Principalities and Powers -
Ephesians 6:12 describes the satanic hierarchy of the kingdom of darkness, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities (#746), against powers (#1849), against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Believers must understand that we do not wrestle or contend with flesh and blood (a Hebraism for human beings); but we are in a spiritual conflict with the rulers and powers of the kingdom of darkness. The Amplified says, For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.
By using the phrase principalities and powers, Paul is telling us that there is a hierarchical structure to the kingdom of darkness; where fallen angels, evil spirits, and demons are ranked one above the other according to their power and authority. These evil spirits exercise influence over people, geographical areas, cities and nations; and must be successfully dealt with to experience revival in those areas. For instance, Daniel 10:12-13 speaks of the spiritual ruler that operated over the ancient nation of Persia, whos power was broken by the prayers of Daniel (covered later in this article).
Principalities are the chief rulers of the kingdom of darkness; they are first in rank or power and constitute a high order of evil spirits. Every place you see the word principality in the KJV New Testament, it is the Greek noun #746 arche which Vines Dictionary defines as that which is first in time, order, or place. Arche is used seven times in the scriptures to denote angelic or demonic rulers.
The word powers is the Greek noun #1849 exousia and means one who possesses authority or influence. It is used in Ephesians 6:12 to represent the angelic or demonic authorities that operate in the spirit realm.
Ephesians 6:12 also speaks about the rulers of the darkness of this world, which is only found in this verse. Rulers is translated from the Greek noun kosmokrator, which Thayers Lexicon defines as lord of the world, the prince of this age. It is a compound word that is derived from #2889 kosmos (the present world order which includes the worldly affairs of mankind) and #2904 kratos (dominion, power, ruler).
The last group mentioned was spiritual wickedness (or, wicked spirits) that operate in high places, which is translated from the Greek #2032 epouranios and refers to the dwelling place of God as well as the abode of angels and evil spirits. Vines dictionary says epouranios, also translated heavenly places, refers to the sphere of activity or existence that is above, in contrast to that of the earth.
Vines Dictionary states: The context of Ephesians 6:12 (not against flesh and blood) shows that not earthly potentates are indicated, but spirit powers; who, in consequence of human sin, exercise satanic and therefore antagonistic authority over the world in its present condition of spiritual darkness and alienation from God.
Daniel 9 and 10 -
The clearest picture we have of a satanic principality ruling over a nation and its people is found in the ninth and tenth chapters of the book of Daniel. These chapters describe what happened after Daniel set himself to fast and pray until he received revelation concerning the prophetic future of the nation of Israel (who was being held captive by the nation of Persia).
After twenty-one days of seeking the Lord, an angel approached Daniel and explained why it took so long for his prayers to be answered. Daniel 10:12-13 records the angels words, Then he said unto me, Fear not, Daniel; for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand.... thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days; but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.
Notice, the angel was sent to answer Daniels prayer on the first day of his fast, but he was hindered in his journey by the prince of the kingdom of Persia.
Both mentions of the word prince in this verse are translated from the Hebrew #8269 sar, which means a chief ruler, leader or commander over an army. Since the earthly ruler of Persia could not hinder an angel from completing his assignment, and the chief prince Michael is commonly known to be an angel of the highest order, the term prince of Persia must refer to the satanic ruler of the spiritual kingdom of darkness that operated over the physical nation of Persia.
There are principalities that rule in the realm of the spirit over cities, regions, nations and governments. Some of these spiritual powers are good, and some are evil. Revelation 12:7 tells us, And there was a war in heaven (ouranos - the abode of God, as well as the spirit realm); Michael and his angels fought against the dragon (satan); and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not... Angelic forces are doing battle in the heavenly realm, fighting one another to gain control over the regions of the earth.
Daniel 10:13 referred to the angel Michael as one of the chief princes; which is the Hebrew #7223 rishown, and means first or chief in degree and authority. Everytime you find the angel Michael mentioned in scripture, he is doing battle with the spiritual forces of darkness.
A messenger angel was dispatched to bring Daniel revelation from God concerning the prophetic future of the nation of Israel; but he did not possess enough power or authority to break through the forces of darkness that were controlling the spiritual regions above Persia. So, Michael (a chief prince) was sent to engage the forces of darkness and to open up a highway for the lesser angel to pass through and deliver Gods message to Daniel.
The last part of verse thirteen says, ...I remained there with the kings of Persia, indicating that the messenger angel was restricted by the forces of darkness until Michael set him free, allowing him to resume his journey.
Then, after he delivered his message, the angel said in Daniel 10:20, ...and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. The angel had to fight his way back out of the earthly kingdom by doing battle, once again, with the satanic principality that ruled over Persia.
Its important for us to realize that Daniels prayers were the catalyst that released the angelic forces of God to break the stronghold the prince of darkness had over the nation of Persia. Once the satanic principality was broken, the earthly kingdom of Persia was finished as a world power. History tells us that the kingdom of Greece rose to greatness in 334 B.C. and destroyed the Persian empire. The prince of Grecia, which refers to the satanic principality that governed over the Grecian Empire, empowered Alexander the Great and his armies to conquer much of the world.
This story clearly indicates the power and authority that angelic principalities have over nations and regions of the earth. It also tells us the important role that our prayers have in releasing the forces of God to break the devils stronghold. The angel told Daniel, ... I am come for thy words. In other words, Daniels prayers were the active agent that precipitated a change in the heavenly realm over Persia.
In Matthew 6:10, Jesus told us to pray, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven (ouranos - the dwelling place of God, and the abode of angels). Gods will is not automatically worked in the earth or in your life; it must be prayed through.
In Matthew 11:12, Jesus said, ...the kingdom of heaven (ouranos) suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force (harpazo - to seize and take by force, to pull up). The spirit world can be a violent and intense place; and believers must take it by force.
Jesus talked about the churchs authority and how we need to take authority over the heavenlies in Matthew 16:18,19, ...the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (the church). And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven (#3772 ouranos - the realm of the spirit); and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Keys are a symbol of authority; they lock and unlock, they bind and loose. Jesus was teaching that He has given to the church the authority to bind and to loose on the earth what has already been bound and loosed in the spirit realm.
Psalms 115:16 says, The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lords; but the earth hath He given to the children of men. The Will of God is not automatically carried through to completion on the earth. It must be sought after, prayed through, and then released on the earth by men and women that possess a strong faith in the power of God.
No matter how much money, aid or support you send to some nations, they will always be impoverished and governed by tyrants; because they are being ruled in the spirit realm by principalities and powers of darkness. Until the stronghold that satan maintains over these nations is broken through prayer and revival, the people living there will never be free.
Prince of the power of the air -
Since the fall of man, satan is called the prince or ruler of the power of the air (#109 aer - the atmosphere that surrounds the earth). Ephesians 2:2 says, Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince (#758 archon) of the power (exousia - authority) of the air (#109), the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.
The word prince is translated from the Greek #758 archon and refers to a ruler, a commander, chief or leader. A ruler or commander must have an army that he rules over. Luke 11:15 tells us that Beelzebub, or satan, is the chief (archon - ruler and leader) of devils (#1140 daimonion - demons or evil spirits). Satan is the principle authority figure that rules in the earths atmosphere, which is the seat of his authority. He exercises control and dominion over the hierarchy of demon spirits that oppress mankind.
The Amplified translation says, ...you were obedient to and under the control of the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God.
In John 12:31, Jesus made a similar statement about the authority of satan, Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince (archon - ruler or commander) of this world (kosmos) be cast out.
Again, in John 14:30, Jesus said, Hereafter I will not talk much with you; for the prince (archon - ruler) of this world (kosmos) cometh, and hath nothing in me.
Jesus clearly taught that Satan is the prince or the ruler of this world (#2889 kosmos - this present world order, which includes the systems and governments of mankind; or, as Vines Dictionary says: the present condition of human affairs). He is the commander and chief, exercising authority over the rulers of the darkness of this world; which includes principalities, authorities, and every wicked spirit.
Paul also declared that satan exercises authority as the god of this world in II Corinthians 4:4, In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
People have mistakenly believed that the Heavenly Father is the God of this world and they ignorantly blame Him for all the bad things that happen on this planet. But the scriptures reveal that Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul clearly taught that satan (not Jehovah) is the god and ruler of this world. This is why the world is in such a mess.
But God has a plan to completely restore this world and its inhabitants by exalting Christ above all principalities and authority. God never starts anything unless He also has a plan to finish it.
Christ exalted above principalities -
Colossians 1:16 tells us that all the angels and principalities (the good and the bad) were originally created by God, For by Him (or, through Christ) were all things created, that are in heaven (#3772 ouranos - the realm where God and angels live), and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones,or dominions, or principalities (arche), or powers (exousia); all things were created by Him, and for Him.
All angels and spiritual rulers were initially given their position and authority by God. However, when satan rebelled against the sovereignty and dominion of God, some of these angelic rulers rebelled with him; and, today, they use their power to work against the Gospel of Christ and to oppress the nations of the world.
Jude 1:6 talks about some of the angels that rebelled with satan, And the angels which kept not their first estate (arche - principality), but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. These angels did not remain in their own realm and native state, but rebelled against God and sought to produce offspring with the women of the earth (Genesis 6:1-4). While these angels have been locked up and no longer pose a threat to the people of the earth, there are still many other fallen angels who are ruling as principalities in the kingdom of darkness and oppressing this planet.
To right these wrongs, God sent Christ to the earth to pay the price for mans salvation and to regain the authority over the planet earth.
Ephesians 1:19-21 describes the power that was released when Christ was raised from the dead, ...the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His might power, Which he wrought in Christ, when He raised him from the dead, and set him at His own right hand in the heavenly places (epouranios). Far above, all principality (arche), and power (exousia), and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.
Christ has been set at the right hand of God and given authority to reign over all principalities and powers, both in the spirit realm and in the earthly realm.
I Peter 3:22 says that Christ, Who is gone into heaven (ouranos), and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities (exousia) and powers being subject unto Him.
Colossians 2:10 adds, And ye (the Body of Christ) are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality (arche) and power (exousia). When we accept Jesus Christ as the Lord and saviour of our life, we are seated with Him, far above every principality and power in the spirit realm.
You are complete in Him is translated from the Greek #4137 pleroo and means to be filled to the brim, liberally supplied and consummated. Pleroo is translated fulfill fifty-one times in the KJV Bible. When Christ was raised from the dead, He completely fulfilled all the Old Testament promises and prophecies, which effected our total release from the kingdom of darkness.
In fact, Jesus told the disciples in Luke 10:19, Behold, I give unto you power (#1849 exousia - authority) to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power (#1411 dunamis - power) of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you. We have been given authority over the devil and over all the power of the enemy (which includes principalities and powers of darkness).
Christ stripped them of power -
Colossians 2:15 gives us further insight into the change that Christs resurrection brought to the rulers of the kingdom of darkness, And having spoiled principalities (arche) and powers (exousia), he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
The word spoiled is the Greek #554 apekduomai and means to strip off, as in taking off garments that are clothed about one. Jesus stripped off of himself all the principalities and powers of darkness that were gathered against Him, and triumphed over them through the power of His resurrection.
Vines Dictionary says that apekduomai is in the middle voice and should be translated having put off from Himself (the principalities and the powers). There is no doubt that satan and his hosts gathered together to attack the soul of Christ, while He was enduring, in propitiatory sacrifice, the judgment due to our sins. Doubtless the powers of darkness gathered against the Lord at that time, fiercely assaulting Him to the utmost of their power. The metaphor of putting off from Himself these powers... seems to stand simply as a vivid description of His repulsion of their attack and of the power by which he completely overthrew them.
When Jesus triumphed over these forces of darkness and stripped them off of Himself, He opened the door for anyone who genuinely puts their faith in Jesus sacrifice to escape the punishment of hell. At the same time, Christ fully empowered us, through the power that is in the Name of Jesus, to successfully resist all the devils attacks against our body, our mind and our spirit.
Colossians 2:15 also tells us that Christ, ...made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. The word triumphing is translated from the Greek #2358 thriambeuo and means to celebrate and lead a triumphal procession. Vines Dictionary says, as a victor displays his captives or trophies in a triumphal procession, Christ showed the angelic beings in their true inferiority.
