|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:14-25 The Holy Ghost was as yet fallen upon none of these coverts, in the extraordinary powers conveyed by the descent of the Spirit upon the day of Pentecost. We may take encouragement from this example, in praying to God to give the renewing graces of the Holy Ghost to all for whose spiritual welfare we are concerned; for that includes all blessings. No man can give the Holy Spirit by the laying on of his hands; but we should use our best endeavours to instruct those for whom we pray. Simon Magus was ambitious to have the honour of an apostle, but cared not at all to have the spirit and disposition of a Christian. He was more desirous to gain honour to himself, than to do good to others. Peter shows him his crime. He esteemed the wealth of this world, as if it would answer for things relating to the other life, and would purchase the pardon of sin, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and eternal life. This was such a condemning error as could by no means consist with a state of grace. Our hearts are what they are in the sight of God, who cannot be deceived. And if they are not right in his sight, our religion is vain, and will stand us in no stead. A proud and covetous heart cannot be right with God. It is possible for a man to continue under the power of sin, yet to put on a form of godliness. When tempted with money to do evil, see what a perishing thing money is, and scorn it. Think not that Christianity is a trade to live by in this world. There is much wickedness in the thought of the heart, its false notions, and corrupt affections, and wicked projects, which must be repented of, or we are undone. But it shall be forgiven, upon our repentance. The doubt here is of the sincerity of Simon's repentance, not of his pardon, if his repentance was sincere. Grant us, Lord, another sort of faith than that which made Simon wonder only, and did not sanctify his heart. May we abhor all thoughts of making religion serve the purposes of pride or ambition. And keep us from that subtle poison of spiritual pride, which seeks glory to itself even from humility. May we seek only the honour which cometh from God.
Verse 23. - See for perceive, A.V. In the gall of bitterness, etc. The passage from which both this expression and the similar one in Hebrews 12:15 are taken is manifestly Deuteronomy 29:18, where the Greek of the LXX. has, ῤίζα ἄνω φύουσα ἐν χολῇ καὶ πικρίᾳ. The context there also shows conclusively that the "gall and bitterness" ("wormwood," A.V.) of which Moses speaks is the spirit of idolatry or defection from God springing up in some professing member of the Church, and defiling and corrupting others, as it is expounded in Hebrews 12:15, 16. This, as St. Peter saw, was exactly the case with Simon, whose heart was not straight with God, but "had turned away from him," as it is said in Deuteronomy. Though baptized, he was still an idolater in heart, and likely to trouble many. "The gall of bitterness" is the same as "gall and wormwood," or "bitterness." "Gall," or "bile," is in classical Greek and other languages a synonym for "bitterness," especially in a figurative sense (see Lamentations 3:15, 19 - πικρία καὶ χολή, LXX.). The uncommon phrase, the bond of iniquity, seems to be borrowed from Isaiah 58:6, where the LXX. have the same words, λύε πὰντα σύνδεσμον ἀδικίας, "loose the bands of wickedness," A.V. Simon was still bound in these bands.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness,.... Alluding to Deuteronomy 29:18 with which compare Hebrews 12:15 and signifying, that he was in a state of nature and unregeneracy; under the power and dominion of covetousness, ambition, and hypocrisy; and in a way pernicious to himself, infectious to others, and ungrateful to God, and to good men; and that instead of the root of the matter, the truth of grace being in him, there was nothing in him but the bitter root of sin; which bore gall and wormwood, and everything that was nauseous and disagreeable:
and in the bond of iniquity; referring to Proverbs 5:22 and suggesting, that he was held fast bound in the bonds of sin, and with the cords of iniquity, or was entirely under the government of his lusts: the preposition which we render "in", may retain here, as is by some observed, its proper sense of "for", or "into"; and have the same signification it has in Hebrews 1:5 "I will be to him for a father", or "a father", and "he shall be to me for a son", or "a son": and then the sense of Peter is, I plainly perceive and clearly see by thy words and actions, that thou art nothing else but a lump of bitter gall, and a bundle of sin and wickedness.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23. in the gall of bitterness and … bond of iniquity—expressing both the awfulness of his condition and the captivity to it in which he was held.
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