Repent! (Acts 8:22)

“Repent!

Of this wickedness

Of yours!

Pray to the Lord!

If possible,

The intent of your heart

May be forgiven you.”

μετανόησον οὖν ἀπὸ τῆς κακίας σου ταύτης, καὶ δεήθητι τοῦ Κυρίου εἰ ἄρα ἀφεθήσεταί σοι ἡ ἐπίνοια τῆς καρδίας σου·

The author of Acts indicated that Peter told Simon to repent (μετανόησον οὖν) of his wickedness (ἀπὸ τῆς κακίας σου ταύτης).  He was to pray (καὶ δεήθητι) to the Lord (τοῦ Κυρίου).  Then it might be possible (εἰ ἄρα) to have the intent (ἡ ἐπίνοια) of his heart (τῆς καρδίας σου) forgiven (ἀφεθήσεταί σοι).  Acts was the only Greek biblical writing that used this word ἐπίνοια, that means a thought, a design, a purpose, or an intent.  Peter asked Simon to repent, to have a change of heart, a metanoia.  He had to give up his wicked ways.  He had to pray to the Lord.  Then possibly his heart might be forgiven.  He had a chance, but it was not nailed down.  Have you ever had a second chance and took advantage of it?

Simon’s heart is not right before God (Acts 8:21)

“You have no part

Or share in this matter.

Your heart

Is not right

Before God.”

οὐκ ἔστιν σοι μερὶς οὐδὲ κλῆρος ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τούτῳ· ἡ γὰρ καρδία σου οὐκ ἔστιν εὐθεῖα ἔναντι τοῦ Θεοῦ.

The author of Acts indicated that Peter said to Simon that he would have no part (οὐκ ἔστιν σοι μερὶς) or share (οὐδὲ κλῆρος) in this matter (ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τούτῳ), because his heart (ἡ γὰρ καρδία σου) was not right (σου οὐκ ἔστιν εὐθεῖα) before God (ἔναντι τοῦ Θεοῦ.).  Acts was the only Greek biblical writing that used this word ἔναντι, that means before or in the presence of.  Simon was not going to get anything, because his heart was in wrong place, as God could see that.  Peter reprimanded Simon for his actions before God.  Have you ever done something stupid before God?

May you perish with your money! (Acts 8:20)

“But Peter

Said to Simon.

‘May your silver

Perish with you,

Because you thought

That you could obtain

God’s gift

With money!’”

Πέτρος δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν Τὸ ἀργύριόν σου σὺν σοὶ εἴη εἰς ἀπώλειαν, ὅτι τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐνόμισας διὰ χρημάτων κτᾶσθαι.

The author of Acts indicated that Peter (Πέτρος δὲ) said to Simon (εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν) that his silver (Τὸ ἀργύριόν σου) should perish (εἴη εἰς ἀπώλειαν) with him (σὺν σοὶ), because he thought (ἐνόμισας) that he could obtain or acquire (κτᾶσθαι) God’s gift (ὅτι τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ Θεοῦ) with money (διὰ χρημάτων).  Peter was adamant.  Simon and his silver money should perish or rot in eternity.  How did he even think that money could get him God’s gift?  The magician with the money now wanted God’s special power for his own good.  Peter was upset even at the thought of this attempt to put a financial value on the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Have you ever reduced spiritual values to financial considerations?

Simon wants the same power (Acts 8:19)

“Simon said.

‘Give me also

This power.

Thus,

Anyone on whom

I lay my hands

May receive

The Holy Spirit.’”

λέγων Δότε κἀμοὶ τὴν ἐξουσίαν ταύτην ἵνα ᾧ ἐὰν ἐπιθῶ τὰς χεῖρας λαμβάνῃ Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον.

The author of Acts indicated that Simon said (λέγων) that he wanted this power or this authority (Δότε κἀμοὶ τὴν ἐξουσίαν ταύτην), so that he could (ἵνα ᾧ ἐὰν) lay hands (ἐπιθῶ τὰς χεῖρα) on people, so that they would receive (λαμβάνῃ) the Holy Spirit (Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον).  He had been a magician and thought that Peter had some special different kind of magical powers.  He wanted those same powers or the authority to control the Holy Spirit.  He was willing to pay John and Peter some money, if they would teach them or give him this special power or authority.  As mentioned in the previous verse, this became known as simony, buying a spiritual power or an ecclesiastical position, such as a priest, bishop or cardinal.  Do you know anyone who has tried to buy a spiritual power?

