by Ernest L. Martin
Magus Counterfeit Marked Throughout New Testament
WHILE the book of Acts gives us the KEY which shows the beginnings of the false religious system under Simon Magus, it does not describe its activities in any great detail. The Acts, however, performs its purpose in exposing who started the whole mess. God leaves it to the epistles, Revelation, and also the Gospel of John to describe the heresy IN DETAIL. We are certainly NOT left in doubt concerning its abominable teachings.
The Chief Books of Expose
There is hardly an epistle that does not mention the religion of Simon Magus. Even the scholars who have studied Church History have clearly seen that almost ALL of the references in the New Testament epistles exposing the errors in the first age of the Church are directed exclusively to Simon Magus, or his immediate followers.
Schaff’s History of the Church says the following about Simon Magus and his doctrines: “Plain traces of this error appear in the later epistles of Paul (to the Colossians, to Timothy, and to Titus), the second epistle of Peter, the first two epistles of John, the epistle of Jude, and the messages of the Apocalypse to the seven Churches.”
“This heresy, in the second century, spread over the whole church, east and west, in the various schools of Gnosticism” (Apostolic Christianity, vol. 2, p. 556).
But to single out the one Apostle who seems to have made the most deliberate and planned attack on the false Christianity of Simon Magus — we must look to John.
Take his Gospel for instance. While he records a history of Christ’s ministry, he has an entirely different approach to the subject than the other three.
John wrote late. Times had changed. John knew that the teachings of Christ were being corrupted by a well-known plot to destroy the TRUTH. To understand John’s approach to his Gospel we must be aware of his endeavor to expose this false system which had arisen and was gaining momentum.
Notice how John constantly hits at the necessity of keeping the commandments of God. Why? Because the false system was preaching LIBERTINE doctrines. Notice also John’s particular, geographical settings for his Gospel. He was the one who mentions Christ’s meeting with the woman of Samaria. John is clearly striking home at something in this Samaritan incident that the Church of his time NEEDED to know.
All the other Gospels mention SAMARIA about five times, and even then only casually or in order to give a simple geographical indication. But, when we get to John, writing years after the others, he devotes more space to matters in SAMARIA than is done in all the rest of the New Testament put together. He had a definite and precise REASON for doing so.
John is noted for his plan of “tying up” or “capping off” the Gospel accounts of Christ so as to give the Church a well-rounded Gospel — bringing in the extra points which were necessary for our knowing.
Also, John’s epistles are jam-packed with specific information regarding the conspiracy to overthrow the Truth. But yet, none of these works of John mentioned above represent his LAST efforts to warn the Church of that conspiracy which was very much present. John’s last witness to God’s Church before his death was the book of Revelation.
Christ gave His last written message of WARNING of this system through John in Revelation! He tells us specifically the VERY NAMES OF THE SYSTEM TO WATCH in a remarkable and hidden way. Hidden, and yet SO PLAIN once the KEYS are understood. God certainly does NOT leave His Church in the dark.
The Book of Revelation
This book is perhaps the most important towards our study of SIMON MAGUS’ Christianity. Why? Three clear-cut reasons.
(1) The book of Acts gives us the PAST history of the Church. It tells us about Simon Magus who started the false system. Without the book of Acts identifying the MAN behind it all, the activities of that false system as recorded in the epistles becomes obscured and in some cases unintelligible. So, the book of Acts is vitally important! !
(2) The epistles then come on the scene, describing the false system. With the epistles, the incident of SIMON MAGUS in Acts represents dynamite!! Each section of Scripture is designed to fulfill specific duties. It is when we understand those duties that the Bible really makes sense.
(3) Now to the all-important book of Revelation. While Acts describes the beginning of the false system; the epistles nail down its doctrines and describe its activities; the Book of Revelation next comes to the foreground showing the false system’s PROPHETIC HISTORY THROUGH ALL ERAS OF THE CHURCH. We must remember that Revelation intends to show us “things which shall be hereafter.” This is its duty — and it marvelously performs what it was intended to do.
The Seven Churches of Revelation
This section of Revelation gives a big KEY. It describes a brief prophetic history of the Church until the coming of Christ. But also — and this is important — it continually shows the false system with which the TRUE Church would come in contact. Though different names are used to describe the corrupters of the Truth, careful study shows Christ is referring to ONE general false system — perhaps with ramifications, but nevertheless ONE system which will counter the True Church in its entire history.
