A man called Simon.
When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power. “Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!”
Simon’s name is embedded in the English language now with the word ‘Simony’ defined as ‘the buying or selling of a church office or ecclesiastical preferment’. Simon was aware of the Apostles laying hands on people, and seeing them receive the Holy Spirit – and he wanted the same power and ability as the Apostles. It was Peter who saw through the man to the reality of his selfish thinking. ‘I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy’ – Simon was simply jealous of the Apostles and wanted the same power, perhaps to help him regain his influence over people in Samaria. We hear nothing more of this Simon and I wonder if he did really repent and become a humble disciple of Jesus. I would like to think so!
This passage raises all kinds of questions about receiving the Holy Spirit – and these notes are not the place to go rummaging around in theological text books to unravel the thinking. What does need to be taken in however is the essential place of the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer. For some reason the first believers in Samaria missed out on this, perhaps because Philip had not gone on to explain about Pentecost to them. So Peter and John travel to Samaria to explain the Good News more fully. Peter’s very first sermon had made it clear that the Gospel offer was not just about being forgiven and being reconciled to God, but also of receiving the life of God through the indwelling Holy Spirit. ‘Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ (Acts 2:38)
Not all believers realise this – Do you?