jewish exorcists, the people surrender their books of divination, worth 50,000 pieces of silver, and gladly watch them burn (Acts 19:17–20).
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 4/18/2024 1:26:42 AM
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