Simon offers money (Acts 8:18)

“Now when Simon saw

That the Spirit

Was given

Through the laying-on

Of the apostles’ hands,

He offered them

Money.”

ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Σίμων ὅτι διὰ τῆς ἐπιθέσεως τῶν χειρῶν τῶν ἀποστόλων δίδοται τὸ Πνεῦμα, προσήνεγκεν αὐτοῖς χρήματα

The author of Acts indicated that when Simon (δὲ ὁ Σίμων) saw (ἰδὼν) that the Spirit (τὸ Πνεῦμα) was given (δίδοται) through the laying-on (ὅτι διὰ τῆς ἐπιθέσεως) of the apostles’ hands (τῶν χειρῶν τῶν ἀποστόλων), he offered (προσήνεγκεν) them (αὐτοῖς) money (χρήματα).  Simon noticed that the laying-on of hands conferred the Spirit, somewhat like a magic act.  He offered money to receive this ability to give the Holy Spirit.  In the Middle Ages this became known as simony, buying a spiritual power or an ecclesiastical position.  This is why some people call sacramental power magical.  Would you be like Simon and offer money for a spiritual power?

The laying on of hands to give the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17)

“Then Peter

And John

Laid their hands

On them.

They received

The Holy Spirit.”

τότε ἐπετίθεσαν τὰς χεῖρας ἐπ’ αὐτούς, καὶ ἐλάμβανον Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον.

The author of Acts indicated that then Peter and John laid their hands (τότε ἐπετίθεσαν τὰς χεῖρας) on these Samaritans (ἐπ’ αὐτούς).  Thus, they received (ἐλάμβανον) the Holy Spirit (Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον).  These two apostles laid their hands on the Samaritans, so that they could receive the Holy Spirit.  Many see this Samaritan Pentecost as a reflection of the institutions of that time.  This either was a primitive admission practice, or an indication that the laying-on of hands was part of the Christian initiation in the second half of the first century.  The projection of this activity upon the two major apostles, Peter and John, enhanced the value of this normative practice.  This laying-on of hands could also be a token of fellowship and solidarity.  As part of their missionary power, Peter and John’s presence was an element of fellowship, in order to overcome the racial and ethnic conflicts with the Samaritans.  These two apostles consummated the work of Philip.  They brought the young church or assembly to fulfillment with the bestowal of the Spirit.  The main interest of this text was not primarily pneumatological, but rather ecclesiological, to put this church or assembly in Samaria in communion with the church or assembly of Jerusalem.  Although the emphasis was on these two great leaders as ratifying church agents, they clearly did not control the Spirit.  The Spirit comes through them, but they must pray for his presence.  For many Roman Catholics and some other Christians, this laying-on of hands to bestow the Holy Spirit was the foundation of what later medieval Christians would call the sacrament of confirmation.  This also represents the overseeing role of the apostles in the development of these nascent Christian communities.  Have you received the Holy Spirit?

They had only been baptized (Acts 8:16)

“As yet,

The Spirit

Had not come

Upon any of them.

They had only been baptized

In the name

Of the Lord Jesus.”

οὐδέπω γὰρ ἦν ἐπ’ οὐδενὶ αὐτῶν ἐπιπεπτωκός, μόνον δὲ βεβαπτισμένοι ὑπῆρχον εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ.

