2. The gospel spreads into Palestine, 6:1-12:25

vi] The Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit


Philip is preaching the gospel in Samaria, both in word and sign, and his ministry is widely accepted. Many people believe and are baptised, even a famous magician called Simon, the Great Wizard. The unusual feature of these conversions is that although they are "baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus", they don't "receive the Holy Spirit." This prompts a visit from Peter and John to sort out the problem.


The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, a gospel that is true to apostolic tradition.


i] Context: See 8:1-8.


ii] Background: See

iThe baptism / filling of the Spirit - See Excursus

iThe movement of the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome, 1:1-11;

iWater Baptism in Acts, 2:37-41

iThe theological structure of the gospel message; 3:11-26;

iSigns and Wonders in Acts, 4:23-31.


iii] Structure: Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit:

Philip's encounter with Simon Magus, v9-13;

The apostles' ministry in Samaria, v14-17:

"they received the Holy Spirit."

Peter corrects Simon Magus, 18-24;

The mission continues in Samaria, v25.


iv] Interpretation:

This episode further illustrates the movement of the gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Many Jews have accepted the good news and now we see half-cast Jews accept the gospel.

For Luke, this passage serves to provide an apostolic authorisation of the move of The Way from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth / Rome. The Samaritan's belief, along with their failure to receive the Holy Spirit, provides an opportunity for apostolic involvement and thus, apostolic grounding and authorisation for this first outward move of the way, and this by none other than Peter and John. The gospel has touched Jews, advanced to Jews of the dispersion (Greek-speaking Jews), now to Samaritans (half-cast Jews), and soon to God-fearers and then Gentiles. The move to include Gentiles is marked by Cornelius' reception of the Holy Spirit, evidenced by his speaking in tongues, although it is interesting that there is no mention of tongue-speaking with the Samaritans. Still, given Simon's reaction in v18 to the reception of the Spirit, tongue-speaking is most likely evident.


Luke's record of the dubious conversion of Simon Magus is one of those events in the Acts of the Apostles that seem incongruous. The suggestion that it was set in the apostolic tradition of the gospel in Samaria, or the life of Philip the evangelist, implies that Luke is unwilling to differentiate between the strands of tradition available to him. This is very unlikely, so for Luke, Simon is an important player in the move of the gospel from Jew to Gentile.

Simon, the Great One, presents as a pagan wizard whose powers are dwarfed by the power of the gospel. He is "amazed when he sees the signs and great miracles that took place." He is amazed, even more so, when he sees people receive the Spirit through the laying on of hands. On offering money to receive the power to bestow the Spirit, he is condemned by Peter, and called on to repent.

But what is the point of the Simon story?

iSimon may serve as the classic example of Philip's defective gospel - faulty knowledge frustrates genuine repentance;

iSimon may serve as the first example of pagan spiritual power / ideology brought low by the power of the gospel - Simon, the Great Wizard, is no match for the Christ;

iThe Samaritans may once have followed Simon, the man of power, a man of wonders, but now they follow Jesus, a man of words. Philip comes euaggelizomai, "proclaiming", important news about the kingdom and Jesus and the people believe, so Johnson.

It does seem that Simon's encounter with the gospel illustrates that signs and wonders, appropriate for Jews schooled in Old Testament prophecy, are not really appropriate for non-Jews. So-called miraculous healings in pagan culture are usually associated with the dark arts, and presumably, this was Simon's forte. For a Gentile, signs and wonders easily run counter to the gospel message. So, Luke may have taken the time to report the Simon incident because, when it comes to Gentiles, the word of the gospel is far more appropriate than the signs of the gospel.

It is also possible that Luke fails to mention the sign of tongue-speaking on reception of the Spirit, because it too is a sign more appropriate to Jews than Gentiles. It is interesting to note that ventriloquism was often associated with exponents of sorcery and black magic, as well as pagan cults. As Paul reminds his Corinthian readers, pneumatikwn, "speaking in the spirit", is something they experienced in their former pagan life, 1Cor.12:1-2. Paul argues that prophecy should be given priority over tongue-speaking, given that babble is for an ungodly, unfaithful, stiff-necked people, ICor.14:22.

An argument from silence is always dangerous, but by not mentioning tongue-speaking Luke may be making the point that, like signs and wonders, for non-Jews it is confusing rather than informing. Anyway, whatever took place on the giving of the Spirit, Simon understood it in pagan terms, and was more than willing to pay for the ability to impart it. If it was tongue-speaking, this was a form of ventriloquism well beyond his own experience, and well worth a dollar or two.


The failure of the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit. The failure of the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit at the time of their baptism is a rather strange occurrence. Pentecostal commentators view the incident as further evidence of the two stages in a believer's walk with Christ: the reception of the Spirit for regeneration followed by the empowering of the Spirit for service, an empowering evidenced by tongues through the laying on of hands. Conservative commentators are inclined to the view that Phillip's preaching was faulty and required apostolic input, 8:25.

Luke tells us that the Samaritans were "baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus", but what does this mean? A person's name represents their person / being / character, so "into a knowledge of / relationship with Jesus." The longer (trinitarian) version of the phrase "baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" is found in Matthew 28:19. Read in context, it seems to refer to something more than water baptism performed under the designation of the triune God. Is it likely that Jesus, who did not perform water baptism, would command his disciples to "make disciples" (by means of?) water baptism?

The verb baptizw, "to immerse = baptise", is often used figuratively in the NT., eg., immersed in suffering, immersed in the Spirit. It is more than likely that "immersing in the name" primarily involves preaching the gospel (= immersing into the person of Jesus = teaching about Jesus, Matt.28:20). It is, of course, more than likely that this immersing in the gospel is integrally linked to the practice of immersing in water (as a sign of repentance) in the New Testament church, and that it was later institutionalised in pre-baptismal instruction. The unexplained use of this phrase in the NT. indicates its common usage - everyone knows what it means (everyone in the first century, that is!!!).

If this is correct, the point is that the Samaritan believers had heard the gospel, responded in repentance, which response was expressed outwardly in water baptism. Yet, for some reason "the Holy Spirit had not come on any of them." Presumably, this is evidenced by the fact that none of the Samaritans spoke in tongues in like manner to the believers in Jerusalem. It seems likely that it is this fact that has prompted the visit of the apostles.

Anyway, the apostles visit and sort out the problem. For Luke, their visit serves to ground and authorise the first step of the gospel from Jews to Samaritans - the gospel mission to the ends of the earth has apostolic authority. Yet, how do the apostles sort out the problem of the missing ingredient - the reception of the Holy Spirit? Was it just the laying on of hands? It seems likely that the Samaritans heard a defective gospel and needed sound apostolic teaching to enable a proper response of repentance and faith, and thus the reception of the Holy Spirit, cf., v25.

That Phillip's preaching was somehow defective is evidenced by Simon's warped understanding of the ministry of the Spirit, even though he had "believed", v13. Like Apollos, who "knew only the baptism of John", maybe Philip needed the apostles to explain "the way of God more adequately" to his converts. Certainly, as far as Luke is concerned, this is exactly what the apostles did; during their time in Samaria, they "had testified and spoken the word of the Lord", v25. The Samaritans were immersed (instructed defectively) into the person of Jesus, an immersion which included immersion (sprinkling or dunking) in water, but were not yet immersed in the Spirit. So, Peter and John make up what is lacking in the Samaritans' understanding of the gospel, just as Peter corrects the misunderstandings of Simon Magus, v18-24. Peter and John then pray for them, expressed in the sign of the laying on of hands, and "they received the Holy Spirit."


Contextualising the gospel: The business of making the gospel relevant to the culture of the listener.

The most significant example of the contextualisation of the gospel in Acts is found in Paul's Areopagus sermon, 17:22-31. In this sermon we have a gospel presentation to Gentile non-believers who have virtually no understanding of the Bible. A possible key to this process of contextualising the gospel is found in 8:12 where Luke first reminds the reader of the historic gospel first announced by the Baptist and Jesus, "the important news of the kingdom", cf., Lk.4:43 - "the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the important news", Mk.1:15. Luke then goes on to explain the sense of this message for his readers: the message concerns "the name = person of Jesus, Christ / God's anointed one / Lord."

As indicated in the background study The theological structure of the gospel message, the structure of the gospel presents as follows:


Setting up a contextual frame;

i] The time is fulfilled;

ii] The kingdom of God is at hand;

Now: Blessings / Cursings;

Not yet: Blessings / Cursings;

iii] Repent and believe.


Consider the example of Paul's Areopagus sermon:

Paul spends most of his time on the Introduction, establishing the nature of God and mankind, and of mankind's failed relationship with God, v22-29.

The announcement that The time is fulfilled, in the terms of the fulfilment of prophecy, is not mentioned - Greeks would have little interest in the supposed fulfilment of Jewish prophecy. Yet, Paul contextualises this truth by pointing out that the age when "God shut his eyes to human folly" has come to an end, v30a.

Paul brings forward the call to Repent, v30b (a hortatory technique enabling him to conclude with his punch-line - the coming kingdom).

Paul concluded by contextualising the announcement that The kingdom of God is at hand, v31: The day of judgment is set, given that Jesus is risen from the dead, ie., he is Lord.


In Acts, gospel sermons to Jews will often dwell on the fulfilment of prophecy in the sacrificial death of Jesus, but not so for a person devoid of a Biblical world-view. In fact, in his gospel, when Luke speaks of God's message to humanity, it is usually just "the important news of the kingdom of God", cf., 4:43, 8:1, 9:2, 60, ... At the centre of all the gospel sermons in Acts is the announcement that The kingdom of God is at hand, but Luke contextualises this announcement in the revelation of the person of Jesus, and in particular, his resurrection. For Luke, the gospel (God's important news) entails the announcement that Jesus is risen from the dead, reigning on high at God's right hand, which news can be good or bad, depending on how a person responds to it, ie., Luke contextualises the gospel for his Gentile readers.

