International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
See SIMON MAGUS; MAGI; MAGIC.
pe'-ter, si'-mon): 1. Name and Early Career
2. First Appearance in Gospel History
(1) First Period
(2) Second Period
(1) First Epistle
(2) Second Epistle
(1) Messianic Teaching
(4) Future Life
(5) Holy Scripture
(6) Apostasy and Judgment
(7) Second Coming of Christ
The data for this article are found chiefly in the four Gospels; in Acts 1-15; in Galatians 1 and 2; and in the two Epistles of Peter.
1. Name and Early Career:
Simon (or Simeon) was the original name of Peter, the son of Jonas (or John), and brother of Andrew, a disciple of John the Baptist, as Peter also may have been. A fisherman by occupation, he was an inhabitant of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee, though subsequently he dwelt with his family at Capernaum (Matthew 4:18; Matthew 8:14; Matthew 10:2; Matthew 16:16, 17; 17:25 Mark 1:16, 29, 30, 36 Luke 5:3, 4, 5, 8, 10; Luke 22:31; Luke 24:34 John 1:40-44).
2. First Appearance in Gospel History:
His first appearance in Gospel history is in John 1:35-42, when Andrew, having discovered Jesus to be the Messiah, "first findeth his own brother Simon," and "brought him unto Jesus"; on which occasion it was that the latter, beholding him, said, "Thou shalt be called Cephas," an Aramaic surname whose Greek synonym is Petros, or Peter, meaning "a rock" or "stone" At this time also he received his first call to the discipleship of Jesus, although, in common with that of others of the Twelve, this call was twice repeated. See Matthew 4:19 Mark 1:17 Luke 5:3 for the second call, and Matthew 10:2 Mark 3:14, 16 Luke 6:13, 14 for the third. Some interpret the second as that when he was chosen to be a constant companion of Jesus, and the third when he was at length selected as an apostle.
The life-story of Peter falls into two parts: first, from his call to the ascension of Christ; secondly, from that event to the close of his earthly career.
(1) First Period:
The first period again may be conveniently divided into the events prior to the Passion of Christ and those following. There are about ten of the former: the healing of his wife's mother at Capernaum (Matthew 8:14); the great draught of fishes, and its effect in his self-abasement and surrender of his all to Jesus (Luke 5:1-11); his call to the apostolic office and his spiritual equipment therefor (Matthew 10:2); his attachment to his Master, as shown in his attempt to walk upon the waves (Matthew 14:28); the same attachment as shown at a certain crisis, in his inquiry "Lord, to whom shall we go?" (John 6:68); his noble confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, and, alas, the rebuke that followed it (Matthew 16:13-23); the exalted privileges he enjoyed with James and John as witness of the raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:37) and the transfiguration of his Lord (Matthew 17:1-5); and finally, the incident of the tribute money, found only in Matthew 17:24.
The events beginning at the Passion are more easily recalled, because to so large an extent are they found in all the Gospels and about in the same order. They commence with the washing of his feet by the Master at the time of the last Passover, and the two mistakes he made as to the spiritual import of that act (John 13:1-10); the first of his presumptuous boastings as to the strength of his devotion to his Master, and the warning of the latter as to Satan's prospective assault upon him (Luke 22:31-34), twice repeated before the betrayal in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:31-35); the admission to the garden to behold the Saviour's deepest distress, the charge to watch and pray, and the failure to do so through sleepiness (Matthew 26:36-46); the mistaken courage in severing the ear of Malchus (John 18:10-12); the forsaking of his Lord while the latter was being led away as a prisoner, his following Him afar off, his admission into the high priest's palace, his denial "before them all," his confirmation of it by an oath, his remembrance of the warning when "the Lord turned and looked upon Peter," and his tears of bitterness as he went out (Matthew 26:56-58 Mark 14:66-72 Luke 22:54-62 John 18:15-27).
It will be seen that the story of Peter's fall is thus related by all the evangelists, but, to quote another, "None have described it in a more heinous light, than Mark; and if, as is generally supposed, that Gospel was reviewed by Peter himself and even written under his direction this circumstance may be considered as an evidence of his integrity and sincere contrition."
Nothing more is heard of Peter until the morning of the resurrection, when, on the first tidings of the event, he runs with John to see the tomb (John 20:1-10); his name is especially mentioned to the women by the angel (Mark 16:7); and on the same day he sees Jesus alive before any of the rest of the Twelve (Luke 24:34 1 Corinthians 15:5). Subsequently, at the Sea of Tiberias, Peter is given an opportunity for a threefold confession of Jesus whom he had thrice denied, and is once more assigned to the apostolic office; a prediction follows as to the kind of death he should die, and also a command to follow his Lord (John 21).
(2) Second Period:
The second period, from the ascension of Christ to the conversion of Paul, is more briefly sketched. After the ascension, of which Peter was doubtless a witness, he "stood up in the midst of the brethren" in the upper room in Jerusalem to counsel the choice of a successor to Judas (Acts 1:15-26). On the day of Pentecost he preaches the first gospel sermon (Acts 2), and later, in company with John, instrumentally heals the lame man, addresses the people in the Temple, is arrested, defends himself before the Sanhedrin and returns to his "own company" (Acts 3; Acts 4). He is again arrested and beaten (Acts 5); after a time he is sent by the church at Jerusalem to communicate the Holy Spirit to the disciples at Samaria (Acts 8). Returning to Jerusalem (where presumably Paul visits him, Galatians 1:18), he afterward journeys "throughout all parts," heals Aeneas at Lydda, raises Dorcas from the dead at Joppa, sees a vision upon the housetop which influences him to preach the gospel to the Gentile centurion at Caesarea, and explains this action before "the apostles and the brethren that were in Judea" (Acts 9:32-41; Acts 11; chapter 11).
