New Deliverance Church of Charlotte is one of several local ministries who engage in “spiritual warfare.” Many of these deliverance ministries teach that believers and unbelievers can be afflicted by evil spirits or demons. They teach that these spirits must be identified and cast out of the victim. One especially malevolent spirit is called the “Spirit of Python.” This paticular spirit, however, has not always been seen as evil.
Python Spirit in the New Testament
The Christian New Testament contains one reference to the “Python Spirit” in Acts 16:16. This is the story of the Apostle Paul and a young slave girl said to possess a “spirit of divination”. According to the Greek text published on the website “Greek New Testament,” the phrase translated “spirit” is “pneuma.” The Strong’s Greek Bible Concordance number for pneuma is 4151. The word translated “divination” is the Greek “Puqwnos,” which means python. The Strong’s number for puqwnos is 4436.
The story continues in Acts 16:17 as the young girl followed the Apostle Paul around the city of Tyratira proclaiming, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” While her words were true, something about the girl troubled Paul. After a few days, Paul spoke to the “spirit” and commanded it to leave the girl. The “spirit” obeyed Paul left the owners of the girl without their source of income. The “spirit” Paul drove out of the girl was the “pneuma puqwnos” or “spirit of python.”
The Delphi Oracle
During the 8th century BCE, the ancient Greek city of Delphi was the location of the famous and influential Oracle at Delphi. The Oracle – also called Pythia or the “Pythoness” – was one of many women chosen over the centuries to serve as the mouthpiece of the gods. According to the website “Ancient-Greece,” the Oracle was internationally renowned. Ordinary citizens, dignitaries and heads of state sought out and paid well for her counsel. The Oracle would give her prophesies while sitting on a three-legged stool located over the spot where legend said the god Apollo killed the Python Dragon. Fumes from the rotting corpse of the dragon were believed to perpetually rise from this spot. Before she gave her prophecies, the Oracle would breathe in the vapors and enter into a trance state.
Although the influence of the Delphi and its Oracle decreased during the Roman era, it is possible that women with the “Python Spirit” — like the girl in Acts 16:16 — continued to be in demand.
Christian Deliverance Ministries
Pentecostal “Christian Deliverance Ministries” define the “Python Spirit” in a much more literal way. Some Christians believe that the “Python Spirit” is an actual demonic entity whose actions in the spirit realm parallel those of the actual snake called the python. This spirit is said to strongly influence a person’s thoughts and behavior. The “Python Spirit” can even take possession of a person’s body. According to the website, “Carpenters Touch”, just as a real python holds and squeezes the life out of its victims, the “Python Spirit” seeks to “control/restrict and manipulate people within the church.” This spirit chokes and restricts visions, creativity and church finances.
Deliverance ministries specialize in freeing believers from the influence of the “Python Spirit” and other demonic entities. Not all Pentecostals Christians hold this view however. Licensed Christian counselor Pamela Sheppard believes that labeling people with this spirit and attempting to deliver them is actually a form divination itself.