"pharmakeia" in Galatians 5:20

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Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I've been thinking a lot about the huge amount of drug abuse (prescription and illegal) in the US. Drive down the street of any town, anywhere in the US, and you will find a CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, or grocery store pharmacy, In one little town in my county, I counted 5 pharmacies servicing a population of about 15,000 (that's a town of 3,000 and the surrounding areas).

As I was thinking about this, I wondered if anyone had ever done a study on the usage of pharmakeia in Scripture? We get our common word pharmacy from this Greek word. It is also the word used in the list of the works of the flesh (sins) in Galatians 5:20, and again in Revelation 9:20 "Neither repented they of their murders nor of their sorceries (pharmakeia), nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts" and again in Revelation 18:23 "And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries (pharmakeia) were all nations deceived."

Another form of the word is used in Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers (pharmakeus), and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

The masculine noun form (used in Rev. 21:8) is defined as "someone who prepares or uses magical remedies", and the femine noun form used in the other passages is defined as "1) the use or the administering of drugs, 2)poisoning, 3) sorcery, magical arts, often in connection with idolatry and fostered by it 4) methaphorically the deceptions and seducations of idolatry"

There is another word translated "sorcery" in Acts 8:9 where Simon used sorcery. The root of the word is where we get the word magic.


Is there any relation between modern day drug use and overuse of prescription drugs and the sin mentioned in passages cited above?

Is there any connection between the word used in Acts 8:9 and the word pharmakeia?

If there is a relation to modern day drug use and overuse of prescription drugs, what should our attitude be toward the use of drugs for every little problem that comes our way?

What got me thinking about this was a comment made to me be a christian friend years ago. "I don't want to take medicine unless I absolutely have to, because I want to mind to be sharp to hear God speaking to me"


Puritanboard Botanist
It's pretty often thought of in those terms in many missions work. "Poison men" are just a fact of life in many areas. Drugs for everything; from murder to opening yourself up to spiritual advice from your totem god, to birth control to strength medicine and everything in between.
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