After a while another persecution arose against the church, and Herod Agrippa, having put James to death, imprisons Peter with the thought of executing him also. Prayer is made by the church on his behalf, however, and miraculous deliverance is given him (Acts 12). Retiring for a while from public attention, he once more comes before us in the church council at Jerusalem, when the question is to be settled as to whether works are needful to salvation, adding his testimony to that of Paul and Barnabas in favor of justification by faith only (Acts 15).
Subsequently, he is found at Antioch, and having fellowship with GentileChristians until "that certain came from James," when "he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision," for which dissembling Paul "resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned" (Galatians 2:11-14).
Little more is authentically known of Peter, except that he traveled more or less extensively, being accompanied by his wife (1 Corinthians 9:5), and that he wrote two epistles, the second of which was penned as he approached the end of his life (2 Peter 1:12-15).
The tradition is that he died a martyr at Rome about 67 A.D., when about 75 years old. His Lord and Master had predicted a violent death for him (John 21:18, 19), which it is thought came to pass by crucifixion under Nero. It is said that at his own desire he was crucified head downward, feeling himself unworthy to resemble his Master in his death.
It should be observed, however, that the tradition that he visited Rome is only tradition and nothing more, resting as it does partly upon a miscalculation of some of the early Fathers, "who assume that he went to Rome in 42 A.D., immediately after his deliverance from prison" (compare Acts 11:17). Schaff says this "is irreconcilable with the silence of Scripture, and even with the mere fact of Paul's Epistle to the Romans, written in 58, since the latter says not a word of Peter's previous labors in that city, and he himself never built on other men's foundations" (Romans 15:20 2 Corinthians 10:15, 16).
The character of Peter is transparent and easily analyzed, and it is doubtless true that no other "in Scriptural history is drawn for us more clearly or strongly." He has been styled the prince of the apostles, and, indeed, seems to have been their leader on every occasion. He is always named first in every list of them, and was their common spokesman. He was hopeful, bold, confident, courageous, frank, impulsive, energetic, vigorous, strong, and loving, and faithful to his Master notwithstanding his defection prior to the crucifixion. It is true that he was liable to change and inconsistency, and because of his peculiar temperament he sometimes appeared forward and rash. Yet, as another says, "His virtues and faults had their common root in his enthusiastic disposition," and the latter were at length overruled by divine grace into the most beautiful humility and meekness, as evinced in his two Epistles.
The leadership above referred to, however, should not lead to the supposition that he possessed any supremacy over the other apostles, of which there is no proof. Such supremacy was never conferred upon him by his Master, it was never claimed by himself, and was never conceded by his associates. See in this Connection Matthew 23:8-12 Acts 15:13, 14 2 Corinthians 12:11; Galatians 2:11.
It is true that when Christ referred to the meaning of his name (Matthew 16:18), He said, "Upon this rock I will build my church," but He did not intend to teach that His church would be built upon Peter, but upon Himself as confessed by Peter in Matthew 16:16. Peter is careful to affirm this in the first of his two Epistles (1 Peter 2:4-9). Moreover, when Christ said, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven," etc. (Matthew 16:19), He invested him with no power not possessed in common with his brethren, since they also afterward received the same commission (Matthew 18:18 John 20:23). A key is a badge of power or authority, and, as many Protestant commentators have pointed out, to quote the language of one of them, "the apostolic history explains and limits this trust, for it was Peter who opened the door of the gospel to Israel on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38-42) and to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:34-46)." Some, however, regard this authority as identical with the great commission (Matthew 28:19).
See KEYS, POWER OF THE.
The two Epistles of Peter were written presumably late in life, as appears especially of the Second (2 Peter 1:12-15). Both were addressed to the same class of persons, chiefly Jewish Christians scattered abroad in the different provinces of Asia Minor, among whom Paul and his associates had planted the gospel (1 Peter 1:1, 2 2 Peter 3:1). The First was written at Babylon (1 Peter 5:13), doubtless the famous Babylon on the Euphrates, which, though destroyed as a great capital, was still inhabited by a small colony of people, principally Jews (see Weiss, Introduction, II, 150).
See also PETER, THE FIRST EPISTLE OF.
(1) First Epistle.
The theme of the First Epistle seems to be the living hope to which the Christian has been begotten, and the obligations it lays upon him. The living hope is expounded in the earlier part of 1 Peter 1:1-13, where the obligations begin to be stated, the first group including hope, godly fear, love to the brethren, and praise (1:13-2:10).
The writer drops his pen at this point, to take it up again to address those who were suffering persecution for righteousness' sake, upon whom two more obligations are impressed, submission to authority, and testimony to Christ (1 Peter 2:11-4:6). The third group which concludes the book begins here, dealing with such themes as spiritual hospitality in the use of heavenly gifts, patience in suffering, fidelity in service, and humility in ministering to one another. The letter was Sent to the churches "by Silvanus, our faithful brother," the author affirming that his object in writing was to exhort and testify concerning "the true grace of God" (1 Peter 5:12).
The genuineness of this First Epistle has never been doubted, except of course by those who in these latter days have doubted everything, but the same cannot be said of the Second. It is not known to whom the latter was entrusted; as a matter of fact it found no place in the catalogues of the New Testament Scriptures of the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The first church employing it was at Alexandria, but subsequently the church at large became satisfied from internal evidence of its genuineness and inspiration, and when the Canon was pronounced complete in the 4th century, it was without hesitancy received.
(2) Second Epistle.
The Second Epistle claims to have been written by Peter (2 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 3:1, 2), to doubt which would start more serious difficulties than can be alleged against its genuineness, either because of its late admission to the Canon or its supposed diversity of style from Peter's early writing.
See PETER, THE SECOND EPISTLE OF.
His object is the same in both Epistles, to "stir up your sincere mind by putting you in remembrance" (2 Peter 3:1). Like Paul in his Second Epistle to Timothy, he foresees the apostasy in which the professing church will end, the difference being that Paul speaks of it in its last stage when the laity have become infected (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Timothy 4:3, 4), while Peter sees it in its origin as traceable to false teachers (2 Peter 2:1-3, 15-19). As in the First Epistle he wrote to exhort and to testify, so here it is rather to caution and warn. This warning was, as a whole, against falling from grace (2 Peter 3:17, 18), the enforcement of which warning is contained in 2 Peter 1:2-11, the ground of it in 1:12-21, and the occasion of it in the last two chapters. To speak only of the occasion: This, as was stated, was the presence of false teachers (2:1), whose eminent success is predicted (2:2), whose punishment is certain and dreadful (2:3-9), and whose description follows (2:10-22). The character of their false teaching (2 Peter 3) forms one of the most interesting and important features of the Epistle, focusing as it does on the Second Coming of Christ.
The theology of Peter offers an interesting field of study because of what may be styled its freshness and variety in comparison with that of Paul and John, who are the great theologians of the New Testament.
(1) Messianic Teaching.
In the first place, Peter is unique in his Messianic teaching as indicated in the first part of the Acts, where he is the chief personage, and where for the most part his ministry is confined to Jerusalem and the Jews. The latter, already in covenant relations with Yahweh, had sinned in rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, and Peter's preaching was directed to that point, demanding repentance or a change of mind about Him. The apparent failure of the Old Testament promises concerning the Davidic kingdom (Isaiah 11:10-12 Jeremiah 23:5-8 Ezekiel 37:21-28) was explained by the promise that the kingdom would be set up at the return of Christ (Acts 2:25-31; Acts 15:14-16); which return, personal and corporeal, and for that purpose, is presented as only awaiting their national repentance (Acts 3:19-26). See Scofield, Reference Bible, at the places named.
But Peter's special ministry to the circumcision is by no means in conflict with that of Paul to the Gentiles, as demonstrated at the point of transition in Acts 10. Up until this time the gospel had been offered to the Jews only, but now they have rejected it in the national sense, and "the normal order for the present Christian age" is reached (Acts 13:44-48). Accordingly, we find Peter, side by side with Paul, affirming the great doctrine of justification by faith only, in the words, "We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we (Jews) shall be saved, even as they (Gentiles)" (Acts 15:11 the King James Version). Moreover, it is clear from Peter's Second Epistle (2 Peter 1:1) that his conception of justification from the divine as well as the human side is identical with that of Paul, since he speaks of justifying faith as terminating on the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. As we understand it, this is not the righteousness which God is, but the righteousness which God gives (compare Romans 1:16, 17; Romans 3:21-25 2 Corinthians 5:20, 21).
Passing from his oral to his written utterances, Peter is particularly rich in his allusions to the redemptive work of Christ. Limiting ourselves to his First Epistle, the election of the individual believer is seen to be the result of the sprinkling of Christ's blood (1 Peter 1:1); his obedience and godly fear are inspired by the sacrifice of the "lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world" (1 Peter 1:17-20 the King James Version). But most interesting are the manner and the connection in which these sublime truths are sometimes set before the reader. For example, an exhortation to submission on the part of household slaves is the occasion for perhaps the most concise and yet comprehensive interpretation of Christ's vicarious sufferings anywhere in the New Testament (1 Peter 2:18-25, especially the last two verses; compare also in its context 1 Peter 3:18-22).
(4) Future Life.
Next to the redemptive work of Christ, the Petrine teaching about the future life claims attention. The believer has been begotten again unto "a lively (or living) hope" (1 Peter 1:3); which is "an inheritance" "reserved in heaven" (1 Peter 1:4); and associated with "praise, and glory and honor at the revelation (Second Coming) of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7, 13; 1 Peter 4:13; 1 Peter 5:4, 10 2 Peter 1:11, 16; 2 Peter 3:13, etc.). This "hope" or "inheritance" is so real and so precious as to cause rejoicing even in times of heaviness and trial (1 Peter 1:6); to stimulate to holiness of living (1 Peter 1:13-16); to patience in persecution (1 Peter 4:12, 13); fidelity in service (1 Peter 5:1-4); stedfastness against temptation (5:8-10); and growth in grace (2 Peter 1:10, 11). It is a further peculiarity that the apostle always throws the thought of the present suffering forward into the light of the future glory. It is not as though there were merely an allotment of suffering here, and an allotment of glory by and by, with no relation or connection between the two, but the one is seen to be incident to the other (compare 1 Peter 1:7, 11; 1 Peter 4:13; 1 Peter 5:1 2 Peter 3:12, 13). It is this circumstance, added to others, that gives Peter the title of the apostle of hope, as Paul has been called the apostle of faith, and John the apostle of love.
