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English Bible Dictionary

Simon Magus

 

(contracted form of Simeon, a hearing).

Simon Magus, a Samaritan living in the apostolic age, distinguished as a sorcerer or "magician," from his practice of magical arts. (Acts 8:9) According to ecclesiastical writers he was born at Gitton, a village of Samaria, and was probably educated at Alexandria in the tenets of the Gnostic school. He is first introduced to us as practicing magical arts in a city of Samaria, perhaps Sychar, (Acts 8:5) comp. John 4:5 And with such success that he was pronounced to be "the power of God which is called great." (Acts 8:10) The preaching and miracles of Philip having excited his observation, he became one of his disciples, and received baptism at his hands, A.D. 36,37. Subsequently he witnessed the effect produced by the imposition of hands, as practiced by the apostles Peter and John, and, being desirous of acquiring a similar power for himself, he offered a sum of money for it. His object evidently was to apply the power to the prosecution of magical arts. The motive and the means were equally to be reprobated; and his proposition met with a severe denunciation from Peter, followed by a petition on the part of Simon, the tenor of which bespeaks terror, but not penitence, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. (Acts 8:9-24) The memory of his peculiar guilt has been perpetuated in the word simony, as applied to all traffic in spiritual offices. Simon's history, subsequent to his meeting with Peter, is involved in difficulties. Early Church historians depict him as the pertinacious foe of the apostle Peter, whose movements he followed for the purpose of seeking encounters, in which he was signally defeated. He is said to have followed the apostle to Rome. His death is associated with this meeting. According to Hippolytus, the earliest authority on the subject, Simon was buried alive at his own request, in the confident assurance that he would rise on the third day.

 

* See other occurrences of the same term: Simon.

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