Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 13, 1969
NUMBER 44, PAGE 6b-7

The Conversion Of Simon

J. D. Floyd

From the entire history of Simon, the sorcerer, as found in Acts 8, I feel justified in putting the above heading to this article. While not holding him up as a model man, I have no doubt of his conversion. Of the other Samaritans it is said: "When they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." From this record none call in question the genuineness of their conversion. Of Simon it is said: "Then Simon himself believed also; and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which done." It is sometimes claimed that he never really believed; that he feigned to believe. If he did not believe, Philip, an inspired man, was deceived, for it is sure he would not have baptized a pretended believer. Furthermore, if he was not a believer, Luke was deceived also, as he gives no intimation that his faith was not as genuine as that of the other Samaritans. This fact has great force in it when it is remembered that Luke wrote this history some thirty years after the occurrence of these things, and also after the weakness in Simon's character had shown itself. After speaking of the faith of the others, it is said Simon believed also. Worcester gives "in like manner" as the leading definition of "also;" hence as the faith of the other Samaritans was genuine, so was that of Simon.

Simon's faith being genuine, his baptism was also; and the words of Jesus, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," being true, he was saved, had the remission of his sins. Granting everything that is claimed for this case, those who discount the importance of baptism gain nothing, for the defect was in the motive, not in the things done. Had he done sincerely what he did in pretense, he would have been all right. This case of conversion is in perfect accord with the conditions in the "word of reconciliation" and the other cases heretofore examined. It is expressly stated that he believed and that he was baptized, and the necessary inference is he repented, as he ceased to practice his sorcery, and repentance was an absolute prerequisite to baptism.

The subsequent history of Simon is exceedingly interesting, as it throws light upon a much misunderstood teaching of the Scriptures. In that day of miraculous manifestations, gifts of the Spirit were imparted by the laying on of hands. This was the prerogative of the apostles; hence when they at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, then sent unto them Peter and John, who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost; then laying their hands on them the Holy Ghost came upon them. It is well to remark here that mental bias and striking traits in one's make-up will crop out after conversion as well as before. The man who was looked up to will manifest the desire for prominence after he has come into the church, and so with other traits.

Simon, previous to his conversion, had given out that he was "some great one," and to him "they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest." Seeing that by the laying on of apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, the old nature, for a time, asserted itself, and he "offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost." This was a sin of a grievous character. Peter tells him because of this, "thy heart is not right in the sight of God," that 'he was "in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity," and commands him to repent, "and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee." Peter does not tell him to repent of the sins of a long and bad life or to pray for forgiveness of his lifelong iniquities, but of something that had occurred right there and then. That thing was that he "thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money."

The last heart of Simon leaves him in favorable light. "Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me." Here is developed, under inspiration, the law of remission to the erring children of God. A man once said to me: "If I believed as you do on the subject of baptism, I would hire me a preacher and require him to go with me wherever I went, and when I committed a sin, have him to baptize me right there." I replied that I was afraid that if he did that he would hardly ever have his dry clothes; for if a man was continually hunting for excuses for not obeying God, I was sure he would sin very often.

The alien sinner, by inspired men, was commanded to "repent and be baptized;" the citizen sinner was commanded to "repent and pray." This was God's order then; it is God's order now. All organized institutions have a way by which those who have not been members are initiated, and a different way by which unfaithful members are restored. So it is in the church of God.

— Gospel Advocate, March 31, 1898