Acts 8:23

Looking down on Great Seal of the state of (Yee Haw) Texas. Texas Capitol.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

“For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” Acts 8:23

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).

Peter has upbraided Simon for his offer of money to have the power to impart the Holy Spirit to others. He then offered the corrective measure which was for him to repent and pray. Now as an additional poke at him, he says, “For I see.”

Peter discerns the wickedness that fills Simon that he spoke of in the previous verse and he identifies it to him with the words, “that you are poisoned by bitterness.”

The verb is a present participle and the word “poisoned” is a noun, not a verb. It more precisely reads, “that you are being in the gall of bitterness.” The word translated as “gall” is cholé. It means gall or bitter herbs. It is what was given to Jesus in Matthew 27:34 as a painkiller and which He refused to drink. Here, it is used figuratively.

The next word, bitterness, is from the Greek word pikria. It is found only here, and it signifies bitterness, harshness, and such, as in an embittered spirit. This word will be seen in Romans 3:14, Ephesians 4:31, and Hebrews 12:15. In Ephesians 4, Paul notes that this and other negative traits can exist in believers, but they are to be put away.

The two words together give the sense of Simon either being corrupted by (poison) or immune (anesthetized) to bitterness. Peter continues with his words saying, “and bound by iniquity.”

Again, the first word is a noun, not a verb. In essence, “You are being in the bond of iniquity.” It is as if iniquity (unrighteousness) is acting as a force that restrains him in the state of iniquity so that he can do nothing else. It is a word that Paul uses concerning believers, such as in Romans 3:5 and in an ironic way concerning himself in 2 Corinthians 12:13.

It is to be noted that throughout the epistles there are saved believers who are highlighted for their improper conduct and attitudes, but Paul does not question their salvation. They believed and were saved.

The record in Acts concerning Simon says he believed. What he needs is repentance and turning to sound thinking and doctrine, something desperately needed throughout the church and in all ages. If the words used to describe Simon were a statement that he was not saved, it would be a statement against the majority of believers at any given time in their lives after salvation.

Life application: The Bible says that a person is saved by grace through faith. Grace is unmerited favor. It is, therefore, something that no person deserves. It is also something that any person can obtain. Simon was said to have believed in Acts 8:13. Does his belief not justify being granted grace because he is described in such a negative way by Peter? On the contrary, Paul addresses this in Romans in an ironic fashion noting that the “truth of God has increased through my [supposed] lie to His glory” (Romans 3:7).

In other words, it is like saying, “When a person has done great wickedness and yet is forgiven, it shows the truly great nature of God who will still forgive.” The more sinful a person was before believing, the greater the mark of mercy is granted, and the greater the grace of God is highlighted.

Paul then goes further and says that some actually accused him of basically saying, “Well if this is true then let us sin even more so that God can be even more magnified in His forgiveness of us.” Paul immediately shows that that is perverse thinking, and someone who thinks that way is justly condemned for entertaining such an idea.

Simon believed. Assuming (and there is no reason to think otherwise) that he was saved, it does not mean that he suddenly became a person without fault. Rather, in his state, God’s grace towards him was shown to be exceptional. Now, what Simon needs is correction (something he has been given by Peter), and turning to the appropriate path.

As you witness to people more and more, you will find that there are many people who truly believe but who are so theologically confused that it will take a long time to sort them out. And some may never get completely sorted out. Paul refers to a couple of men in this state in 1 Timothy 1:18-20. There is a point where you just have to deliver them over to Satan and let them learn their lesson the hard way.

In the end, it is our job to hold fast to what is right, to teach others in this manner, and to live our lives as faithful Christians so that we can be examples for others to emulate. If we do these things, we will be doing our part.

Lord God, help us to be sound in our footing as we walk along the paths of right doctrine and personal holiness. In this, we can lead others as well. Give us the ability to remember Your word, to apply it to our lives, and to call it to memory as need be. With this, we can be the example to others that we should be. To Your glory! Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 8:22

Fancy lights. Texas Capitol.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 8:21

An official room of Texas State Capitol (Meaning I have no idea which).

