Principalities and Powers
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
What are these principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness?
Given our evangelical education, it would be easy to believe that it is God himself that directs all events in the world from the heavenlies without intermediate agents. But revelation points out that spiritual beings often carry out God’s purpose in the natural world, and not only as messengers. (Exodus 12:23, 2 Samuel 24:16, Ps 91:11, Ps 34:7, Ex 23:20).
Principalities and powers simply describe angelic powers, those invisible, whether they be good or bad. But, in this context, the verse turns dark with the mention of the rulers and the spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places.
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. Daniel 10:10-21
This passage in the whole of scriptures might be the one that speaks most clearly about the invisible powers which rule and influence nations. It speaks about “patron” angels that preside over the destinies of particular nations; a prince of Persia, a prince of Greece, and Michael, a chief prince of Israel.
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. Revelation 12:7
So Israel has a spiritual champion (Dan. 10:21) and there are powers opposed to Israel. These “princes” of the heathen powers will face God and be judged in the future for their deeds as any other created being.
In that day the LORD will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below. Isaiah 24:21
Two summary truths to keep in mind…
- There are structures of ruling and power beyond those that we can see and touch here on Earth.
- Demonic hosts, exerting power, do so from a position of usurped power. All true power and authority belongs to God and flows from Him.
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16
Reflect on the following question: How may understanding of principalities and powers help during times when trying to discern whether a particular moment of trouble has its source in demonic influence or not?