When it comes to repent and believe, both words are so distorted in modern English that they are virtually useless. The word "repent" is used in the NT of turning to God, but in modern English it means to regret something, and apologise for it. "Belief" in the NT is synonymous with "hope" - a firm resting on a divine promise amidst out doubts and fears. Yet, in modern English, belief is more substantial, which is why people will often say, "I wish I had your faith!", as if it were quantitative. My own approach is to contextualise "repent and believe" with the action of asking God for his blessings, an action which requires both turning and resting - "Because Jesus lives, we can live also. All you have to do is ask him."


Baptized with the Holy Spirit, filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues ("other tongues"). See notes on The Pentecostal Blessings.


v] Homiletics: It's as simple as that

[fake banknote] I'm always enthused when someone leaves a gospel tract in my letterbox. My local Baptist church is the usual suspect, and my response is: Good on you! And let me say, given the diverse nature of the media today, the letterbox is the last remaining contact-point with our local population.

The latest contribution to my letterbox was a tract in the form of a banknote, illustrating Charles, our new king - it was very well produced. It began by pointing out that in his coronation, Charles honours the Bible, a book that "promises to destroy death." It then ran the usual line of telling the reader that they are a sinner facing Hell, but that God is willing to dismiss the case against them, and this through Jesus' death and resurrection, but only if they "repent and trust Jesus." True!

In our reading today we learn that when Philip preached the gospel in Samaria, he ended up with superficial converts; somehow his preaching was defective. In the end, the apostles had to come down from Jerusalem to sort things out - probably through teaching and prayer, although at first, Luke only mentions prayer.

Luke tells us that Philip's preaching concerned the important news about the kingdom of God. This is the message the Baptist and Jesus preached: "the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel." Now, can I just say, if someone asks you to tell them about Jesus, don't tell them that. You see, I wonder if that's Philip's problem. I mean, Jews would understand that message, but the Samaritans wouldn't have a clue what he was on about. Mind you, they sure did go for his exorcisms and miraculous healings. Luke goes on in v12 to give a short explanation of the message, a kind of "let me explain what this means: this message is about the person of Jesus ("name"), the Lord of the Universe (Christ)."

So, let's get back to the gospel tract. This tract, featuring King Charles, wasn't too bad, but I'm not sure we have to tell people they're sinners; it makes us out to be holier-than-thou goodie-two-shoes. Sure, Jesus told the religious crew back in his day (and our day!!!) that they were sinners, but he didn't run that line with normal folk. Remember the story of the woman taken with adultery; "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." The Good News is all about Jesus. Jesus has risen from the dead and reigns in eternity; He's the Lord of the Universe. So now, because he lives, you can live also, live eternally; all you have to do is ask him ("repent"). It's as simple as that!

Text - 8:9

The Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit, v9-25: i] Philip's encounter with Simon Magus, v9-13. Simon, the Great Power / Authority / Force (= Wizard??) (later referred to as Magus, Latin for "magician", Gk., megaV, "great") is a worker of dunamiV, "power", presumably "demonic power." Over a long period of time, he had attracted a large number of Samaritan admirers. Yet, these same people, on hearing Philip's message, believe in Jesus. Even Simon makes a commitment of belief, although his focus is more on "signs and great miracles" than words.

de "now" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

onamati (a) dat. "named [Simon]" - [a certain man] in name [simon]. The dative is adverbial, reference / respect; "with respect to his name, Simon" = "by name Simon" = "named Simon."

mageuwn (mageuw) pres. part. "[had practiced] sorcery" - [was previously in the city] practicing magic [and amazing the people]. As with "amazing", the classification of this participle is contested, but we are best to follow Kellum who suggests that both participles together are complementary, completing the imperfect verb "to exist previously"; "who had previously practiced magic .... and amazed the people", ESV.

thV SamareiaV (a) gen. "of Samaria" - of samaria. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / local; "the people who live in Samaria."

legwn (legw) pres. part. "he boasted" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to exist previously"; "Over some period of time a man named Simon had (previously) practiced magic ........., and claimed ....."

einai (eimi) pres. inf. "that" - [himself] to be [a great certain one]. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Simon said / claimed; "He claimed to be someone great." "Previous to Philip's arrival, a certain Simon had practiced magic in the city, posing as a famous man and dazzling all the Samaritans with his wizardry", Peterson.


