Acts 8:20

Texas styled lighting on ceiling of State Senate, Austin Texas.

Saturday, 25 June 2022 

But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! Acts 8:20

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 cited Simon. He had offered money to Peter and then he said, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” With that, Luke records, “But Peter said to him.” From the coming words, it is evident that Peter completely flipped out at the offer. And more, he strongly rebukes him, saying, “Your money perish with you.”

More literally it reads, “Your money be along with you to destruction.” Today, to say this as forcefully as Peter, we might say, “Both you and your money can go straight to the pit.” This should not be taken, as many interpret, as Peter calling a curse down on Simon, although it would not be out of character for him. In his denial of Jesus, his words were packed with emotion, literally saying that he began to “anathematize.” It was as if he was calling down curses if he was lying, which of course he was.

In the case of his words to Simon, he is surely being expressive of contempt for the money more than contempt for Simon. We might say something like, “Even if you gave me a million dollars, it wouldn’t matter.” The very fact that Peter tells him to repent of his thought in the coming verses shows that he is not adamant that Simon will, in fact, perish. For now, however, Peter continues to correct Simon’s thinking about what is happening by saying, “because you thought that the gift of God.”

Peter acknowledges exactly what Paul will later write in his epistles. A gift is something that cannot be purchased. It doesn’t matter how good of a bargain it is, if it has a value attached to it, no matter how large or how small, it cannot be considered a gift. The giving of the Holy Spirit is called a gift.

As the Holy Spirit is something given upon belief, and as the Holy Spirit is considered a guarantee (see Ephesians 1:14), and because the guarantee is given as a mark of salvation (Ephesians 2:8, 9) which is also called a gift, then it clearly indicates that salvation is eternal. It is this matter that is being considered, and Simon thought it, as Peter says, “could be purchased with money!”

As one can see, Peter’s words are more of an idiomatic expression than a curse directed toward Simon. “What God has offered as a gift, you are trying to pay for? You and your money can go to destruction together!” Peter is trying to wake Simon up to the process of salvation and what it ultimately means. If the “gift” can be purchased, then it is not a gift. Further, it would then mean that what occurred does not come with a guarantee. But the process is of God, and it is something that He will see through to the end.

Life application: The words of Peter cannot override the promises of God. If Simon believed (which he did as is recorded in verse 8:13), and if belief is what brings salvation (see Ephesians 1:13, 14, for example), then Simon was saved. The giving of the Holy Spirit through the apostle’s hand has a purpose that is fulfilled in the act. It is not something that needs to be done again, as will be evidenced in Acts 10 with the conversion of Cornelius and those with him.

Peter is doing what is proper in rebuking Simon for his horrifying doctrine. He has fully misunderstood the process of salvation that takes place, and he is being corrected in his thinking. Later in the chronology of time, Paul will have to do this exact same thing to Peter –

“Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.’” Galatians 2:11-16

Who is in the more damaging position from a theological standpoint, Simon Peter or Simon the Magician? Arguably, it is Simon Peter. Simon the Magician had no schooling on the matter, and what he was considering was not something that would keep a person from being saved, simply because what he was asking for was something that could not be purchased.

On the other hand, what Simon Peter was doing was setting aside the grace of God which comes through the work of Christ through His actions (Galatians 2:21). He was falling back on the law in order to please men. This can, and it does, lead directly to the introduction of a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-8).

As this is so, and as Peter remained as saved after his actions as he was the day he was saved, it demonstrates to us that Peter’s words to Simon are surely to be taken in the proper context of a sharp rebuke, but not a statement of condemnation. The grace of God, even in regard to the abject failure of Peter in His conduct before those in Antioch – as is recorded in the book of Galatians – is a comforting reassurance that we are saved despite ourselves. Thank God for His grace in Jesus Christ!

Lord God, what a comfort Your word is. It shows us that even when we really botch things up, we are Yours because of Jesus. And more, we will remain Yours because of Jesus. Thank God for the eternal salvation that is found in Him. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 8:19

Inside of Senate. Texas Capitol.

Friday, 24 June 2022

saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:19

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 revealed Simon’s misunderstanding about the nature of what occurs when one comes to Christ. In seeing the apostles laying their hands on the believers, the believers then received the Holy Spirit. In seeing this, he then offered the apostles money, “saying, ‘Give me this power also.’”

Having never seen such a display of authority, Simon is certainly astonished at what has happened. Whatever visual or audible demonstrations of the Spirit occurred, Simon probably saw it as an opportunity to make a new direction in his livelihood. This is obviously due to an error in thinking, and it is not something that can be condoned in the church. And probably more than for any other reason, this is why the account is included in Acts.

