What happened after Stephan's martyrdom? As always, God turned this tragedy into triumph; the gospel of Jesus finally moved beyond Jerusalem and leaked out into Samaria via Philip. Once again, the death of a righteous man - scattered the sheep, and once again it produced good fruit, Gentiles were at last being exposed to the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. We are, after all, to be like lambs lead to the slaughter - not a very attractive scenario in the worldly - it's all about me - brand of "Christianity". I think Simon the Sorcerer would have been pleased and very comfortable living in these days rather than in his day.
Speaking of Simon the Sorcerer - the Bible says he previously practiced sorcery in the city of Samaria (located on a hill NW of Shechem), which is modern day Nablus. It is said that he astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great. Okay, here we go, some guy who was worshiping idols, praying to nature gods and working magic spells was claiming that he was
preached the gospel of Jesus in Samaria. The gospel message he preached was backed up with godly miracles. Unclean spirits left people in screaming fits, and the paralyzed and lame were healed, all who believed were being set free. That's when the people of Samaria started to believe Philip instead of Simon. We are told in verse 13 about Simon's supposed conversion, I find that kind of symbolic in that the #13 symbolizes rebellion in the world of the occult. As the saying goes, "If you can't beat them, join 'em." Anyway, he was even baptized and followed Philip, and was amazed by all the miracles and signs that were done through him. Philip was not an apostle (one of the twelve), and this must have been well known. This meant he was not a "master magician" in Simon's evil eyes.
"Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 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 [motive] may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity."
"looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;"
Defiled? Oh, that can't be good! So, what is this "root of bitterness" that would make us become defiled if we allowed it into our lives? Defilement in Scripture is usually a reference to idolatry. The previous verses make reference to fornicators and to Esau as being profane, and verse 18 goes on to teach about mount Sinai and mount Zion. In fact, Heb. 12: 15 has a cross reference of that phrase "root of bitterness" that lead me to Deut. 29:18-19 which reads:
"so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart
turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness ,or wormwood;
and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, 'I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart'- as though the drunkard could be included with the sober."
That is some good stuff right there and lets us in on what Peter was alluding to when he rebuked Simon in verses 21-23 of Acts 8! As many of us who have studied pagan practices, we know that it was and is common for them to get drunk or take drugs in order to enter into contact with the spirit world through an altered state of conscience. That is why liquor is often called "spirits" and why drugs are called "pharmaceuticals," which is from the Greek word"pharmakia." Pharmakia denotes sorcery coupled with mind altering drug abuse. The believer is commanded to be in complete control of themselves, to be sober minded at all times. Never are we to be drunk, even when we are "in the Spirit." But don't not stop there dear reader, keep reading until verse 28 on your own, and I will finish my quote with verse 29:
"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are
revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words
of this law."
Magicians and sorcerers actively seek for and look into those "secret things" or what they call "mysteries" or "hidden knowledge", all of which don't rightfully belong to them. So they are not of the LORD God, because they refuse to obey his revealed, or written word, and they desire to go beyond it, into the illegal realms of the spirit world, or the paranormal. A world where Satan, who can appear as "Lucifer" with his minions of false light, await them,
Kingdom Dynamics Criticism
"Peter identified the basis for Simon's sorcery as bitterness - the deepening effect of unforgiveness (v.2). Here is warning regarding the danger of tolerated or embraced unforgiveness, which may, like poison, permeate and bind the soul, ultimately corrupting everything around it. In Simon's case, his bitterness shaped his passion to control others (v.19)- which prompted his quest to purchase the ability to impart the gift of the Holy Spirit. Though having believed and been baptized (v.13), the residue of his past bondage surfaces as he unworthily seeks power to manipulate others for self-exalting purposes. Peter discerns the root of his bondage (v.23) and summons Simon to repentance and deliverance. Though Simon did not repent, this episode still points to one of the foremost keys to deliverance from entrenched bondage in a believer's soul - the act of forgiveness. Forgiving others from our heart flushes out the "poison" with the power of the Cross. In contrast, unforgiveness can, as with Simon, lead down paths we would never have imagined we would travel." - [C.H.]
- a wolf among the sheep (his heart is not right with God).
- an unrepentant sorcerer who desired to use God's gifts as a means of gain.
- an idolater, bound by iniquity.
- in grave danger of losing his soul forever due to God's bitterness toward his idolatry.
Eisegesis is a type of biblical interpretation where someone makes their preconceived notion fit a text, while ignoring the verse's context in the chapter of a book, and ultimately, the whole Bible. It is by far the favorite method of biblical interpretation used by false teachers. The proper interpretation of "the root of bitterness" Peter rightly discerned and laid on Simon is his sorcery, not his unforgiveness.
Perhaps I'm being a bit "nit-picky" for some. Well that is my job as a Berean, to be critical and "nit-picky", because deception is so very subtle, dear reader, and not the "in your face" brand of obvious error people assume it is. No - that comes father down the broad and easy path going down toward the wide gate leading to the of the lake of fire, or hell. By then, you'd be so blind you wouldn't be able to see the truth even if you stumbled over it. The bulk of modern pastors and teachers are deeply rooted in the bitterness of sorcery, and since they do not want that to be exposed, they deflect it onto something else, like human unforgiveness through the use of eisegesis. Right, Christopher Hayward?