But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps He will forgive your evil thoughts, for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.” “Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!”Acts 8:21-24
Don’t you think you were a bit hard on Simon in what you wrote Ian? He did ask for prayer so what was said wouldn’t happen to him. That has to count for something. (Linda)
Ross wrote, “Let us not overlook Ian that Simon was number one until Philip turned up on the scene, and then Peter and John turned up. Can you imagine his resentment and why he wanted this power? All three of them had this special gift from God and the people would have marvelled, it is no wonder that Simon wanted the same recognition. The fact he wanted to buy it shows me he was not there to serve, was not a humble man, and it was all about him. Not much has changed in over 2000 years for those who seek power for power’s sake.”
I agree with Ross in terms of Simon’s heart motivation. All of what Luke has written exposes Simon’s heart in just the way I described in Gem 1497. In terms of David’s question relating to whether or not Simon repented of his sin, there is no indication whatsoever that Simon repented in any way. But there is evidence against him from ancient writings outside of the Bible. There is an ancient tradition which suggests this Simon was the founder of the first heretical sect of the New Testament period. It was claimed that he was “the father of heresies” and deified himself. Well, that fits with what we know of his nature and character as described by Luke in Acts Chapter Eight. The memory of his peculiar guilt has been perpetuated in the word, “simony“, as applied to all attempts to buy a spiritual office. Simon Magus was probably a Jew or a Samaritan, who had addicted himself to the arts of magic, and who was much celebrated for it. He had studied philosophy in Alexandria in Egypt and then lived in Samaria. After he was cut off from the hope of adding to his other powers the power of working miracles, some Church Fathers say that he fell into many errors, and became the founder of the sect of the Simonians. They accused him of affirming that he came down as the “Father” in respect to the Samaritans, the “Son” in respect to the Jews, and the “Holy Spirit” in respect to the Gentiles. He did not acknowledge Christ to be the Son of God, but a rival, and pretended himself to be the Christ. He rejected the Law of Moses. He seems to have become an enemy to Christianity, though he was willing “then” to avail himself of some of its doctrines in order to advance his own interests. According to Hippolytus, the earliest authority on the subject, Simon was buried alive at his own request, in the confident assurance that he would rise on the third day.
If all this is true Linda I don’t think my comments about Simon were unjust in any way.
Now let’s return to the topic of Phillip in Gaza with the Ethiopian [16 verses]
After testifying and preaching the word of the Lord in Samaria, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem. And they stopped in many Samaritan villages along the way to preach the Good News. As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah. The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.” Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him. The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth. He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of His descendants? For His life was taken from the earth.” The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus. As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” [“You can,” Philip answered, “if you believe with all your heart.” And the eunuch replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus. He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea.Acts 8:25-40
Here is the list of questions on this passage rearranged into topics or focus areas which I will deal with over the next few Gems.
The Introduction / Preparation:
- Did Philip go back to Jerusalem with Peter and John and then later go to Gaza or did he go straight away? Ben
- Was Philip involved in talking with Simon as well or was it just Peter and John? Ben
- Did Philip preach in other towns as well on the way there like Peter and John?
- Phillip himself had the Holy Spirit (proven by the miracles) why were Peter and John needed to call on the Holy Spirit for the people of Samaria? (Andre)
- Why do they stop in many Samaritan villages when Jews don’t like Samaritans? (Gillian)
- The matter of Where this took Place and Why it’s Important?
- How did Philip know to go to Gaza?
- Did he have an idea he was going there to meet one person? Wasn’t that wasteful?
- Does it matter where he was, on which road? Why is that detail included? (Stephanie)
- Was Philip surprised to see someone on the road? Did it happen suddenly? Why the word “Behold”? (Peter)
- Who was this Ethiopian Eunuch?
- What is a eunuch? Is it like a gay person?
- Wouldn’t the treasurer of Ethiopia have had more people travelling with him Ian? (Yohanes)
- Was the Ethiopian eunuch a Christian already but just needed some things explained to him?
- I looked up Candace and there were a lot of them. Which one was this one mentioned? (Gillian)
- It’s hard to know what details to look up and what details to ignore. Any advice Ian? (Gillian)
- What is the background story for this eunuch, how come an Ethiopian went to Jerusalem to worship (as he was not a Jew)? (Andre)
- Why was an Ethiopian reading the book of Isaiah? (Cynthia)
- Did other people have the Jewish books and not just the Jews themselves? (Cynthia)
- How did Philip get his guidance?
- What actually happened to Philip that made him go to the new place? Ben
- What is meant by “the Holy Spirit said to Philip”? It seems those words mean that the Holy Spirit spoke like a human being to Philip. Is that right? (David)
- How can I understand unless someone instructs me?
- What does “He was humiliated and received no justice” mean? (Peter)
- What is the meaning of “who shall declare his generation?” in verse 33. I looked it up in a number of versions as you told us to do and I was even more confused. (Peter)
- I found a baffling amount of variation between the versions, including: And who will recount His generation? (LITV) who now can count his kin (MSG). What is going on here Ian? (Peter)
- What sort of things did they talk about?
- How did the question of baptism come up?
- Why is Act 8:37in brackets and greyed out? [“You can,” Philip answered, “if you believe with all your heart.” And the eunuch replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] (Peter)
- Why is the verse missing in some Bibles? Why is it italicised in the version you gave us? (Peter)
- What about the matter of Teletransportation? Does Acts 8:39-40 mean Phillip literally gets teleported via the Holy Spirit? (Andre)
- Does God snatch other people away like he did to Philip? What does that mean? I don’t understand it. (Ron)
- How far was it between the two places? Ben
- Where is Azotus Ian? Ilooked for it in the atlas but I couldn’t find it. I want to see how far Philip went when he disappeared.
Questions About Baptism
- Why did the Ethiopian ask to be baptised when he saw the water? Did he know about baptism already? How? (David)
- Just a question on baptism: l noticed that the Eunuch asked to be baptised. I gather from this and other instances that baptism wasn’t something that the Christian church or even Jesus invented but was already familiar to Jews and surrounding cultures. Is that correct or am I just jumping to a conclusion? Kev
- Why do Peter and John come after Simon and then leave before Simon leaves? (Gillian)
- Why is it that Peter and John are often together (and James)? Is there a reason for that? (Gillian)
- Did Philip catch up to the chariot or was the chariot stopped? How could Philip keep up with the chariot?
- Why was the eunuch reading aloud if he was the only one there? (Peter)
My summary comment: All I can say is the you have all come up with some pretty interesting questions.
Most false sects arose after those who witnessed the events surrounding Jesus and those they told passed away.Ian Vail
The Pseudepigraphal books (false books claiming to be written by Apostles or those close to the action) arose after the passing of these witnesses.Ian Vail
It’s easier to claim you know something if all witnesses have passed away and you claim to have secret knowledge that you think no one can refute.Ian Vail
Jehovah Witnesses don’t believe in hell and neither do most Christians.Leonard Ravenhill
The two distinguishing marks of the early church were: 1) Poverty 2) PowerT. J. Bach
Don’t join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects!Anon