Simon is obviously a very proficient magician, employing not just trickery, but also the dark arts. In the eyes of many, his claim to be Great, to be a power from God, is supported by his wizardry. In the Acts of Peter 4, it is noted that "he says that he is the great power of God, and that without God he does nothing." His later identification with Gnosticism is more artful than fact.

w|/ dat. pro. "-" - [all = everyone were paying attention to] whom. Dative of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to pay attention to."

eJwV "-" - [from small] until [great]. Serving to express extension up to, here of status; "He had them all, from little children to old men, eating out of his hand", Peterson.

legonteV (legw) "and exclaimed" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to pay attention to", as NIV. Also serving to introduce direct speech; see legonteV, 1:6.

hJ kaloumenh pres. mid. part. "is rightly called" - [this one is the power / authority / force of god] the one being called [great]. The participle, with its nominative complement "great", is adjectival, attributive, limiting power, "the power / authority / force which is Great." The genitive "of God" is probably ablative, source / origin, "from God"; "the Great Power / Authority / Force from God." "They all thought he had supernatural powers and called him 'the Great Wizard'", Peterson.


Simon's mageiaiV, "magic tricks, sorcery, dark arts", gained him devoted followers over a long period of time, but when Philip came preaching the important news about the kingdom of God and about Jesus, his followers moved their allegiance from Simon to Jesus, v11-12. It's likely that Philip's shmeia, "signs", were more convincing than Simon's magic, even though his magic was amazing.

autw/ dat. pro. "[they followed] him" - [but/and they were paying attention to] him. Dative of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to pay attention to."

dia to + inf. "because" - because the [to amaze them]. This construction, the preposition dia + the articular infinitive, introduces a causal clause explaining why the people followed Simon, "because for some considerable time he had astonished them by his magical arts", Cassirer.

cronw/ (oV) dat. "a [long] time" - to time [sufficient = long]. The dative is adverbial, temporal; "for a considerable time", Moffatt.

toiV mageiaiV (a) dat. "with his sorcery" - in = by the = his [magic, sorcery, dark arts]; "they had been captivated by his magical art."


On seeing Philip's signs and hearing his message, people commit to The Way and are baptized. Baptising Samaritans is a radical act and prompts a reaction from the Jerusalem church, but it is inevitably authorised by two of the most important apostles, Peter and John.

As for Philip's message, it is identified in two forms. First, Luke reminds us of the traditional message proclaimed to Jews by the Baptist and Jesus: "the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel." Luke then explains the sense of the message, ie., the adjoining kai is epexegetic: "that is, he announced important news about the name of Jesus Christ"; it was news about the person and authority of Jesus, the anointed one of God, the Lord. It is obvious that the technical nature of a message appropriate for Jews schooled in the prophets has to be exegeted for Samaritans / non-Jews. This contextualising shift is evident throughout Acts, even in the early apostolic preaching, cf., 2:38, 3:6, 4:10, 5:28, ..... So, Philip proclaims the euaggelion, "important news, message / gospel", about God's anointed one, Jesus.

oJte "when" - [but/and] when. Temporal conjunction, introducing a temporal clause, contemporaneous time. A temporal clause often has a causal element. Here, the Gk. sentence takes a cause-and-effect form, so Kellum - because they believed Philip's message they were baptized.

tw/ pilippw/ (oV) dat. "Philip" - [they believed] philip. Dative of direct object after the verb "to believe in."

euaggelizomenw/ (euaggelizw) pres. mid. part. "as he proclaimed the good news" - announcing important news. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Philip"; "when they believed Philip, who preached the gospel of the reign of God", Moffatt.

ta "-" - the things [about]. The article is a variant. If read, it serves as a nominalizer, turning the prepositional phrase introduced by peri, "about", into a nominal phrase, object of the participle "announcing important news"; "the things = news about the kingdom of God and the name (the person and authority) of Jesus Christ."

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - [the kingdom] of god. for the genitive, and for the meaning of "kingdom of God", see 1:6.

Cristou (oV) "[Jesus] Christ" - [of jesus] christ. Standing in apposition to "Jesus", genitive in agreement after the preposition peri.

te kai "both [men] and [women]" - both [men] and [women were being baptized]. Correlative construction.


Simon, the Great One, also makes a commitment, but Luke tells us that his response is driven by amazement. Throughout his gospel, Luke constantly reminds us that a response of amazement to Jesus' signs is not, in itself, a faith response; it may lead to faith, but it is often superficial, and sometimes leads to outright opposition.

kai "-" - [but/and simon] and [he = himself believed]. Here adverbial, ascensive, "even Simon himself believed", or adjunctive, "Simon himself also believed."

baptisqeiV (baptizw) aor. pas. part. "was baptized" - [and] having been baptized. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal; "Simon himself believed, and after his baptism kept close to Philip", Moffatt.

h|n proskarterwn (proskarterew) pres. part. "he followed" - he was close at hand to. The imperfect verb to-be with the present participle forms an imperfect periphrastic construction, possibly emphasising durative aspect; "he continued with Philip", ESV.

tw/ Filippw/ (oV) dat. "Philip" - philip. Dative of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to be close at hand to."

qewrewn (qewrew) pres. part. "he saw" - seeing. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal or causal, "when / because he saw."

te .... kai "-" - both [signs] and [great miracles]. Correlative construction.

