Summary: The Spirit of Python, Don’t Be Fooled
The Spirit of Python, Don’t Be Fooled
Matthew 7:14-23 (KJV)
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Acts 16:16-18 (KJV)
16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
In Acts 16:16, Paul and Silas encountered a young woman who prophesied to them through what Luke calls a “spirit of divination.” However, the Greek word from which “divination” is translated is python. “Python” was a word associated with prophecy amongst the ancient Greeks and Romans. Because it was so well known in the ancient Greco-Roman world, the original readers of Acts would have made an immediate association when they read the words “spirit of python.” Here is how they would have understood it.
The most famous ancient oracle (prophetic center) was at the city of Delphi in Greece and was known as the “Oracle at Delphi.” According to legend, the Greek god, Apollo, had slain a large female serpent--a python--at that site and the spirit of the python had remained. According to the legend, it now possessed the prophets and prophetesses who fun ctioned there, “taking possession of their organs of speech moving and compelling them to give prophetic utterances.”[iii] This was commonly known as the “python spirit” or the “spirit of python.” At the height of its popularity, the prophetic oracle at Delphi maintained three priestesses/prophetesses who offered advice and counsel through the pythian spirit to a continual stream of visitors including generals and government officials.
pýthœn ?is the name of the snake that guards the Delphic oracle, and it is also used from the early imperial period for a ventriloquist, through whom, as many think, a god is supposed to speak, and who is thus regarded as a soothsayer. The Delphic Pythia, like the ventriloquist, speaks in strange sounds. Ventriloquist - one who speaks through another just as in divination, soothsaying and witchcraft. 1 Sam 28:8 Saul seeks witch of Endore, 2 Chronicles 33:8 Manasseh sacrifices children while consulting witches and the like, Is. 8:19,20 Rebellious people consult the dead, witches, with whispers and mutterings.
Pythons are of the constrictor type of snake. The python will strangle its food with its coils to kill it before eating it. Pythons are not poisonous and are generally not aggressive unless provoked
Manner of Activity of python spirits (Characteristics)
Luke uses “spirit of python” in regards to this slave girl probably because the spirit operating in her was like the one at Delphi. There is, of course, the possibility that she had actually been to Delphi and that is where she picked up this false spirit. It is important to note that what she said was true. Satan and demons have some knowledge and will reveal their “secrets” in order to impress and draw people into their destructive web. Only our God, however, is omniscient, i.e., all knowing. Here are some of the traits of a spirit of python that are obvious in this narrative.
1. It loves to flatter. The prophecy of this young woman was not given to encourage or affirm, but to flatter. We all need to give and receive affirmation and encouragement, but flattery is sweet talk that is insincere and self-serving. So many today, including leaders, are so starved for affirmation and approval that they are vulnerable to the flatteries of a deceiving, python spirit. Our security is in being so settled in God’s acceptance and approval that we are no longer susceptible to the flatteries of a false prophetic spirit. Beware of those who use prophecy to flatter and, thereby, gain advantage.