Steps to Participation in an Expanded Mission

Acts 7:1-8:25

Simon Magus & Incipient Gnosticism

Acts 8:9-24

Many others other than Luke in Acts has spoken of Simon. He is thought to be the starter of the cult Gnosticism in its incipient forms.

Some Background

The early church fathers thought that Simon of Acts 8 was the source of all sorts of heresies including Gnosticism. He is said to have written numerous books. Simon’s own teaching differed from formal Gnosticism by teaching that salvation came by knowing him rather than a person’s spiritual identity. He also proclaimed to be God.

Many call New Age a quasi-form of Gnosticism. It doesn’t seem to be, but we shouldn’t be surprised if it began popular again. There were two main gnostic sects known mostly by their own founder’s names. I think it is more helpful to see them in light of how they respond to the teaching of the evil body. All are very unbiblical.

He no doubt is mentioned here as an ‘anti-Christ.’He stands close to Christianity but does not really become a Christian. He became a professing Christian but later showed his ‘unbelief’ by lifting himself up as God. His gift of magic became his curse.


They all believed that their spiritual nature was caught in evil fleshly bodies. Redemption could be had only by gaining special ‘gnosis’ which means knowledge. this supposed knowledge often had to know of a secret path via the heavenlies. We can early forms of both of these teachings in the scriptures. Gnosticism was heavily influenced by Greek thought in the belief that flesh was evil and the spirit was good.

This group believed in sensual redemption because once one was saved, then it didn’t matter what one did with his or her body. They just followed their lusts. The ascetic group believed that they should avoid the influence of the evil flesh as much as possible. They refrained from sex and much food.

Questions on Simon (Acts 8:9-24)

1. What was Simon known for around Samaria?

2. How did he respond to the gospel message of salvation?

3. What distinguished him from the other believers? (18-19)

4. How did Peter respond to him? Why?

5. What was Simon’s response to this?

Acts: Other BFF Articles

Acts                Introduction and Outlines
Acts Map:       Paul's 1-2 Journeys

Acts Map:       Paul's 3 & Rome Journeys

Acts_07_        Stephen's Defense

Acts_8.2-25    Persecution & Evangelism
Acts_8.14-24  Simon & Gnosticism

Acts_8.25-40  Ethiopean Eunuch

Acts_9:1-22   Saul the Terrorist

Acts_8-9        Perspectives on Conversion

Acts_10:1-48:       Intersecting in Time: Vision #1
Acts_10:9-16        Vision #2 Peter

Acts_10:17-48      The Meeting that Changed History

Acts_10:34-44      The Christian Historical Message

Acts_13-14           Paul's First Missionary Journey

Acts_13:1-3          Sending Out Missionary Church

Acts_13:4-12        Power Encounter in Cyprus

Acts_13:13-50      Gospel Message in Antioch

Acts_13:51-14:28 Other Missionary Stops

Acts 20:28-30       
Detecting Error in the Church

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

Paul J. Bucknell