Just in case you missed a post
It’s been a couple months since I’ve written on the “Unmasking the Spirit of Python” series. If you’re jumping on board in the middle of this series . . . Welcome!
It is HIGHLY recommend that you start at the beginning of this series in order to get a complete picture. Starting a series in the middle can be pretty confusing, especially if the topic is both complicated and paradigm-shifting.
I assure you that the “Unmasking the Spirit of Python” posts fall into both of these categories!
The links for each post in this series (and the prior series “The Irony of the Church Fathers”) can be located in the right hand column of your screen. If you’re on a mobile device, you might have to navigate to the bottom of the post.
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
In the last installment, we discussed the abstract worldview promoted through Hellenism. Now I want to discuss another characteristic that you need to understand in order to grasp how your faith has morphed over time.
Hellenism was Conquest-driven from the Start
The expansion of Alexander the Great’s empire throughout the known world resulted in a proportionate growth of Hellenism (or the Greek values and way of thinking).
As a student of Aristotle (who was a student of Plato, who was a student of Socrates), Alexander not only had his eyes set on building a great empire, he also made it his goal to spread the influence of Hellenism to all his conquered territories.
Alexander the Great was smart . . . scratch that, he was brilliant.
Unlike most military leaders of his day, Alexander didn’t follow after bloodlust and booty.
Rather than viewing other nations and peoples as obstacles to be conquered and eradicated in the quest to gain new territory and riches, Alexander recognized the value of building a lasting and more profitable kingdom through influence and infiltration.
- Why completely destroy a people, their economy and existing infrastructure, if you could benefit from them and spread your belief system in the process?
- Why completely destroy a people if you could potentially gain a nation of loyal subjects?
So, while Alexander would quickly and ruthlessly crush those who dared to oppose him, he was also known to be lenient to those who surrendered, allowing them to retain their existing customs and worship rituals.
Alexander the Great embraced the foreign gods of the nations.
By many accounts, Alexander had a high respect for the gods of the lands he conquered (regardless whether by violence or surrender).
Even in the lands he destroyed, he would spare the temples to the conquered people’s gods and, in many instances, Alexander would actually pay homage to and offer sacrifices to these gods. 
But through it all, the spread of Hellenism was part of the price for peace.
This is clearly evident in his encounter with Israel.
Josephus records the following in his “Antiquities of the Jews”:
Alexander went to Jerusalem after having taken Gaza. Jaddua, the high priest, had a warning from God received in a dream, in which he saw himself vested in a purple robe, with his miter -that had the golden plate on which the name of God was engraved – on his head. Accordingly he went to meet Alexander at Sapha. Followed by the priests, all clothed in fine linen, and by a multitude of citizens, Jaddua awaited the coming of the king. When Alexander saw the high priest, he reverenced God (Lev. R. xiii., end), and saluted Jaddua; while the Jews with one voice greeted Alexander.
When Parmenio, the general, gave expression to the army’s surprise at Alexander’s extraordinary act – that one who ought to be adored by all as king should adore the high priest of the Jews – Alexander replied: “I did not adore him, but the God who hath honored him with this high-priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dios in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly to pass over the sea, promising that he would conduct my army, and would give me the dominion over the Persians.”
Alexander then gave the high priest his right hand, and went into the Temple and “offered sacrifice to God according to the high priest’s direction,” treating the whole priesthood magnificently. “And when the Book of Daniel was shown him [see Dan. vii. 6, viii. 5-8, 20-22, xi. 3-4], wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that he was the person intended, and rejoiced thereat.
The following day Alexander asked the people what favors he should grant them; and, at the high priest’s request, he accorded them the right to live in full enjoyment of the laws of their forefathers. He, furthermore, exempted them from the payment of tribute in the seventh year of release.
To the Jews of Babylonia and Media also he granted like privileges; and to the Jews who were willing to enlist in his army he promised the right to live in accordance with their ancestral laws. Afterward the Samaritans, having learned of the favors granted the Jews by Alexander, asked for similar privileges; but Alexander declined to accede to their request.” – Antiquities of the Jews 11.317-345
To be fair, the veracity of this account has been hotly debated among rabbis and scholars. After all, Josephus is a controversial character in history. But regardless of what view is held of Josephus, the following historical facts cannot be denied:
- Alexander the Great extended his rule over Jerusalem (and all Israel).
- The Jews were not destroyed like people from other territories (like Gaza) who opposed Alexander.
- Hellenism saturated Hebrew culture – this point is actually supported more by the Scriptures than by this account. Nonetheless, it remains true.
