12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
Acts is a history book that reveals the process whereby the Spirit baptized people. It is important to note that Acts 8 is transitional. The Spirit first baptized Jews in Acts 2, but later in Acts 8 Samaritans (half-Jew and half-Gentile) became indwelt by the Spirit. Later, in Acts 10, Gentiles received the indwelling of the Spirit. There is a progression of the revelation of the indwelling Spirit to different ethnic groups in the book of Acts.
“But” contrasts Simon’s magic with Philip’s message. Philip’s ministry rivaled Simon’s magic.
when they believed Philip
Many Samaritans believed Philip’s message. They became convinced of the content of what Philip preached.
as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ,
Philip preached things concerning “the kingdom of God,” which was a future coming kingdom (Acts 1:3), and “the name of Jesus Christ,” which represented who and what He is. The “name of Jesus Christ” represents the complete revelation of His person and work.
both men and women were baptized.
The Samaritans publicly identified themselves with the kingdom of God and Jesus. Baptism was evidence of their faith. Their faith was genuine because, later in this chapter, they received the indwelling of the Spirit.
Then Simon himself also believed;
Simon the magician also believed Philip’s message. It is difficult to determine whether Simon’s faith was genuine. Because of his continued interest in the ability to perform miracles (Acts 8:18-19), he may have only desired the same powers that Philip performed. The New Testament typically uses the word “perish” in Acts 8:20 for those without Christ (Jn 3:16). Acts 8:22 uses the word “repent,” which was generally used for the lost. However, no extant passage states he did not genuinely know Christ. The statements saying he believed are more explicit than those that suggest he did not believe. He humbly accepted Peter’s rebuke in Acts 8:24, indicating he was a believer. Nevertheless, Simon was a suspicious character. The stories about Simon in early church history cannot be clearly identified with the Simon of Acts 8.
and when he was baptized he continued with Philip,
The belief and baptism of Simon had a significant impact on him. He now followed Philip.
and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
Simon was awe inspired by the miracles Philip performed. He was impressed by Philip’s power.
It is dangerous to put faith in the means rather than the message.
There is danger in allowing ourselves to be impressed by supernatural powers. Placing confidence in the means rather than the message is an inadequate and superficial approach to Christianity (Jn 2:23-24).
Simon singularly allowed himself to be impressed with God’s work rather than God’s message (Acts 8:19, 21). Later in this chapter, he wanted to pay for the power to perform miracles. By this, he was more impressed by the ministry process than its message’s content.