serpent

serpent

A reptile, in the Bible another term for “snake.” In OT literature, serpents usually have a negative connotation. The story of creation (Gen 2:4-3:24), which explains the sinfulness of the human race, has as its villain the serpent. Likewise, references to Leviathan and Rahab (Isa 27:1; Isa 51:9-10) recall serpents from Mesopotamian mythology. In NT writings, the same negative attitude toward serpents is evident. Religious leaders were called “a brood of vipers” by John the Baptist (Matt 3:7) and by Jesus (Matt 23:33). In a few instances in the Bible, however, there are references to positive qualities associated with serpents. The attribute seen as most desirable was that of “cunning” (Gen 3:1; Matt 10:16). In the wilderness Moses made a bronze serpent that was believed to have healing properties (Num 21:4-9; cf. John 3:14-15; note, however, that Moses made the serpent only after an attack upon the people by deadly serpents). A story regarding Paul’s harmless encounter with a poisonous serpent is reported in (Acts 28:1-6). In several passages in the Bible the ultimate victory of God and God’s people over the evil of this age is depicted using serpent imagery (Luke 10:19; Rev 20:2-10).

Gen 2:4-3:24

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Isa 27:1

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Isa 51:9-10

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Matt 3:7

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Matt 23:33

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Gen 3:1

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Matt 10:16

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Num 21:4-9

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John 3:14-15

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Acts 28:1-6

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Luke 10:19

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Rev 20:2-10

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