Colossians 1:13 states that Christs resurrection, ...hath delivered us from the power (exousia - authority) of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son. When Christ triumphed over the principalities of darkness, He delivered the people of God from satans authority and translated them into the Kingdom of Light. The kingdom of darkness no longer has any authority to rule over your life (if you are a child of God).
Ephesians 3:3-11 further talks about Gods plan of redemption for mankind, which the Apostle Paul calls a mystery or a secret, and declares that it is made known only by Divine revelation (which Paul now possessed). In verse nine, Paul wrote that he was commissioned to, ...make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God...
The angelic realm (which included satan and the principalities of darkness) did not possess any revelation of Gods plan of redemption for mankind. It was a mystery to them.
Paul wrote in I Corinthians 2:7-8, But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery (#3466 mysterion - a hidden, secret thing), even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory. Which none of the princes ( archon) of this world knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. The kingdom of darkness had no idea of Gods plan; otherwise, they would have never worked to crucify Jesus. Satan was totally surprised when Christ was raised from the dead; it was a shock to him.
Colossians 1:26 says, Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints.
Now that the secret is out, Paul writes in Ephesians 3:10 that the church is the means of revelation to the principalities and powers of the manifold wisdom of God, To the intent that now unto the principalities (arche) and powers (exousia) in heavenly places (epouranios) might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.
The Amplified says, The purpose is that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere.
Angels are watching the church with amazement and wonder as the plan of God that brings redemption to fallen man and, at the same time, justice to the rebel satan is being played out in the events that are transpiring on the earth.
At the end of this age, I Corinthians 15:24-25 declares, Then cometh the end, when He (Christ) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule (#746 arche - principalities), and all authority (exousia) and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.
Until that time, anyone that accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, can exercise their authority in Christ and break the demonic chains of darkness off their life.
Romans 8:38 declares, For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor live, nor angels, nor principalities (arche), nor powers (#1411 dunamis), nor things present, nor things to come.... shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Earthly principalities -
The Bible also makes reference to earthly principalities and the duty that we have to them.
Luke 20:20 tells us that the chief priests and scribes sent spies to gather information against Jesus so they could arrest Him and, ...might deliver Him unto the power (arche), and authority (exousia) of the governor.
Titus 3:1 says that spiritual leaders should teach the church and, Put them in mind to be subject to principalities (arche), and powers (exousia), to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work. Gods people are to obey the rulers and authorities in this present, temporal world.
Luke 12:11-12, And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates (#746 arche - principalities), and powers (exousia), take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say. For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
Romans 13:1-7 in the Amplified Bible says, Let every person be loyally subject to the governing (civil) authorities. For there is no authority except from God [by His permission, His sanction], and those that exist do so by God's appointment. While this statement is true in many nations, it is not true in every nation. Some nations are still being ruled by principalities of darkness because the people of God have not taken authority over them and pulled them down.
The Amplified continues, Therefore he who resists and sets himself up against the authorities resists what God has appointed and arranged [in divine order]. And those who resist will bring down judgment upon themselves [receiving the penalty due them].
For civil authorities are not a terror to [people of] good conduct, but to [those of] bad behavior. Would you have no dread of him who is in authority? Then do what is right and you will receive his approval and commendation.
For he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, [you should dread him and] be afraid, for he does not bear and wear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant to execute His wrath (punishment, vengeance) on the wrongdoer.
Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God's wrath and escape punishment, but also as a matter of principle and for the sake of conscience.
For this same reason you pay taxes, for [the civil authorities] are official servants under God, devoting themselves to attending to this very service. Render to all men their dues. [Pay] taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, and honor to whom honor is due.
In other words, we are to obey the laws of the land and pay our taxes.
However, if the nation we live in is being ruled by the kingdom of darkness, we should obey their laws but pray that the principalities of darkness will be obliterated by the forces of light. And that God would remove the earthly leaders of darkness and replace them with men and women that are governed by Gods righteous kingdom.
(See notes: Authority, Binding and Loosing, Satan, Hell, Demons