ginomenaV (ginomai) pres. part. "-" - being done, [he was amazed]. Although anarthrous, it is likely that the participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "great miracles"; "when he saw the wonders and miracles which were occurring, he was amazed."


ii] Peter and John correct the evangelistic ministry of Philip, v14-17. Luke doesn't give us a blow-by-blow description of the apostles' ministry in Samaria, but he tells us that in the end, they pray for the Samaritan believers, asking that they receive the Holy Spirit, and this with the laying on of hands. The laying on of hands is probably not specifically for the gift of the Spirit, but rather, serves as an outward expression of prayer. Although the new believers receive the Holy Spirit, Luke does not mention the gift of tongues. As noted above, the proper grounding and authorisation of Philip's ministry to half-cast Jews is the issue at hand here.

akousanteV (akouw) aor. part. "when .... heard" - [but/and the apostles in jerusalem] having heard. The participle is adverbial, temporal, as NIV.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing the content of what the apostles heard; "the fact that ......."

hJ Samareia (a) "Samaria" - samaria. "Samaria" is the subject of the verb "has received", and takes the sense "the people in the city of / in the district of Samaria"; "some people in Samaria", CEV.

dedektai (decomai) perf. "had accepted" - has received. The perfect tense indicates a past action with abiding results. They "received", in the sense of "accepted, believed."

tou qeou (oV) "of God" - [the word] of god. See 4:31.

proV + acc. "-" - [they sent] toward [them peter and john]. Expressing the direction of the action. Is this John, John the apostle or John Mark? John the apostle is most likely.


For Luke, the certification of Philip's mission by the apostles is the central point he wants to make, but of course, if the non-reception of the Spirit is down to Philip's preaching, then teaching would be the starting point of the apostles' mission. Given v25, expounding the word of God is certainly on the menu. As for the reception of the Spirit, we are not told that the Samaritan believers had resisted the Spirit, but that they had not, as yet, been given the Spirit. Given the Spirit in what sense? Is Luke referring to the regenerative coming / immersing of the Spirit, of the Samaritans being born anew, or is he speaking of the Spirit's ministry of gifting / empowering. Probably both together are in mind, ie., of the reception of the promised blessings of the new age, of life and all that it entails. Again, this would seem to imply that, initially, the converts were not believers in the fullest sense, and this probably due to defective preaching on the part of Philip.

katabanteV (katabainw) aor. part. "when they arrived" - [who] having come down. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV. Note how a person "comes down" from Jerusalem to Samaria, "comes down" in height terms, although when used of say a large city like Jerusalem, it may refer to the journey, without any reference to height. In Australia, a person "goes down" South and "goes up" North, in direction terms.

peri + gen. "for" - [they prayed] about, concerning [them]. Expressing reference / respect. As is typical of Jewish prayer, it is associated with the laying on of hands, an action which serves as an intimate expression of prayer for another. They prayed for whom? Obviously the Samaritan believers.

oJpwV + subj. "that" - This construction usually introduces a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that they might receive", but content is possible, ie., the construction may introduce a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what they prayed; "they prayed that the people would be given the Holy Spirit", CEV, as NIV.


At this point in time, the Samaritan converts had only been "baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The verb baptizw, "to baptise", means "to immerse", a word often used in the NT figuratively; see "Water Baptism in Acts", Background above. Here, it is usually taken to refer to water baptism, but "immersed in the name" more likely refers to teaching, instruction about the gospel / Jesus. Luke normally uses the preposition en, or epi, for "in the name", but here he uses eiV, "to". The preposition eiV is sometimes used for en, but here Luke may be differentiating between the static sense of en and epi, with the more dynamic sense of eiV, expressing the progress / advancement of the action, ie., movement toward rather than arrival at - more "to, toward" than "into". So, the point may be that when it comes to their knowledge of the gospel, of their being en, "in the name", they were only eiV, "toward the name" - they hadn't arrived at a saving knowledge of Jesus.

gar "because" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Peter and John prayed that the Samaritans might receive the Holy Spirit.

h\n ..... epipeptwkoV (epipiptw) perf. part. "the Holy Spirit had [not yet] come" - was [not yet] having fallen = had [not yet] fallen. The perfect participle with the imperfect verb to-be forms a periphrastic pluperfect construction, translated as a simple past/perfect tense - used for emphasis, possibly stative aspect.

ep (epi) + dat. "upon / on" - upon. Spatial; "on, upon."

autwn gen. pro. "[any] of them" - [anyone] of them. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

bebaptismenoi uJphrcon "they had [simply] been baptized" - they were being immersed = they had been immersed. Here again, a perfect participle, this time used with the imperfect verb uJphrcon, "to be, exist", used in place of an imperfect verb to-be. This serves to form an unusual periphrastic pluperfect construction, again translated with a simple past/perfect tense. The construction is used for emphasis, probably stative aspect - a given state of affairs. The important point to note is that both periphrastic constructions, in this verse, take the same tense form. .

