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Ephesians 6:12


RULERS - KOSMOKRATOR - kos-mok-rat-ore

"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 high places," Ephesians 6:12 KJV


STRONG'S #2888 - From KOSMOS. The world arrangement. The "order," and KRATOS - dominion.

ROBERTSON, A.T. - These world-rulers are limited to "this" darkness here on earth.


EUGENE ROBINSON - In the N.T. of Satan as the prince of worldly men.  Plural of Satan and his angels.

ROBINSON, J.A. - The Jewish title of Satan.

BULLINGER, E.W. - The world-holders of this darkness.

COLIN BROWN - KOSMOKRATOR refers to the cosmic rulers, the evil spirits, against whom we are to wage war.

VINE, W.E. - The context, "not against flesh and blood", shows that not earthly potentates are indicated but spirit powers who under the permissive will of God and 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.

KITTEL - In Astrology, the word is used for the planets as heavenly rulers.  In Ephesians 6:12, it is one of the terms used to describe the evil forces with which believers have to contend.  It denotes the force and comprehensiveness of their designs.

SOUTER, A. - The world asserting its independence of God.  Used of angelic or demonic powers controlling the sublunary world.

TRANSLATOR'S HANDBOOK - Translators should not use a word for cosmic powers which would indicate an earthly ruler. They might say "gods or spirits that rule in this world", but if "god" is a problem, they could say, "spiritual forces that people worship", or "Spiritual forces that rule over people."

ARNDT-GINGRICH - The rulers of this sinful world.

YOUNG'S -  A world ruler.  An epithet of Satan.

GREEN,S.- A worldly prince.  Paramount in the world of the unbelieving and ungodly.

THAYER, J.H. - Prince of this age.  The devil and demons are called the world rulers of this darkness.  In rabbinical writings this word is used of the angel of death.

RICKER-BERRY - The Lord of this world.


BARNES' NOTES - There can be no doubt whatever that the apostle alludes here to evil spirits.  Like good angels, they were regarded as divided into ranks and orders, and were supposed to be under the control of one mighty leader.  It is probably that the allusion here is to the ranks and orders which they sustained before their fall, something like which they may still retain.

ELLICOTT, C.J. - Those who extend their world-wide sway over the present spiritual and moral darkness.  Evil spirits exercise dominion over the KOSMOS, not in its mere material nature, but in its ethical and intellectual character and relationships.

EXPOSITOR'S GREEK N.T. - Powers dominating the world as such and working everywhere.  SKOTOS (darkness) limits their dominion to the world as it now is in the darkness of its ignorance and evil.  The word suggests the destined termination of their operation.

PAXSON, RUTH - Two localities are mentioned in Ephesians.  One is the "Heaven of Heavens"; the dwelling place of God.  The other is a yet lower heaven: the atmospheric heavens where Satan and his forces have their seat of operation.  This places that enemy in a distinctly lower and disadvantageous position.  Eph. 2:6 locates us in heavenly places in Christ.  From this superior advantageous position on the battle field we may approach the enemy with an absolute confident attitude.  We'll never be terrified unless we have allowed ourselves to get "beneath".  We'll always be triumphant because we know our position is "far above".  The position from which we face the powers of evil determines our defeat or victory.

HUGHES - When anyone refuses the rulership of the Lord Jesus Christ, the god of this age has an awful power.  Why do some men and women do atrocious and unbelievable things?  The only explanation is they are subservient to the supremacy of the darkness of this world.

VAUGHN - Paul is not enumerating four different classes of demonic beings, but views the forces arrayed against God and His people in a different manner: 1) Principalities, rank and rule, 2) Powers, their investment with authority, 3) Rulers of Darkness, their control over a world in revolt against its Creator, 4) Spiritual Wickedness in High Places, the scene of the conflict bringing their combat to the heavenly sphere, 5) This World, suggests their sway is only temporary.  It ensures, for a limited and brief span of time, to be removed at Christ's return.

WORDSWORTH - Rulers of this world not because God gave them this rule, but because the world submits itself to this rule and eagerly sells itself into slavery to them.

THE COMPLETE BIBLICAL LIBRARY - The context confirms that Paul is not speaking about physical world rulers or powers, but of supernatural, spiritual forces which are opposed to the church and to the redemptive work of God on earth.

WORRELL, A.S. - The various orders of evil spirits that rule the world.

MITTON, LESLIE C. - In terms of modern metaphor it is sometimes said that Jesus came to establish on Earth a bridgehead from which God could begin to extend His hold upon enemy-occupied territory and ultimately to reclaim the world of men as His own dominion.

LECKIE, A. - KOSMOKRATOR are paramount powers in the world; universal Lord's.  They are unseen forces of immense power who rule men and keep them in darkness.  These are arrayed against the children of God.  They are the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  "Wickedness" is the nature of their work.  "Heavenly Places" is their province.