Sunday, 26 June 2022

You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Acts 8:21

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).

Peter just let Simon have it for offering money and asking to be given the power to impart the Holy Spirit to others. He continues that now, saying, “You have neither part nor portion in this matter.”

The word Peter uses, and which is translated as “portion,” is kléros. It signifies an assigned portion, coming from a word signifying “to cast lots.” When the lot is cast, the portion is assigned. Peter is not telling him he is not saved or that he has no portion in Jesus. He is saying that he has no part or portion in the imparting of the Holy Spirit, the matter now being considered.

This “portion” belonged to the office to which it has been assigned, meaning that of the apostles. This is obvious because Philip, not being an apostle, had preached the gospel and the people had believed, but the Holy Spirit had not come upon them until the apostles had come and placed their hands on the people. Further, this portion is not something that was required at all times, as has been seen earlier in Acts and as will be seen later in Acts.

The absence of the apostles is what necessitated their coming to Samaria. The impartation of the Spirit by them was a confirmation to the people that the Spirit had approved them and their office. In other instances, this is obvious. In this instance, because they were not there at the time of the evangelization, it was deemed necessary by God. With this validation, the office – and thus the words from them – are validated. There was no need for this from Simon, and in fact, it would be contrary to the purposes of God for him to receive such powers. Further, Peter exclaims, “for your heart is not right.”

The word Peter uses, euthus, means “straight.” It is being straight such as in “straight paths.” It is also used figuratively to mean “true” or “right.” Peter will use it in this sense in his second epistle where he speaks of “the right way” rather than the way of the ungodly. Simon’s heart was perverse and was focused on what is earthly. He needs schooling in order for his heart to be right “in the sight of God.”

Here is a word used for the second and last time, enanti. It comes from “in” and “in place of.” Thus, it means “before.” Its other use was in Luke 1:8 where Zecharias was said to be serving “before” God, meaning in his priestly duties while at the temple. This does not mean that Peter is saying he was not a true believer. Rather, it means that in the matter at hand, his heart was not right and would need correction.

Life application: The issue of salvation is not the same as learning and instruction in what is pleasing to God (personal sanctification). And the issue of personal sanctification is not the same as positional sanctification. A person is saved by belief in the gospel message –

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9

A person is sanctified positionally before God at that time –

“But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11

The meaning of this positional sanctification is that because of being saved by Jesus, the person is now set apart as holy before God. This is more fully explained in Hebrews 10 where the believers had moved from the Old Covenant to the New –

“By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:10-14

Those who are saved are sanctified, or set apart as holy, unto God. It is a done deal. However, there is still the matter of people not being right before God in their attitudes, actions, and manner of life after being saved. This then is what is needed for personal sanctification. In other words, there is not a zapping of the person that is saved by Christ, suddenly converting him into an ultra-spiritual person that conducts himself flawlessly before the Lord. Rather, this is what discipleship is for. We are to grow in personal holiness all the days of our lives –

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:9

Unfortunately, too many people mix these categories and demand that a person must not “be saved” because he acts in a manner contrary to personal holiness. The fact is that not a person ever saved has been personally perfected before the Lord. Further, every person ever saved is on a different level of personal sanctification. We are not, nor can we be, the standard by which to judge the salvation of others based on such things. We cannot do it with Simon, and we cannot do it with anyone else.

It is true that the Bible gives guidelines on such matters though. When we see a person who is named a brother but who is engaging in improper conduct, we are to warn him even to a second time and then have nothing to do with him (Titus 3:11). If such people are in the church, they are to be put out of the church until their actions are corrected (1 Corinthians 5).

Let us keep our categories straight. In doing so, we will not make the mistake of deciding who is saved based on external actions. Rather, in treating them as noted in 1 Corinthians 5, it is under the assumption that they are, in fact, saved.

Glorious God, may we be willing to grow in holiness before You all our days. Help us in this. We are weak and temptations come easily. Give us both the desire to know Your word, and then to apply it to our walk before You. Thank You for Your word that can mold us into Your image as we await the day of our final glorification! And may that day be soon. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.