(5) Holy Scripture.
Considering their limitations as to space, Peter's Epistles are notable for the emphasis they lay upon the character and authority of the Holy Scriptures. 1 Peter 1:10-12 teaches a threefold relation of the Holy Spirit to the Holy Word as its Author, its Revealer, and its Teacher or Preacher. The same chapter (1:22-25) speaks of its life-giving and purifying power as well as its eternal duration. 1 Peter 2 opens with a declaration of its vital relation to the Christian's spiritual growth. In 4:11, it is shown to be the staple of the Christian's ministry. Practically the whole of the Second Epistle is taken up with the subject. Through the "exceeding great and precious promises" of that Word, Christians become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4 the King James Version); that they may be kept "always in remembrance" is Peter's object in writing (2 Peter 1:12-15 the King James Version); the facts of that Word rest on the testimony of eyewitnesses (2 Peter 1:16-18); its origin is altogether divine (2 Peter 1:20, 21); which is as true of the New Testament as of the Old Testament (2 Peter 3:2); including the Epistles of Paul (2 Peter 3:15, 16).
(6) Apostasy and Judgment.
This appreciation of the living Word of God finds an antithesis in the solemn warning against apostate teachers and teaching forming the substance of 2 Peter 2 and 3. The theology here is of judgment. It is swift and "lingereth not" (2:1-3); the Judge is He who "spared not" in olden time (2:4-7); His delay expresses mercy, but He "will come as a thief" (3:9, 10); the heavens "shall pass away," the earth and its works shall be burned up (3:10); "What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness?" (3:11).
(7) Second Coming of Christ.
Peter's theology concerning judgment is a further illustration of the Messianic character of his instruction. For example, the Second Coming of Christ of which he speaks in the closing chapter of the Second Epistle is not that aspect of it associated with the translation of His church, and of which Paul treats (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), but that pertaining to Israel and the day of Yahweh spoken of by the Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 2:12-22 Revelation 19:11-21, etc.).
The history of Peter is treated more or less at length in the introductions to the commentaries on his Epistles, and in works on the life of Christ. But particular reference is made to the following: E. W. Farrar, Early Days of Christianity, London, 1882; J. S. Howson, Studies in the Life of Peter, London, 1883; H. A. Birks, Life and Character of Peter, London, 1887; W. M. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, London, 1893; Mason Gallagher, Was Peter Ever at Rome? Philadelphia, 1895; A. C. McGiffert, The Apostolic Age, New York, 1897; W. H. Griffith Thomas, The Apostle Peter, London, 1904; G. Matheson, Representative Men of the New Testament, London, 1905; A. J. Southhouse, The Making of Simon Peter) New York, 1906; A. C. Gaebtelein, The Gospel of Matthew, New York, 1907; The Acts of the Apostles, New York, 1912; Edmundson, Church in Rome in the 1st Century, 1913; Smith, The Days of His Flesh, New York, 1911.
On theology of Peter, consult the subject in works on Systematic or Biblical, Theology, and see also R. W. Dale The Atonement, 97-148. London 1875: C. A. Briggs, Messiah of the Apostles, 21-41, New York, 1895; Scofield, Reference Bible, where pertinent.
Among commentaries on 1 and 2 Peter may be mentioned: Brown, 3 volumes, Edinburgh, 1848-56; Demarest, 2 volumes, New York, 1851-65; Leighton, republished, Philadelphia, 1864; Lillie, New York, 1869; G. F. C. Fronmuller, in Lange's Comm., English translation, New York, 1874; Plumptre, Cambridge Bible, 1883; Spitta, Der zweite Brief des Petrus, Halle, 1885; F. B. Meyer, London, 1890; Lumby, Expositor's Bible, London, 1894; J. H. Jowett, London, 1905; Bigg, ICC, 1901.
