The Story of Simon Magus

The Story of Simon Magus

  • Marina Boon - Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
  • Sietske Doorenbos - Faculty of Medicine
  • Evelien Zantingh - Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Main page: The Fall of Simon Magus Reflection on Art

This wikipage is about the story of Simon Magus.

Contents
The story in the New Testament
Other sources of information
Sources

The story in the New Testament


The story about Simon Magus starts with a part of the new Testament:

"Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, "This man is rightly called the Great Power of God." They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit."

Written in the following passage is the reason why Simon Magus is considered as the first heretic, and the reason why "simony" is the word that is used for the buying or selling of a church office or ecclesiastical preferment.

"When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles´ hands, he offered them money and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin." Then Simon answered, "Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me." After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages." [1]


Other sources of information


That is all that was written in the New Testament about Simon Magus, but his story continues in the apocryphal Acts of St. Peter (Lipsius, "Die apokryphen Apostelgeschichten und Apostellegenden" [2]): After St. Peter´s reproof and refusal to sell him the power of imparting the Holy Ghost, Simon fell into much great errors and abominations, applying himself to magic more than ever, and taking pride in withstanding the apostles. After having gone through several provinces and gaining a vast number of followers, Simon came to Rome in the time of emperor Claudius, around the year 41. He gained even more followers and even a statue was erected for "Simon the Holy". Some time after the arrival of Simon Magus, St. Peter came to Rome, reversing all that Simon had been doing there. Simon however, continued to spread his errors and, under the reign of Nero, again acquired a great reputation by his enchantments. In Batoni´s painting, Nero is painted on the background, a little higher than the crowd. Simon pretended to be Christ and said he could ascend into heaven to proof his magic arts to Nero. He raised himself up into the air with the help of demons and magic art, which you can see in the upper part of the painting. St. Peter and St. Paul however, prayed for his failure and Simon Magus fell down to the ground, and he broke his legs. Saint Peter is the character centered in the painting, wearing blue and yellow clothing, the one pointing down and making dramatic gestures. You can see Simon Magus tumbling down. Not much later Simon dies as a result of his wounds.


Sources


  1. New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide
  2. Kirsch, J.P. (1912). Simon Magus. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved November 2015 from this site