Acts 8:13

Horse and rider statue at Texas Capitol.

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done. Acts 8:13

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verse was given as a contrast to the words concerning Simon, referring to Philip’s preaching about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. It also noted that those who believed were baptized. With that remembered, verse 8:13 will show why all the detail was given concerning Simon. The NKJV that is used does not do a good job translating the verbs. A much better and more literal rendering is –

“and Simon also himself did believe, and, having been baptized, he was continuing with Philip, beholding also signs and mighty acts being done, he was amazed.” YLT

Because of this, Young’s will be used for analyzing the verse, beginning with, “and Simon also himself did believe.”

In verse 9, Simon was the one who “astonished the people.” He was also “claiming that he was someone great.” In verse 10 it said everyone heeded him, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” The complete contrast to his supposedly great position now begins to be seen. He thought he was someone great, and yet now, he has believed that Jesus truly is the Messiah.

The word is quite clear, Simon believed. The exact same form of the verb (an aorist participle) is found five times in John’s gospel. For example, John 20:8 says –

“Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.”

Because of the circumstances around Simon, especially what will occur in just a few verses, it is questioned whether he was truly saved or not. There is no reason to question that. These first words of the verse settle the matter. He heard the word concerning Jesus and he believed. With that, it next says, “and, having been baptized.”

This is in accordance with the word of the Lord. It is the standard note after every conversion in the book of Acts. It happened to the Jews in Acts 2. It now happens with the mixed-race of Samaritans in Acts 8. It will happen to the Ethiopian eunuch later in Acts 8. It will happen to Paul in Acts 9. It will happen to the Gentile believers in Acts 11. And so on.

Although Acts is a descriptive account of what happened in early church history, it is evident that what occurred concerning these baptisms was plainly a result of the command of the Lord. He clearly and unambiguously stated that all who come to Him are to be baptized. With this (as will be seen) weak believer, Simon, being baptized in accord with the word of the Lord, it next says, “he was continuing with Philip.”

It is apparent that his previous life was set aside, and he wanted to seek out the power of the Lord as displayed through Philip. He had been so self-consumed in the past that it must have been incredible to him to think that he wasn’t so great after all. And so, like a curious child, he followed Philip “beholding also signs and mighty acts being done.”

This would not be unexpected. Simon had spent his time duping people into believing that he had extraordinary powers, even touching upon the divine. But he knew that it wasn’t true. Whether what he did was sleight of hand magic or whether it was rooted in black magic, it was not the true power of God. He now saw the truth and was fully aware of the difference between it and the counterfeit. As such, it says “he was amazed.”

Here was a man stupefying people daily, and yet it is he who is now amazed at what he sees. Luke uses the same word that was used in verses 8:9 and 8:11 to describe the people’s reactions to Simon’s bag of tricks and Simon’s reaction to the Lord’s power in Philip as he did signs and mighty acts.

The contrast is complete. Simon realized the true power of God and believed what he saw. The failings to be noted of him in the verses ahead are given not to show that he wasn’t saved, but they rather point out – and even highlight – that new believers are not suddenly ultra-spiritual beings. They are people in need of instruction and correction. Hence, not only are they to be baptized, but they are also to be made sound disciples by teaching them what the Lord commanded, just as the Lord stated in Matthew 28:19.

Life application: One thing that is very common is to see people who have believed the gospel not grow into mature believers. In fact, it is more the norm than the exception. For, indeed, what is a mature believer?

A person who comes to Christ, goes to seminary, and is ordained to pastor a church will – eventually – look back at his early years as a pastor and say, “Boy, I had a lot to learn and a lot of growing up to do back then.” And yet, he was the pastor of a church and supposedly a “mature believer” at that time.

In other words, to be in Christ and to grow in Him is something that should never cease. We should be maturing in our walk from day to day. But this does not mean that people who don’t do this are not saved. If it did, and if a “fully mature” Christian was the proof of being saved, then nobody would be saved.

We need to be careful to not look down on those who are on a different level than we are. This is especially so when others could be looking down on us. Belief in Christ Jesus is what saves. Everything after that is, or it should be, a lifelong process of growing in Him.

Heavenly Father, help us to strive for growth in our Christian lives. Let us faithfully seek out Your word, pursue a closer walk with You, and come to understand our lowly position in this world. The more we grow in You, the more evident it is just how far below You we truly are. And so, Lord, help us to not look down on other believers, but to motivate them to strive ahead for the prize that is found in Christ. Amen.