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The Origin of Simony

Simon Magus

First Century A.D.

Simon Magus set the precedent for the misuse of money that has plagued the Church for two millennia. His practice of sorcery in Samaria was upstaged by the miracles accompanying the preaching and baptisms of Philip the Evangelist. When Peter and John arrived, they placed their hands on the new converts, and Simon witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit.

"Give me this ability!" Simon pleaded, offering the apostles money.

"To hell with you and your money!" is a literal rendering of Peter's reply. The biblical account breaks off with Simon's plea that the curse not be fulfilled; one early Church tradition claims that the unrepentant Simon traveled to Rome and founded Gnosticism. Today we call the purchase of Church offices "simony," in memory of this greedy magician.

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