Did Paul's condemnation of witchcraft in Galatians 5 mean he believed evil magic was a real thing?

In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul included a list of behaviors that he believed were incompatible with the Christian faith. One of these behaviors was witchcraft, which he condemned along with other acts such as adultery, fornication, and idolatry.

This condemnation of witchcraft has led many scholars and Bible readers to wonder whether Paul believed in the existence of evil magic, or whether he was simply using the term as a metaphor for other forms of sin and immorality.

There is no clear answer to this question, as the Bible does not provide a detailed explanation of what Paul meant by the term "witchcraft." However, there are a few clues that can help us understand the context and significance of this condemnation.

Firstly, it's important to note that the term "witchcraft" can refer to a wide range of practices, from simple herbal remedies to more elaborate forms of divination and magic. In the ancient world, these practices were often associated with superstition and idolatry, and were seen as a threat to the established religious order.

In this context, it's possible that Paul was using the term "witchcraft" as a way of condemning any behavior that was seen as unorthodox or threatening to the established religious norms. By including witchcraft in his list of behaviors that were incompatible with the Christian faith, Paul may have been emphasizing the importance of staying true to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, and avoiding any practices that could lead to spiritual danger or corruption.

Alternatively, it's possible that Paul did believe in the existence of evil magic, and saw witchcraft as a real and present threat to the Christian community. In this interpretation, Paul's condemnation of witchcraft would be seen as a warning against any behavior that could lead to spiritual corruption or demonic influence.

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Jamie Larson