The author of Acts indicated that as yet (οὐδέπω γὰρ), the Spirit had not come upon any of them (ἦν ἐπ’ οὐδενὶ αὐτῶν).  They had only been baptized (μόνον δὲ βεβαπτισμένοι ὑπῆρχον) in the name of the Lord Jesus (εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ).  Baptism was a precondition for the reception of the Spirit, rather than the giving of the Holy Spirit.  They had prayed that the Holy Spirit might come, because the Samaritans had “only (μόνον)” been baptized.  Thus, they were lacking the gift of the Spirit.  This narrative clearly separated the bestowal of the Spirit from the act of baptism.  Various interpretations have been given to this text.  Either the Samaritans had already received the Holy Spirit and this is only a charismatic manifestation or a second reception of the Spirit.  The gift of the Spirit belongs only to the laying on of hands, so that baptism and the laying on of hands were normally joined, but only separated here.  Did God withhold the Spirit from these Samaritan Christians?  What is clear from this passage is that only the apostles could give the Holy Spirit and that these Samaritans had not received the Holy Spirit, even though they were baptized.  How do baptism and the Holy Spirit work together?

The prayer for the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:15)

“Peter

And John

Went down

To Samaria.

They prayed

For them

That they might receive

The Holy Spirit.”

οἵτινες καταβάντες προσηύξαντο περὶ αὐτῶν ὅπως λάβωσιν Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον·

The author of Acts indicated that Peter and John came down (οἵτινες καταβάντες) to Samaria.  They prayed (προσηύξαντο) for these Samaritans (περὶ αὐτῶν) that they might receive (ὅπως λάβωσιν) the Holy Spirit (Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον).  Naturally, they came and prayed for the new followers of Jesus.  Just as the Holy Spirit came upon the Jews in Acts, chapter 2, the completion of the conversion of the Samaritans takes place in Acts, chapter 8:14-17.  These apostles, Peter and John, come from Jerusalem to finish Philip’s mission to maintain unity within the new developing Christian community.  It becomes obvious that we have a Samaritan Pentecost.   The parallel with the earlier Pentecost story is striking.  The Christian community was moving systematically out of Jerusalem, so that their leaders, Peter and John, had to come to the newly forming community in Samaria.  What do you think about the Holy Spirit?

Jerusalem sends Peter and John (Acts 8:14)

“Now when the apostles

At Jerusalem

Heard that Samaria

Had accepted

The word of God,

They sent

Peter

And John

To them.”

Ἀκούσαντες δὲ οἱ ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις ἀπόστολοι ὅτι δέδεκται ἡ Σαμάρια τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἀπέστειλαν πρὸς αὐτοὺς Πέτρον καὶ Ἰωάνην,

The author of Acts indicated that when the apostles at Jerusalem (δὲ οἱ ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις ἀπόστολοι) heard (Ἀκούσαντες) that Samaria (ἡ Σαμάρια) had accepted (ὅτι δέδεκται) the word of God (τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ), they sent (ἀπέστειλαν) Peter (Πέτρον) and John (καὶ Ἰωάνην) to them (πρὸς αὐτοὺς).  Samaria was not that far from Jerusalem, so that the apostles sent Peter and John to see what was going on.  They might have done this on their own accord, since they were the leaders of the Christian community in Jerusalem.  They were there to see how these non-Jewish Samaritan Christians had accepted Jesus.  Do you think that Christian leaders should check up on what is going on in their churches?

Simon got baptized (Acts 8:13)

“Even Simon himself

Believed.

After being baptized,

He stayed constantly

With Philip.

He was amazed

When he saw

The signs

And great miracles

That took place.”

ὁ δὲ Σίμων καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπίστευσεν, καὶ βαπτισθεὶς ἦν προσκαρτερῶν τῷ Φιλίππῳ, θεωρῶν τε σημεῖα καὶ δυνάμεις μεγάλας γινομένας ἐξίστατο.

The author of Acts indicated that even Simon (ὁ δὲ Σίμων) himself believed (καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπίστευσεν).  After being baptized (καὶ βαπτισθεὶς), he stayed constantly with Philip (ἦν προσκαρτερῶν τῷ Φιλίππῳ).  He was amazed (ἐξίστατο) when he saw (θεωρῶν) the signs (τε σημεῖα) and great miracles (καὶ δυνάμεις μεγάλας) that took place (γινομένας) around Philip.  Philip was so effective in his preaching and actions that even Simon the Magician, the Great One, also was baptized.  Simon was constantly with Philip, so that he could keep an eye on him and what he was doing with all his great miracles.  This shows the successful mission to the Samaritans, even with Simon himself being baptized.  Would you want to be with the person who baptized you?