Acts 8:9
(9) But there was a certain man, called Simon.--The man who is thus brought before us in a brief episode, occupies a prominent place in the history and the legends of the Apostolic Church. For the present it will be convenient to deal only with the materials which St. Luke gives us, reserving a fuller account for the close of the narrative. Nothing is told us here as to his earlier history, prior to his arrival in Samaria. The name indicates Jewish or Samaritan origin. He appears as the type of a class but too common at the time, that of Jews trading on the mysterious prestige of their race and the credulity of the heathen, claiming supernatural power exercised through charms and incantations. Such afterwards was Elymas at Cyprus (Acts 13:6); such were the vagabond Jews exorcists at Ephesus (Acts 19:13); such was a namesake, Simon of Cyprus (unless, indeed, we have a re-appearance of the same man), who also claimed to be a magician, and who pandered to the vices of Felix, the Procurator of Judaea, by persuading Drusilla (Jos. Ant. xx. 7, ? 2, see Note on Acts 24:24) to leave her first husband and to marry him. The life of such a man, like that of the Cagliostro fraternity in all ages, was a series of strange adventures, and startling as the statements as to his previous life may seem (see Note on Acts 8:24), they are not in themselves incredible. Apollonius of Tyana is, perhaps, the supreme representative of the charlatanism of the period.

Used sorcery.--Literally, was practising magic. On the history of the Greek word magos and our "magic," as derived from it, see Note on Matthew 2:1. Our "sorcerer" comes, through the French sorcier, from the Latin sortitor, a caster of lots (sortes) for the purposes of divination. Later legends enter fully into the various forms of sorcery of which Simon made use. (See below.)

Bewitched the people of Samaria.--Literally, threw them into the state of trance or ecstasy; set them beside themselves, or out of their wits. The structure of the sentence shows that the "city" is not identical with Samaria, and that the latter name is used, as elsewhere, for the region.

Giving out that himself was some great one.--The next verse defines the nature of the claim more clearly. The cry of the people that he was "the great power of God," was, we may well believe, the echo of his own boast. He claimed to be, in some undefined way, an Incarnation of Divine Power. The very name had appeared in our Lord's teaching when He spoke of Himself as sitting on the right hand of "the Power of God," as an equivalent for the Father (Luke 22:69).

Verse 9. - Simon by name for called Simon, A.V.; the city for the same city, A.V.; amazed for bewitched, A.V. (here and in ver. 13). Amazed. In Luke 24:22 the same word (ἐξίστημι) is rendered "made us astonished" in the A.V.; and in Acts 2:7, 12, and elsewhere, in an intransitive sense, "were amazed." It has also the meaning of "being out of one's mind," or "beside one's self" (Mark 3:21; 2 Corinthians 5:13), but never that of "bewitching" or "being bewitched." As regards Simon, commonly surnamed Magus, from his magic arts, it is doubtful whether he is the same Simon as is mentioned by Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,'20. 7:2) as being employed by Felix the Procurator of Judaea, in the reign of Claudius (Acts 23:25), to bewitch Drusfila into forsaking her husband, King Azizus, and marrying him, which she did (Acts 24:24). The doubt arises from Josephus stating that Simon to be a Cypriot (Κύπριον γένος), whereas Justin Martyr says of Simon Magus that he was ἀπὸ κώμης λεγομένης Γίττων, a native of Gitton, or Githon, a village of Samaria. It has been thought that Gitton may be a mistake of Justin's for Citium, in Cyprus (Farrar's 'Life of St. Paul,' vol. 1. pp. 260, 352; Alford, etc.). The after history of Simon Magus is full of fable. He is spoken of by Irenaeus and other early writers as the inventor or founder of heresy. (For a list of authorities concerning Simon, see Farrar's 'Life of St. Paul,' vol. 1. p. 260, note; Alford, 1:6; 'Bible Dictionary; 'and a good article in 'Dict. of Biog. and Mythol.')

8:5-13 As far as the gospel prevails, evil spirits are dislodged, particularly unclean spirits. All inclinations to the lusts of the flesh which war against the soul are such. Distempers are here named, the most difficult to be cured by the course of nature, and most expressive of the disease of sin. Pride, ambition, and desire after grandeur have always caused abundance of mischief, both to the world and to the church. The people said of Simon, This man is the great power of God. See how ignorant and thoughtless people mistake. But how strong is the power of Divine grace, by which they were brought to Christ, who is Truth itself! The people not only gave heed to what Philip said, but were fully convinced that it was of God, and not of men, and gave up themselves to be directed thereby. Even bad men, and those whose hearts still go after covetousness, may come before God as his people come, and for a time continue with them. And many wonder at the proofs of Divine truths, who never experience their power. The gospel preached may have a common operation upon a soul, where it never produced inward holiness. All are not savingly converted who profess to believe the gospel.But there was a certain man called Simon,.... Who, as Justin Martyr (f) says, was a Samaritan, and of a village called Gitton; and so a Jewish writer (g) calls him Simeon, "the Samaritan", a wizard: here is a

but upon this new church, the success of the Gospel in this place, and the joy that was there; a man of great wickedness and sophistry plays the hypocrite, feigns himself a believer, and gets in among them; See Gill on Acts 5:1,

which beforetime in the same city used sorcery; who before Philip came thither, practised magic arts; wherefore he is commonly called "Simon Magus", for he was a magician, who had learned diabolical arts, and used enchantments and divinations, as Balaam and the magicians of Egypt did:

and bewitched the people of Samaria; or rather astonished them, with the strange feats he performed; which were so unheard of and unaccountable, that they were thrown into an ecstasy and rapture; and were as it were out of themselves, through wonder and admiration, at the amazing things that were done by him:

giving out that himself was some great one; a divine person, or an extraordinary prophet, and it may be the Messiah; since the Samaritans expected the Messiah, as appears from John 4:25 and which the Syriac version seems to incline to, which renders the words thus, "and he said, I am that great one"; that great person, whom Moses spake of as the seed of the "woman", under the name of Shiloh, and the character of a prophet.

(f) Apolog. 2. p. 69. (g) Juchasin, fol. 242. 2.

Acts 8:8
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