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Python Priestess and the Gift of Tongues In Paul.

 

Paul's Version of the Gift of Tongues.

 

The apostolic gift of tongues in Acts 2:4 and 2:6 is clearly that a speaker in one language was heard, and perfectly understood by people of other languages.

 

Paul discloses his very different version from the original gift of tongues in the following quote. Paul describes an unintelligible voice which requires an interpreter. No one else understands the message. Paul explains the gift: 

 

"If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that in turn; and let one interpret." (1 Cor. 14:27 KJV.)

 

We all are also familiar that when someone starts speaking in unintelligible sounds at church, sometimes the speaker and sometime others lose all control of their bodies, and start rolling in the aisles.

 

 

Paul in Philippi Meets the Python Priestess.

 

In Acts 14, wherever Paul went to evangelize with Barnabas, Paul was the “chief speaker.” (Acts 14:12.)

 

In Acts 16, Paul is preaching at Philippi, and is heard by a demon possessed woman known as Python. She was popular at Philippi as a soothsayer whom people paid for prophecies. Those aspiring to be kings and rulers would vie for her endorsement to gain acceptance from among the people. Large parts of Greece fell to Philip of Macedon because Philip bribed the Python priestess to prophesy he would conquer.

The role of Python was played by many nameless women for many centuries prior to Paul meeting her at Philippi. See below. 

 

The Pythoness thus was a 'rock-star' -- to use a modern equivalent.

 

When Paul is at Philippi, this Python priestess followed him around for many days in the city. Everywhere Paul went she proclaimed him a man of God who declared "to us a way of salvation." Her intent was obvious: this demon-possessed woman hoped many would recognize and accept Paul as God's prophet, and accept his plan of salvation. (She said nothing about the true Jesus, or his plan of salvation.) Paul did nothing to stop her for many days. Luke records in Acts 16:16-18:

 

16And it came to pass in our going on to prayer, a certain maid, having a spirit of Python, did meet us, who brought much employment to her masters by soothsaying [manteuomai, "practice divination as in a 'false divination or false prophet'"  - Strongs G3132. Cf. mantis = seer]

17she having followed Paul and us, was crying, saying, `These men are servants of the Most High God, who declare to us a way of salvation;'

18and this she was doing for many days, but Paul having been grieved, and having turned, said to the spirit, `I command thee, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come forth from her;' and it came forth the same hour. (Acts 16:16-19 YLT.)

 

Paul's casting out in the name of Jesus the spirit of the demon Python from the young girl after "many days" of delay doing so does not prove Paul knew the true Jesus. See  (Matt 7:21-23 ESV (ones who work anomia -- negation of law [see link on its meaning], but did miracles in Jesus' name, including cast out demons, Jesus says He will say "I never knew you.")

 

For an in depth discussion of these nameless priestesses at Philippi and Delphi - virtual rock stars for centuries, see our article Paul's Encounter with the Python Priestess.

   

 Prophetic Utterances Uncanny Similarity to Paul's Gift of Tongues.

 

Doesn't this appear to be Glossalia / Excited Utterances?

 

The method of words of prophecy by the Python have a chilling similarity to modern  'glossalia' that I have personally witnessed in certain churches. 

 

Now remember, the gift of tongues of the 12 apostles was different: it was the ability to speak to foreign-language speakers, and the listeners would understand it in their own language. See Acts 2:4; 2:6.

 

So here is what is so chilling to consider to explain how our modern behavior may have entered the church from copying practices of the Pythonesses of ancient Greece.

 

Anarcharsis in a travel journal of the 6th Century before Christ identified that "toward the middle [of the temple] is an aperture from whence came the prophetic exalation." (Howey, id.., at 144.) The young virgin Python would drink some water which "it is said [has] the virtue of disclosing futurity." Id. Interestingly, the young prophetess would have her limbs suffer "involuntary motions," and she uttered "plaintiff cries and deep groans" (id.) She then uttered "dreadful howlings which were eagerly collected by the priests." Then the priests went to work. Anarcharsis continues: "They arranged them in proper order, and delivered them to us in writing." Id. 

 

Leadbetter summarizes it even more pointedly, unaware how this might educate Christians to problems about Paul's glossalia instructions:

 

"After she mumbled her answer, a male priest would translate it for the supplicant." (Ron Leadbetter, "Apollo," Pantheon.org (2012).)

 

Importantly, Origen -- a leading Christian writer --  in 248 AD in Contra Celsum used these fits of ecstasy to prove the Python Priestess was under the influence of demons, and not the Holy Spirit.  He wrote:

 

[I]t is not part of the divine spirit to drive the prophetess [Pythia] into such a state of ecstasy and madness that she loses control of herself. For he who is under the influence of a Divine Spirit ought to be the first to receive the beneficial effects, ... and moreover, that should be the time of clearest perception when one is in close intercourse with the Deity." ...For we are persuaded that the Spirit "mortifies the deeds of the body" ... If, then, the Pythian priestess is beside herself when she prophesies, what spirit must that be that fills her mind and clouds her judgment with darkness, unless it be of the same order with those demons which Christians cast out of persons possessed with them? (Contra Celsumlink, pg. 171.)

 

What is interesting is how similar the Python priestess received and relayed her messages to what Paul's describes as the gift of tongues.

 

Thus, as already mentioned, while the true apostolic gift of tongues was the ability of an apostle to speak and those of another language to hear their own language spoken (Acts 2:4; 2:6 (heard in own dialect), Paul gives the same name to something totally different.

 

What Paul describes is identical to the ecstatic utterances of the "spirit of Python" where another would interpret and write it down. The words were not readily understandable as they were supposed to be if they had  been the true apostolic gift revealed in Acts 2. But Paul discloses his very different version from the original gift of tongues in the text we quoted at the beginning.

 

Please now compare carefully the strikingly similar manner in which the  "spirit of Python" and her interpreters operated, as just proven, with what Paul claims is the gift:

 

"If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that in turn; and let one interpret." (1 Cor. 14:27 KJV.)

 

We all are also familiar that when speaking in unintelligible sounds begins at church, sometimes the speaker and sometime others lose all control of their bodies, and start contortions.

 

Paul, I hate to say it, appears to have unknowingly introduced demonic practices of the occult into the church.

 

Thus, one must wonder if Paul's stinger in the flesh from an "Angel of Satan" in 2 Cor. 12:7 impaled him somehow with Satan's spirit of Python -- what Paul unwittingly reveals when he describes the glossalia-spirit, of which Paul says in very "modest" terms that

 

"I speak in tongues more than all of you. (1 Cor. 14:18 NIV.)   

 

When someone asked me on May 10, 2020 about the gift of the spirit of speaking in tongues, and what I thought about it, I shared the Python Priestess evidence. The reaction to this evidence was quite confirmatory. She said when her husband heard about this similarity, the Holy Spirit chilled her husband's spirit to the bone.  Please see this anonymized email exchange at this link.