Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

Philip and Simon
Acts 8:5-25

warm up
1. The best response when a Christian sins is:
[  ] Don't worry, be happy
[  ] Don't give it a second thought
[  ] Forget about even trying to do right
[  ] Seek God's forgiveness
wise up

Philip who served tables (Acts 6:5) before the persecution was now preaching the gospel as an evangelist. He was a classic example of those who "went everywhere preaching the word." (Acts 8:4) It is interesting that when Philip went to Samaria he preached "Christ" (Acts 8:5.) He preached "things concerning the kingdom of God [the church.]" And he preached the name [authority] of Jesus Christ. (Acts 8:12.) At some point in his preaching Christ and the Kingdom, Philip must have preached about baptism because verse 12 says that "when they believed.... they were baptized, both men and women." Baptism follows faith. (Cf., Mark 16:16.)

I. Simon the sorcerer: Vs. 5-11
   1. What is sorcery? What did the practice of Sorcery do for Simon financially and prestige wise? 
   2. Would Simon have known the difference between trickery and the real miracles that Philip was able to do? (Cf., Vs.13)

II. Simon saved: Vs. 12-13 
   1. Was Simon really saved? If so, how do we know? Does the scripture say he believed? Does it say he was baptized? What indication is there that he was less saved than those in verse 12? 
   2. Which of the following do you think Simon had  the hardest time putting behind him after he became a Christian?  

[  ] His bewitching practice of the art of Sorcery (Vs. 9)
[  ] His popularity with the people (Vs. 10-11)
[  ] His self proclaimed greatness (Vs. 9)
[  ] The people's claim that he possessed the power of God (Vs. 10)

   3. It should be obvious that one can be saved from past sins and yet struggle with sinful habits and attitudes. 

III. Simon sinned: Vs. 14-24 
   1. In the midst of this story we encounter a very important doctrinal issue. It becomes obvious that the baptism of the Samaritans (the great commission baptism of Matthew 28:19-20, was water baptism and not the baptism of the Holy Spirit.) At this point in time, only the apostles had been baptized by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2.) All others had only been baptized in the name of the Lord (Cf., Vs. 16, Acts 2:38.) Yet, there were those like Philip and Stephen who were "full of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 6:3.) We should wonder, "How did Philip receive the miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit in order to be able to work miracles?" (Cf., Acts 8:6-7.) The answer is told to us in verses 14-18. Only the apostles could bestow the Holy Ghost with its miraculous gifts by laying on of their hands. Evidently they had done this to Philip while he was in Jerusalem prior to his being selected as one of the seven to serve tables. But Philip could not pass the gift on to others and so the apostles had to be sent to Samaria for the unique purpose of bestowing this gift. 
   2. Notice also that Peter did not possess any seniority or superiority over the other apostles. In verse 14, the apostles in unison "sent" Peter and John. If
Peter had been chief, he would have been the one to send. 
   3. What was Simon's sin? Was he lost according to Peter? (Vs. 20.) Here was a baptized believer who sinned to the point that his soul was once again lost. What does this passage indicate about the religious theory of "once saved always saved?" Discuss the implications.
   4. Do Christians sin? (Cf., I John 1:8-10.) We should be grateful that Simon's sin was recorded in this text because it instructs us as baptized believers regarding what we need to do when we realize that we have sinned. Was Simon instructed to be baptized again? Was Simon instructed to do penance or some good deed to make up for his sin? What two things was he specifically instructed to do in verse 22? Why did Simon ask Peter to pray for him? Is it good to ask others to pray for us when we sin? Following Peter's instructions to Simon when he had sinned, what should Christians remember to do when they sin?  

wrap up

1.  Looking back at this text we learn many doctrinal truths: (a) Baptism in the name of Jesus was not the same as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (b) The miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were bestowed by the unique "laying on of the hands of the apostles." This was the unique purpose of Peter and John coming to Samaria. (c) We learn that a baptized believer can sin and be lost but that he can also repent and pray for forgiveness.


  Please read Acts 8:26-40 for next week        copyright 2001