A Video Supplement for
Come, Follow Me Lesson 27:
“What Wilt Thou Have Me to Do?”
In Acts 8:5-23, we have the story of Philip preaching the gospel in Samaria. It appears the reason he is here per the previous verse is because Saul is actively persecuting the Church in Jerusalem, so he is one of many disciples who have fled to a different city, and here he will find great success. Beginning at verse 5,
5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
8 And there was great joy in that city.
So he has exercised the power of the priesthood to which he has been ordained in Acts 6:5-6. In verse 5 he is names as one of those chosen and in verse six we learn that of those so chosen, ” Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. ”
9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries
So Simon has been engaged in some variety of priestcraft and deception previously in Samaria and has had somewhat of a following.
12 But 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.
We understand from this that when people believed, they were baptized by one having authority.
13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
So they have been baptized but have not yet received the Holy Ghost. Once again, they receive the Holy Ghost from those holding authority, in fact, two of the apostles.
18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
Simon’s observation, though it is tarnished by his covetous lust for office, is nevertheless valid. Though he believed in Jesus Christ, as is explained in verse 13, this did not give him authority to confer the Holy Ghost. One must hold authority from God in order to do this, and this goes beyond mere belief. As James 1:19 states, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Peter will of course rebuke him for attempting to purchase priesthood authority, which is contrary to the God’s way of doing things, in the subsequent verses.
20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
It is worth pointing out with regard to the context of Peter’s response, that Exodus 23:8 prohibits acceptance of bribes: “And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.” Isaiah 33:14-15 further inquires who can dwell in the presence of God: 14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?15 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;