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Acts 8:12  (King James Version)
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<< Acts 8:11   Acts 8:13 >>


Acts 8:12

From these three verses (Acts 2:38; Mark 1:15; Acts 8:12), we understand the two prerequisites for baptism: repentance and belief of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. The people of Acts 2 showed by their reaction that they believed what Peter had preached (verse 37), and thus they needed only to repent of their sins and their human nature before they were baptized (verse 41). One need not be a Bible scholar or be living perfectly to be baptized; these things are part of growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ after baptism (II Peter 3:18).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Basic Doctrines: Water Baptism



Acts 8:12

In this passage, Jesus explains the principle of "counting the cost." The candidate for baptism must be able to discern the terms of God's offer for salvation before making such a monumental decision. He must be mature enough to understand what God desires of him, to repent and to believe the gospel. A new believer should be baptized as soon as possible after he has come to this point in his calling (Acts 8:35-38; 9:17-18). The apostles' example in Acts 8:12 shows that they baptized only adults who had met the qualifications of baptism. Thus, this would rule out children and—obviously—the dead (I Corinthians 15:29; Paul is ridiculing the practice).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Basic Doctrines: Water Baptism



Acts 8:9-13

Here is the earliest indication of Gnosticism as a religion—or at least a philosophy, a way of life that eventually became a religion—having an impact on the Christian church. Gnosticism was mystical and charismatic, not rational. Rational means "relating to, based upon, or agreeable to reason." Mystical means "having a spiritual meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence." Gnosticism was ascetic and exclusivist, and it relied heavily on magic.

When these elements are combined with Jewish zeal, a religion was created that undoubtedly appealed to a large segment of the Christian church. Paul goes on to show in the book of Galatians that the primary racial group in the foreground of the book of Galatians are not Gentiles. They were Jews who were practicing Halakah, but who had been heavily influenced by Gnosticism, having made it part of their worship routine, that is, a part of their lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 26)



Acts 8:12

It is quite plain what the apostles preached (Acts 8:12; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31). They preached the Kingdom of God with the same zeal as their Master, who had given them the example. To those who have ears to hear, it is clear that the gospel of the Kingdom is the gospel. Otherwise, why did Christ not call it something else?

Every time the word gospel appears—if Jesus qualifies the word at any point—it is always "of the Kingdom of God" or "of the Kingdom of heaven." That is what He preached! He preached the coming of a great Kingdom that would turn this world upside down and establish His Father's rule over all things.

That is what He lives for—and I use the present tense purposely. He still lives for it! He is just anxious to come back and finish His work—this time as King of kings and Lord of lords with the authority to make real changes. This is the same gospel—the same message—that His ministry must teach. We must preach the Kingdom of God.

We know that grace, peace, salvation, and Christ's life and example are certainly part of that preaching, but the primary thrust is the Kingdom of God. Our hope of being resurrected and changed to be part of that Kingdom, and all of the things that come with it, will all come about because the gospel of the Kingdom is the focus. This is how God works through human, physical, fleshly people. He gives them the gospel, and He sends them out. It must be preached, for by it salvation comes (Romans 1:16).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears



Who Was Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-24)?

Simon was the Samaritan sorcerer who professed conversion to Christianity and sought to buy an apostleship. The Bible records this historic event in Acts 8:9-24.

In spite of Peter's stinging rebuke (verses 20-23), tradition and various legends say Simon presented himself as a Christian apostle, particularly in Rome. He invented a new religion by blending his own version of the doctrine of grace with elements of the old Babylonian mysteries and attaching Christ's name to it. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia comes to this conclusion about him based on what is available from history:

The early Christian writers took this view [from Irenaeus, c. AD 125-202], and regarded Simon Magus as the founder of Gnosticism. Perhaps they were right, "but from the very little authentic information we possess, it is impossible to ascertain how far he was identified with their tenets" (Alford, New Testament, II, 86). In the midst of the various legends regarding Simon, it may be that there is a substratum of fact, of such a nature that future investigation and discovery will justify these early Christian writers in their judgment, and will show that Simon Magus is not to be overlooked as one of the sources from which Gnosticism sprang. The exact origin of Gnosticism is certainly difficult to trace, but there is little or no indication that it arose from the incidents narrated in Acts 8. It cannot be denied that a connection is possible, and may have existed between the two, that is between Simon Magus and some of the gnostic heresies; but the facts of history show widespread tendencies at work, during and even before the Apostolic age, which amply account for the rise of Gnosticism.

There are veiled references to Simon's false Christianity and similar heretical sects in the New Testament. Jude 4, for example, is rather pointed against Simon's principal doctrine—the heresy that one does not have to obey God's laws after conversion. John, the apostle who completed the Bible, placed great emphasis on Christians keeping God's commandments (I John 2:3-6).

John's phrase about those "who say they are Jews, and are not, but lie" (Revelation 3:9) may have its first-century basis in Simon's Samaritan counterfeit of true Christianity. Josephus, a Jewish historian of the first century, mentions that Samaritans would falsely claim to be Jews when they thought it was to their advantage to do so (Antiquities of the Jews, 9.14.3; 9.8.6). As prophecy, however, this phrase clearly has deeper spiritual meaning.

Additional information about Simon Magus can be found in these reference works: The eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Schaff's History of the Christian Church; Hastings' Dictionary of the Apostolic Church and Dictionary of the Bible; Dictionary of Christian Biography; and the Encyclopaedia Biblica.




Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Acts 8:12:

Malachi 3:1
Matthew 11:12
Mark :
Luke 14:28-33
Acts 2:38
Acts :
Acts 8:12
Acts :
Acts :
Acts :
Acts :
Acts :
Galatians 3:2
2 Timothy 1:6-7

 

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