And in regard to this, Christ tells us in the plainest of words what people it will be, who represent this false system. He tells us it will be SAMARITANS! That is, it will be Samaritans, alias Christians or, plainly, the followers of SIMON MAGUS!
Christ gives us double witness of this identification in a most remarkable way. What He tells us in Acts of SIMON MAGUS being the beginning of the diabolical scheme, He reinforces by telling us in Revelation that Simon’s followers will make up the false system until Christ returns to this earth. Remember that Dr. Schaff, speaking of Simon Magus, says that “plain traces of this error appear in . . . the messages of the Apocalypse to the seven Churches.”
But before seeing these clear references, I must say that the material to follow would have been in the past classified as ABSURD in the extreme, but recent discoveries put a whole new complexion on the matter. Let us see.
Christ identifies the people behind the false system with several names, but these are simply different names of the same system. Notice this. In two distinct AGES of the Church we read of these people with a distinct description.
“Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do LIE; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet” (Rev. 3:9).
This is a promise for US today in the Philadelphia Church. We also read of these false people called by this same name afflicting the Christians of the Smyrna church era (Rev. 2:9). The identification is repeated TWICE and both are describing conditions hundreds of years apart. Now the question remains: WHO ARE INTENDED? The answer is so clear. They are Samaritan-Christians, that is, the followers of SIMON MAGUS the Samaritan!
Look again at this verse “. . . . which say they are Jews, and are not, but do LIE. . . . “
If we would take that expression out of its Biblical context and, for example, place it into an ordinary secular work written in the first century, that expression could IDENTIFY only one people — and especially if a Jew was doing the writing: THE SAMARITANS.
The Samaritans were the only distinct people in the world in the first and second centuries who said they were Jews, and yet were NOT Jews and they knew it. The Samaritans were LIARS!!
Notice what Josephus said at the end of the first century — just about the time John wrote Revelation. He is speaking of the Samaritan nation: “When the Jews are in adversity they [the Samaritans] deny that they are kin to them, and THEN THEY CONFESS THE TRUTH; but when they perceive that some good fortune hath befallen them, they immediately PRETEND to have communion with them, saying, that they belong to them, and desire their genealogy from the posterity of Joseph, Ephraim, and Manasseh” (Antiquities, XI, 8, 6).
This is plain history! The Samaritans, if to their advantage, called themselves Jews. But they were LIARS! They knew better. Their own records showed they came from Babylon and adjacent areas. This is exactly what the Old Testament says. They were clearly Gentiles.
Josephus continues about these Samaritans: “And
when they see the Jews in prosperity, they PRETEND they are changed and allied
to them, and call them kinsmen, as though they were derived from Joseph, and
had by that means an original alliance with them; but when they see them
falling into a low condition, they say that they are no way related to them,
and that the Jews have no right to expect any kindness or marks of KINDRED from
them, but they declare that they are sojourners, that come from OTHER
(Antiquities, IX, 14, 3).
Now this should begin to make sense. At the time of Simon Magus it was clearly an advantage to the Samaritan followers of Simon (and Simon himself) to call themselves JEWS. Why? ALL the prophecies stated that Christ and Christianity would come from the Jews. There was no way around this. So Simon went over to the time-honored custom of his Babylonian ancestors and contemporaries of calling themselves Jews WHEN IT WAS TO THEIR ADVANTAGE.
The Jews, however, never had any real association with these Babylonian imposters. Even when Christ discussed matters with the Samaritan woman at the well, she acknowledged — with amazement because Christ, a Jew, talked with her — that “the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). But even though the Samaritans were Gentiles, they consistently lied about their origin when it was profitable to them.
Notice that the woman at the well carried on the fiction of kinship with the Jews when she said, “Art thou greater than OUR father Jacob, which gave us the well?” (John 4:12). They claimed to be a type of Jew, but they were LIARS.
This is made plain by Christ Himself when He first sent forth the twelve. He charged them: “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5, 6).
Pretty plain, isn’t it? The Apostles were to go to the Jews and Israel — but not to the Gentiles or Samaritans. The Samaritans were plainly Gentiles — NOT Jews!
With the foregoing in mind, let us now go back to the two identifying scriptures in Revelation. The whole matter becomes so plain when the KEY about Simon Magus and the Samaritan-Christian heresy is realized.
“Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan [inspired by Satan himself], which say they are Jews, and are NOT, but do LIE; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet” (Rev. 3:9).