James M. Gray
(Simon, Greek form of SIMEON (which see)): The persons of the name of Simon mentioned in the Apocrypha are:
(1) Simon the Maccabean (Hasmonean), surnamed THASSI (which see), the 2nd son of Mattathias and elder brother of Judas Maccabeus. On his deathbed, Mattathias commended Simon as a "man of counsel" to be a "father" to his brethren (1 Maccabees 2:65), and a "man of counsel" he proved himself. But it was not till after the death of Judas and the capture of Jonathan that he played the chief role. Dispatched by Judas with a force to the relief of the Jews in Galilee he fought with great success (1 Maccabees 5:17;; Josephus, Ant, XII, viii, 1). We find him next taking revenge along with Jonathan on the "children of Jambri" (1 Maccabees 9:33;), and cooperating in the successful campaign around Bethbasi against Bacchides (circa 156 B.C.) (1 Maccabees 9:62;), and in the campaign against Apollonius (1 Maccabees 10:74;). In the conflict between Tryphon and Demetrius II, Simon was appointed by Antiochus VI "captain from the Ladder of Tyre unto the borders of Egypt" (1 Maccabees 11:59). After the capture of Jonathan at Ptolemais by Tryphon, Simon became acknowledged leader of his party. He thwarted Tryphon in his attempts upon Jerusalem, in revenge for which the latter murdered Jonathan (1 Maccabees 13:23). Simon then took the side of Demetrius on condition of immunity for Judea, and so `in the 170th year' (143-142 B.C.) `the yoke of the heathen was taken away from Israel' (1 Maccabees 13:41). Simon applied himself to rebuild the strongholds of Judea, reduced Gazara, captured the Acra (citadel) and made Joppa a seaport. He showed his wisdom most of all in his internal administration: "He sought the good of his country"; commerce and agriculture revived; lawlessness was suppressed and "the land had rest all the days of Simon (1 Maccabees 14:4;). His power was acknowledged by Sparta and Rome (1 Maccabees 14:16;). In 141 B.C. he was appointed by the nation leader, high priest and captain "for ever, until there should arise a faithful prophet" (1 Maccabees 14:41;), and thus the Hasmonean dynasty was founded. A new chronological era began with the first year of his administration, and he minted his own coins. A few years later Simon again meddled in Syrian politics (139 B.C.), this time at the entreaty of Antiochus VII (Sidetes) in his contest against Tryphon; when, however, Antiochus was assured of success, he refused the help of Simon and sent Cendebaeus against Judea. Judas and John, sons of Simon, defeated the invaders near Modin (137-136 B.C.). In 135 B.C. Simon met his death by treachery. Ptolemy the son of Abubus, Simon's own son-in-law, determined to secure supreme power for himself and, in order to accomplish this, to assassinate the whole family of Simon. He accordingly invited Simon and his sons to a banquet in the stronghold of Dok near Jericho, where he treacherously murdered Simon with his two sons Mattathias and Judas. The other son, John Hyrcanus, governor of Gazara, received intimation of the plot and saved himself to become the head of the Hasmonean dynasty. "The significance of Simon's administration consists in this, that he completed the work of Jonathan and left the Jewish people absolutely independent of Syria" (Schurer).
See MACCABAEUS, II, 4.
(2) Simon I, the high priest, son of Onias I, whom he succeeded circa 300 B.C. He was one of the last of the Great Synagogue, and to him is attributed the saying, "On three things the world depends-the Law, Worship and the showing of kindness." According to Josephus (Ant., XII, ii, 5) this Simon was called "the Just" (ho dikaios), "on account of his piety and his benevolent disposition toward his countrymen."
Many authorities (Herzfeld, Derenbourg, Stanley, Cheyne) assert that Josephus is wrong in attaching this epithet to Simon I instead of Simon II, and Schurer is not certain on this question. But the Talmud passage which Derenbourg cites means the opposite of what he takes it, namely, it is intended to show how splendid and holy were the days of Simeon (ha-tsaddiq) compared with the later days. Besides, Josephus is more likely to have known the truth on this matter than these later authorities. The same uncertainty obtains as to whether the eulogium in Sirach 50:1; of "the great priest" refers to Simon I or Simon II. Schurer and others refer it to Simon II. It is more likely to refer to the Simon who was famous as "the Just," and consequently to Simon I. Besides we know of no achievements of Simon II to entitle him to such praise. The building operations mentioned would suit the time of Simon I better, as Ptolemy captured Jerusalem and probably caused considerable destruction. The Talmud states that this Simon (and not Jaddua) met Alexander the Great.
(3) Simon II, high priest, son of Onias II and grandson of Simon I and father of Onias III, flourished about the end of the 3rd century B.C., and was succeeded by his son Onias III circa 198 B.C. Josephus says that this Simon in the conflict of the sons of Joseph sided with the elder sons against Hyrcanus the younger. Schurer (probably incorrectly) thinks he is the Simon praised in Sirach 50:1;. See (2) above (3 Maccabees 2:1; Josephus, Ant, XII, iv, 10).
(4) Simon, a Benjamite, guardian of the temple, who, having quarreled with the high priest Onias III, informed Apollonius of the untold sums of money in the temple treasury. Apollonius laid the matter before the king Seleucus IV, who sent Heliodorus to remove the money. An apparition prevented Heliodorus from accomplishing his task (2 Maccabees 3:4;). It is further recorded, that Simon continued his opposition to Onias. He is spoken of as brother of the renegade Menelaus (2 Maccabees 4:23). Of his end we know nothing.
(5) Simon Chosameus (Codex Vaticanus (and Swete) Chosamaos; Codex Alexandrinus Chosomaios), one of the sons of Annas who had married "strange wives" (1 Esdras 9:32). Simon apparently = "Shimeon" (shim`on) of the sons of Harim (Ezra 10:31); Chosameus is probably a corruption standing in the place of, but not resembling, any of the three names: Benjamin, Malluch, Shemaraiah, which Esdras omits from the Ezra list.
(1) Simon Peter.
See PETER (SIMON).
(2) Another of the Twelve, Simon "the Cananean" (Matthew 10:4 Mark 3:18), "the Zealot" (Luke 6:15 Acts 1:13).
(3) One of the brethren of Jesus (Matthew 13:55 Mark 6:3).
See BRETHREN OF THE LORD.
(4) "The leper" in Bethany, in whose house a woman poured a cruse of precious ointment over the head of Jesus (Matthew 26:6 Mark 14:3). He had perhaps been healed by Jesus; in that case his ungracious behavior was not consistent with due gratitude. However he was healed, the title referred to his condition in the past, as lepers were ostracized by law.