monon adv. "simply" - only. Adverb of limitation; "They had received nothing so far except", Knox.

eiV "into" - into [the name of the lord jesus]. Spatial, probably here expressing direction toward. Bruce suggests "into the property of", but "heading toward" may well be the intended sense.


epetiqesan (epitiqhmi) imperf. "Peter and John placed" - [then] they were laying, putting, placing [the = their hands upon them and]. The imperfect here possibly expresses repeated action, iterative, but more likely prolonged action, durative, progressive. The imperfect is often used to provide background information, or as Culy puts it, "to present a summary of subsequent events." As noted above, the laying on of hands, although possibly serving as a commissioning, or the bestowing of a blessing, is likely to be a cultural expression of prayer.

elambanon (lambanw) imperf. "they received" - they were receiving [the holy spirit]. Although unstated, it is likely that the Samaritans' reception of the Holy Spirit is evidenced by their being filled and speaking "in other languages", tongues, as occurred with Cornelius, 10:44-46, another key moment in the extension of the gospel. As noted above, Luke's failure to mention tongues is tantalising! "They were given the Holy Spirit", CEV.


iii] Peter rebukes Simon Magus, v18-24. Simon Magus, a practitioner of religious magic, and supposedly a convert of Philip, is so impressed by the spiritual phenomena he is witnessing that he offers to pay for Peter's power. By trying to buy the apostle's trick, Simon demonstrates the superficial nature of his conversion and by implication, the faulty nature of Philip's preaching. Simon shows he has no appreciation of the inward nature of the gospel; he is still stuck fast in his old unregenerate ways, "a captive to sin", and must "repent of this wickedness". Simon is terror struck and pleads with Peter to intercede with God on his behalf.

idwn (eidon) aor. part. "when [Simon] saw" - [but/and simon] having seen. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV. As noted above, for Luke, the reception of the Spirit is observable, probably in the form of tongue-speaking (being in the form of ecstatic prophecy), as witnessed on the day of Pentecost. Thus, Simon "observed that the Spirit was bestowed", REB.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Simon saw, "namely that ..."

didotai (didwmi) pres. pas. "was given" - [the spirit] is given. Probably an example of the divine passive, God being the agent.

dia + gen. "at [the laying on]" - though, by means of. Instrumental, expressing means; "the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands", NRSV.

twn ceirwn (eir eiroV) gen. "hands" - [the laying on] of the hands [of the apostles]. The genitive is adjectival, verbal, objective, limiting the verbal noun "laying on."

proshnegken (prosferw) aor. "he offered" - he brought, offered. Used of offering a sacrifice. Simon Magus, who is a magician and "someone great", sees the bestowal of the Spirit as achieved by the laying on of hands, rather than, as Peter points out, something that is a gift. As someone who is paid for his magic, he is willing to pay for this power. Simon's thinking is certainly corrupt, and worse, is potentially corrupting for the church, although it is not necessarily soul destroying. Simon can always "repent of this wickedness", v22.

autoiV dat. pro. "them [money]" - [wealth] to them. Dative of indirect object.


Luke now focuses on the apostle Peter and Simon the magician, a man who sought power apart from faith.

legwn (legw) pres. part. "and said" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "he offered"; "he offered ... and said." Somewhat redundant, serving to introduce direct speech; see legonteV, 1:3.

dote (didwmi) aor. imp. "give [me]" - give [me also]. The aorist possibly indicates urgency, immediacy; "Let me have this power too", CEV.

exousian (a) "ability" - [this] power, authority. Simon is asking that he might channel the Spirit to others.

iJna + subj. "so that .... [may receive]" - that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "in order that ...... may receive the Holy Spirit."

w|/ ean + subj. "everyone" - on whomever [i may lay the = my hands, he may receive holy spirit]. Introducing an indefinite headless relative clause, the dative being local, "upon / on whom ...." "So that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit", Moffatt.


de "-" - but/and [peter]. Transitional; with the nominative subject "Peter", indicating a change in the subject from Simon to Peter; "Peter replied to him thus."

proV + acc. "-" - [said] toward [him]. This preposition is used in place of a dative to introduce an indirect object.

eih (eimi) "may" - may [the silver of you]. The optative of the verb to-be; usually expresses a wish - here possibly as a curse. Probably a potential, or futuristic optative. See below.

eiV "[perish]" - to, into [destruction]. Here taking a spatial sense of to / toward / into, and therefore "lead you to destruction", indicating "direction and thus destiny", Barrett. A desire for destruction is unlikely, since Peter's words are probably not a curse, as TEV, "may you and your money go to hell." Rather, it is more likely that Peter is underlining Simon's final destination if he stays on his present path; "you and your money will both end up in hell if you think you can buy God's gift", CEV. Note that the noun apwleian, "destruction", is often used of God's judgment upon a rebellious sinner.

sun + dat. "with [you]" - with [you]. Expressing association.

oJti "because" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why "you and your money will ...."

