Was Simon Magus a Christian?

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TylerR's picture

I don't think we have enough to say Simon, or Ananias or Sapphira were not Christians. One thing is certain, though - we can strive to make sure we don't make their awful mistakes. Asd Don wrote:

The Bible doesn’t answer the questions we have about Simon. We need to be sure that we don’t approach the Scriptures simply to satisfy our intellectual curiousity about Simon. We need to take warning, to cling to our Saviour, and depend on Him alone for our spiritual life.

Tyler Robbins is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

Mark_Smith's picture

In Acts 8:12 we are told that Simon preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many Samaritans believed in Christ. The Bible plainly says in Acts 8:13 that "even Simon himself believed" as well as being baptized in water!

Later, John and Peter came from Jerusalem after they heard of Philip's success there. The Samaritans, including Simon, received the Holy Spirit. The point here is that Samaritans received the Spirit a la Acts 1:8 just as the Jews did. We see later that Gentiles and John's disciples also receive the Holy Spirit.

Some claim that by asking to buy the power to lay on hands for people to receive the Holy Spirit implies he did not have the Holy Spirit. That implication is not in the text.

John and Peter then rebuke Simon for thinking he could buy something that is freely given to all disciples. Simon is saved, but not yet taught. That rebuke was so strong Simon asked the two to pray for him that he be spared from the consequences of his sin. You could see it as a bad request, but I don't see it. 

To me, this passage illustrates that even a man lost in sorcery and manipulation of people can be redeemed. But, the road from salvation to being completely renewed in his mind, and changing his old thought patterns takes time.

Lee's picture

I've heard this debate often.  I fail to see where it is little more than "....striv[ing]...about words to no profit...."  If the plain sense makes sense seek no other sense.  In the same context that Luke records under inspiration that the Samaritans "believed" and were baptized, and that the Ethiopian eunuch "believe[d]" and was baptized, he states that "Simon himself believed and...was baptized...". I'm not sure why there is even a debate. Do we really take inspiration so lightly as to presume that the Holy Spirit inspired the historian Luke to record as factual an, at best, very confusing false scenario that Simon "believed" when, in actuality, he didn't while at the same time and under the same inspiration recording that the Samaritans and Ethiopian actually did?  I'm going with a "NO" on that one!

Not to say there is not an important message here.  I see at least 2.

1) Like other places in Acts--the council of ch. 15; Apollos, etc.--this illustrates that it is not just possible, but probable, for a believer to drag part of their former understanding/practice into their new belief.  "Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe: and they are all zealous of the law (21:20)."  

2) Probably the most important: Simon is being presented here as the mirror image of Balaam.  Balaam was an articulate prophet with a magnificent spiritual gift.  He tried to market it for influence and profit.  Simon, on the other hand, had great influence but desired a magnificent spiritual gift.  He tried to purchase it for his own satisfaction and profit. Both were absolutely, and rightly, excoriated under divine authority.  Spiritual gifts are not for personal aggrandizement, to be bought or sold.  There really might be some lessons the church in our market driven society could learn from these accounts.  


G. N. Barkman's picture

"But Peter said to him, 'Your money perish with you..You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.  Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you, For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.'" (Acts 8:20-23)   Simon was:

1) Perishing.

2) Had neither part nor portion in this matter.

3) Had a heart which was not right in the sight of God.

4) Needed to repent from great wickedness, but without assurance that God would forgive him.

5) Bound by iniquity.

It's hard to reconcile this description with a true child of God.

G. N. Barkman

Don Johnson's picture

First, thanks for the link. I am preaching through Acts and the study of this character interested me, I thought it would interest others. I tend to think Simon wasn't a Christian, but the text doesn't explicitly say, so I hedge the bet a bit.

Second, for some reason this discussion is not showing up on the New Posts page. Don't know why that is, I saw it through the Facebook notice.

UPDATE: It does show up in the right hand column "My Threads and Comments" now that I have posted here, but it doesn't show up in the main feed.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3