Pharmakeia: Drugs and Sorcery

The greek word for sorcery is “pharmakeia.” In reading that, you’re probably already thinking about a pharmacy or pharmaceuticals, right? That is appropriate seeing as how pharmakeia was often seen as a form of sorcery that used drugs. As one commentary explains,

In classical Greek pharmakeia referred to the use of drugs whether for medicinal or more sinister purposes, e.g., poisoning. In the New Testament, however, it is invariably associated with the occult, both here in Galatians [5:20] and in Revelation, where it occurs twice (Rev 9:21; 18:23). English translations usually render pharmakeia as “witchcraft” (KJV, NIV) or “sorcery” (RSV, NEB). These words correctly convey the idea of black magic and demonic control, but they miss the more basic meaning of drug use. In New Testament times pharmakeia in fact denoted the use of drugs with occult properties for a variety of purposes including, especially, abortion. (George, Timothy. The New American Commentary: Galatians. Edited by David S Dockery, vol. 30, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994, p. 394.)

Furthermore, according to the Jewish mindset found in 1 Enoch 7:1, the rebellious sons of God who took up human wives in Genesis 6, taught humans “charms and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants.” Therefore, this popular Jewish book (which our own Bible even references theologically at times) shows us that the Jews didn’t think drug use and sorcery were created out of nowhere, but taught to us by fallen spiritual beings—all the more reason God would forbid such practices.

Now we all know that drugs have scientific effects on us. By no means do I think taking drugs (even illegal or sorcery-related drugs) therefore automatically guarantees some kind of demonic experience; nor do I think the drugs that doctors prescribe to us are bad —but I would suggest that there is at times more connection between drug use and spiritual engagement than we often give credit for. And in that light I think we can see that even enlightened minds are still chasing after and desiring something spiritual.

Whether recreational drugs become legal or not in our state, the Christian is to stay away from it for spiritual reasons like those above. Not only are they a gateway to other drugs, but drug-use Biblically belonged to the forbidden works of the enemy.

Perhaps one of the most ridiculous stories I’ve heard as of late was of a small group at a church that was using weed to try to meet with the Holy Spirit. Stop. Just stop. This isn’t a game. And no words of knowledge that you come away with after using drugs are to be trusted.

As Christians, we may not always know where science ends and the spiritual begins in drug experiences, but we need to know that recreational drug use is off limits to us.


This is an adaptation from my book, Alien TheologyMuch is missing from this adaptation as most comments from this section can’t be made without the prior chapters being read first. Feel free to grab a physical, Kindle, or Kindle Unlimited copy on Amazon or the audiobook on Audible. Or if you’re willing to write a review when you’re done, reach out to me and I will send you a free ebook copy.

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