Acts 8:22

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Monday, 27 June 2022

Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. Acts 8:22

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).

After offering money to Peter in order to obtain the power to impart the Holy Spirit, Peter really laid into Simon with the strong words of the previous two verses. Now, a remedy for his wicked thoughts is provided by Peter, saying, “Repent therefore.”

This is the first thing he is instructed to do, even before prayer. He must align his thoughts with what is correct and in accord with the will of God.

And this is what the word repent means. It is to change one’s mind or to think differently. It is especially so in reference to accepting and turning to the will of God. Peter is telling Simon that his thoughts are incorrect concerning the nature of God and the giving of the Holy Spirit, and he is to change his mind concerning these things. Peter continues by saying he should repent “of this your wickedness.”

The Greek says, “from this your wickedness.” In other words, Simon is in a mental state which is contrary to what is proper. Peter describes it as wickedness, and he is telling Simon that he is to turn from that state. If he doesn’t, his walk with the Lord will be completely perverse and at odds with what is right and proper. With that noted, he states the second thing Simon is to do, saying, “and pray God.”

Here, some manuscripts say “Lord” instead of “God.” Either way, the intent is to pray to the offended party concerning what has happened, petitioning Him to provide pardon for the wickedness that is so deeply rooted in Simon’s heart. In his praying to God, Peter next gives the purpose of the prayer, noting the conditional words, “if perhaps.”

The Greek word, translated as “perhaps,” is ara. JB Lightfoot says, “This difficult-to-translate interrogative particle (adverb) injects the element of surprise and the pressing need to respond. Depending on the context, 687 (ára) will emphasize the aspect of hesitation, bewilderment, etc.”

Due to the difficult nature of translating the word, it is variously rendered as indeed, perhaps, if possible, in the hope, if then, and so on. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown may capture the intent of Peter’s words. They say, “this expression of doubt being designed to impress upon him the greatness of his sin, and the need of alarm on his part.” With this in mind, Peter next says, that the “if perhaps” is that “the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.”

Peter uses a word found only here in Scripture, epinoia. It signifies “upon the mind,” and thus the intent. It is what is on the mind and where that thought leads to. Simon has profit on his mind, and it would then lead to peddling the imparting of the Holy Spirit to others. In this, it would lead to a complete cheapening of the divine gift of God.

Obviously, this is something that could not happen, but it is something that is on Simon’s mind and what he is hoping for in the offering of money in order to obtain it. Peter is saying that such a thought is wicked, and it requires turning from in order to obtain forgiveness.

If Simon truly believed, as is implied in verse 8:13, this cannot mean forgiveness to keep his salvation. Rather, it would be the forgiveness needed for a right relationship with the Lord. Without that, there would be an ongoing state where Simon’s actions were not acceptable to Him. An example from the epistles is the person described in 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 –

“For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

The person in this passage was to be handed over to Satan. His life would remain completely unusable for the glory of the Lord, and he would enter into the Lord’s salvation without any rewards because of his wasted life. This is what Simon would be facing without changing his mind about his current intent.

Life application: It is not uncommon for people to pray about something that is opposed to what is taught in Scripture. In fact, it has almost become the standard in most major denominations. “Lord, we pray to you to guide us in our selection of Tom (who is a homosexual) to be our new deacon.” “Lord, we pray to you concerning the baptism of Jane (who is presently in an adulterous relationship) and accepting her as a member of our church.” “Lord, we pray for knowing which of these two women will be our new pastor.”

The prayers themselves are willingly disobedient. God will not provide direction in something that is already contrary to His written word. His word reflects His will, and people know this. Hence, to pray about something like these examples is a mark of rebellion against God. The attitude of the heart must first be right. This is why Peter first told Simon to repent (change his mind). Only then did he continue with direction, telling him to pray.

There is no point at all in praying for something until the heart (the mind) is properly directed concerning what is prayed for. One must know the word in order to know what the will of God is. Only then can prayers be properly directed to Him. And no prayer should ever be made that is openly contrary to what His word states. That only adds to the guilt of being presumptuous. How terrible it will be when people who do this find themselves standing before the Lord, set for judgment because of the wicked, unrepentant intents of their hearts.

Lord God, please be with us in our efforts to know Your will first, and only then to seek out through prayer what to do concerning matters that are important to us. May we never be presumptuous or disobedient in our prayers, but may they always be in accord with Your will. Amen.