Then answered Simon, and said, Pray you to the LORD for me, that none of these things which you have spoken come on me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Pray ye to the Lord for me.—There is something eminently characteristic in the sorcerer’s words. (1) His conscience reads “between the lines” of St. Peter’s address what was not actually found there. That “if perhaps” is to him as the knell of doom. (2) He prays not for deliverance from “the bond of iniquity,” but only from the vague terror of a future penalty. (3) He turns, not, as Peter had bidden him, to the Lord who was ready to forgive, but to a human mediator. Peter must pray for him who has not faith to pray for himself.
At this point Simon disappears from the history of the Acts, and this seems accordingly the right place for stating briefly the later traditions as to his history. In those traditions he occupies a far more prominent position than in St. Luke’s narrative, and becomes, as it has been said, the “hero of the romance of heresy,” as given in the Homilies and Recognitions of the Pseudo-Clement. Born at Gittom, in Samaria (Justin, Apol. i. 26), he received his education at Alexandria, and picked up the language of a mystic Gnosticism from Dositheus (Hom. ii. c. 22; Constt. Apost. vi. 8). He had for a short time been a disciple of the Baptist (Hom. c. 23). He murdered a boy that the soul of his victim might become his familiar spirit, and give him insight into the future (Hom. ii. c. 26; Recogn. ii. 9). He carried about with him a woman of great beauty, of the name of Luna or Helena, whom he represented as a kind of incarnation of the Wisdom or Thought of God (Justin, Apol. i. 6; Hom. ii. c. 25; Euseb. Hist. ii. 13). He identified himself with the promised Paraclete and the Christ, and took the name of “He who stands,” as indicating divine power (Recogn. ii. 7). He boasted that he could turn himself and others into the form of brute beasts; that he could cause statues to speak (Hom. iv. c. 4; Recogn. ii. 9, iii. 6). His life was one of ostentatious luxury. He was accompanied by the two sons of the Syro-Phœnician woman of Mark 7:26 (Hom. i. 19). After the episode related in the Acts, he went down to Cæsarea, and Peter was then sent thither by James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, to confront and hold a disputation with him on various points of doctrine. From Cæsarea he made his way to Tyre and Tripolis, and thence to Rome, and was there worshipped by his followers, so that an altar was seen there by Justin with an inscription, “SIMONI DEO SANCTO” (Apol. i. 56). Peter followed him, and in the reign of Claudius the two met, once more face to face, in the imperial city. According to one legend, he offered to prove his divinity by flying in the air. trusting that the demons whom he employed would support him; but, through the power of the prayers of Peter, he fell down, and had his bones broken, and then committed suicide (Constt. Apost. ii. 14; 6:9). Another represents him as buried alive at his own request, in order that he might show his power by rising on the third day from the dead, and so meeting his death (Irenæus, Adv. Hær. vi. 20).
In the midst of all this chaos of fantastic fables, we have, perhaps, one grain of fact in Justin’s assertion that he had seen the altar above referred to. An altar was discovered at Rome in 1574, on the island in the Tiber, with the inscription “SEMONI SANCO DEO FIDIO.” Archæologists, however, agree in thinking that this was dedicated to the Sabine Hercules, who was known as SEMO SANCUS, and it has been thought by many writers that Justin may have seen this or some like altar, and, in his ignorance of Italian mythology, have imagined that it was consecrated to the Sorcerer of Samaria. His statement is repeated by Tertullian (Apol. c. 13) and Irenæus (i. 20). Of the three names in the inscription, Semo (probably connected with Semen as the God of Harvest, or as Semihomo) appears by itself in the Hymn of the Fratres Arvales, and in connection with Sancus and Fidius (probably connected with Fides, and so employed in the formula of asseveration, medius fidius) in Ovid, Fast. vi. 213; Livy, viii. 20; 32:1.Acts 8:24. Then answered Simon — Alarmed by the solemn admonition given him; and said — To the apostles; Pray ye to the Lord for me — If you indeed conceive my case to be so bad, extend your charity so far as to make your supplications to the Lord on my account; that none of these things, which ye have spoken, come upon me — He probably inferred, from what Peter had said, that some token of God’s wrath would soon fall upon him, which he thus dreaded and deprecated. But there is reason to fear that this pretence of conviction and humiliation was used chiefly to prevent Peter and John from disgracing him among the body of Christians: for it is reasonable to suppose this conversation passed in private between them: and, perhaps, Simon might have some hope, that, if the secret were kept, he might reduce the people, when Peter was gone, to their former subjection to him, notwithstanding their conversion to Christianity.
(1) That Simon was directed to pray for himself Acts 8:22, but he had no disposition to do it, but was willing to ask others to do it for him. Sinners will often ask others to pray for them, when they are too proud, or too much in love with sin, to pray for themselves.
(2) the main thing that Peter wished to impress on him was a sense of his sin. Simon did not regard this, but looked only to the punishment. He was terrified and alarmed; he sought to avoid future "punishment," but he had no alarm about his "sins." So it is often with sinners. So it was with Pharaoh Exodus 8:28, Exodus 8:32, and with Jeroboam 1 Kings 13:6. Sinners often quiet their own consciences by asking ministers and Christian friends to pray for them, while "they" still purpose to persevere in iniquity. If people expect to be saved, they must pray "for themselves"; and pray not chiefly to be freed from "punishment," but from the "sin which deserves hell." This is all that we hear of Simon in the New Testament; and the probability is, that, like many other sinners, he did not pray for himself, but continued to live in the gall of bitterness, and died in the bond of iniquity. The testimony of antiquity is decided on that point. See the notes on Acts 8:9.