The Spread of Hellenism into the Faith
Long after the death of Alexander (in 323 BC), throughout the division of his empire among his 4 generals (Lysimachus, Cassander, Ptolemy and Seleucus) and Rome’s gradual takeover (148/6 BC), the spread of Hellenism continued. 
The Ancient History Encyclopedia states:
“… although Rome’s rule ended Greek independence and autonomy it did nothing to significantly change nor did it in any way halt the Hellenization of the world of the day …”
This account would appear to support the poet Horace’s words, mentioned earlier in this series:
“Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit.”
(“Captive Greece captured her rude conqueror.”)
So here we catch a glimpse of the historical and cultural backdrop of the society that Yeshua was born into. Although Rome had authority over the land of Israel, and in particular Jerusalem, the Greek value system and mindset (Hellenism) had taken firm root in the minds of most of the people.
A large number of Jews came to be referred to as “Hellenists”; though called with their nation to serve the one true God, they became highly influenced by (and chose to adopt) the Greek, abstract polytheistic culture.
The Relationship Between the Hellenists and the Ekklesia
According to accounts in the book of Acts, the Hellenists were a continual source of grief – and even danger – to Messiah’s disciples. Every time the Hellenists are mentioned, trouble is not far off.
Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
Usually when people read this verse, it is within the context of the stoning of Stephen.
Because they usually want to make a point involving Stephen, nobody stops to ask . . . “Why were the widows being neglected?”
First, you have to realize that this was not an accidental oversight. The disciples were purposefully neglecting them for a reason.
Not just any widow and orphan . . .
In order to understand why the widows were being neglected, you have to understand that, contrary to what you have been taught in church, when Yeshua and the other writers of the New Testament instructed us to care for the widow and orphan, their focus was not on caring for just any widow or any orphan, but those who were in the faith.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
If you do a word study in the Tanakh (Old Testament) for these same words (“widow” and “orphan”), you will usually see it within the context of Israel taking care of Israel first.
If you do a study in the Tanakh (Old Testament) on how the widow and orphan were to be treated, it was within the context of taking care of those within the congregation (qahal/ekklesia) of Israel first.
Please understand that I am not trying to take away from offering assistance to non-believers, but we must get the context straight in order to correctly understand this Acts 6 passage as well as the thrust of this section in the post.
Priority must be given to the household of faith. If you belong to a congregation with huge outreaches to other countries (or even its own city) and there are people starving and unable to pay their bills in the congregation, that’s a HUGE red flag!
The Hellenistic widows were not of the faith.
The Hellenist widows in Acts 6 not only spoke the Greek language, but retained the manners, customs and the polytheistic worship of the Greeks, otherwise they would not be distinguished apart from the others as “Hellenists” – they would be included in the ekklesia and no longer associated with Hellenism.
So they were not of the faith.
Strong’s Concordance backs up the historical account when it defines the word “Hellenist” in Acts 6:1 as:
- one who imitates the manners and customs or the worship of the Greeks, and uses the Greek tongue
- used in the NT of Jews born in foreign lands and speaking Greek 
Infiltration and a free ride
The reason the Hellenist widows were being shunned is that they did not believe, nor did they have any intention of changing their ways.
True to the nature of Hellenism, the Hellenists were having their widows infiltrate the ranks of the disciples in order to spread their philosophy, all the while reaping the benefit of free food.
This situation is hauntingly similar to the mixed multitude we discussed in “So You Want to Be the Church?” who came up out of Egypt with the children of Israel. They wanted to reap the benefits of being on the winning side (in this case “breaking bread from house to house” – Acts 2:46) while clinging to the ways of the surrounding nations – spreading their poison to the set apart people.
Because the Hellenist widows were not of “the household of faith,” they were skipped over and preferential treatment was given to those who were actually a part of the ekklesia.
And that was when the trouble started.
Complaining against the Hebrews
Jealous that they were not reaping the benefits of truly “crossing over,” the Hellenists started complaining against the Hebrews.
You would think that, if this were a major moral issue, the apostles would correct those who handed out the food and admonish them for playing favorites (James 2:1) but judging from their reaction, it appears that they thought the issue unworthy of their time . . . almost “beneath” them.
It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.
The reason James correctly corrected people in his congregation from playing favorites was because the he recognized the victims as being part of the ekklesia. The situation with the apostles in Acts 6 was a different matter.
The widows were Hellenists. They were not part of the ekklesia.
So the Bible records that the disciples appointed faithful men like Stephen to handle the lesser issues that threatened to distract the disciples from the Word and prayer.
But the apostles’ resolution to this issue did not silence the complaints and the jealousy of the Hellenists. This provided the backdrop for what happened next.
