Acts 8:20
But Peter said to him, Your money perish with you, because you have thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Thy money perish with thee.—Literally, Thy money be together with thee, for perdition. The same word is used as in the “son of perdition” in John 17:12 and in Hebrews 10:39. The prominence of the word in 2Peter 2:1-3; 2Peter 3:7; 2Peter 3:16, is interesting in connection with the question as to the authorship of that Epistle. Another coincidence presents itself in the “gold that perisheth” of 1Peter 1:7.

Because thou hast thought . . . .—Better, because thou thoughtest. The speaker looks at the thought historically, as at the moment when it rose up in the sorcerer’s mind. The Greek verb has a transitive not a passive sense, thou thoughtest to acquire the gift of God by money. Not so, Peter must have remembered, had he acquired that gift. The very word which he uses is that which our Lord had spoken to him and his brother Apostles, “Freely” (i.e., as a gift) “ye have received” (Matthew 10:8).

Acts 8:20-21. But Peter said, Thy money perish with thee — Not being able to conceal his indignation, upon hearing so infamous an offer. His words are not to be considered as an imprecation, but as a strong admonition to Simon of his danger, and an intimation, how much rather the apostle would see the greatest sum of money lost and cast away, than receive any part of it upon such shameful terms. With a horror like that with which Peter received the wicked proposal of Simon, should we look on the conduct of all those by whom sacred things are either bought or sold; an infamous traffic, about which an upright man cannot deliberate a moment, but will reject it at once with an honest scorn and indignation, like that of Peter in the present instance. “They,” says Beza, “who buy and sell sacred things, are the successors not of Simon Peter, but of Simon Magus.” A crime almost equally enormous with this is, that of prostituting the ordinances of Christ to secular ends. In vain is it for men to profess themselves Christians, in vain to submit like Simon to baptism, or like him to adhere constantly to the ministers of the gospel, while such hypocritical conduct proclaims aloud that they are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Because thou hast thought — Hast persuaded thyself; that the gift of God may be purchased with money — Thus, on the one hand, overvaluing the wealth of this world, as if it were an equivalent for any thing, even for spiritual and eternal blessings; and, on the other, undervaluing the gift of the Holy Ghost, and putting it on a level with the common gifts of nature and providence. Observe, reader, all the buying and selling of pardons and indulgences in the Church of Rome is the product of this same wicked thought, that the gift of God may be purchased with money; whereas the offer of divine grace is expressly made to all that will receive it, without money and without price. Thou hast neither part — By purchase, nor lot — Given gratis, in this matter — This gift of God; nor any interest in the important spiritual blessings to which all these extraordinary gifts of the Spirit are subservient; for thy heart is not right in the sight of God — Otherwise thou wouldst think far more honourably of his Spirit than to form a mercenary scheme to traffic in it in this scandalous manner. Probably Peter discerned that Simon’s heart was not right in the sight of God long before he declared it; although it does not appear that God gave to any of the apostles a universal power of discerning the hearts of all they conversed with, any more than a universal power of healing all the sick they came near. This we are sure Paul had not, though he was not inferior to the chief of the apostles; otherwise he would not have suffered the illness of Epaphroditus to have brought him so near death, Php 2:25-27; nor left so useful a fellow-labourer as Trophimus sick at Miletus, 2 Timothy 4:20. Observe, reader, although we cannot infer from every thing that a man saith or doth amiss, that he is a hypocrite in the profession he makes of religion; yet, conduct like this of Simon is such a fundamental error as can by no means consist with a state of grace. His offering money for a spiritual gift was an incontestable evidence, 1st, That he was yet under the power of a worldly and carnal spirit; and, 2d, That he was yet a mere natural man, who received not the things of the Spirit of God. His heart, as Peter tells him, was not right, and we are as our hearts are: if they be not right, we are wrong; and, whatever our pretensions may be, our religion is vain, and will stand us in no stead on a death-bed, or at the day of judgment. Inquire, therefore, reader, whether thy heart be right in His sight who trieth the heart and the reins, to whom every heart is open, and who will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, and in particular will make manifest the counsels of the heart.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.Thy money perish with thee - This is expressive of the horror and indignation of Peter at the base offer of Simon. It is not to be understood as an imprecation on Simon. The main idea is the apostle's contempt for the "money," as if he regarded it as of no value. "Let your money go to destruction. We abhor your impious offer. We can freely see "any" amount of money destroyed before we will be tempted to sell the gift of the Holy Spirit. But there was here also an expression of his belief that "Simon" also would perish. It was a declaration that he was hastening to ruin, and as if this was certain, Peter says, let your money perish "too."

