Simon (Simōn). One of the common names (Josephus, Ant. XX. 7, 2) and a number of messianic pretenders had this name. A large number of traditions in the second and third centuries gathered round this man and Baur actually proposed that the Simon of the Clementine Homilies is really the apostle Paul though Paul triumphed over the powers of magic repeatedly (Act 13:6-12; Act 19:11-19), “a perfect absurdity” (Spitta, Apostelgeschichte, p. 149). One of the legends is that this Simon Magus of Acts is the father of heresy and went to Rome and was worshipped as a god (so Justin Martyr). But a stone found in the Tiber a.d. 1574 has an inscription to Semoni Sanco Deo Fidio Sacrum which is (Page) clearly to Hercules, Sancus being a Sabine name for Hercules. This Simon in Samaria is simply one of the many magicians of the time before the later gnosticism had gained a foothold. “In his person Christianity was for the first time confronted with superstition and religious imposture, of which the ancient world was at this period full” (Furneaux).
Which beforetime used sorcery (proupērchen mageuōn). An ancient idiom (periphrastic), the present active participle mageuōn with the imperfect active verb from prouparchō, the idiom only here and Luk 23:12 in the N.T. Literally “Simon was existing previously practising magic.” This old verb mageuō is from magos (a magus, seer, prophet, false prophet, sorcerer) and occurs here alone in the N.T.
Amazed (existanōn). Present active participle of the verb existan, later form of existēmi, to throw out of position, displace, upset, astonish, chiefly in the Gospels in the N.T. Same construction as mageuōn.
Some great one (tina megan). Predicate accusative of general reference (infinitive in indirect discourse). It is amazing how gullible people are in the presence of a manifest impostor like Simon. The Magi were the priestly order in the Median and Persian empires and were supposed to have been founded by Zoroaster. The word magoi (magi) has a good sense in Mat 2:1, but here and in Act 13:6 it has the bad sense like our “magic.”