The Synagogue of the Freedmen
Soon after the appointing of the “seven men of good reputation,” another situation involving Hellenists arose.
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.
The Synagogue of the Freedmen (also known as “Libertines,” according to Philo) were Hellenistic Jews from the surrounding area. Many were originally from Rome, but had built a synagogue in Jerusalem that they frequented when they visited Jerusalem. 
Like the Hellenistic widows, the Libertines had a Jewish identity, but embraced the philosophy and polytheism of the Greeks.
The Abstract is No Match for the Specific
In disputing with Stephen, a man “full of faith and power,” their abstract arguments were no match for the concrete wisdom that poured forth from the soon-to-be-martyr, nor could they save face before the spirit that spoke through him.
Utterly humiliated on a theological/philosophical level, they realized that they had a problem.
They couldn’t kill Stephen outright. Their very namesake – “the Synagogue of Freedmen” – directly associated these Hellenists with religion and piety.
Left with no other means, they turned to underhanded measures to silence the wisdom of Stephen and got someone else to do their dirty work.
Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.”
This was obviously a lie. Stephen never said anything against YHWH or the Torah of Moses, otherwise the Synagogue of Freedmen could have made the accusation themselves with full assurance of a stoning.
But hiring out lowlives to lie on their behalf was not enough; true to the underhanded and conquering nature of Hellenism, they took it a step further.
And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council.
Now that they had the elders’ and the scribes’ attention (not to mention “the crowd”), they saw their opportunity to win a major battle against those monotheistic upstarts who would not accept – and even outright defied – their pagan ways.
They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.”
Keep in mind that these witnesses were false!
Unlike Christianity (which we have already established as having been spawned by the church fathers), Stephen’s doctrine did NOT allow for the following:
- Speaking against the law (Torah);
- Speaking against the Temple;
- Saying that Yeshua changed the customs of Moses;
- Saying that Yeshua would destroy the Temple (which, in my view, is the same as saying that Yeshua would replace the need for a Temple).
So in considering this passage, we discover two other techniques associated with Hellenism:
- the tendency to use others to do your dirty work;
- lying to silence opposition.
We will see these dynamics of Hellenism come into play more and more as we study the history of the faith.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Not only do the purveyors of Hellenism use lying and lowlife outsiders to achieve their goals, in Acts 9, we see that Hellenists are not above using murder to achieve their goals.
And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him.
The Fallout of Hellenism
Over the last two posts, I’ve covered quite a bit on Hellenism and its influence on the faith. I realize that this may seem like a giant rabbit trail from the main subject of this series on “Unmasking the Python Spirit,” but it is very necessary in order to understand it.
Both the abstract nature and conquest-driven militancy of Hellenism had great impact on the transformation of what was once a simple faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
- It was because of this militant influence of Hellenism that the Crusades, Inquisition and the Holocaust happened.
- It is because of the abstract, relative influence of Hellenism that we now have 44,000 denominations – all of which are believed to be “divinely inspired” by their parishioners.
- It was because of both the abstract and the militant influences of Hellenism that the church fathers created the corrupted framework of the Christian faith that is perpetuated today.
The fallout from the infiltration of Hellenism into the faith continues today as we see denomination after denomination after non-denomination compromise with a polytheistic, sin-filled, “anything goes” society.
- The “church” has proven itself unable to withstand the infiltrative nature of sin because the infiltrative nature of Hellenism resides and thrives at its core.
- If we really want to be honest here, the modern day “church” was birthed out of Hellenism.
Surviving the Fallout
To the few congregations who are starting to wonder why things are not turning out the way your cemetery-trained leaders have taught you:
If you are wondering what is going on, I implore you to reconsider your training.
STOP trying to DENY the injustices that the “church” is responsible for. STOP turning a blind eye to the obvious gaps in logic that the “church” insists is “heavenly revelation.”
There is a plan for Babylon, and you cannot thwart this plan, for it is DECREED in the Word of Yahweh. No amount of prayer and fasting will stop it.
You cannot save Babylon.
With or without your agreement, this process will continue.
This is bad fruit from a bad tree that grew from a bad seed that was planted long ago. This fruit will continue to rot until it reaches the final stage … death.
OK, I understand . . . maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Continue on with this series and you will see that I am not off the mark.
-  Alexander the Great, http://www.encyclopedia.com/people/history/ancient-history-greece-biographies/alexander-great
-  The Hellenistic World: The World of Alexander the Great, https://www.ancient.eu/article/94/the-hellenistic-world-the-world-of-alexander-the-g/
-  “Hellenistes” [G1675], https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1675&t=KJV
-  Synagogue of the Libertines, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synagogue_of_the_Libertines