The gift of God - That which he has "given," or conferred as a favor. The idea was absurd that what God himself gave as a sovereign could be purchased. It was "impious" to think of attempting to buy with worthless gold what was of so inestimable value. The "gift of God" here means the extraordinary influences of the Holy Spirit, Acts 10:45; Acts 11:17. How can we pay a "price" to God? All that "we" can give, the silver, and the gold, and the cattle on a thousand hills, belong to him already. We have "nothing" which we can present for his favors. And yet there are many who seek to "purchase" the favor of God. Some do it by alms and prayers; some by penance and fasting; some by attempting to make their own hearts better, and by self-righteousness; and some by penitence and tears. All these will not "purchase" his favor. Salvation, like every other blessing, will be "his gift"; and if ever received, we must be willing to accept it on his own terms; at his own time; in his own way. We are without merit; and if saved, it will be by the sovereign grace of God.

20. Thy money perish with thee—that is, "Accursed be thou and thy money with thee." It is the language of mingled horror and indignation, not unlike our Lord's rebuke of Peter himself (Mt 16:23). Thy money perish with thee; a formal execration or curse, not only on his money, but also upon Simon himself; but always to be conditional, viz. unless he repented.

Thou hast thought: our hearts are to be watched over; our thoughts may be exceeding sinful, as here, which made his words or desires to be so ill taken. But Peter said to him,.... With great abhorrence and indignation, resenting and detesting his proposal:

thy money perish with thee; or "go into destruction with thee"; signifying, that he would not touch his money, or have anything to do with that or him either, in any such way: the words do not so much design an imprecation on his person, as an abhorrence of his sin; and rather show what his sin deserved than what he desired might be; for the apostle did not simply wish his damnation, since he afterwards exhorts him to repentance, and to pray for forgiveness; but threatens, and even predicts what would be his case, should he live and die in such a state, in which he appeared to be:

because thou hast thought that the gift of God; the Holy Ghost, and his extraordinary gifts, which are freely given, when and to whom the Lord himself pleases:

may be purchased with money; he appears to have a wrong notion of the Spirit of God and his gifts, and of the grace of in bestowing them; as well as a wicked design of purchasing them with money, in order to sell them again; so that it was a sullying and lessening of the grace of God, as well as seeking himself, his own ambition, and filthy lucre: and let such observe how near they come to his sin, who seek to obtain the grace of justification, and the free gift of eternal life, by their own works.

(9) But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

(9) They are the successors of Simon Magus, and not Simon Peter, who either buy or sell holy things.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 8:20-21. Thy money be along with thee unto destruction; i.e. let perdition, Messianic penal destruction, come upon thy money and thyself! The sin-money, in the lofty strain of the language, is set forth as something personal, capable of ἀπώλεια.

εἴη εἰς ἀπώλ.] a usual attraction: fall into destruction and be in it. See Winer, p. 386 f. [E. T. 516 f.]. Comp. Acts 8:23.

τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ Θεοῦ] τὴν ἐξουσίαν ταύτην, ἵνα κ.τ.λ., Acts 8:19. Observe the antithetically chosen designation.

ἐνόμισας] thou wast minded, namely, in the proposal made.

μερὶς οὐδὲ κλῆρος] synonyms, of which the second expresses the idea figuratively: part nor lot. Comp. Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 14:27; Deuteronomy 14:29; Isaiah 57:6. The utterance is earnest.

ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τούτῳ] in this word, i.e. in the ἐξουσία to be the medium of the Spirit, which was in question. Lange gratuitously imports the idea: in this word, which flows from the hearts of believers moved by the Spirit. λόγος of the “ipsa causa, de qua disceptatur,” is very current also in classical writers, Ast, Lex. Plat. II. p. 256; Brunck, ad Soph. Aj. 1268; Wolf, ad Dem. Lept. p. 277; Nägelsb. on the Iliad, p. 41 f. ed. 3. Others, as Olshausen and Neander after Grotius, explain λόγος of the gospel, all share in whose blessings is cut off from Simon. But then this reference must have been suggested by the context, in which, however, there is no mention at all of doctrine.