In other words, the recording of the events now is less about the spiritual failing of Simon than it is about the holiness of God and the sanctity of what occurs when a believer is saved. Today, the Holy Spirit is given upon belief, not when an apostle lays his hands on another person. First, this is true because there are no longer any apostles of Jesus Christ. And, secondly, it is true because this is what is recorded in the epistles –

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14

The giving of the Spirit is solely of God without any intermediaries, and it occurs immediately upon belief. Acts merely notes what occurred in the establishment of the church. With this understood, Luke next records, “that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Simon is looking for the same authority as that of the apostles. As he assumes that it is an authority based on an earthly system of gaining some type of advantage, he offers them an earthly means of obtaining such things.

His thinking is in error and Peter will sharply correct him for this.

Life application: Assuming that Simon is not saved because he has misunderstood the doctrines of the Spirit is as inept in thinking as it is to assume that Peter (aka Simon Peter) is not saved because he failed in upholding the doctrine of freedom from the law in Christ. He completely mismanaged this as is recorded in Galatians 2, and he was just as upbraided by Paul as Simon will be by Peter now in Acts.

As noted above, Acts is recording events in order to teach us truths and to explain how the early church was established. How unfortunate that even today countless people claim they have the ability to transfer the Spirit to others! They make irrational claims about needing visual or audible proofs before a person can be said to possess the Spirit. Entire denominations make such erroneous claims, and seminaries demand that students speak in nonsensical “tongues” as a demonstration of the indwelling of the Spirit.

These things are comparable to Simon’s actions as are recorded right in Acts 8. There is no biblical authority for these things, and yet they are openly taught. Whether we are considering Simon from Acts, or the incorrect doctrines of charismatic churches, the same correction of thinking is necessary. As will be seen, Simon will ask that his thinking and heart be corrected. We should hope for the same from these aberrant teachings today.

Lord God, help us to have a right understanding of Your word, and help us to apply it rightly to our lives. May we be faithful in our attitude towards You when we know what is right and proper, putting away what is false. May we be vessels prepared to serve You rightly and in holiness. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 8:18

Senate Chambers, Texas Capitol.

Thursday, 23 June 2022

And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, Acts 8:18

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).

It was noted that as Peter and John laid their hands on those of Samaria the people then received the Holy Spirit. Luke now continues with, “And when Simon saw.”

There was obviously a visual effect that came about when the Holy Spirit was given. This would have been a necessary confirmation to the apostles that the Samaritans had actually been accepted by God. In other words, this visual event was as much for them as it was for the people. Otherwise, it could later be claimed that God never accepted them, nor does he accept anyone except the Jews who had an obvious audible and visual reception of the Spirit in Acts 2.

But with Luke’s record of the events of Acts, it definitively points to the fact that those in Samaria had received the Spirit and were equally accepted by God. With that, Luke continues by noting that Simon saw “that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands.”

It was through the physical contact with the hands of Peter and John that the event being described takes place. As noted, these people had already believed, and they had Philip there with them, but no such event took place. Now that Peter and John are present and physically in contact with the people, a visual and/or audible event occurs proving that “the Holy Spirit was given.”

This is not unlike Acts 19 where the following account will take place –

“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’
So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’
And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’
So they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’
Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all.” Acts 19:1-7

At the laying of hands by Paul, these men received the Holy Spirit. Unlike now in Acts 8, the specific proofs of the Spirit are noted, which are speaking in tongues and prophesying. That is probably what occurred with these Samaritans, but it remains unstated.

Whatever transpired, it was sufficient proof to Peter and John that the matter was settled. There were the necessary “two or three witnesses” to establish the matter, and therefore the matter is established. The written words of Luke confirm that it is so. Seeing this, however, it says that when Simon saw what occurred, “he offered them money.”

Simon was in the business of amazing the people through magic. It may have been simple tricks to fool them or actual black arts. Either way, his source of livelihood was now gone because he had believed in something greater. With that now the case, and with seeing the demonstrable proof that what Peter and John had taught was true, he probably thought, “If I can do this, I can continue my livelihood by doing this with others by obtaining this ability.”

The coming verses will show the utterly perverse nature of this. With this in mind, it is something that scholars jump on and immediately start claiming that he isn’t saved, and his actions have proven this. On the contrary, verse 8:13 clearly and unambiguously tells us that he believed the gospel. This is what saves, not making stupid errors concerning life in Christ after being saved. If such were the case, not a person who was ever saved would continue to be saved.

The account says that the Holy Spirit was given at the laying on of hands by the apostles. We have no idea if that included Simon or not. He may have seen this in others, or it may have occurred to him personally. All that is given is the record of his belief and then of what now transpires.

Life application: Are speaking in tongues and prophesying proof today that someone has received the Holy Spirit? The answer must be, “No.” People in other religions and in false sects of Christianity also speak in “tongues,” as well as “prophesy.” As such, these things do not prove anything. So why were these things given to those in the early church in Acts?

The answer is not so much to confirm to the people that they had been accepted by God, but to confirm to the apostles that they had. In the case of Paul’s laying on of hands as noted in Acts 19, that was an additional confirmation that not only had these people been accepted, but that it was after belief in Jesus’ fulfillment of what John’s baptism had only anticipated.

Repentance from sin imputed under the law cannot save anyone since the coming of Christ. Jews do that all the time, and not one of them is saved without coming to Christ. Only faith in Jesus’ fulfillment of the law through His death, burial, and resurrection can bring about salvation.

As this is true, and as the reception of the Spirit was proof of the work of Jesus for the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 2), for the apostles that the Samaritans had been accepted by God (Acts 8), and for the apostles to know that the Gentiles are accepted by God (Acts 10), then such outward signs are no longer needed. The record of them has been established.

As for the account in Acts 19, it is a clear record for all today that repentance under the law is not enough to be saved. It is a clear sign to the Judaizers and Hebrew Roots Movement adherents that they are following the wrong path. One must place his faith in Christ to be saved. When that happens, he is saved. The historical descriptions found in Acts confirm these things once and for all time.

Lord God, how grateful we are that the book of Acts reveals to us the truth concerning Your acceptance of those who have believed the gospel. We can now read the epistles that instruct us in proper doctrine and know that we too are accepted by faith alone in the completed work of Christ. The record is given, and we live by faith in the word we have been given. Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 8:17

Senate, Texas Capitol.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:17

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).

In the previous verse, Luke carefully noted that the Holy Spirit had not fallen on any who had believed in Jesus. Rather, it said, “They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” With that understood, it next says, “Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

The verbs in both clauses are imperfect. It more precisely reads, “Then they were laying hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.” This is important because it leaves the number of believers in the area unrecorded, but it gives the sense of a large number. As the apostles laid their hands on each person, that person would then receive the Holy Spirit. With this in mind, the clauses can be evaluated, beginning with, “Then they were laying hands on them.”

It is the apostles, after having come down from Jerusalem, who “were praying for them” (verse 8:15), meaning the people of Samaria. As they did, they then “were laying hands on them.” How completely different than anything seen yet! It is a recorded account of what happened, and yet something entirely different was needed for the process to be complete.

No explanation is given, and yet, it is clear that this was deemed necessary by God for us to learn something concerning both the book of Acts in general, and of His workings within the church as well as He reveals His intent for it. With this act of the apostles noted, it next says, “and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.”

There is a process that is being followed and a result that is occurring. Each person who has the hands of the apostles laid upon him only then receives the Holy Spirit. One must ask, “Is this normative?” The answer should be obvious. If it is, then it would have been required for everyone since Acts 2. Further, it would continue to be needed throughout Acts. But in Acts 10, it will say, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word” (Acts 10:44).

One must read the whole account to see the process that occurs there, but it is clear that what is happening now in Acts 8 cannot be normative. And more, it is almost wholly ignored by churches that hold to various accounts in Acts in a prescriptive manner. However, for those churches that do claim hands must be laid upon a person in order for him to receive the Spirit, various problems arise, such as:

  • It ignores the other accounts where this process is not followed.
  • It assumes that the person laying the hands on another has apostolic authority, which he does not.
  • It leads to a convoluted theology that does not match what the prescriptive epistles clearly state.

In Acts 10, a more thorough evaluation of the various differences between the accounts will be made. At that time, these things will be considered and the purpose for them will be explained.

Life application: What has been the common denominator so far in the various accounts recorded in Acts, including in the manner of baptisms that have occurred? Consider this as you read and continue to explore the book. We are being given insights into the redemptive scenario as it continues throughout history.

As for the account in Acts 8, one can see the importance of properly translating verbs from the Greek. A few varying translations of Acts 8:17 say –

Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (KJV)
Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. (NASB)
Then Peter and John laid their hands on them [one by one], and they received the Holy Spirit. (Amplified Bible)
Then Peter and John placed their hands on the Samaritans, and they received the Holy Spirit. (NET Bible)
then were they laying hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (YLT)
Then they were laying hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. (CG)

As you can see, some introduce words (italics) to provide clarity of the subject. The Amplified Bible gives a fuller explanation of the process. Instead of directly translating what is happening, the explanation gives the mind time to consider what is being said. The NET Bible inserts the word “Samaritans” in order to remind the reader exactly who is the object of the action. Young’s (YLT) translates the first imperfect verb as it actually should be, and then it translates the second imperfect verb as a perfect verb. The final translation most closely follows the Greek, but it includes the italicized word “the” before “Holy Spirit” as is needed in the translation.

