1. Exposition

What kind of magic or sorcery did Simon practise?

Acts 8:9 (ESV)

9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great.

In the ancient world, magic was based on the idea that human beings, gods, and demons are all connected. Various incantations and rituals could allow one to access the spiritual world,1 forcing them to intervene on your behalf. Normally magic was defensive—charms and amulets to protect against diseases and demons—though it was also possible to pronounce curses on enemies.

Under the old covenant, all forms of magic were forbidden seeing as they are at root a denial that God is in control and knows what is best for his people (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:26, Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6, Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:10–11).

One of the lures to practicing sorcery is the lure of power and control that one will attain in society. One becomes respected and also wealthy, for people may bring gifts or money in order to benefit from the magician’s art. It is possible that Simon earned his money from the sale of magic spells and the performance of certain rituals on behalf of those who came to him.