εὐθεῖα, straight, i.e. upright (comp. Wis 9:3; Sir 7:6), for Simon thought to acquire (κτᾶσθαι) an ἐξουσία not destined for him, from immoral motives, and by an unrighteous means. Herein lies the immoral nature of simony, whose source is selfishness. Comp. the ethical σκολιός (Luke 3:5), Acts 2:40; Php 2:15. “Cor arx boni et mali,” Bengel; Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 250.Acts 8:20. τὸ ἀργύριόν σου κ.τ.λ.: the words are no curse or imprecation, as is evident from Acts 8:22, but rather a vehement expression of horror on the part of St. Peter, an expression which would warn Simon that he was on the way to destruction. Rendall considers that the real form of the prayer is not that Simon may perish, but that as he is already on the way to destruction, so the silver may perish which is dragging him down, to the intent that Simon himself may repent and be forgiven: so Page, “thy money perish, even as thou art now perishing,” cf. Œcumenius, in loco (and to the same effect St. Chrys.): οὔκ ἐστι ταῦτα ἀρωμένου ἀλλὰ παιδεύοντος, οὔκ ἐστι ταῦτα ἀρωμένου ἀλλὰ παιδεύοντος ὡς ἄν τις εἴποι· τὸ ἀργύριον σου συναπόλοιτό σοι μετὰ τῆς προαιρέσεως. But see also on the optative of wishing, Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 79, where he speaks of Mark 11:14 and Acts 8:20 as peculiar, being imprecations of evil, and cf. also Blass, Grammatik, p. 215.—εἴη εἰς ἀπώλειαν: a frequent construction, “go to destruction and remain there,” see Felten, Wendt, Page, and cf. Acts 8:23, εἰς χολὴνὄντα. The noun occurs no less than five times in St. Peter’s Second Epistle, cf. also 1 Peter 1:7. εἰς ἀπώλ. occurs five times elsewhere, Romans 9:22, 1 Timothy 6:9, Hebrews 10:39, Revelation 17:8; Revelation 17:11, and it is frequent in LXX; cf. 1 Chronicles 21:17, Isaiah 14:23; Isaiah 54:16, Daniel 3:29; Daniel 2:5, Theod., etc.; 1Ma 3:42, Bel and the Dragon, Acts 8:29, and several times in Ecclus.—τὴν δωρεὰν: and so, not to be bought, cf. Matthew 10:8, and our Lord’s own words in Samaria, John 4:10, εἰ ἤδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ Θεοῦ κ.τ.λ.—ὅτιἐνόμισας διὰ χ. κτᾶσθαι: “because thou hast thought to obtain,” to acquire, gain possession of, κτᾶσθαι, deponent verb, so in classical Greek, not passive as in A.V., see Matthew 10:9, and elsewhere twice in St. Luke’s Gospel, Acts 18:12, Acts 21:19, and three times in Acts 1:18; Acts 8:20; Acts 22:28, and once in St. Paul, 1 Thessalonians 4:4, frequent in LXX, and in same sense as here of acquiring by money.—ἐνόμ.: it was not a mere error of judgment, but a sinful intention, which had come from a heart not right before God, Acts 8:21; cf. Matthew 15:19.20. But Peter said unto him, Thy money [silver] perish with thee] It is clear from what follows that this terrible invocation of doom upon this offender is to be qualified by the condition supplied from Acts 8:22, where repentance and prayer are pointed out as means whereby even so great a sinner may find forgiveness. And St Peter may have thus joined Simon in the same destruction as his money, because he foresaw that there was little or no hope that such a man could be brought to repentance unless the consequence of his sin were set before him in all its terror.

because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money] Better, because thou thoughtest to purchase, &c. Simon had given no heed to the prayer of the Apostles that the gift of the Spirit should be sent down. He thought not of it as a “gift of God,” but by the language which St Peter here employs of him, he considered that if it could be once secured by him it would be his own at all times and for ever.Acts 8:20. Εἴη, may thy money be or go to destruction) An anathema of the person and of the thing. Peter exercises the ‘binding’ power.—τὴν δωρεὰν, the gift) Matthew 10:8, “Freely (δωρεὰν) ye have received, freely give.”—ἐνόμισας κτᾶσθαι, thou hast thought to acquire or purchase) νομίζω [statuo] is said of the understanding and the will. So 2Ma 7:19, μὴ νομίσῃς ἀθῶος ἔσεσθαι. [Both sin and guilt especially belong to the heart: Acts 8:21-22.—V. g.]Verse 20. - Silver for money, A.V.; to obtain the gift of God for that the gift of God may be purchased, A.V. (rightly, κτᾶσθαι is the middle voice). Silver. This is a change of very doubtful necessity; ἀργύριον, like the French argent, is frequently used for "money" generally, without any reference to the particular metal of which it is made. Sometimes, indeed, it is used in opposition to "gold," as Acts 3:6 and Acts 20:33, and then it is properly rendered "silver." Here the Revisers' mason, doubtless, was to reserve "money" as the rendering of χρήματα (vers. 19, 20). St. Peter's answer is remarkable, not only for the warmth with which he repudiates the proffered bribe, but also for the jealous humility with which he affirms that the gifts of the Spirit were not his to give, but were the gift of God (see Acts 3:12-16). Perish with thee (σὺν σοὶ εἴη εἰς ἀπώλειαν)

Lit., be along with thee unto destruction. Destruction overtake thy money and thyself.

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