katasqai (kataomai) pres. inf. "you could buy" - [you thought] to acquire, obtain. The infinitive forms an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what he thought; "for dreaming that you could buy the gift of God", Moffatt.

thn dwrean (a) "the gift" - the gift. Simon is trying to buy the ability to bestow the Spirit, but is this what Luke means by "gift" here, or is the Spirit the gift, the Spirit as the giver of power? The grammar suggests the first option, but theology the second.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - of god. The genitive may be treated as verbal, subjective, "the gift which God gives."

dia + gen. "with [money]" - through, by means of [wealth]. Instrumental, expressing means.


soi dat. "you" - [there is not] to you [a part or share]. The dative is adverbial, probably expressing possession. "This is a matter in which you have no share or part", Barclay.

en + dat. "in" - in. Local, expressing sphere; sphere of influence, although Culy suggests reference / respect, "with respect to this ministry."

tw/ logw/ (oV) dat. "ministry" - [this] word. Probably referring to participation in the gospel, presumably gospel ministry, as NIV. It is interesting that Luke defines the apostolic ministry as a "word ministry", not a "Spirit bestowing ministry", or a "water baptising ministry." The central business of an apostle is preaching ("baptising in the name"?). None-the-less, the word logos can mean "matter / business", but what matter / business? Is it the laying on of hands business, bestowing the Spirit business, teaching business, etc.?

gar "because" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Simon has no portion nor share in the apostolic ministry of the church.

hJ kardia "heart" - the heart [of you]. The inner being, inner self / centre of rational thought.

euqeia adj. "right" - [is not] straight = morally and religiously upright. Predicate adjective. Literally "straight / direct" as opposed to what is crooked, or figuratively "just / right / upright", or taking an ethical sense "frank / honest / straightforward." An ethical sense is favoured by many, although being right / straight in one's alignment with God, may be the intended sense, as NIV. "Your heart is all wrong in the sight of God", Moffatt.

enanti + gen. "before" - before [god]. Spatial, metaphorical, "in the sight of God", ie., "as God sees you", TH.


Simon's conversion is not heartfelt; it is driven by ulterior motives (eg., rice-bowl Christianity in China in the nineteenth century - come to church and get a bowl of rice). So, Peter calls on Simon to repent so that he may receive forgiveness. Some translations of the construction ei ara + fut. ind., are indefinite, implying that forgiveness, in Simon's case, is not necessarily assured, "Pray to the Lord, in the hope that the purpose which is in your heart may perhaps be forgiven you", Weymouth. This translation is unlikely; God's offer of forgiveness is for the asking, and is not uncertain: "Repent of this wickedness of yours and pray the Lord to forgive you for harbouring such a thought", REB, TEV, ..... See Gk. below.

oun "-" - therefore. Drawing a logical conclusion, inferential; given his "wickedness", therefore, Simon must repent.

metanohson (metanoew) aor. imp. "repent" - turn, repent. In the sense of turn around and face. "Change your way."

apo + gen. "of" - from [the evil = wickedness of you]. Expressing separation; "away from." Most translators identify the "evil", so "wickedness"; "Get rid of these evil thoughts and ask God to forgive you", CEV.

tou kuriou (oV) gen. "[pray to] the Lord" - [and pray, request, beg, ask of] the lord. Genitive of direct object after the verb dehqhti, "to ask of." Simon needs to ask for the grace of forgiveness. Note v24 where "ask" is followed by the preposition proV "to / toward", identifying the direction of the prayer. "Ask God", Moffatt.

ei ara + fut. ind. "in the hope that" - if then, if indeed / that perhaps. Technically introducing a 1st. class conditional clause where the proposed condition is assumed to be true; "if perhaps, as is the case, the intent of the heart will be forgiven, then repent of this wickedness of you and pray to the Lord." A 1st. class conditional clause implies that the condition is fulfilled, although a future tense can imply possible fulfilment. The likely point is, given that ("if") sin will be forgiven, repent = repent, given that sin will be forgiven. The presence of the inferential conjunction ara is taken by many translators to increase uncertainty, "perhaps", but it may well be emphatic, "indeed", Bruce, Gk. Kellum suggests it indicates that the condition is hypothetical, "if, as is the case for argument's sake."

Yet, there is a good case to treat ei ara as if used instead of oJti, "that", but expressing uncertainty, "a doubtful expectation", Zerwick, ie., ; "in the hope that perhaps", Moule IB, so also Barrett. As such, ei ara introduces an object clause, object of the verb dehqhti, "to pray" / dependent statement of perception expressing the hope of the prayer, as NIV. So, the doubt relates to Peter; he is unsure whether Simon is even able to overcome the pagan influences that beset him, and so ask God for forgiveness, so Bock. Peter is not expressing doubt as to God's willingness to forgive.

soi "[forgive] you" - [the thought = intention, purpose, design of the heart of you will be forgiven] to you. Dative of interest, advantage. The genitive thV kardiaV, "of the heart" = "mind" = "corrupt mind", is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic, limiting the noun "thought", "Repent of this wickedness of yours, and ask God to forgive the evil plan ("thought") which your corrupt mind has devised." The noun epinoia, "thought", can take the sense of "wicked thought / intention", cf., Wis.9:14. "For thinking such things as this", TEV.


