Acts 8:13
Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
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(13) Then Simon himself believed also.—Endless questions have been raised as to the nature of such a faith, and the effect of such a baptism. It is probable enough that he was impressed by the signs that Philip wrought; that he felt himself in the presence of a Power above his own; that he accepted Philip’s statements as to the death and resurrection of the Christ. It was such a faith as that of which St. James speaks (James 2:14; James 2:19). If we are to use the definite language of theological science, it would be true to say that he had the fides informis, faith not preceded by repentance and not perfected by love. And baptism, in such a case, the expressed or implied conditions being absent, brought with it no new birth to a higher life. He remained still “in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:23). But even for him it bore its witness of the readiness of God to forgive and to regenerate. The subsequent fulfilment of the conditions which were then absent would have quickened the potential into an actual grace, and no second baptism would have been needed to supplement the shortcomings of the first. Peter calls on him (Acts 8:22) to repent and pray for forgiveness. He does not tell him that he must be baptised again.

And wondered.—The verb is the same as that rendered “bewitched” in Acts 8:9; Acts 8:11. The tables were turned. The magician yielded to a spell mightier than his own, and was, in his turn, as one beside himself with amazement. The difference between Simon and the believing Samaritans is, in this matter, suggestive. His faith rested on outward miracles. With them the miracles did but serve to confirm a faith which rested on the “prophetic word” as spoken by the Son of Man (John 4:42).

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.Then Simon himself believed also - That is, he believed that Jesus had performed miracles, and was raised from the dead, etc. All this he could believe in entire consistency with his own notions of the power of magic; and all that the connection requires us to suppose is that he believed this Jesus had the power of working miracles; and as he purposed to turn this to his own account, he was willing to profess himself to be his follower. It might have injured his popularity, moreover, if he had taken a stand in opposition when so many were professing to become Christians. People often profess religion because, if they do not, they fear that they will lose their influence, and be left with the ungodly. That Simon was not a real Christian is apparent from the whole narrative, Acts 8:18, Acts 8:21-23.

And when he was baptized - He was admitted to a "profession" of religion in the same way as others. Philip did not pretend to know the heart; and Simon was admitted because he "professed" his belief. This is all the evidence that ministers of the gospel can now have, and it is no wonder that they, as well Philip, are often deceived. The reasons which influenced Simon to make a profession of religion seem to have been these:

(1) An impression that Christianity was "true." He seems to have been convinced of this by the miracles of Philip.

(2) the fact that many others were becoming Christians; and "he" went in with the multitude. This is often the case in revivals of religion.

(3) he was willing to make use of Christianity to advance his own power, influence, and popularity - a thing which multitudes of men of the same mind with Simon Magus have been willing since to do.

He continued ... - It was customary and natural for the disciples to remain with their teachers. See Acts 2:42.

And wondered - This is the same word that is translated "bewitched" in Acts 8:9, Acts 8:11. It means that he was amazed that Philip could "really" perform so much greater miracles than "he" had even pretended to. Hypocrites will sometimes be greatly attentive to the external duties of religion, and will be greatly surprised at what is done by God for the salvation of sinners.

Miracles and signs - Greek: signs and great powers, or great miracles. That is, so much greater than he pretended to be able to perform.

13. Then Simon himself believed also—Left without followers, he thinks it best to join the man who had fairly outstripped him, not without a touch of real conviction.

and … was baptized—What a light does this throw on what is called Baptismal Regeneration!

he continued with Philip—"was in constant attendance upon" him.

Simon himself believed; Simon believed with an historical faith, that it was indeed true, that our Saviour had done miracles, and did rise from the dead, but his faith, to be sure, was dead all the while; neither did he believe with his heart, or purpose to live according to the law of Christ, which is the life of faith.

He continued with Philip; kept him constantly company, and was amongst the forwardest of the professors of Christ’s faith.

And wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done; thus the magicians of Egypt were brought to acknowledge the finger of God, Exodus 8:19, although their hearts were hardened.

Then Simon himself believed also,.... With an historical and temporary faith, as that Jesus was the Messiah, &c. or at least he pretended, to believe this, and professed that he did believe, what others did, and Philip preached:

and when he was baptized; upon profession of his faith, which he so artfully made, that Philip could not discover his hypocrisy: but taking him to be a sincere believer, admitted him to baptism: after which,

he continued with Philip; kept close to him, and got into a familiar acquaintance with him; and constantly attended on his ministry, as if he had been a sincere disciple and follower of Christ:

and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done; he was as much amazed at the miraculous performances of Philip, as the inhabitants of Samaria had been at his, which he could observe were real things; and this increased his wonder, and threw him into an ecstasy, that he was scarce himself: whereas he knew that what he did were only sham performances, and legerdemain tricks.

{6} Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

(6) The wicked and the highly reprobate are often forced to taste the good gift of God, but they immediately spit it out again.

Acts 8:13.Ἐπίστευσε] also on his part (κ. αὐτός), like the other Samaritans, he became believing, namely, likewise τῷ Φιλίππῳ εὐαγγελιζομένῳ κ.τ.λ. Entirely at variance with the text is the opinion (Grotius, Clericus, Rosenmüller, Kuinoel) that Simon regarded Jesus only as a great magician and worker of miracles, and not as the Messiah, and only to this extent believed on Him. He was, by the preaching and miracles of Philip, actually moved to faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Yet this faith of his was only historical and intellectual, without having as its result a change of the inner life;[222] hence he was soon afterwards capable of what is related in vv.18, 19. The real ΜΕΤΆΝΟΙΑ is not excited in him, even at Acts 8:24. Cyril aptly remarks: ἘΒΑΠΤΊΣΘΗ, ἈΛΛʼ ΟὐΚ ἘΦΩΤΊΣΘΗ.