The words are mostly understandable from any of the translations. The italicized words may help with clarity if they are rightly inserted. The explanatory insertions can be useful for a reader who is new to the passage or who just needs help understanding it. But in accurately translating the verbs in the imperfect as they are in the Greek, the sense of motion and continuance is more fully appreciated.

Don’t be afraid to read various translations of Scripture, and don’t be captivated by just one as well. Most translations truly want people to understand the word in order for God to be glorified, but not all do. There are hidden agendas behind some translations, so get the advice of trusted sources in order to ensure your study is both productive and glorifying of God.

What a gift Your word is, O God! Thank You for it and thank You that we can have a more intimate relationship with You as we search it out, consider it, and apply it to our walk before You. Praises to You for revealing Yourself to us in this Superior Word! Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 8:16

Inner sanctum (maybe) of Texas Capitol.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 8:16

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 verses told of Peter and John being selected to go down to Samaria. When they had done so, it says that they prayed for those of Samaria who had received the word so that they might receive the Holy Spirit. With that, Luke now continues, saying, “For as yet He had fallen upon none of them.”

The idea of the Holy Spirit falling on someone is first used here, but it will be seen again in Acts 10:44 and 11:15 when referring to the conversion of Cornelius and those with him. HELPS Word Studies says that the specific word used, epipiptó, comes from epi, on or upon, and pipto, to embrace (with affection) or to seize (with more or less violence, literally or figuratively).

It is remarkable that such a term is used when referring to Samaritans and later those Gentiles in Caesarea. It is as if the Holy Spirit was there anticipating the right moment to respond with the greatest of all affection in welcoming these people into the family of God. What occurred with the Jews in Acts 2 seems like an anticipated event that was the fulfillment of the hope that had been in them all along. But with these unsuspecting people, the use of this word provides a sudden and overwhelming embrace in an unexpected union with God.

For now, Luke next notes, “They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” The preposition is into, not in. It is the same preposition used in Matthew 28:18 when the Lord commanded this rite in the first place –

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations; baptize them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Weymouth

The significance of the use of this preposition is not to be overlooked. The baptism was done at the command of the Lord, it was done to non-Jews in accordance with that word, and it sets the tone for a normative pattern that is developing in the book of Acts. Even though each instance of conversion is different (Such as in Acts 2, 8, 10, etc.), the same pattern of obedience to the word of the Lord is seen – give the gospel, when it is received, baptize. This is exactly what the Lord stated, and it is exactly what is expected even to this day.

Further, using the word “only” in this verse (They had only been baptized) demonstrates that there is a lack that needs to be filled. In other words, something is occurring in the sequence of events that is not normative, but purposeful. In Acts 2, it said –

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’” Acts 2:38, 39

Those in Jerusalem were told they were to 1) repent; 2) be baptized upon (epi), not into, the name of Jesus Christ; and then 3) they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now in Acts 8, nothing has been said of repentance. Instead, it notes the people heeded (8:6), believed (8:13), and received the word of God (8:14). After this, they were baptized. However, that was all that happened – highlighted by the word “only.”

It is of note that Paul uses the same preposition, into (eis), as is used here when writing to the Gentile believers in Romans 6 –

“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:3, 4

Such small details in the words used give great insights into sound doctrine. When properly considered, they will dispel wrong ideas about doctrine, including several insidious heresies that have arisen within the church. As for those in Samaria, a lack exists that still must be filled. This is obviously purposeful. What do you suppose the reason for this is?

Life application: Using individual accounts from Acts to set doctrine will inevitably lead to unsound doctrine. Some churches say that, based on Acts 2, baptism is mandatory in order to be saved. But that is dispelled in the next chapter, and it continues to be dispelled throughout the rest of the book of Acts.

Some heretics say that baptism is not applicable to Gentile believers, in direct opposition to the word of the Lord in Matthew 28. Again, this is dispelled through a careful study of Acts and the epistles. Though not required for salvation, it is expected for obedience.

Some heretically say the church began with the apostle Paul and that the gospel is different for Jews and Gentiles. But that is dispelled by understanding the descriptive nature of the accounts of Acts and why those accounts are given, all of which follow a different order of events, in the first place. Acts is a tool to see what God did and why, but it is not specifically calling for any of these events to be taken as normative. And yet, by reviewing all of them as a whole, a normative doctrine can be elicited from what is provided.

Be sure to consider everything that is stated in its proper context. Only after that can a sound and reasonable evaluation of the whole package be more clearly understood. In other words, read your Bible, and keep reading your Bible – again and again. Only in thoroughly knowing its contents can you weed out the error that so many fall into.

Lord God, help us to not be swayed by false teachings. Rather, give us wisdom as we read Your word so that we will be grounded enough to weed out such falsities. May it be so to Your glory. Amen.