(5) A Pharisee in whose house a woman, "a sinner," wet the feet of Jesus with her tears, and anointed them with ointment (Luke 7:36). By some he is identified with (4), this being regarded as Luke's version of the incident recorded in Matthew 26 and Mark 14. Others as strongly deny this view.
For discussion see MARY, IV.
(6) A man of Cyrene, who was compelled to carry the cross of Jesus (Matthew 27:32 Mark 15:21 Luke 23:26). Mark calls him "the father of Alexander and Rufus," well-known members of the church at (probably) Rome (compare Acts 19:33 Romans 16:13).
The father of Judas Iscariot (John 6:71; John 12:4 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) omits; John 13:2, 26).
(8) Simon Magus (Acts 8:9). See separate article.
(9) Simon, the tanner, with whom Peter lodged at Joppa. His house was by the seaside outside the city wall, because of its ceremonial uncleanness to a Jew, and also for reasons of sanitation (Acts 9:43).
S. F. Hunter
ma'-gus (Simon, Greek form of Hebrew shim`on; Gesenius gives the meaning of the Hebrew word as "hearing with acceptance"; it is formed from [?] shama`, "to hear"):
1. Simon, a Magician
2. Simon and the Apostles
(1) Simon and Philip
(2) Simon and Peter John
3. The Magicians and the Gospel
4. Testimony of Early Christian Writers
5. Sources of Legendary History
6. Traditions of His Death
7. The Simoniani
8. Was Simon the Originator of Gnosticism?
1. Simon, a Magician:
The name or term "Magus" is not given to him in the New Testament, but is justly used to designate or particularize him on account of the incident recorded in Acts 8:9-24, for though the word "Magus" does not occur, yet in 8:9 the present participle mageuon is used, and is translated, both in the King James Version and in the Revised Version (British and American), "used sorcery." Simon accordingly was a sorcerer, he "bewitched the people of Samaria" (the King James Version). In Acts 8:11 it is also said that "of long time he had amazed" them "with his sorceries" (magiais). The claim, given out by himself, was that he "was some great one"; and this claim was acknowledged by the Samaritans, for previous to the introduction of the gospel into Samaria, "they all gave heed (to him), from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is that power of God which is called Great" (8:10).
2. Simon and the Apostles:
(1) Simon and Philip:
It so happened, however, that Philip the deacon and evangelist went down from Jerusalem to Samaria, and "proclaimed unto them the Christ" (Acts 8:5); and as the result of the proclamation of the gospel, many were gathered into the Christian church. Many miracles also were performed by Philip, sick persons cured, and demons cast out; and Simon fell under the influence of all these things, both of the preaching and of "the signs." So great was the impression now made upon Simon that he "believed" (Acts 8:13). This means, at least, that he saw that Philip was able in the name of Jesus Christ to display powers greater than anything he himself was acquainted with: Philip's power was greater by far than Simon's. He therefore came forward as one of the new converts, and was baptized. After his baptism he continued with Philip. The signs which accompanied the introduction of the gospel into this city did not cease, and Simon seeing them "was amazed." The word denoting Simon's amazement at the "signs" wrought by Philip is the same as that used to express how the people of Samaria had been amazed at Simon's sorceries. It is an indication of the nature of the faith which he possessed in the gospel-wondering amazement at a new phenomenon not yet understood, not repentance or trust in Christ.
(2) Simon and Peter and John:
News having reached Jerusalem of the events which had occurred in Samaria, the apostles sent Peter and John to establish the work there. These two apostles prayed for the converts that they might receive the Holy Ghost, which they had not yet received. And when they had laid their hands upon the converts, the Spirit was given to them. At this early period in the history of the church the Holy Ghost was bestowed in a visible manner which showed itself in such miraculous gifts as are described in Acts 2. Simon saw what had taken place, and then, instead of joining the company of those who had truly repented and trusted Christ, he came forward with the same amazement as he had previously shown, and offered money to Peter and John, if they would impart to him the power of giving the Holy Spirit to others. Peter instantly rebuked this bold and ungodly request, and did so with such sterness as to cause Simon to ask that the judgment threatened by the apostle might not fall upon him.
Such is the unenviable history of Simon Magus, as it is recorded in the New Testament. Later centuries have shown their estimation of the heinousness of Simon's sin by employing his name to indicate the crime of buying or selling price a spiritual office for a price in money-"simony."
3. The Magicians and the Gospel:
It is not strange to find the gospel brought into direct conflict with magicians, for in the 1st and 2nd centuries there were a multitude of such persons who pretended to possess supernatural powers by which they endeavored to deceive men. They flattered the sinful inclinations of the human heart, and fell in with men's current ways of thinking, and required no self-renunciation at all. For these reasons the magicians found a ready belief on the part of many. The emperor Tiberius, in his later years, had a host of magicians in constant attendance upon him. Elymas, with whom Paul came in contact in Cyprus "was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man" (Acts 13:7 the King James Version). Elymas was one of those magicians, and he endeavored to turn away the deputy from the faith. Luke expressly calls this man "magus", Elymas the magus (Acts 13:6, 8 margin).
The influence of such persons presented an obstacle to the progress of the Christian faith, which had to force its way through the delusions with which these sorcerers had surrounded the hearts of those whom they deceived. When the gospel came in contact with these magicians and with their works, it was necessary that there should be striking facts, works of supernatural power strongly appealing to men's outward senses, in order to bring them out of the bewilderment and deception in which they were involved, and to make them able to receive the impression of spiritual truth. Such miracles were wrought both in Cyprus and in Samaria, the spheres of influence of the magicians Elymas and Simon. These divine works first arrested men's attention, and then dispelled the delusive influence of the sorcerers.
