New Testament Types in Acts: Part 9
Dec 05, 2006
Simon Magus was the founder of Gnosticism, which is the religion of the "DaVinci Code." It takes elements of Christianity and combines them with Simon's Eastern Philosophy and then claims to be true Christianity. But its real origin is not in the Cross of Christ, but in Samaria.
When Simon was exposed in Acts 8, he left Samaria and went to Rome, where he used his powers to convince men that he was a god, a "Magus," Simon the Great. The fourth-century Bishop Eusebius wrote in his Ecclesiastical History, XIV, ii,
"He arrived in Rome, where he was greatly helped by the powers that awaited its opportunity there, and in a short time his efforts met with such successs that the citizens actually set up a statue of him and honoured him as a god."
The statue read, "Simoni, Deo Sancto," or "to Simon the Holy God."
But Peter also went to Rome, preached the word, and again exposed him by the power of the Holy Spirit, which destroyed Simon's demonic power. Eusebius continues, saying,
"Thus, when the divine word had made its home among them, Simon's power was extinguished and destroyed at once with the man himself."
His preaching in Rome created the need for a Gospel to be written specifically to them, so he called for Mark to come from Egypt where he had been ministering. Mark came and wrote his Gospel to leave with them. Hence Peter ends his first epistle in 1 Peter 5:13 with,
"She who is in Babylon [i.e., Rome], chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark."
Simon's Gnosticism, however, continued to be practiced underground until the present day when it is now emerging once again into the open. The DaVince Code was designed to popularize it once again. Its worship of Mary Magdalene is an extension of Simon's own practice, for he had a consort named Helen, a prostitute with whom he engaged in every vice known to man. Eusebius writes,
"For whatever could be imagined more disgusting than the foulest crime known has been outstripped by the utterly revolting heresy of these men, who make sport of wretched women, burdened indeed with vices of every kind. . .
"Consequently, neither Simon nor any of his contemporaries managed to form an organized body in those apostolic days, for every attempt was defeated and overpowered by the light of the truth and by the divine Word Himself, who had so recently shone from God on men, active in the world and immanent in His own apostles." (XIII, xiv)
Whenever the true Word is preached, there is always to be expected an opposing word. Both, it seems, are accompanied by signs and wonders, much like in the days of Moses who was opposed by Pharaoh's magicians. The truth, however, is made manifest by the greater power of the Holy Spirit, whose signs follow the preaching of the word as Jesus said in Mark 16:17, 18,
"And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name, they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
It makes a person wonder if perhaps all of these signs were manifested in Rome when Peter was being opposed by Simon Magus. There is some controversy, however, because some ancient manuscripts leave out the last verses in Mark. But when Dr. Ivan Panin checked the numerics of the book and of this particular passage a century ago, he found it to be inspired and included it in his Numeric New Testament.
Dr. Ivan Panin was the head of the department of Astronomy and Physics at Harvard in those days. He became a devout Christian when he discovered that the entire Bible had mathematical patterns that would be impossible for a person to insert deliberately. To leave out the last portion of Mark would also have destroyed the entire numeric patterns in the Gospel of Mark. Thus, by mathematics, he was able to see and prove the inspiration of Scripture as well as to expose those few passages that had been inserted later by zealous copyists.
Panin's work is quite useful in objectively determining inspiration by the use of mathematics, which, I may add, was invented by God and utilized throughout His creation.
Getting back to the eighth chapter of Acts, when Philip, Peter, and John had finished their work in Samaria, they returned to Jerusalem but preached in various other Samaritan cities along the way (8:25). In verse 26 we read,
"But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, 'Arise and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.' (This is a desert road.)"
Along the way, Philip encountered an Ethiopian court official who had gone on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. As he returned, he was reading from Isaiah 53 when Philip encountered him.
Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading. He did not and asked for help. Philip then explained to him that Isaiah 53 was about the Messiah who was to come and to die as the Passover Lamb for the sins of the people. The eunuch believed, and he asked to be baptized. Philip baptized him, and then was "caught away" to another town.
The eunuch's baptism was the fulfillment of what he had just read, because the subject matter of Isaiah 53 really begins in 52:13,
"(13) Behold, My Servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. (14) Just as many were astonished at you, My people, so His appearance was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men. (15) Thus He will sprinkle many nations, kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; for what had not been told them they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand.
Isaiah mentions the law of sprinkling, called in the Greek baptismos (Heb. 9:10-13), which was prescribed by Moses in the laws of purification from touching a dead body (Num. 19:19, 20), as well as in the law of cleansing lepers (Lev. 14:7). For years I thought baptismos meant "to dip or immerse," and I was surprised when someone pointed out the actual usage of the word in the Bible. The water was applied by sprinkling or pouring to signify that the cleansing was coming from above (heaven). Hence, also the Holy Spirit is said to be "poured out" from above as water and as the former and latter rains.
And so here, too, Isaiah prophesied that "many nations" would be "sprinkled," and that they would "see" and "understand" the Word. The Ethiopian eunuch was the prime example of this and the type of all those who would follow his example. Thus, he was baptized to fulfill the words that he had just read, but did not see or understand until Philip presented Jesus to him.
By the way, it does not matter to me what mode of baptism a person receives. I myself was immersed in accordance with the tradition in which I was raised. But for the purpose of understanding types and shadows in Scripture, it is helpful to know the law of Moses and, in this case, to know how the eunuch was baptized to fulfill the very word that he had just read.
After the eunuch was baptized, Philip was "caught away" (Greek: harpazo) to a place near Azotus, and he preached the word from town to town until he reached Caesarea--a port city named for Caesar. This Greek word is the basis for the modern Rapture theory, for it is used again in 1 Thess. 4:17.
We will study this more carefully in our next study, because the story of Philip itself provides us with a word picture--a biblical type--that shows us the practical application of this word in Bible prophecy.
This is the ninth part of a series titled "New Testament Types in Acts." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones