Friday, June 1, 2012

Study through Acts, Chapter 8, verses 1-35

vv. 1-4 (verse 3 Greek word in this verse means to “ravage, corrupt, destroy). What does this denote about persecution? Now consider:

Regarding St Paul’s activities here, compare Acts 22:4-6; 26:12-15; Gal 1:11-14; Phil 3:1-6; 1 Tim 1:12-16.  Now look at 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. What might be the reason for St. Paul’s comment about the of the 2 Corinthians passage in light of the others? What might this also suggest about God’s forgiveness and mercy? Application?

vv. 5-20         Let's focus on Simon a moment. See CCC 2121 below about “Simony”. See also the brief history of Simony in the Church below gleaned from Wikipedia

Simon practiced “Magic arts” See Exodus 7:11, 22; 8:7. Also Matthew 24:22-25; 2 Thess 2:7-12. What might be an application for us regarding black magic, horoscopes, Ouija boards and other occult practices?

vv. 14-24       Some believe he saw/heard the disciples speaking in their new prayer language (see Acts 19:1-6; 1 Cor 12:7-11). Note, the charisms are given also to the laity, not just the leadership. 

vv. 25-35       How does God prepare others for us to speak with them? How does 
God prepare us to speak with others? (Consider, Psalm 119:99, Romans 14-17).  Since God speaks to all His children who are born through baptism, then God must speak to you (if you are a Christian). How does God speak to you?

We will look again at verses 25-35 next time to pull out a few more nuggets in this passage

2121 Simony is defined as the buying or selling of spiritual things.53 To Simon the magician, who wanted to buy the spiritual power he saw at work in the apostles, St. Peter responded: "Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God's gift with money!"54 Peter thus held to the words of Jesus: "You received without pay, give without pay."55 It is impossible to appropriate to oneself spiritual goods and behave toward them as their owner or master, for they have their source in God. One can receive them only from him, without payment.

53 Cf. Acts 8:9-24.; 54 Acts 8:20. ; 55 Mt 10:8; cf. already Isa 55:1.

(Simony was also one of the important issues during the Investiture Controversy). The following is from

The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest often seen as a significant conflict between Church and state in medieval Europe, was really a conflict over two radically different views of whether secular authorities such as kings, counts, or dukes, had any legitimate role in appointments to ecclesiastical offices such as bishoprics.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, a series of Popes challenged the authority of European monarchies over control of appointments, or investitures, of church officials such as bishops and abbots. Although the principal conflict began in 1075 between Pope Gregory VII and Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, a brief but significant struggle over investiture also occurred between Henry I of England and the Pope Paschal II in the years 1103 to 1107 . . . 

After the decline of the Roman Empire, and prior to the Investiture Controversy, while theoretically a task of the Church, investiture was in practice performed by secular authorities. This practice worked well in many areas of Europe where secular authorities were careful to place spiritually-qualified men into office. However, the temptation was always there to use these lucrative offices to reward vassals and other favorites, even if the candidates were not qualified. Since a substantial amount of wealth and land was usually associated with the office of bishop or abbot, secular leaders could demand part of the proceeds of the territories given to such favorites, and in some cases, the outright sale of Church offices (a practice known as simony) could also be an important source of income for secular leaders.

Since bishops and abbots were themselves usually part of the secular governments, due to their literate administrative resources or due to an outright family relationship (younger sons of the nobility would often be appointed bishops), it was beneficial for a secular ruler to appoint (or sell the office to) someone who would be loyal.[2]

The crisis began when a group within the church, members of the Gregorian Reform, decided to address the sin of simony by restoring the power of investiture to the Church. The Gregorian reformers knew this would not be possible so long as the emperor maintained the ability to appoint the pope, so their first step was to liberate the papacy from the control of the emperor.

An opportunity came in 1056 when Henry IV became German king at six years of age. The reformers seized the opportunity to free the papacy while he was still a child and could not react. In 1059 a church council in Rome declared, with In Nomine Domini, that secular leaders would play no part in the selection of popes and created the College of Cardinals as a body of electors made up entirely of church officials. . . .

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