4. Testimony of Early Christian Writers:
(1) The history of Simon Magus does not close with what is narrated in the Acts, for the early Christian writers have much to say in regard to him.
Justin Martyr, himself a Samaritan, states that Simon Magus was a "Samaritan from the village called Gitton." Justin also relates that, in the time of Claudius Caesar, Simon was worshipped as a god at Rome on account of his magical powers, and that a statue had been erected to him, on the island in the river Tiber, with the inscription Simoni Deo Sancto, that is, "To Simon the sacred god." Curiously enough, in the year 1574, a stone which appears to have served as a pedestal of a statue, was dug up in the Tiber at the spot described by Justin; and on it were inscribed the words Semoni Sanco Deo Fidio Sacrum, that is, the stone then discovered was dedicated to the god Semo Sancus, the Sabine Hercules. This antiquarian find makes it probable that Jstin was mistaken in what he said about a statue having been erected in honor of Simon Magus. "It is incredible that the folly should ever be carried to such an extent as that a statue should be erected, and the senate should pass a decree enrolling Simon Magus among the deos Romanos" (Neander, Church History, II, 123). The inscription found in 1574 shows the source of the error into which Justin had fallen.
There are many stories told by some of the early Christian writers regarding Simon Magus, but they are full of legend and fable: some of them are improbable in the extreme and border on the impossible.
(2) Jerome, who professes to quote from writings of Simon, represents him as employing these words in reference to himself, "I am the Word of God, I am the Comforter, I am Almighty, I am all there is of God" (Mansel, The Gnostic Heresies, 82). Irenaeus (Mansel, ibid., 82) writes regarding him: "Simon, having purchased a certain woman named Helena, who had been a prostitute in the city of Tyre, carried her about with him, and said that she was the first conception of his mind, the mother of all things, by whom, in the beginning, he conceived the thought of making the angels and archangels; for that this conception proceeded forth from him, and knowing her father's wishes, she descended to the lower world, and produced the angels and powers; by whom also he said that this world was made. But after she had produced them, she was detained by them through envy, since they were unwilling to be considered the offspring of any other being; for he himself was entirely unknown by them; but his conception was detained by those powers and angels which were put forth from her, and suffered every insult from them that she might not return upward to her father; and this went so far that she was even confined within a human body, and for ages passed into other female bodies, as if from one vessel into another. He said also that she was that Helen, on whose account the Trojan war was fought.... and that after passing from one body to another, and constantly meeting with insult, at last she became a public prostitute, and that this was the lost sheep. On this account he himself came, that he might first of all reclaim her and free her from her chains, and then give salvation to men through the knowledge of himself. For since the angels ruled the world badly, because one of them desired the chief place, he had come down for the restoration of all things, and had descended, being changed in figure, and made like to principalities and powers and angels, so that he appeared among men as a man, and was thought to have suffered in Judea, though he did not suffer..... Furthermore he said that the prophets uttered their prophecies under the inspiration of those angels who framed the world; for which reason they who rest their hope on him and his Helena no longer cared for them, but as free men could act as they pleased, for that men are saved by his (i.e. Simon's) grace, and not according to their own just works, for that no acts were just by nature, but by accident, according to the rules established by the angels, who made the world, and who attempt by these precepts to bring men into bondage. For this reason he promised that the world should be released, and those who are his set at liberty from the government of those who made the world."
5. Sources of Legendary History:
The chief sources of the legendary history of Simon Magus are the collection of writings known as The Clementines (see LITERATURE, SUB-APOSTOLIC; PETER, THE FIRST EPISTLE OF; PETER, THE SECOND EPISTLE OF). What is there said of him is, that he studied at Alexandria, and that he had been, along with the heresiarch Dositheus, a disciple of John the Baptist. He became also a disciple of Dositheus, and afterward his successor. The Clementines comprise (1) The Homilies, (2) The Recognitions, and (3) The Epitome. These three are cognate works, and in part are identical. The date of The Homilies may be placed about 160 A.D. The contents comprise a supposed letter from the apostle Peter to the apostle James, along with other matter. Then follow the homilies, of which there are twenty. These record the supposed travels of Clement, a Roman citizen. Clement meets with Barnabas and with Peter. Then there is narrated a discussion between Peter and Simon Magus. This disputation lasts for three days, Simon maintaining that there are two gods, and that the God of the Old Testament is an imperfect being. Simon Magus withdraws to Tyre and then to Sidon. Peter follows Simon from place to place, counteracting his sorceries, and instructing the people. At Laodicea a second disputation takes place between the apostle and Simon on the same subjects.
The Homilies are not a Christian protest against Gnosticism, but merely that of one Gnostic school or sect against another, the Ebionite against the Marcionite. The Deity of Christ is denied, and He is regarded as one of the Jewish prophets.
In the legends Simon is represented as constantly opposing Peter, who ultimately discredits and vanquishes him. These legends occur in more forms than one, the earlier form selecting Antioch as the place where Simon was discomfited by the apostle and where he also died, while the later tradition chooses Rome for these events.
6. Traditions of His Death:
One tradition tells how the magician ordered his followers to bury him in a grave, promising that if this were done, he would rise again on the third day. They did as he wished and buried him; but this was the end of him, for he did not rise again.