EADIE, JOHN - These evil spirits, who are our wary and vengeful  antagonists, have acquired a special dominion on Earth, out of which they are loath to be dislodged.  "This darkness" is that spiritual obscurity which so painfully environs the church.  That zone which surrounds an unbelieving world with an ominous and lowering shadow.

The moral obscurity of paganism and wickedness is fitly presided over by beings congenial in gloom and guilt.  It is plain that fallen spirits have a vast and mysterious agency in the world.  In many ways inscrutable to man they lord it over ungodliness, shaping, deepening, and prolonging the means and methods of spiritual enslavement.  This dark spirit-world is anxious to possess and maintain supremacy.  Therefore, Christians must wage incessant warfare with it.

LOCK, WALTER - World-ruler (KOSMOKRATOR) could be an antithesis to the All-ruler, (PANTOKRATOR) the Almighty God.

BRUCE, F.F. - In the Book of Daniel the affairs of the Persian and Greek empires are seen to be controlled by two angel-princes, who impede, although they cannot ultimately prevent the execution of divine commissions in the upper world. (Dan. 10:13 & 20)  Each of these princes might well be called a KOSMOKRATOR.  The leader of these hostile powers is referred to by Paul in II Cor. 4:4 as, "The god of this age, who has blinded the minds of unbelievers to the light of the Gospel."  The present world-order as organized in rebellion against God remains under the domination of these powers.  Only in Christ can men gain the victory over them and be released from their grasp.  The appearance of Christ in Earth was the signal for an unprecedented outburst of activity on the part of the realm of darkness controlled by these world-rulers, as though they knew that a mortal threat was being presented to their dominion.  His coming sealed their doom.  During the present overlapping of the New Age and the Old, they continue to exercise control over those who have not availed themselves of the way of release.  Against such "spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places", the believer must be equipped with the panoply of God if he is to withstand them successfully.  The hostile powers of evil which Christians must encounter are already vanquished powers, but it is only through faith-union with the victorious Christ that Christians can make His triumphant theirs.

F.F. BRUCE - It is not necessary to infer from the present reference that all principalities and powers are viewed as evil, or hostile to the cause of Christ.  But those mentioned here certainly are viewed as hostile, and the question arises whether they are to be identified with the principalities and powers disarmed by Christ in the vivid picture of Col. 2:15.  If they are identical, how can disarmed powers still constitute a threat?  The answer is that they constitute no threat to those who are united by faith to the victorious Christ and avail themselves of his resources, the resources which are here described metaphorically as "the panoply of God."  But to those who neglect those resources, and especially to those who are disposed to give them some room in their lives, they continue to present a threat.

CALVIN'S COMMENTARIES - He [Paul] He impresses their danger on them by telling them the nature of the enemy, which he illustrates by a comparison, 'not against flesh and blood.'  He means that our difficulties are far greater than if we had to fight against men.  There we resist human strength, sword is opposed to sword, man contends with man, force is met by force, and skill by skill; but here the case is very different, for our enemies are such as no human power can withstand.  This is the sum of it.  By 'flesh and blood' he means men, who are so named to contrast them with spiritual assailants.  As if he said, 'Our struggle is not bodily.'

LENSKI - Paul says that we have no mere wrestling match with an unarmed, human opponent, who at the worst is able only to lay our back to the floor. We face a tremendous army, all the evil forces of the supernatural world.

LUTHERAN COMM. - The devil is a world-ruler, but doubtlessly has other evil spirits associated with him  spiritual hosts.  The 'spiritual hosts' against which the Church has to contend are principalities, powers and world-rulers, who form a host.

MEYER'S - What we have to sustain, Paul would say, is not the (less perilous) wrestling contest with blood and flesh, but we have to contend with the powers and authorities, etc.

C. LESLIE MITTON - New Century Bible Comm. - 'World rulers' (one word in the Greek) is found only in Ephesians.  It indicates the area where the authority of these evil power is most effectively exercise.  It is in the world where they seem to rule supreme as if they had temporarily usurped God's power, so that God's people life in the world as his representatives in a land under alien rule.  This recognition that the world has fallen under the power of evil is common among NT writers.

GEORGE STOECKHARDT - Concordia Classic Comm. - Our real foe is the devil, who is the head and leader of a large army which he marshals against the Christians.  The realm in the midst of which these demons live, rule, exercise control and world dominance, is this darkness which surrounds us, the sinful order and element, closed to God and all that is good.

WORD BIBLICAL COMM. - This verse, which sets out the nature of the enemy, explains further why it is that believers need the divine armor if they are to stand.  The spiritual and cosmic nature of the opposition makes such armor absolutely necessary.   The term 'KOSMOKRATOR' or 'world rulers,' originated in astrological discussion where it referred to the planets and their determination of human fate and world affairs.  The sun in the magical papyri and other plants in the later Mandaean Gnosticism are described in this way.  Personal powers of evil are also associated with such a sphere of darkness in the Qumran literature.  The statement that the fighting is not against flesh and blood indicates not only the spiritual nature of the adversary but also the spiritual character of believers' combat.