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Acts 8:20

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Thy money perish with thee - This is an awful declaration; and imports thus much, that if he did not repent, he and his ill-gotten goods would perish together; his money should be dissipated, and his soul go into perdition.

That the gift of God may be purchased - Peter takes care to inform not only Simon, but all to whom these presents may come, that the Spirit of God is the gift of God alone, and consequently cannot be purchased with money; for what reward can He receive from his creatures, to whom the silver and the gold belong, the cattle on a thousand hills, the earth and its fullness!

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Thy money perish with thee - This is expressive of the horror and indignation of Peter at the base offer of Simon. It is not to be understood as an imprecation on Simon. The main idea is the apostle‘s contempt for the “money,” as if he regarded it as of no value. “Let your money go to destruction. We abhor your impious offer. We can freely see “any” amount of money destroyed before we will be tempted to sell the gift of the Holy Spirit. But there was here also an expression of his belief that “Simon” also would perish. It was a declaration that he was hastening to ruin, and as if this was certain, Peter says, let your money perish “too.”

The gift of God - That which he has “given,” or conferred as a favor. The idea was absurd that what God himself gave as a sovereign could be purchased. It was “impious” to think of attempting to buy with worthless gold what was of so inestimable value. The “gift of God” here means the extraordinary influences of the Holy Spirit, Acts 10:45; Acts 11:17. How can we pay a “price” to God? All that “we” can give, the silver, and the gold, and the cattle on a thousand hills, belong to him already. We have “nothing” which we can present for his favors. And yet there are many who seek to “purchase” the favor of God. Some do it by alms and prayers; some by penance and fasting; some by attempting to make their own hearts better, and by self-righteousness; and some by penitence and tears. All these will not “purchase” his favor. Salvation, like every other blessing, will be “his gift”; and if ever received, we must be willing to accept it on his own terms; at his own time; in his own way. We are without merit; and if saved, it will be by the sovereign grace of God.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The Holy Ghost was as yet fallen upon none of these coverts, in the extraordinary powers conveyed by the descent of the Spirit upon the day of Pentecost. We may take encouragement from this example, in praying to God to give the renewing graces of the Holy Ghost to all for whose spiritual welfare we are concerned; for that includes all blessings. No man can give the Holy Spirit by the laying on of his hands; but we should use our best endeavours to instruct those for whom we pray. Simon Magus was ambitious to have the honour of an apostle, but cared not at all to have the spirit and disposition of a Christian. He was more desirous to gain honour to himself, than to do good to others. Peter shows him his crime. He esteemed the wealth of this world, as if it would answer for things relating to the other life, and would purchase the pardon of sin, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and eternal life. This was such a condemning error as could by no means consist with a state of grace. Our hearts are what they are in the sight of God, who cannot be deceived. And if they are not right in his sight, our religion is vain, and will stand us in no stead. A proud and covetous heart cannot be right with God. It is possible for a man to continue under the power of sin, yet to put on a form of godliness. When tempted with money to do evil, see what a perishing thing money is, and scorn it. Think not that Christianity is a trade to live by in this world. There is much wickedness in the thought of the heart, its false notions, and corrupt affections, and wicked projects, which must be repented of, or we are undone. But it shall be forgiven, upon our repentance. The doubt here is of the sincerity of Simon's repentance, not of his pardon, if his repentance was sincere. Grant us, Lord, another sort of faith than that which made Simon wonder only, and did not sanctify his heart. May we abhor all thoughts of making religion serve the purposes of pride or ambition. And keep us from that subtle poison of spiritual pride, which seeks glory to itself even from humility. May we seek only the honour which cometh from God.
Ellen G. White
Faith and Works, 20

The light given me of God places this important subject above any question in my mind. Justification is wholly of grace and not procured by any works that fallen man can do. The matter has been presented before me in clear lines that if the rich man has money and possessions, and he makes an offering of the same to the Lord, false ideas come in to spoil the offering by the thought he has merited the favor of God, that the Lord is under obligation to him to regard him with special favor because of this gift. FW 20.1

There has been too little educating in clear lines upon this point. The Lord has lent man His own goods in trust—means which He requires be handed back to Him when His providence signifies and the upbuilding of His cause demands it. The Lord gave the intellect. He gave the health and the ability to gather earthly gain. He created the things of earth. He manifests His divine power to develop all its riches. They are His fruits from His own husbandry. He gave the sun, the clouds, the showers of rain, to cause vegetation to flourish. As God's employed servants you gathered in His harvest to use what your wants required in an economical way and hold the balance for the call of God. You can say with David, “For all things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee” (1 Chronicles 29:14). So the satisfaction of creature merit cannot be in returning to the Lord His own, for it was always His own property to be used as He in His providence should direct. FW 20.2

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Ellen G. White
The Story of Redemption, 315

The apostles Paul and Peter were for many years widely separated in their labors, it being the work of Paul to carry the gospel to the Gentiles, while Peter labored especially for the Jews. But in the providence of God, both were to bear witness for Christ in the world's metropolis, and upon its soil both were to shed their blood as the seed of a vast harvest of saints and martyrs. SR 315.1

