As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
(Acts 16:16-18)

Yea, Hath God Said?

As a matter of record, let me point out that Luke, the human author of our opening text, has demonstrated himself to be an historian of the first caliber. Here he tells us about an incident that happened to Paul and Silas. Verse 16 — As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling.

Notice this woman was possessed by a spirit of divination. If you do a little homework, you will find that the Greek more literally reads — a certain maid having a spirit of a python. The word Luke used there is puthon; and puthon is where we get our own word “python,” which is of course, a type of serpent—a snake.

Also, I did a little further digging and you might find this information interesting and relevant to our discussion. Thayer’s Greek–English Lexicon gives us background on puthon informing us that “in Greek mythology [this is] the name of the Pythian serpent or dragon…[which] was said to have guarded the oracle of Delphi.” [1] Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary adds that this Pythian serpent was “slain by Apollo. Thence the name was transferred to Apollo himself. Later the word was applied to diviners and soothsayers…” [2] just as Luke uses it here in Acts 16.

In The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible George S. Cansdale further points out that in “Hel. belief, the Python was a spirit of divination that possessed certain persons.” [3] And Dr. Richard Longenecker then tells us “the word python came to mean a demon-possessed person through whom the Python spoke—even a ventriloquist was thought to have such a spirit living in his or her belly…” [4]

This explains why puthon is translated divination here in Acts 16:16. In fact, the Encyclopedia Of Wicca & Witchcraft also corroborates all of the above information where we read:

In many cultures the serpent and the dragon are [thought to be] the guardians of…temples, treasures, esoteric knowledge, and all lunar deities” (p.319). And it also informs us that the serpent/snake is connected with the so-called Odic Force. This “force” is said to be “an occult energy…generated in Nature… In ancient times this [occultic] force” — [which we Christians know is actually Satan and/or his demons] — “this [occultic] force was symbolized by the serpent and specifically by the Great Python.” [5]

You also might find it interesting to know that those familiar with occultic philosophy are aware that the “Occult Serpent, as a force, is symbolically divided into the twin serpents of the caduceus, [said to be] the magical staff of Hermes/Mercury…” [6]

And that same encyclopedia also informs us that the caduceus is “a symbol of harmony, peace, balance, and reconciliation” — which is the exact opposite of the person who “inspired” this false worship—Satan himself! Now let’s look carefully at what this symbol looks like:

We’re told the caduceus is “the composite image [that] depicts a winged orb mounted on a staff that is entwined by two serpents… The serpents spiraling around it indicate communication moving back and forth from the Underworld to the Overworld.” [7] Now, if this occultic symbol seems oddly familiar to you, then look carefully at the following.

From the unofficial Web-page of M.S. Ramaiah Medical College — “Recognized internationally as the symbol of Medicine, the ‘Caduceus’ [has] reached [the] symbolism of healing the body, mind and soul.” [8] It seems the modern use of the caduceus can be traced to 1902 when it became the insignia for the American Medical Corps. I find that this Scripture immediately comes to mind — for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).

And finally, on this subject of the snake being used as an occultic symbol, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology Dr. Ron Enroth points out:

 “All forms of occultic philosophy proclaim that the true or ‘real’ self of man is synonymous with — [and equal to] — God. Such views are all patterned after the [classic] lie of the serpent in Genesis 3:5, ‘you will be like God.’” [9]

Which now brings us to the heart of the matter as we discuss Satan’s two oldest lies found back in Genesis 3; and further, it serves to remind us of the truth of Solomon’s wisdom. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). As mentioned previously, the fact that the symbols of serpents–snakes–became the object of worship among mankind is convincing proof that the Genesis 3 account of the fall of man is to be taken as a literal history.

In other words, it’s not just a metaphor or a “word picture” of what happened as the repugnant rebel faction against the Bible in the Emerging Church would have us believe. And that’s is very important in this generation, as more and more evangelical scholars themselves have been prepared by the devil to fall for the two oldest lies of the serpent all over again.

Sadly, there isn’t much I can agree on with Christian theologian Dr. Norman Geisler anymore, but he is right here:

Satan’s strategy does not change. He begins by casting doubt on God’s Word. ‘Did God really say?’ he questioned Eve. ‘Are you sure it really means that?’ For generations Christians accepted the simple statements of the Bible about itself (the written Word of God) and about Christ (the living Word of God).

The devil’s device, however, has been to challenge God’s authority in both areas…Satan’s double-barreled attack is on the inspiration and [the] interpretation of the Bible. The first strategy worked with the theological liberals. The second strategy is aimed at evangelicals. [10]

The insight Dr. Geisler shows in this particular case is quite true; but we do need to be praying that he also awakens from his bad dream about reconciliation with the apostate Roman Catholic Church. For this is exactly why we find ourselves in such a crazy world drunk with postmodernism. Truthfully, it feels as if almost everything we see around us is absolutely backward, and it is all traced right back to the text of Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

Let’s sum this up, now that we’ve exposed the two oldest lies that Satan has used to entrap man. Later in verse 1 of Genesis 3 we find this question — “Did God actually say?” There’s lie number one; in effect Satan says to Eve — “God didn’t really speak to you; you don’t know what He said.” You need to understand that the devil is still lying to us today — “God didn’t really speak to you in the Bible; so how does anybody really know what He has said?” Watch for it in the teachings of the leaders in the neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church.

Now you will recognize that the mortal enemy of men’s souls is really not very original. And here is lie number two. Satan tells Eve in verse 4“You will not surely die,” thus changing the interpretation, or the plain meaning of what Yahweh Elohim had clearly said. And this he continues to do with his lie number two today. If Satan can’t get someone to doubt that the Bible is God’s Word with lie number one, then he immediately shifts to the second lie, and attempts to get people entrapped in wrong understandings about what the Bible teaches.

The battle remains the same today, as it was in the garden; the serpent keeps on trying to confuse the clear meaning of what the LORD God has actually said. As he does, he then endeavors to ensnare people in one of his many false religious systems–such as the non-Christian cult of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons); or the very apple of Satan’s eye–and his own pride and joy–the long apostate Church of Rome with its self-righteous Roman Catholicism.

You see, all of this rubbish from the devil slithers up quietly and then entwines mankind—just as the serpents entwine around the staff of the caduceus. And the unyielding stone cold truth of Ecclesiastes 1:9 comes home to rest once again — What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Those of us who are familiar with the often-sordid history of the visible Christian Church can certainly attest to that.

End Notes:

Back to note 1 — Joseph Thayer, Thayer’s Greek–English Lexicon [Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996], 557.

Back to note 2 — W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1996], 178.

Back to note 3 — Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975], Vol. 4, 964.

Back to note 4 — Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., Expositor’s Bible Commentary: With the New International Version of the Bible [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976-92), in Zondervan NIV Study Bible Library, limited ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), CD-ROM.

Back to note 5 — Raven Grimassi, Encyclopedia Of Wicca & Witchcraft [Woobury: Llewellyn Publications, 2000], 269.

Back to note 6 — Ibid.

Back to note 7 — Ibid., 54.

Back to note 8http://www.geocities.ws/msrmc/, accessed 8/2/11.

Back to note 9 — Walter A. Elwell, ed., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology [Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001], 852, emphasis mine).

Back to note 10 — Norman Geisler, The Battle For The Resurrection [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1992], 21.

See also: