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'Sorcery' Most Popular Search for 2021 on Bible Gateway? The Answer Is One Word and It's Not 'Witchcraft'


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The content manager of the Bible Gateway, an online search engine for the entire Bible, has revealed users searched for the words "sorceries" and "sorcery" in the Scriptures more than any other term in 2021.  

Jonathan Petersen recently wrote in Gateway's blog the reason behind the statistic might be the "most intriguing" of all. 

Searches for the two words increased on the Gateway by 193% from last year.  

As CBN News has reported throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, witchcraft, sorcery, the use of spells and tarot cards have become even more popular among young people, especially among Gen Z and Millennials.  But Petersen points to another reason. The increased interest in the Greek word "pharmakeia."

"The increase in sorceries is related to heightened interest in the Greek word pharmakeia which, according to the Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament means 'employment of drugs for any purpose; sorcery, magic, enchantment' as used in ," he wrote. 

The word "pharmakeia" appears in the Apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians found in the Bible's New Testament: 

"The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."

"Pharmakeia" is also used in :

"The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world's important people. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray."

According to the Religion News Service (RNS), the word has come up in debates among some charismatic and evangelical Christians over COVID-19 prevention measures, and in other venues like blog posts, podcasts, and even on Amazon, where it has appeared on T-shirts (alongside search terms "vax Mandate, Tyrants, lockdowns") and self-published books dating back to 2018 claiming to unmask a spirit of pharmakeia controlling the pharmaceutical industry worldwide.

Petersen said it's not unusual for people to search the Bible online to see what it says about major events.

"It seems topics that dominate the news media and social posts cause people to wonder what the Bible might have to say about them, so they search keywords and phrases on Bible Gateway to see what they can find," he told the RNS in an email.

For example, Petersen said, searches for "He replied, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.'" – jumped this year when the verse appeared on rapper Lil Nas X's "Satan Shoes."

However, the online Bible search engine's content manager also recognized that while sorcery may have been a popular search term this year, "it's important to remember Paul's instruction also in that chapter."

Petersen explained the apostle's directive can be found in the #27th most popular verse of the year, which is up from #44 last year. 

The verse is - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness."

And what was the most popular Bible verse on the Gateway in 2021?  According to Petersen, it was the following two verses that have remained the most popular for every year of the last decade. 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." – 

Followed by "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

"And the top two most-popular keyword searches in 2021—as they've been year after year—were love and peace," Petersen noted. 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of