Simon Magus

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Simon of Samaria is first mentioned in the Christian New Testament as a magician, a sorcerer, and only in the eighth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.[1] The title "magus" is the singular form of the plural word magi. Magus is sometimes confused with the word magnus.[2] More properly, Simon was a mage, who claimed to be a great Magus, and the title became a traditional part of his name in history: Simon Magus.[3]

"...there was a certain man, called Simon, who used to practice sorcery in the city, and bewitched the people of Samaria, claiming that he himself was a Great One: to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, declaring, 'This man is the Great Power of God'." Acts 8:9-10.[4]

In the mystical teachings of the Kabbalah, the "Great Power [of God]" is called Geburah (Power, Strength), one of the Ten Sephirot or Emanations of the Ein Soph, the unknowable Godhead. In Gnosticism this Gevurah is a living power, like God, as are all of the Ten Sephirot. Simon was being hailed by the Samaritans as the embodiment of that divine aspect of God. This is almost identical to the Hindu theology of the Avatar, an embodiment of one of the gods, usually Vishnu, of whom Krishna was supposed to be one avatar or manifestation. The Syrian tyrant Antiochus IV, in 175 B.C., claimed the title "Epiphanes" (Greek, lit. "manifestation").[5] The Roman emperor Domitian also, in A.D. 94-96, referred to himself as "Dominus et Deus" (Latin, lit. "Lord and God").[6]

Simon is associated with the sin of Simony because he thought the "gift of God" may be purchased with money.[7]

Simon Magus is credited with being later the father or founder of Gnosticism. He is also profiled by the early fourth century church historian Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History. He relates that Simon fled the presence of the apostles and traveled west in order to live according to his own mind, and then entered into Rome, where he gained a large following and was proclaimed to be a god; a large statue was erected to him on an island in the river with words on it which many interpreted as saying, "To Simon the Great God"; and afterward, when Peter came to Rome and opposed him, he perished by drowning in the Tiber.[8]

Jesus warned against such charlatans. See

Matthew 24:4-5 and 24:23-26.
Mark 13:5-6 and 13:21-23.

The false claim about Simon Magus being "that power of God which is called Great" (RSV) is countered by Paul's declaration in his Epistle to the Colossians:

Jesus Christ is the embodiment of "all the fullness of God" and the "image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation": "for in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily." [9]

The Gospel of John, the Letter to the Colossians, and the Epistle to the Hebrews are especially outstanding primary sources in answer to the explicit claims of Gnosticism and the New age movement.

Jesus said to Thomas, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me." John 14:6.
Peter said to the Sanhedrin, "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12.[10]

In popular culture

Hollywood actor Jack Palance portrayed Simon the magician in the 1954 Warner Brothers film The Silver Chalice.

References

  1. Acts 8:9-24.
  2. Latin magnus means "great".
  3. The title "Anointed One" (in Greek christos "Christ") has also become part of the name of Jesus of Nazareth, the only-begotten Son of God and incarnation of the Logos, the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ.
  4. See multiple commentaries on Acts 8:9 and 8:10 (biblehub.com)
  5. 1 Maccabees 1:10
  6. Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, Domitian 13.
  7. See multiple commentaries on Acts 8:18. See Confirmation.
  8. See linked text at —
    Eusebius, Church History (Book II) Chapter 13. Simon Magus (newadvent.org) (scroll down to Chapter 13).
  9. Colossians 1:15-19; 2:8-9 and 18-19
    1 John 1:1-4.
    See also—
    John 1:1-3, 10, 18
    Hebrews 1:1–2:18
    Revelation 22:16, 13, 6.
  10. See the following Christian sources proclaiming Jesus as the only way of salvation: other doctrinal statements:

External links

See also the following articles: