Territorial spirits (demons) in the Bible l

Territorial spirits in the Bible l

Acts 16, 16 – 19

Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, «These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.»

18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, «In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!» At that moment the spirit left her.

19 When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.

An encounter between God and Satan – between the servants of God and a wreched female slave who was a tool in the hands of Satan.

The story is simple and easily understood. The name of Jesus is the strongest. Jesus won an eternal victory on the cross over Satan and all his demons.

Let us have a look at the greek text – which is the language Luke used when he wrote Acts. He uses a special expression when he describes the spirit of divination. He writes a pyton spirit.

Why did Luke use the word pyton when he described the spirit that the slave woman had?

To understand this we have to consult the story of the oracle of Delfi.

The expression pyton is derived from the story of the oracle of Delphi. Delphi was a place of worship north of Filippi. You can read about what was taking place there in Wikipedia.


The Oracle of Delphi was Apollo’s oracle, which existed in Delphi in ancient Greece. The oracle was considered the center of the world. Oracle’s priestess, called Pythia, prophesied sitting on a special three-legged stool. Pythia’s name probably comes from Python, the snake which, according to the legend, ruled over the place before Apollon killed it. (Wikipedia)

The snake is a symbol of Satan – cf. the temptation in the garden of Eden. In the narrative from Filippi, the name Pyton refer to the oracle in Delphi who according to tradition was the «mother» of divination.

The Pyton Spirit’s function was to predict. To tell about things that were hidden. Hence the word occultism. To be concerned with what is hidden.

It is likely that the python spirit was a territorial spirit that was responsible for this part of Greece.

Just as some angels of God are in charge of countries/ geographical areas (cf. the book of Daniel), fallen angels (demons) are in charge in the kingdom of Satan for geographical areas and countries.

In this case we may assume that the pyton spirit was the leading spirit in the area of Greece.

Satan is the «god and ruler of this world» (2 Cor. 4,4) and he rules today in the same way as he always has done – through his angels/ demons who have been given delegated authority.

But this story in Acts tells us that he is a defeated ruler. Jesus has defeated him. Halleluya.