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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 8 - Verse 9

Verse 9. But there was a certain man, called Simon. The Fathers have written much respecting this man, and have given strange accounts of him; but nothing more is certainly known of him than is stated in this place. Rosenmuller and Canaille suppose him to have been a Simon mentioned by Justifies, (Anti. b. xx. chap. vii. § 2,) who was born in Cyprus. He was a magician, and was employed by Felix to persuade Drusilla to forsake her husband Azizus, and to marry Felix. But it is not very probable that this was the same person. See Note in Whiston's Justifies. Simon Magus was probably a Jew or a Samaritan, who had addicted himself to the arts of magic, and who was much celebrated for it. He had studied philosophy in Alexandria in Egypt, (Mosheim, i. p. 113, 114, Murdock's translation,) and then lived at Samaria. After he was cut off from the hope of adding to his other powers the power of working miracles, the Fathers say that he fell into many errors, and became the founder of the sect of the Simonians. They accused him of affirming that he came down as the Father in respect to the Samaritans; the Son in respect to the Jews; and the Holy Spirit in respect to the Gentiles, He did not acknowledge Christ to be the Son of God, but a rival, and pretended himself to be Christ. He rejected the law of Moses. Many other things are affirmed of him, which rest on doubtful authority. He seems to have become an enemy to Christianity; though he was willing then to avail himself of some of its doctrines in order to advance his own interests. The account that he came to a tragical death at Rome; that he was honoured as a deity by the Roman senate; and that a statue was erected to his memory in the isle of Tiber, is now generally rejected. His end is not known. See Calmed, art. Simon Magus, and Mosheim, i. p. 114, Note.

Beforetime. The practice of magic, or sorcery, was common at that time, and in all the ancient nations.

Used sorcery. mageuwn. Exercising the arts of the Magi, or Magicians; hence the name Simon Magus. See Barnes "Mt 2:1".

The ancient Magi had their rise in Persia, and were at first addicted to the study of philosophy, astronomy, medicine, etc. This name came afterwards to signify those who made use of the knowledge of these arts for the purpose of imposing on mankind—astrologers, soothsayers, necromancers, fortune-tellers, etc. Such persons pretended to predict future events by the positions of the stars, and to cure diseases by incantations, etc. See Isa 2:6; see also Da 1:20; 2:2. It was expressly forbidden the Jews to consult such persons on pain of death, Le 19:31; 20:6. In these arts Simon had been eminently successful.

And bewitched. This is an unhappy translation. The Greek means merely that he astonished or amazed the people, or confounded their judgment. The idea of bewitching them is not in the original.

Giving out, etc. Saying, i.e. boasting. It was in this way, partly, that he so confounded them. Jugglers generally impose on people just in proportion to the extravagance and folly of their pretensions. The same remark may be made of quack doctors, and of all persons who attempt to delude and impose on mankind.

{*} "sorcery" "magic" {a} "and bewitched" Ac 13:6; Re 22:15 {+} "bewitched" "astonished" {b} "giving out" Ac 5:36

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