The synagogue of Satan are those “Samaritan-Christians” — the followers of Simon Magus.
The phrase “which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie” could easily be set off by brackets, for that is the way John intended it. He meant only one people — the “Christian” Samaritans.
The Other Churches of Revelation Two and Three
When we now look at the other indications about this heretical system, the Simon Magus (and followers) identification becomes exact. Look, for example, at the Ephesus Church era. Notice the group they had to counter.
“And thou hast tried them WHICH SAY THEY ARE APOSTLES, and are NOT, and hast found them LIARS” (Rev. 2:2).
Now, if we let the Bible be our guide in understanding this matter, it shows only one man who heretically sought an APOSTLESHIP and never repented of his desire to have that office — it was Simon Magus. History shows us that Simon established his own “Christianity” with his own apostles.
And also, notice this important point. Compare the statements about the Samaritans — “Which say they are JEWS, and are NOT, but do LIE” (Rev. 3:9) — with our present Scripture under discussion “which say they are APOSTLES, and are NOT, and hast found them LIARS” (Rev. 2:2).
The only differences are the words “JEWS” and “APOSTLES.” But — if we get the point at which John is driving — he is saying that these people were calling themselves JEWISH APOSTLES, but that they were all LIARS.
The Female Counterpart of Simon
It is well-known that the history of Simon and his religion is connected with the old Babylonian idea of the male and female religious principles. Simon’s Helen (alias Semiramis) figured high in his system.
It would seem odd if the book of Revelation didn’t mention something of the female side of the false system. However, Christ seems to emphasize the male portion of the system in six of the Church eras — the genders are all masculine. But, when He comes to the Thyatira era, Christ switches remarkably to the female part. Yet, there are not different false systems being discussed, but only the various divisions of the ONE system.
It is when we come to Thyatira that we find the system described under the symbol of a woman — the woman Jezebel. This analogy was deliberately chosen for many obvious reasons. Reasons so plain that John’s first century readers could not help but comprehend what he was talking about.
We must remember that John was writing to seven literal Churches all contemporaneous with one another, and he was using language or symbols with which they were acquainted. We, of course, realize the prophetic meaning of the seven churches, but we know that John also had distinct and pertinent messages to the seven congregations which existed in his day. By keeping this obvious fact in mind, the real truth of what John was talking about is made clear to us today.
First, we notice that John says this “Jezebel” called herself a “prophetess” (Rev. 2:20). There must have been a particular false prophetess which had caused God’s servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols. By looking on this “Jezebel” as having been contemporaneous with all the heresies of the other Churches — and that these heresies were in reality only ONE false system which originated with Simon Magus — we can then easily see that this “Jezebel” can be equated with the “Female Principle” which Simon introduced into his “Christianity.” None other than Simon’s Helen — the reclaimed temple prostitute from Tyre. Helen WAS a prostitute — what better type of person is there who could so expertly “teach” and “seduce My servants to commit fornication,” literally as well as spiritually?
Simon Magus came in contact with a priestess of Tyre who had been a temple prostitute. The Samaritans worshiped SUCCOTH-BENOTH who was the goddess VENUS. Her devotees continually prostituted themselves. It was their religious duty to do so.
This woman was overawed by Simon’s demonic power and was persuaded to follow him — to live with him — to become the female principle, the necessary counterpart to his claim as being a type of male deity. Relative to this, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 25, p. 126, quoting from Justin states: “And almost all the Samaritans and a few among the other nations, acknowledge and adore him as the first god. And one Helen, who went about with him at the time, who before had had her stand in a brothel, they say was the First Thought that was brought into being by him.”
This is interesting because Justin was himself a Samaritan — born and reared in the country. He certainly knew his people’s native traditions and teachings. What he says agrees exactly with the New Testament revelation of how the Samaritans regarded Simon. They actually called him the “great power of God” (Acts 8:10). It is because of this that they believed him to have creative powers. He himself said he created Helen, his female companion whom he later elevated to a goddess.
“Irenaenus, Theodoret, and Epiphanius agree in identifying Simon with the Supreme God and Helena with ennoia, the first conception of his mind and his agent in creation” (Dict. of Religion of Ethics, vol. 11, p. 517).
What blasphemy!! But this is what he taught everywhere he went — and under the guise of Christianity.
