Acts 8:16-20
Acts 8:16 (KJB)
(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
These believers had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ but they had not received the Holy Spirit in the manner which would have made them ready for ministry. They had received Him in such a way that He had guided them into understanding that Jesus was the way of salvation and that He was the Christ of God indeed. However, they did not receive the Holy Spirit in the manner of being able to work miracles which was the fulfillment of Mark 16:20. (Mark 16:20 KJV) And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
Acts 8:17 (KJB)
Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Once the Apostles had laid their hands on them, they received the Holy Spirit. Those who received the Holy Spirit were now ready for ministry and would be able to do miracles to confirm the ministry. This confirmation was limited only to a short time in the first century because once the Word of God was completed in 95 A.D., the signs and wonders had ceased and salvation came by means of hearing the word preached and those who became saved were indwelled by the Holy Spirit very quietly.
Acts 8:18 (KJB)
And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
Here we have the beginning of a church practice called “Simony.” Simony is when a person gives money to buy a church office or some type of promotion within the ecclesiastical hierarchy of church or denomination, or to gain a favor from a clergyman. Simon saw that Peter and John was able to confer the great power of the Holy Spirit upon the believers and he thought that this was something he could buy for money. He obviously was slipping back into his old ways of trying to be somebody great in the eyes of the people.
Acts 8:19 (KJB)
Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
Simon wanted to have the same power and authority the Apostles had because he was seeing something which he thought would make him a great man among the eyes of the Samaritans. He should have asked Peter or John to lay their hands on him and give him the gift of the Holy Spirit to work these miracles, instead he just wanted to be someone who could dispense it. He was not concerned with glorifying God with the gift but glorifying and exalting himself.
Acts 8:20 (KJB)
But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
Peter severely rebukes Simon by literally telling him that your money perish with thee. He told Simon that he can take his money to hell with him. Simon thought that he could buy the gift of God for money, not knowing that he could be very close to the same fate that Ananias and Sapphira suffered. In fact, this could be considered the forerunner of the buying of indulgences which are sold by the Roman Catholic Institution. They taught that if a person buys one, then they can get a family member out of purgatory, which of course does not exist. Simon thought in the same evil manner that he could buy a gift from God for money.