8:9Simon. Simon Magus the sorcerer is frequently mentioned in ancient writings outside the Bible as the archenemy of the church and one of the leaders of the Gnostic heresy. Gnosticism (named from the Greek word gnosis, meaning “knowledge”) taught that a person gained salvation not by the merit of Christ’s death for sinners, but by special knowledge about God. Justin Martyr (died c. a.d. 165), himself a Samaritan, says that almost all the Samaritans considered Simon the highest god (the “power of God,” v. 10). Irenaeus (died c. a.d. 180), who wrote extensively against the Gnostics, regards Simon as one of the sources of their heresies. Although the Simon of v. 9 could be another Simon, the church fathers equate the two, and the context of 8:9–11 (his character and the Samaritans’ attitude about him) certainly points to the two as the same person.
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