I admit it. I read between the lines in the Missal! Yesterday’s missal reading was Acts 8:1-8. Today’s was Acts 8:26-40. Here’s a few questions, mainly about Acts 8:9-25 that I’ve been considering since reading it yesterday.
Is the Philip here the deacon named second after Stephen in chapter six? I assume so since 8:1 says that the apostles were not scattered (and a few other reasons) and Philip is counted as one of those scattered. But some fathers apparently say this Philip is the apostle. I can’t tell you which ones as the commentary didn’t say.
In v16 we read that “they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus”. Was Philip not using the trinitarian formula (as some churches say) or is this just a shorthand by which the trinitarian formula is understood?
We read that after Simon was baptized he became devoted to Philip. What is the meaning of “devoted” here, and can I use the verse to help explain why Catholics say they are devoted to Mary or a particular Saint?
Why, after being baptised by a deacon, had the holy spirit not “fallen upon any of them”? Baptism is the gateway to life in the spirit, and the washing of regeneration and renewal by the holy spirit. (CCC1213 & 1215)
Had the holy spirit not fallen upon them due to an invalid baptism? (not likely I suppose)? I can’t see one of the first deacons, commissioned by the apostles, getting baptism so wrong.
- Or is this connected to the sacramental difference (which back then they probably wouldn’t have understood) between baptism and confirmation?
Can I see in this passage baptisms, and then subsequent confirmations by Peter with the Spirit “conferred by the laying on of hands”. Can I see this as an early confirmation rite leading to “the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit…”? (CCC1302)
Is it also possible to relate the passage, via a consideration of confirmation, to the Catholic understanding of validly ordained ministerial priesthood? Peter was a ministerial priest, Philip was not though he was many other things.
- Am I thinking on the right lines here (I’m really still not used to thinking sacramentally anyway) or am I completely going the wrong direction?
This is a very rich passage. I’ve read it many times over the years but not studied it ever or thought about it much. Looking at how Satan can lead people astray with magic. Seeing how the power of God is so much greater. Seeing how even after baptism it’s possible to fall in big ways. Seeing how God can set people free and bring great joy.
Perhaps Simon was a little bit like a man I knew years ago. He had been an active Satanist, very knowledgable on the blackest of magic. He loved the power Satan gave him. He converted because of the greater power of God and went on about how the power he himself had was far greater as Christian than Satanist. He fell away again, basically because he realized that the power Satan gives when leading you from truth you can use for your own gain. The power Christ gives is for holy living and the service of others. So as a Christian you have great power but it can only be used for Christ and His Kingdom. Hopefully that man will ultimately find the Way and the Truth. Simon too craved the power (v19) and doesn’t seem to have repented (v24) just worried about the consequences.
End sermon. End questions.