Chapter 51 - The Serpent Is So Beguiling
Are We Beguiled By Our Own Brilliance?
2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
In the first century, a mythological mode of thinking was prevalent. Not all people maintained the mythological belief system; however, it is undeniable that the mythological mindset was at the base of some individuals’ thinking and undergirding the collective consciousness. Paul, being a Rabbi trained and taught in the ways of Rabbinic Judaism, was keenly aware of the use of myth as a tool for instruction. The instructors Paul sat under would have engaged Paul with challenging ideas and urged him on to meaningful thought repeatedly, as he received his rabbinic education. Had Paul wrote that a “little bird” had told him a secret about one of the synagogue leaders, the reader would readily accept the notion that Paul was referring to a human person. This familiar reference to a “little bird” would have clearly stated that a person was acting as a messenger and sharing information about the synagogue leader. In the context of Paul’s day, it was accepted that the information the “little bird” shared was otherwise thought to be clandestine; somewhat of a secret. We seem however, to misunderstand Paul’s use of the same mythical images used by Moses. We readily make the mistake of thinking Paul is telling a literal story about a snake in the garden. Most have stretched the serpent in the garden story to make the serpent out to be “Satan,” yet the original story does not even hint that the “serpent” is a cosmic “Satan.”
If You Are A Stealthy Deceiver Of Men You Are A Serpent
If a person is called a serpent by a biblical writer, such as when John the Baptist called some of the Pharisees and scribes a brood of vipers, we ought to recognize the euphemism that paints the subject as a deceptive person. Anything or anyone that is referred to as a serpent is simply being shown to be deceptive. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia explains the figurative use of the term serpent.
Most of the Biblical references to serpents are of a figurative nature, and they usually imply poisonous qualities. The wicked (Psa_58:4), the persecutor (Psa_140:3), and the enemy (Jer_8:17) are likened to venomous serpents. The effects of wine are compared to the bites of serpents (Pro_23:32). …. The term “offspring of vipers” is applied by John the Baptist to the Pharisees and Sadducees (Mat_3:7) or to the multitudes (Luk_3:7) who came to hear him; and by Jesus to the scribes and Pharisees (Mat_12:34; Mat_23:33) 
A serpent is then either a deceptive person or as we see it used in Genesis, possibly a deception or deceptive process in thought itself. Paul was not inferring the presence of a real and literal snake that was able to speak to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Paul was reiterating the same mytho-poetic imagery and language that Moses, or whoever wrote the Garden of Eden story, used in Genesis. In one theory of the garden deception, we are told of Eve having a thought. What she was thinking was not the words of the Creator and the thought grew to the point where Eve was changing the Creator’s words. This led to justifying an action forbidden by the Creator. Eve was the victim of deception and the deception came from her own heart and mind. It is this deceptive potential that Paul calls the “serpent.” The potential to deceive ourselves or to deceive others lies in each one of us as well as in the Corinthians whom Paul was writing to. It is this potential that is the serpent. For more on who and what the serpent in the garden was, please refer to Volume 1 -Satan Christianity’s Other God.
Notice that in Paul’s statement the serpent is connected to the deception our minds lead us into. …so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. This mind-serpent connection suggests the serpent of Eve’s mind beguiled her. The justification of wrong choices has been a serpent in the mind of humanity since the point of creation. Paul endeavored to teach the Corinthians that the danger for deception lay in a person’s mind. We are deceived by our own thoughts and justifications.
We see a further statement about false preachers and teachers who teach a different Christ and a different Gospel than the truth Paul was teaching. At this point, we cannot help but notice the connection of the deception that comes from our minds and hearts with the false teaching that comes from other men. In one short statement, Paul has summed up the ancient mytho-poetic story of Adam and Eve sinning in the garden. Paul says;
Be careful that none of you deceive yourselves as Eve did by believing teaching that is not the truth according to God. The guys who teach these heresies are very convincing and can lead you to think things that are contrary to the truth.
The above paraphrase points to the inner dialogue of justification one has as the serpent. However, you will find in Volume 1 mentioned above, it may even be possible that Adam was the serpent, or false teacher, in the garden. I will leave you to search that out yourself by exploring Volume 1 as it outlines a strong argument to see Adam, the guy who was with Eve, as the stealthy deceiving force we hear called a serpent.
The Serpent Is Deceptive Thought, Deceptive People, Or Any Form Of Deception.
The meaning of the words, as understood in their cultural context, is different from the picture painted by the English words we read. The picture of a literal snake talking to Eve, either as “Satan” or under the power of “Satan” is not the intended truth Paul was teaching. The Aramaic culture Paul grew up in would readily accept that when one speaks of a serpent, he was speaking of deception, deceptive thought, or deceptive people. And as Paul points out himself, the “serpent” is referring to a deception that takes place in the mind when one starts to receive and begin to believe a lie.
1 From article “Serpents” in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
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