Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Spiritual Battle (1) Cosmos Dominators

At the end of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul describes the nature of our spiritual battle.

For our struggle is not 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 spiritual realms (Eph 6:12).
I dislike the common translation of this verse because the terms used do not mean much in the modern world.

It is common for people to talk of “principalities and powers”, but it is not clear what that means. Some people use the term to describe worldly political systems, but that does not make sense, as Paul is referring to spiritual realities. Even for those who understand the spiritual side of life, these terms do not make sense, because we do not have principalities anymore.

In medieval Europe, a principality was a small territory ruled by a prince. They have now all been absorbed into nation-states, so principality is not a helpful word.

Ruler is another anachronistic word that is not used much these days. Power is too vague to be useful. Greek has a different word “dunamis”, which is used for raw power. This word is applied to the force used by the spiritual powers of evil in 1 Cor 15:24.

Cosmos Dominators
The third expression that Paul uses is rulers of darkness. The Greek word is “kosmoskrator”. To capture the sense of this word, I prefer the expression “Cosmos Dominators of this Darkness”. These are the really big spirits that rebelled against God and rule armies of follower spirits. These archangels want to control the entire cosmos.

Archangels (arche = ruling; angelos = messenger) are big ruling angels/spirits with the ability to instruct other angels. Michael is the name of one who serves God (Jude 1:9). I am not sure why God needed them, because the Holy Spirit can speak to any angel and tell it God’s will. I presume that he needed archangels to control large groups of angels working together on tasks needing concentrated power.

A big spirit called Accuser (satan) tricked Adam and Eve into disobeying God. He is also called Slanderer (devil) because he slanders God’s name. I do not like the names satan and devil, because it makes this spirit seem greater than he is. I prefer to name him according to his character. He gets no glory from these words.

Once Adam and Eve had sinned, Accuser and a few of his powerful mates could claim legitimate authority over the earth. The others took on new roles as Death, Wrath, Destruction, Beast, and False Prophet. These big spirits worked together, but they also struggled with each other for power.

Most of the other spirits that stopped serving God are listeners and followers, so they obey anyone with authority over the place where they are operating. They naturally obeyed the big spirits who had seized authority on earth.

About a third of the angels were operating on earth at the time of the rebellion. They were waiting for Adam and Eve to give them instructions to care for the earth. When the archangels who had rebelled began to give them instructions, they obeyed because that is what they were created to do. They recognise authority, but they cannot distinguish between good and evil. The big rebellious angels had gained legitimate authority on earth, so they naturally obeyed them.

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