Simon is said to have met his death at Rome, after an encounter with the apostle Peter. During this his final controversy with the apostle, Simon had raised himself in the air by the help of evil spirits, and in answer to the prayer of Peter and Paul he was dashed to the ground and killed.
According to another form of this tradition, Simon proposed to give the Roman emperor a proof of his power by flying off to God. He succeeded, it is said, in flying for a certain distance over Rome, but in answer to the prayer of Peter he fell and broke one of his legs. This tradition accounts for his end by saying that the people stoned him to death.
7. The Simoniani:
The Simoniani, the Simonians or followers of Simon, were an eclectic sect, who seem, at one time, to have adopted tenets and opinions derived from paganism, at another, from Judaism and the beliefs of the Samaritans, and at another still, from Christianity. Sometimes they seem to have been ascetics; at others they are wild scoffers at moral law. They regarded Simon Magus as their Christ, or at least as a form of manifestation of the redeeming Christ, who had manifested Himself also in Jesus. The Simonians were one of the minor Gnostic sects and were carried far away both from the doctrine and from the ethical spirit of the Christian faith.
Origen denies that the followers of Simon were Christians in any sense. The words of Origen are, "It escapes the notice of Celsus that the Simonians do not in any way acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, but they call Simon the Power of God." In the time of Origen the followers of Simon had dwindled in number to such a degree that he writes, "I do not think it possible to find that all the followers of Simon in the whole world are more than thirty: and perhaps I have said more than there really are" (Contra Celsus, i.57, quoted by Alford, Greek New Testament, Acts 8:9).
8. Was Simon the Originator of Gnosticism?:
Irenaeus also has much to say regarding Simon and his followers. He makes the legendary Simon identical with the magician of Acts 8, makes him also the first in the list which he gives of heretics, and also says that it was from him that Gnosticism sprang. The account which he gives of the Simonians shows that by the time when Irenaeus lived, their system had developed into Gnosticism; but this fact does not justify Irenaeus in the assertion that Simon of Acts 8 is the originator of the Gnostic system. The early Christian writers took this view, 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. These are found e.g. in the Alexandrian philosophy, and in the tenets of the false teachers at Colosse and in other places. These philosophical and theosophical ideas commingled with the influences of Zoroastrianism from Persia, and of Buddhism from India, and these tendencies and influences, taken in conjunction, were the sources of the various heresies known by the name of Gnosticism.
SIMON THE CANAANITE; SIMON THE CANANAEAN; SIMON THE ZEALOT
(Simon Kananaios; kanna'i, "the Jealous (or Zealous) One"): One of the Twelve Apostles. This Simon was also named "the Canaanite" (Matthew 10:4 Mark 3:18 the King James Version) or "the Cananean" (Matthew 10:4 Mark 3:18 the Revised Version (British and American)) or "Zelotes" (Luke 6:15 Acts 1:13 the King James Version) or "the Zealot" (Luke 6:15 Acts 1:13 the Revised Version (British and American)).
According to the "Gospel of the Ebionites" or" Gospel of the Twelve Apostles" (of the 2nd century and mentioned by Origen) Simon received his call to the apostleship along with Andrew and Peter, the sons of Zebedee, Thaddaeus and Judas Iscariot at the Sea of Tiberias (compare Matthew 4:18-22; see also Hennecke, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen, 24-27).
Although Simon, like the majority of the apostles, was probably a Galilean, the designation "Cananaean" is regarded as of political rather than of geographical significance (compare Luke's rendering). The Zealots were a faction, headed by Judas of Galilee, who "in the days of the enrollment" (compare Acts 5:37 Luke 2:1, 2) bitterly opposed the threatened increase of taxation at the census of Quirinius, and would have hastened by the sword the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy.
Simon has been identified with Simon the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3 Matthew 13:55), but there also are reasons in favor of identifying him with Nathanael.
Thus (1) all the arguments adduced in favor of the Bartholomew-Nathanael identification (see NATHANAEL) can equally be applied to that of Simon-Nathanael, except the second. But the second is of no account, since the Philip-Bartholomew connection in the Synoptists occurs merely in the apostolic lists, while in John it is narrative. Further, in the Synoptists, Philip is connected in the narrative, not with Bartholomew but with Andrew.
(2) The identity is definitely stated in the Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles (see NATHANAEL). Further, the "Preaching of Simon, son of Cleopas" (compare Budge, II, 70;) has the heading "The preaching of the blessed Simon, the son of Cleopas, who was surnamed Judas, which is interpreted Nathanael, who became bishop of Jerusalem after James the brother of our Lord." Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, xi, 32; IV, xxii) also refers to a Simon who succeeded James as bishop of Jerusalem and suffered martyrdom under Trajan; and Hegesippus, whom Eusebius professes to quote, calls this Simon a son of Cleopas.
(3) The invitation of Philip to Nathanael (compare John 1:45) was one which would naturally be addressed to a follower of the Zealots, who based their cause on the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy.
(4) As Alpheus, the father of James, is generally regarded as the same as Clopas or Cleopas (see JAMES), this identification of the above Simon Nathanael, son of Cleopas, with Simon Zelotes would shed light on the reason of the juxtaposition of James son of Alpheus and Simon Zelotes in the apostolic lists of Luke and Acts, i.e. they were brothers.
C. M. Kerr
See PETER, SIMON.