About the time of Paul's second arrest Peter also was apprehended and thrust into prison. He had made himself especially obnoxious to the authorities by his zeal and success in exposing the deceptions and defeating the plots of Simon Magus, the sorcerer, who had followed him to Rome to oppose and hinder the work of the gospel. Nero was a believer in magic, and had patronized Simon. He was therefore greatly incensed against the apostle, and was thus prompted to order his arrest. SR 315.2

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Ellen G. White
Christ's Object Lessons, 253

“And one of the company said unto Him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.” Through Moses, God had given directions concerning the transmission of property. The eldest son received a double portion of the father's estate (Deuteronomy 21:17), while the younger brothers were to share alike. This man thinks that his brother has defrauded him of his inheritance. His own efforts have failed to secure what he regards as his due, but if Christ will interpose the end will surely be gained. He has heard Christ's stirring appeals, and His solemn denunciations of the scribes and Pharisees. If words of such command could be spoken to this brother, he would not dare to refuse the aggrieved man his portion. COL 253.1

In the midst of the solemn instruction that Christ had given, this man had revealed his selfish disposition. He could appreciate that ability of the Lord which might work for the advancement of his own temporal affairs; but spiritual truths had taken no hold on his mind and heart. The gaining of the inheritance was his absorbing theme. Jesus, the King of glory, who was rich, yet for our sake became poor, was opening to him the treasures of divine love. The Holy Spirit was pleading with him to become an heir of the inheritance that is “incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” 1 Peter 1:4. He had seen evidence of the power of Christ. Now the opportunity was his to speak to the great Teacher, to express the desire uppermost in his heart. But like the man with the muck rake in Bunyan's allegory, his eyes were fixed on the earth. He saw not the crown above his head. Like Simon Magus, he valued the gift of God as a means of worldly gain. COL 253.2

The Saviour's mission on earth was fast drawing to a close. Only a few months remained for Him to complete what He had come to do, in establishing the kingdom of His grace. Yet human greed would have turned Him from His work to take up the dispute over a piece of land. But Jesus was not to be diverted from His mission. His answer was, “Man, who made Me a judge or a divider over you?” COL 253.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 86

Angels of God will not abide in your family until there is a different order of things. It is not your means that is wanted. Yet when reproved you have thought it was your means that the church wanted. You are deceived here. You have been too liberal with your means, for the very reason that you have thought this was to obtain salvation for you and buy you a position in the church. No, indeed! it is you that is wanted, not the little means you possess. If you would be transformed by the renewing of your mind and be converted, deal truly with your own soul. It is all that the church require. You have deceived yourself. If any man seemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, that man's religion is vain. Treat your family in a manner that Heaven can approve, and so that peace may be in your dwelling. There needs to be everything done for your family. Your children have had your bad example before them; you have blamed, and censured, and manifested a passionate spirit at home, while you would, at the same time, address the throne of grace, attend meeting, and bear testimony in favor of the truth. These exhibitions have led your children to despise you and the truth you profess. They have no confidence in your Christianity. They believe you to be a hypocrite, and it is true that you are a sadly deceived man. You can no more enter heaven without a thorough change than could Simon Magus, who thought that the Holy Ghost could be bought with money. Your family have seen your overreaching spirit, your readiness to take advantage of others, your penurious spirit toward those with whom you sometimes deal, and they despise you for it; yet they will too surely follow in your footsteps of wrongdoing. 2T 86.1

Your deal is not what it should be. It is difficult for you to deal justly and to love mercy. You have dishonored the cause of God by your life. You have contended for the truth, but not in a right spirit. You have hindered souls from embracing the truth who otherwise would have done so. They have excused themselves by pointing to the errors and wrongs of professed Sabbathkeepers, saying: “They are no better than I; they will lie, cheat, exaggerate, get angry, and boastingly talk of their own praise; such a religion as this I do not want.” Thus the unconsecrated lives of these shortcoming Sabbathkeepers make them stumbling blocks to sinners. 2T 87.1

The work now before you must commence in your family. You have tried hard to improve outwardly; but the work has been too much on the surface, an outside work and not a work of the heart. Set your heart in order, humble yourself before God, and implore His grace to help you. Do not, like the hypocritical Pharisees, do things to make you appear devotional and righteous in the eyes of others. Break your heart before God, and know that it is impossible for you to deceive the holy angels. Your words and acts are all open to their inspection. Your motives and the intents and purposes of your heart stand revealed to their gaze. The most secret things are not hid from them. Oh, then, rend your heart, and be not overanxious to make your brethren think you are right when you are not! Be circumspect in your family. You are watching to see others’ wrongs, but do this no more. The work you have now to do is to overcome your own wrongs, to battle with your strong internal foes. Deal justly with the widow and the fatherless. Do not throw over your acts the flimsy covering of deception, to influence those whom you greatly wish would think you right, while your motives and acts will not bear the construction you would have put upon them. 2T 87.2

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