that none of these things dome upon me—not that the thought of his wicked heart might be forgiven him, but only that the evils threatened might be averted from him. While this throws great light on Peter's view of his melancholy case, it shows that Christianity, as something divine, still retained its hold of him. (Tradition represents him as turning out a great heresiarch, mingling Oriental or Grecian philosophy with some elements of Christianity.)Acts 8:20, and probably fearing the punishment of Ananias and Sapphira might befall him, which it is likely he had heard of.
pray ye to the Lord for me; the Arabic version reads, "pray ye two"; the words are addressed both to Peter and John; for though Peter only spake to him, yet John joined with him, and assented to what he said, and approved of it; and which he might signify either by word or gesture; wherefore Simon desires both of them, that they would pray to the Lord for him; but whether he was serious, and in good earnest in this, is a question; since there is no reason to believe he truly repented, from the accounts given of him by ancient writers; who always represent him as an opposer of the apostles and their doctrine, as the father of all heresies, as a blasphemous wretch; who gave out that he was the Father in Samaria, the Son in Judea, and the Holy Ghost in other places; and as a very lewd and wicked man, who carried about with him a whore, whose name was Helena; whom he called the mother of the universe, and gave out the angels were made by her, and the world by them; with many other errors, blasphemies, and impieties: so that it should rather seem, that though Peter was serious in his advice to Simon, yet he was not so in his request to him; but in a sarcastic sneering way, desired his prayers for him; suggesting, that he was not in any pain about what he had said: and if he was in earnest, he did not take Peter's advice to pray for himself; nor did he declare any repentance for his sin; and his desire that the apostles would pray for him, might not be from any sense he had of the evil of his sin, but from a slavish fear of the evil, or mischief, that was like to come upon him for his sin, as appears by what follows:
that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me; as that his money should perish with him, and he with that; or that he should go into destruction; that everlasting destruction and ruin would be his portion; and that he should have no part nor lot in eternal life, unless he repented, and his sin was pardoned: and this confirms what has been before observed, that John assented to what Peter spoke, or said the same, or such like things to Simon as he did.Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the LORD for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 8:24. Ὑμεῖς] whose prayer must be more effectual. On δεήθ. with πρός, comp. Psalm 64:1.
ὅπως μηδὲν κ.τ.λ.] “poenae metum, non culpae horrorem fatetur,” Bengel. A humiliation has begun in Simon, but it refers to the apostolic threat of punishment, the realization of which he wishes to avert, not to the ground of this threat, which lay in his own heart and could only be removed by a corresponding repentance. Hence, also, his conversion (which even Calvin conjectures to have taken place; comp. Ebrard) does not ensue. It would, as a brilliant victory of the apostolic word, not have been omitted; and in fact the ecclesiastical traditions concerning the stedfastly continued conflict of Simon with the Jewish-apostolic gospel, in spite of all the strange and contradictory fables mixed up with it down to his overthrow by Peter at Rome, testify against the occurrence of that conversion at all.Acts 8:24. Δεήθητε: the verse is often taken (as by Meyer and others) as a further proof of the hollowness of Simon’s belief, and his ignorance of the way of true repentance—he will not pray for himself, and he only asks for deliverance from fear of the penalty and not from hatred of the sin (so Bengel). But on the other hand Wendt, in criticising Meyer, objects to this further condemnation of Simon as not expressed in the text. So far as the petition for the Apostles’ prayers is concerned, it is of course possible that it may have been prompted by the belief that such prayers would be more efficacious than his own (so Blass, Wendt, see also conclusion of the story in ); he does not ask them to pray instead of himself but ὑπέρ, on his behalf.—ἐπέλθῃ: not used by the other Evangelists, but three times in St. Luke’s Gospel and four times in Acts, with ἐπί and accusative both in Gospel (Luke 1:35. cf. Luke 21:35) and Acts.24. that none of these [the] things which ye have spoken come upon me] Simon shews by the character of his petition that he is not moved by a true spirit of repentance. He utters no word of sorrow for the evil of his thought, but only petitions that he may suffer no punishment. Yet we can see that he had not taken the expression of St Peter in Acts 8:20 as a curse invoked upon him by the Apostle, but only as a declaration of the anger of God, and of the certainty of a penalty upon wilful continuance in such sin. His entreaty may be compared with that oft-repeated petition of Pharaoh to Moses (Exodus 8:8; Exodus 8:28; Exodus 9:28; Exodus 10:17) “Intreat the Lord for me,” extorted by fear and followed by no change of conduct.Acts 8:24. Δεήθητε, pray ye) Peter had said, Pray GOD. But Simon says, Pray ye. Therefore he felt the power of the apostolic reproof. No one ought to depend merely on the prayers of others: Hebrews 13:18.—ὄπως, that) He confesses his fear of the punishment, not horror of the guilt. However, on account of this declaration, he seems not to have been immediately rejected by the Church.—ὧν εἰρήκατε, which ye have spoken) Here the history of Simon Magus is broken off, of which the remaining facts at the time that Luke wrote were well known, and are partly recorded in Church History in our days. The Scripture deems it sufficient to have marked the commencements: it has left the rest to the times and to the last judgment.Verse 24. - And Simon answered for then answered Simon, A.V.; .for me to the Lord for to the Lord for me, A.V.; the for these, A.V. Pray ye, etc.; addressed to both Peter and John, who were acting together, and whose prayers had been seen to be effectual (ver. 15) in procuring the gift of the Holy Ghost. In like manner, Pharaoh, under the influence of terror at God's judgments, had asked again and again for the prayers of Moses and Aaron (Exodus 8:8, 28; Exodus 9:27, 28; Exodus 10:16, 17, etc.). But in neither ease was this an evidence of true conversion of heart.
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