] he, who had formerly been himself ἘΞΙΣΤῶΝ ΤῸ ἜΘΝΟς!

[222] Bengel well remarks: “Agnovit, virtutem Dei non esse in se, sed in Philippo.… Non tamen pertigit ad fidem plenam, justificantem, cor purificantem, salvantem, tametsi ad eam pervenisse speciose videretur, donec se aliter prodidit.”

Acts 8:13. καὶ αὐτὸς: characteristic of St. Luke, see Friedrich, Das Lucasevangelium, p. 37.—βαπτισθεὶςἐβαπτίσθη ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐφωτίσθη (St. Cyril).—ἦν προσκαρτερῶν: on ἦν with a participle as characteristic of St. Luke see on Acts 1:10, and Friedrich, u. s., p. 12; on προσκαρτ. see on Acts 1:14. Here with dative of the person (cf. Acts 10:7); the whole expression shows how assiduously Simon attached himself to Philip.—θεωρῶν: the faith of Simon rested on the outward miracles and signs, a faith which ended in amazement, ἐξίστατο—but it was no permanent abiding faith, just as the amazement which he had himself inspired in others gave way before a higher and more convincing belief. The expression δυνάμεις μεγάλας may have been purposely chosen; hitherto men had seen in Simon, and he himself had claimed to be, ἡ δύν. ἡ μεγάλη (Weiss).—ἐξίστατο: “Simon qui alios obstupefaciebat, jam ipse obstupescit,” Wetstein. ἐξίσταμαι, intransitive, Blass, Grammatik, p. 49. Irenæus speaks of him as one who pretended faith, Acts 1:23 (so too St. Cyril, St. Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose): he may have believed in the Messianic dignity of Christ, and in His Death and Resurrection, constrained by the miracles which Philip wrought in attestation of his preaching, but it was a belief about the facts, and not a belief in Him whom the facts made known, a belief in the power of the new faith, but not an acceptance of its holiness, Acts 8:18 (see further, Rendall’s note in loco, and on the Baptism of Simon, “Baptism,” in Hastings’ B.D.).

13. Then [And] Simon himself believed also] We can see from the history which follows that the belief here described was of a very imperfect nature. It perhaps amounted to no more than the conviction that in Philip was some power greater than his own. We have an example of a like imperfect belief described in like words in St John’s Gospel (Acts 8:31), “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him,” and all that follows in the chapter shews that the belief which they professed was not enough to prevent them from plotting for Christ’s death.

and when he was baptized, he continued with Philips and wondered [was amazed] St Luke’s words imply that Simon was only wonder-struck at the sight of the works wrought by Philip, just as his own works had made the Samaritans to wonder.

beholding the miracles and signs which were done] Better, beholding the signs and great miracles wrought. There is apparently a distinction intended by St Luke between the belief of the Samaritans and that of Simon. When they believed, it was the preaching and the glad tidings to which they most gave heed, but the verb used in this verse seems to paint Simon as one who gazed with wonder only on a sight which was beyond him to explain.

Acts 8:13. Ἐπίστευσε, believed) Perceived, that the power of GOD is not in himself, but is in Philip. It was easier to Simon than to the Samaritans to take up faith; for he felt a power superior to his own. He did not, however, attain to a faith full, justifying, purifying the heart, saving: he had a specious appearance of having reached it, until he betrayed himself in a different character.—βαπτισθεὶς, having been baptized) Hence, by a comparison with Acts 8:22 [where baptism over again is not enjoined], it is evident that baptism is not to be repeated in the case of hypocrites and those who have relapsed.—σημεῖα, καὶ δυνάμεις μεγάλας, γινόμενα) The epithet of greatness (μεγάλας) is more appropriate to δυνάμεις, and the participle γινόμενα is more suited to σημεῖα, which move men to faith [therefore γινόμενα agrees with σημεῖα, not with δυνάμεις]. A similar variety (change in the gender) also occurs Ephesians 2:1, etc., τοῖς παραπτώμασι καὶ ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις· ἐν αἷςἐν οἷς, κ.τ.λ. Some have made a change in the μεγάλας; others, in the γινόμενα.[56]

[56] ABC (which omits however γινόμενας) Dd Vulg. Syr. Memph. and Theb. read σημεῖα καὶ δυνάμεις μεγάλας γινόμενας: and so Lachm. Ee read δυνάμεις καὶ σημεῖα (σημια) μέγαλα γινόμενα: so Tisch., but omitting μέγαλα, without any of the oldest authorities.—E. and T.

Verse 13. - And for then, A.V.; also himself believed for himself believed also, A.V.; being baptized for when he was baptized, A.V.; beholding signs and great miracles wrought, he was amazed for wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Contained with (η}ν προσκαρτερῶν); see Acts 1:14; 3:46; 6:4; 10.7. St. Paul uses the word in Romans 12:12; Romans 13:6; Colossians 4:2; and the substantive formed from it (προσκαρτέρησις) once, Ephesians 6:18. Elsewhere in the New Testament it occurs only in Mark 3:9. But it is found in Hist. cf. Sus. 6. Amazed (see note on ver. 9). In Simon we have the first example of one who, having been baptized into Jesus Christ, lived to disgrace and corrupt the faith which he professed. He was an instance of the tares sown among the wheat, and of the seed which sprang up quickly being as quickly destroyed. He is an instance also of the truth of our Lord's raying, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Acts 8:13Continued with

See on Acts 1:14.

Miracles and signs (σημεῖα καὶ δυνάμεις)

Lit., signs and powers. See on Matthew 11:20; Acts 2:22.

Which were done (γινομένας)

The present participle. Lit., are coming to pass.

He was amazed

After having amazed the people by his tricks. See Acts 8:9. The same word is employed.

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