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The book of Acts tells a story of one Simon Magus, or Simon
the magician, who practiced mysticism in the land of Samaria. He was respected from the least to the
greatest in the land, as the people were amazed by his sorcery. Chapter eight in Acts describes the story
there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and
amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They
all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is
the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because
for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed
Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus
Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed,
and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great
miracles performed, he was amazed.
when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God,
they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they
might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but
they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their
hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the
Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them
money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands
may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish
with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You
have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before
God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that,
if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you
are in the gall[b] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” And Simon
answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come
In the first book of Against Heresies, Irenaeus reminds us
about Simon Magnus. He makes a clear
connection that the Simon referred to in the book, “Against Heresies,” is the
same Simon the magician that Luke wrote about in the book of Acts:
the Samaritan was that magician of whom Luke, the disciple and follower of the
apostles, says, "But there was a certain man, Simon by name, who
beforetime used magical arts in that city, and led astray the people of
Samaria, declaring that he himself was some great one, to whom they all gave
heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This is the power of God, which
is called great.
While the apostles tried to build up the church, teaching
the children of God the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Simon began to lift himself
into authority. Paul, Peter, and the
apostles spread the Good News that the Holy Spirit dwells within, and we have
direct access to God through the Holy Spirit – we have no need of lifting
another man into power. But Simon wanted
power and recognition.
then, not putting faith in God a whit the more, set himself eagerly to contend
against the apostles, in order that he himself might seem to be a wonderful
being, and applied himself with still greater zeal to the study of the whole
magic art, that he might the better bewilder and overpower multitudes of men.
But worse, Simon became an object of worship to the
people. He did not declare himself to be
God, but through examples that pointed to himself, Simon cunningly trained the
people to believe that he was God by leading them into this conclusion. To the Christians that he had pulled out of
the Body of Christ to follow himself, Simon became worshipped as the Son of
man, then, was glorified by many as if he were a god; and he taught that it was
himself who appeared among the Jews as the Son, but descended in Samaria as the
Father while he came to other nations in the character of the Holy Spirit. He
represented himself, in a word, as being the loftiest of all powers, that is,
the Being who is the Father over all, and he allowed himself to be called by
whatsoever title men were pleased to address him.
Irenaeus describes the rise of Gnosticism in the early
church and their connection to the pagan gods of Greek, Roman, Egyptian and
other descent, but describes Simon himself as being the origin of this mixture
between pagan god and worship of Christ:
this Simon of Samaria, from whom all sorts of heresies derive their origin,
formed his sect out of the following materials
Again in Book II:
have also related how they think and teach that creation at large was formed
after the image of their invisible Pleroma, and what they hold respecting the
Demiurge, declaring at the same time the doctrine of Simon Magus of Samaria,
their progenitor, and of all those who succeeded him. I mentioned, too, the
multitude of those Gnostics who are sprung from him, and noticed the points of difference
between them, their several doctrines, and the order of their succession, while
I set forth all those heresies which have been originated by them. I showed,
moreover, that all these heretics, taking their rise from Simon, have
introduced impious and irreligious doctrines into this life; and I explained
the nature of their "redemption," and their method of initiating
those who are rendered "perfect," along with their invocations and
their mysteries. I proved also that there is one God, the Creator, and that He
is not the fruit of any defect, nor is there anything either above Him, or
And in Book III
hast indeed enjoined upon me, my very dear friend, that I should bring to light
the Valentinian doctrines, concealed, as their votaries imagine; that I should
exhibit their diversity, and compose a treatise in refutation of them.
therefore have undertaken--showing that they spring from Simon, the father of
all heretics--to exhibit both their doctrines and successions, and to set forth
arguments against them all.
And finally in Book IV
spiritual man] shall also judge the vain speeches of the perverse Gnostics, by
showing that they are the disciples of Simon Magus.
The followers of Simon began to call themselves Simonians,
and teaching that their sect was the origin of the secret hidden mysteries –
but did so in the name of Christianity.
The unsuspecting would attach themselves to these followers of Simon
while thinking they were simply followers of Christ, but over time become
seduced into becoming followers of Simon.
they do not confess the name of their master, in order all the more to seduce
others, yet they do teach his doctrines. They set forth, indeed, the name of
Christ Jesus as a sort of lure, but in various ways they introduce the
impieties of Simon; and thus they destroy multitudes, wickedly disseminating
their own doctrines by the use of a good name, and, through means of its
sweetness and beauty, extending to their hearers the bitter and malignant
poison of the serpent, the great author of apostasy?
When you consider the true nature of a cult as we see today,
it is very easy to identify with the world that Irenaeus is describing. When approached by a Jehovah’s Witness or
Mormon, their leader is seldom mentioned – their advertisement for their
religious sect is Christ. The leader is
simply the “good stuff in the middle.”
What Irenaeus describes regarding the followers of Simon is
exactly the same. They did not confess
the name of Simon, nor did they outwardly proclaim that they had elevated Simon
into a place of worship, but they taught his doctrines as through they were
scriptural truth. And the doctrines were
so closely woven into their belief system that to deny the teaching of Simon,
to them, was to deny Christianity itself.
Simon had essentially attached himself to Christ in their religious
When you examine the ministry of William Branham as compared
to Simon Magus, the parallels are uncanny.
The early days of William Branham’s ministry was one welcoming of others
in the Christian faith, those who professed Christ as their Lord and Savior,
and accepted God’s gift of Grace through Faith.
And let's everyone, now, we're here representing different
denominations: Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, oh, Christian Science,
and probably all different types of church, but that doesn't that much to God,
what church you belong to.
But while promoting, or representing, each of the
denominations of Christian faith in his early ministry – even the Massachusetts
cult “Christian Science,” Branham later would say that these denominations he
was representing were the very evil “Mark of the Beast” from the book of
Now, and when I speak of denominations, I'm not meaning for
you to be so cruel and... No, I don't mean for you not to go to your church. Go
to your church, what you're supposed to do. But just don't join up with them
organizations, because one day I'll be telling you and prove it by the
Scripture, it is the mark of the beast. And you just remember, it's the mark.
Just like the days when Simon Magus travelled with the
apostles, Branham uplifted Christians in other churches, working with other
preachers and evangelists as they lifted up the body of Christ. But over time, this was reversed. Branham never summed up his objectives in one
single statement that said, “Our group is the only one which God has revealed
the ‘hidden mysteries,’ attach yourself to both me [William Branham] and
But it is evident that like the followers of Simon, the
followers of Branham have indeed attached Branham to Christ.
In other denominations of Christian faith, great men of the
Gospel are not attached. A follower of
John MacArthur does not call himself a “MacArthurite,” and if someone were to
fully disagree with MacArthur, he or she could easily stand against his the
parts of his teaching that they do not believe to be true – and yet still be
considered a Christian. Even the
followers of MacArthur could consider them Christian, though some may disagree
and even agree with the teachings they find objectionable.
But religious cults, or sects, that have severed themselves
from the Body of Christ have severed themselves to a foundation. They no longer stand with the other members
of the Body, and therefore stand firmly upon their leader’s attachment to
Christ – good or bad. To deny the parts
of that attachment that do not fully align with the scriptures would be to deny
the attachment itself, and therefore deny the cult. It is an all-or-nothing type of faith, which
leads many to atheism when that faith is broken.
Towards the end of his ministry, Simon Magus was believed to
be the return of the Son of Man by his following. Though he did not outwardly proclaim himself
to be such, Irenaeus describes how the teaching directly from Simon had lured
the followers into believing that his ministry was the return of Christ.
Interestingly, William Branham associates this particular
passage of scripture to his own ministry over 28 times in 1965 – the end of his
ministry. In the years leading up to
1964, the passage of scripture is not even mentioned, and even in 1964 this
passage was only mentioned a handful of times.
Even thus shall
it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
This was the very teaching that Simon Magus convinced his
followers to believe. Without even
knowing it, the followers of Simon had lifted the sorcerer into an object of
worship: into a god.
The Son of Man, of course, is Jesus Christ, and the Bible
tells us that Christ will one day return for His children. According to the scriptures, Christ Himself
returns – but according to the followers of Simon and similar, this return was
a supernatural bonding between their leader and Christ.
Now it's begin to pull away, the wheat's begin to be seen.
This is not a Pentecostal age. This is the latter-day age. This is the Bride
age. This is the evening Light. This is when Malachi 4 must be fulfilled, to
follow God's pattern. This is Luke 17:30, to be fulfill.
Matthew 24, Jesus warns us of men like Simon Magus, men that
will rise to convince us that their ministry and their following is the return
of Christ. But to put it simply, Jesus
said, “Watch out! It’s not Me!”
See that no one
leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’
and they will lead many astray.
And he says that His return is not something that will be
hidden in mystery. When Christ returns,
the entire heavens will be shaken – the sun refusing to shine, and the moon
having nothing to reflect. There will be
a sign in the heaven for all to see – not just a small group of people with
some “hidden mystery” that have severed themselves from all other
Christians. It will be a sign written in
the heavens for all to see – bringing fear to those who have denied his name or
have lifted up men into objects of worship, but bringing joy to those who have
kept His Word.
after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the
moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the
powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and
then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the
Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great
glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet
call, and they will gather his elect from the four
winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
“From the fig
tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its
leaves, you know that summer is near. So
also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very
gates. Truly, I say to you, this
generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and
earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.