There always had to be the Man and Woman divinities in paganism. Or, to make it plain, Nimrod and Semiramis.
Now notice what the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics says about this teaching of Simon which he took to Rome and they accepted: “The original of Simon’s Helena is the moon-goddess of Syria and Babylonia.
In the Clementine Recognitions Helena is always translated ‘Luna.’ The theory that Simon was accustomed to borrow from paganism IS CORROBORATED by the assertion of the Fathers that he and Helena were worshipped by their sect with the attributes of ZEUS and ATHENE and received the cult-title ‘Lord’ and ‘Lady’ (i.e. our Lord and our Lady)” (ibid. p. 518).
As stated before, it was Simon’s plan to bring about a UNIVERSAL religion under the powerful name of Christianity. Remember that Simon NEVER gave up the Christian name.
His followers were called Christians. In amalgamating the pagan Babylonian religious beliefs with Christianity, he placed himself at the head — the personification of the chief pagan gods of old, and Helena as his companion in creation, the personification of the female deities. The name Helena for his consort fit his plan exceptionally well.
“There existed a wide-spread cult of the moon goddess in Syria and Egypt under the name Helene; she was identified with Aphrodite, Atargatis, and the Egyptian Isis, who was after represented with Horns to betoken her relation to the moon. One feature of the myth of Helen can be traced to the very ancient connection of the religion of Osiris with Syria. According to legend, Isis spent ten years at a brothel in Tyre during the course of her wanderings in search of the scattered limbs of her husband. The imprisonment of Helen (Simon’s Helen) is then only a variant of the many myths relating the degradation of the Queen of Heaven” (ibid.).
How important these observations are, for Osiris was clearly Nimrod and Isis was Semiramis. Thus, Simon Magus said that he had been the power that motivated Nimrod and that Helen was Semiramis — the Queen of Heaven.
Now let us carefully note that Simon brought his “Female Principle” from the City of TYRE. And who was the original Jezebel — the woman who seduced Israel to worship BAAL? She was the daughter of the king of the Sidonians whose capital city was TYRE. (I Kings 16:31). The original Jezebel was also from TYRE.
And not only that, Helen claimed herself to be the creation of Simon — that it was Simon who brought her into existence (Ency. Britannica, vol. 25, p. 126). She was, in a sense, the daughter of Simon. But, the original Jezebel WAS THE LITERAL DAUGHTER OF THE KING OF TYRE (I Kings 16:31).
The Gospel of John
With all of these things in mind, we can see why John hits hard at the Samaritans in his Gospel, as well as the book of Revelation. He was the only Gospel writer who mentions the incident of the Samaritan woman at the well. He saw it absolutely necessary by his time, for doing so.
Actually, the whole incident at the well is of relative unimportance if it was simply put there to show us that Christ could perceive that the woman had had five husbands. But there was MUCH more to it than that. If we will carefully notice what the conversation between this Samaritan woman and Christ was, we will see that John is giving the DEATH BLOW to the claims of the “Christian” — Samaritans of his day — the anti-Christ system.
Since these false Christians DID NOMINALLY REGARD Christ as the (or perhaps better) a founder of the “Christian Church,” John tells them what Jesus informed the Samaritan woman:
(1) “Ye worship ye know not what” (John 4:22). Christ meant by those words that the Samaritans were NOT worshiping the True God at all. They were worshiping something foreign to the God of the Bible. It was the Devil.
(2) “We know what we worship: FOR SALVATION IS OF THE JEWS” (v. 22). We can see why John saw the necessity of explaining what Christ really said on this matter. Christ said the JEWS would give forth salvation, NOT the Samaritans — and He was even talking to a Samaritan at the time. John put this here primarily to show that Simon Magus, the Samaritans and his followers, were in COMPLETE error in their grandiose claims.
And to further emphasize the true Messiahship of Christ — who was a Jew — John records that one whole city even of the Samaritans recognized Jesus as the Christ (vs. 39-42). He was showing that some of the people in Simon’s own home-ground knew that Jesus Christ and the Jews were responsible for salvation.
John tells us that the woman at the well had FIVE husbands. This is to be taken literally, but isn’t it remarkable that the original Babylonian tribes which became the Samaritans were FIVE in number — and they each brought their false deities with them. Thus, according to the figurative language of the Old Testament, these Samaritans — who claimed to be worshippers of YHVH — were in reality, like the woman at the well, committing adultery with FIVE spiritual “husbands.”