Metropolitan United Methodist Church, Indian Head, MD
Acts 8:14-17
January 9, 2022

Acts 8:14-17

January 9, 2022

Metropolitan UMC, Indian Head, MD

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Acts 8:14-17

New International Version

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Background

Simon was by no means unusual in the ancient world. There were many astrologers, fortune-tellers and magicians; and, in an age when people were easily taken in, they had a great influence and made a comfortable living. This is hardly surprising when even the twenty-first century has not risen above fortune-telling and astrology, as almost any popular newspaper or magazine can witness. It is not to be thought that Simon and his fellow practitioners were all conscious frauds. Many of them had deluded themselves before they deluded others, and believed in their own powers.

To understand what Simon was getting at, we have to understand something of the atmosphere and practice of the early Church. The coming of the Spirit upon an individual was connected with certain visible phenomena, in particular with the gift of speaking with tongues (cf. Acts 10:44–6). The person experienced an ecstasy which manifested itself in this strange phenomenon of uttering meaningless sounds. In Jewish practice, the laying on of hands was very common. With it, there was held to be a transference of certain qualities from one person to another. It is not to be thought that this represents an entirely materialistic view of the transference of the Spirit. The dominating factor was the character of the one who performed the laying on of hands. The apostles were held in such respect and even veneration that simply to feel the touch of their hands was a deeply spiritual experience.[1]

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Point 1 

 

Notes from Point 1

Point 2 

Notes from Point 2

Point 3

Notes from Point 3

Summary

 

[1] William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, 3rd ed. fully rev. and updated., The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 76–77.

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