Tuesday, 15 November 2016
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
The Greek word for “wrestle” is found only here in the Bible. It indicates a fight, struggle, or conflict, but it is a noun, not a verb. Therefore, it more accurately reads “For our wrestling is not against…” It is a match which we are engaged in. It is active and on-going, but it is not against “flesh and blood.” Actually, in the Greek, the order is reversed. It says “blood and flesh.”
The life is in the blood, and thus without the blood, there would be no movement of the flesh. Regardless of this, we are in a wrestling match, but it is not one which is of the body against other physical bodies. In other words, even if the world is filled with people who stand against Christ and the gospel, this is not the source of the battle, and we are not actually in a war against them. Rather, the fight is against:
Principalities – The Greek is arché. It is a word which indicates rule, such as in a kingly or a magisterial sense. It is “properly, from the beginning (temporal sense), i.e. ‘the initial (starting) point’; (figuratively) what comes first and therefore is chief (foremost), i.e. has the priority because ahead of the rest… (HELPS WORD Studies). In other words, there is a hierarchy of wickedness, and these would be the first, or starting point of that system of wickedness.
Powers – The Greek is exousia. It indicates authority from conferred power, or that which is delegated. These would be under the “principalities” and would be granted power to carry out their designed schemes.
Both of the terms so far, meaning “principalities and powers,” have already been seen in Ephesians 1:21. They are being repeated here, but they are in subjection to Christ as was noted in that verse. Paul’s list continues next with:
The rulers of the darkness of this age – The Greek for “rulers” is found only here in the Bible. It is kosmokratór. It refers to Satan and demons who influence worldly people’s lives. The phrase is more correctly rendered, “the world-rulers of this darkness.” This word shows the limits of these beings. In the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the Pantokrator, translated as “Almighty,” or “Ruler of all.” And so, kosmokrator, defines a limited being, and thus limited powers. However, it is a ruling ability which does span the entire world. There is no part of it which is not susceptible to their powers of darkness. And this darkness is set in contrast to Christ’s light.
Ephesians 2:2 shows that this power extended over the Ephesians (and thus anyone else before coming to Christ). But when the gospel was heard, they became obedient to it and moved from the darkness of the world to the light of Christ. As can be seen, this battle is spiritual in nature. This is confirmed in the next category…
Spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places – According to Vincent’s Word Studies, this “phrase is collective, of the evil powers viewed as a body. Wickedness is active evil, mischief.” The term “heavenly places,” or “heavenlies,” refers to the spiritual nature of the battle. Rather than be a fixed location, the battle is being waged as if in the air above, denoting all places and at any given time.
These forces have powers, but they are limited in nature. Further, they can be, and are being used, against Christians. In some cases, they are used to diminish their effectiveness. In others, their powers are used as a form of punishment for falling away. Two good examples of the latter are where Paul hands someone over to Satan for disobedience. These are found in 1 Corinthians 5:5 and 1 Timothy 1:20.
This is a real battle, and it has been going on since the very beginning of man’s time on earth. Only through Christ can these powers be defeated. Paul will explain what the implements of this battle for us to use are in the verses ahead. If we fail to pay heed to his words, we will find ourselves ineffective in the war which is being waged.
Life application: Anyone who doesn’t believe we are in a spiritual battle isn’t paying attention. If they are a believer in Christ, they are being duped by the very powers which Paul is describing. They may be saved, but they are doing more to help the enemy than to ensure that he is defeated. What a sad state for those who will someday stand before the Lord and have to face His judgment, having done nothing to further His kingdom.
Lord God, Your word tells us that we are in a real spiritual battle. It truly is good versus evil. The devil is real, and his forces of wickedness are real as well. Your word also tells us what implements we need in order to effectively wage war against them. And yet, way too many Christians don’t even realize they are helping the enemy through a lack of preparation. The details are found in Your word, and Your word sits idly by, gathering dust. What a sad moment when we stand before You for our judgment with empty hands, having lived ineffective lives because we didn’t prepare for, or participate in, the battle. Help us not to live this way, but to be on the offensive against the wickedness around us. Amen.