Peter's description / prophetic declaration of Simon's sinful condition reflects OT imagery, cf., Prov.5:4, Deut, 29:17. "I can see that you are jealous and bound by your evil ways", CEV.

gar "for" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Simon needs to repent.

o[nta (eimi) pres. part. "that you are" - [i see you] being. The participle technically serves as the accusative complement of the direct object "you", but at the same time it introduces a dependent statement of perception expressing what is plain to Peter. "It is plain to me that you are no better than a slave to wickedness", as NIV.

eiV "full of" - to, into. Probably here equivalent to the preposition en, "in", so "full of", as NIV, although the common spatial sense may be intended, expressing the direction of the action, so, "heading toward"; "I see you are destined for."

pikriaV (a) gen. "[full] of bitterness" - [gall] of bitterness. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "gall / poison"; "full of bitter poison." It is possible that "gall" takes a figurative sense here, so "I see you are destined for bitter wrath", but it is generally accepted that Peter's words are an allusion to Deut.29:17b, describing heathen worship, so "on the way to tasting (either "destined for" or "full of it") the bitterness like gall which godless worship brings", Barclay.

adikiaV (a) "[captive to] sin" - and [the chain, bond] of unrighteousness, wrongdoing, wickedness. Again, the genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "bond"; "an evil bond." "You are in the bonds of iniquity", NAB.


The Western text adds that "Simon kept on weeping all the time Peter was speaking", Bruce.

de "-" - but/and [simon]. Transitional; along with the subject oJ Simwn, "Simon", the conjunction indicates a change in subject.

apokriqeiV (apokrinomai) aor. pas. part. "then [Simon] answered" - answering, replying [said]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to say", semi-redundant, but it may be taken as adverbial, temporal, as NIV.

uJmeiV pl. "you [pray]" - you [pray]. Emphatic. The "you", plural, obviously means Peter and John. Is Simon the magician looking to a stronger magician to get him out of hot water?

proV + acc. "to [the Lord]" - toward [the lord]. Spatial, usually expressing movement toward; "toward = to."

uJper + gen. "for [me]" - on behalf of [me]. Expressing representation, "on behalf of ", or possibly advantage, "for the sake of / for the benefit of"

oJpwV + subj. "so that" - that [nothing]. This construction usually forms an adverbial clause, final, expressing purpose; "in order that." Indicating a fear of retribution, and this with the later tradition of Simon Magus and his evil ways, may indicate that his repentance was not genuine. Luke makes no comment on the matter, and so we are best to treat his repentance as genuine.

w|n gen. rel. pro. "you have said" - [may come upon me] of which [you have spoken]. The genitive is adverbial, reference / respect, so Culy; "nothing, with respect to what you have said." This genitive phrase is often translated as if modifying / limiting "nothing", in which case the genitive would be partitive, as NIV, ESV, ....


iii] The preaching of the gospel in Samaria - transitional comment, v25. Having fully proclaimed the gospel and witnessed the outpouring of the Spirit on the Samaritan believers, Peter and John return to Jerusalem to report the news that the gospel is on its way to the ends of the earth.

men oun "-" - therefore - on the one hand therefore. The conjunction oun is inferential, expressing a logical conclusion, while men indicates the addition of a further linked element; See men 1:6. Luke is simply telling us that the apostles "were returning", imperf. and "were preaching", imperf.; "Having testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, and on their way home they preached the gospel in many Samaritan villages." While they are busy on the way to Jerusalem, Philip continues his evangelistic ministry, v26, introduced by the linked de to men; "And on the other hand, an angel of the Lord ...."

oiJ diamarturamenoi (diamarturomai) aor. part. "they had testified" - the ones having testified, declared [and having said]. This participle, along with "the one having said", serves as a substantive, subject of the imperfect verb "were returning." Together the two substantive participles give the sense "those who had testified and spoken the word of the Lord returned to Jerusalem."

tou kuriou (oV) gen. "of the Lord" - [the word] of the lord. Variant "word of God." The genitive may be taken as adjectival, possessive, "the word that belongs to the Lord", or ablative, source / origin, "the word that comes from the Lord."

euhggilizonto (euaggilizw) imperf. "preaching the gospel" - [were returning into, to jerusalem and] were communicating, proclaiming important news [to many villages]. The imperfect indicates durative action; "continued to tell the good news in many Samaritan villages", Williams. Note the coordinating te which links the actions of preaching and returning, ie., they returned to Jerusalem, preaching on the way.

Samaritwn (hV ou) gen. Samaritan [villages] - [many villages] of the samaritans. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, as NIV.


Acts Introduction


Exegetical Commentaries


[Pumpkin Cottage]