Studies in the Book of Acts
Simon tries to buy the Spirit (8:18-25)
Luke next takes up the story of Peter’s encounter with Simon, who tries to buy the power to distribute the Holy Spirit. “Give me also this ability,” he asks, “so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit” (8:19). Simon had no appreciation for the inward operation of the Spirit. He thinks the apostles are using a magic technique worth purchasing, one that will bring him more prestige and power.
Peter flatly rejects Simon’s offer. He says that Simon has “no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God” (8:21). Peter gives Simon a scathing rebuke about his spiritual blindness. The Phillips translation catches the sense of his dire reprimand: “To hell with you and your money!” (8:20). While this is a strong curse, Peter also urges Simon to repent and seek forgiveness because he is “full of bitterness and captive to sin” (8:23).
But Simon doesn’t understand, and has his mind only on physical consequences. “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me,” he answers (8:24), and that’s the last we hear of him in Acts, or anywhere else in the New Testament. Luke concludes the story of the church’s mission to Samaria with a single-sentence summary that hints at a much larger mission in the territory. Peter and John preach the gospel “in many Samaritan villages,” and then return to Jerusalem (8:25).