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Wrestling Against Evil Powers

THURSDAY September 14

Wrestling Against Evil Powers

What do you judge to be Paul’s purpose in listing a variety of titles for the evil spiritual powers depicted in Ephesians 1:21, Ephesians 3:10, and Ephesians 6:10–20?

Paul describes “our struggle” (Eph. 6:12, NRSV), using a Greek word for the competition between wrestlers (palé). Since wrestling was regarded as excellent preparation for battle, this is an appropriate description of the weapon-against-weapon and hand-to-hand combat that takes place when armies clash. Paul is emphasizing the reality of believers’ close struggle against the evil powers.

Here are the titles he gives them:

Ephesians 1:21Ephesians 3:10Ephesians 6:12every ruler (or every rule)the rulersthe rulers(every) authoritythe authoritiesthe authorities(every) powerthe cosmic powers over this present darkness(every) dominionthe spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly placesevery name named

In his broad descriptions (“every name named,” Eph. 1:21, LEB; “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” Eph. 6:12, ESV), Paul does affirm that all evil and supernatural powers are subjugated to Christ (Eph. 1:21). However, in any battle, it is never a good strategy to underestimate the forces on the opposing side. Paul warns that we do not just confront human enemies, but “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12, NKJV), led by a wily general, the devil (Eph. 6:11). However, while we must be on the alert against our powerful foes, we need not be daunted by them. God is present with us in the battle (Eph. 6:10) and has supplied us with the finest of weaponry, His own armor, the “armor of God” (Eph. 6:11; compare Isa. 59:15–17). He has placed at our disposal His truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation, and the Holy Spirit (Eph. 6:13–17). With God going before us and our being equipped from head to toe in the armor He has supplied, we cannot fail (Rom. 16:20; 1 Cor. 15:23, 24; 2 Thess. 2:8).

What should the reality of these supernatural evil powers—against whom we, ourselves, are utterly helpless—teach us regarding why we must grasp hold of the Lord Jesus, who is not only greater than these powers but has already defeated them?

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