on Ephesians 2 :2
Wherein in time past ye walked - There is much force in these expressions; the Ephesians had not sinned casually, or now and then, but continually; it was their continual employment; they walked in trespasses and sins: and this was not a solitary case, all the nations of the earth acted in the same way; it was the course of this world, κατα τον αιωνα του κοσμου τουτου, according to the life, mode of living, or successive ages of this world. The word αιων, the literal meaning of which is constant duration, is often applied to things which have a complete course, as the Jewish dispensation, a particular government, and the term of human life; so, here, the whole of life is a tissue of sin, from the cradle to the grave; every human soul, unsaved by Jesus Christ, continues to transgress. And the nominally Christian world is in the same state to the present day. Age after age passes on in this way and the living lay it not to heart!
The prince of the power of the air - As the former clause may have particular respect to the Jewish people, who are frequently denominated עולם הזה olam hazzeh, this world, this latter clause may especially refer to the Gentiles, who were most manifestly under the power of the devil, as almost every object of their worship was a demon, to whom the worst of passions and practices were attributed, and whose conduct his votaries took care to copy.
Satan is termed prince of the power of the air, because the air is supposed to be a region in which malicious spirits dwell, all of whom are under the direction and influence of Satan, their chief.
The spirit that now worketh - Του νυν ενεργουντος The operations of the prince of the aerial powers are not confined to that region; he has another sphere of action, viz. the wicked heart of man, and in this he works with energy. He seldom inspires indifference to religion; the subjects in whom he works are either determinate opposers of true religion, or they are systematic and energetic transgressors of God's laws.
Children of disobedience - Perhaps a Hebraism for disobedient children; but, taken as it stands here, it is a strong expression, in which disobedience, ἡ απειθεια, appears to be personified, and wicked men exhibited as her children; the prince of the power of the air being their father, while disobedience is their mother. Thus they are emphatically, what our Lord calls them, Matthew 13:38, children of the wicked one; for they show themselves to be of their father the devil, because they will do his works, John 8:44. Some think that by children of disobedience the apostle means particularly the disobedient, unbelieving, refractory, and persecuting Jews; but I rather think he speaks this generally, and refers to the Jews in the following verse.
on Ephesians 2 :2
Wherein - In which sins, or in the practice of which transgressions.
Ye walked - You lived, life being often compared to a journey or a race. note, Romans 6:4.
According to the course of this world - In conformity with the customs and manners of the world at large. The word rendered here as "world" - αἰων aiōn - means properly "age," but is often used to denote the present world, with its cares, temptations, and desires; and here denotes particularly the people of this world. The meaning is, that they had lived formerly as other people lived, and the idea is strongly conveyed that the course of the people of this world is to walk in trespasses and sins. The sense is, that there was by nature no difference between them and others, and that all the difference which now existed had been made by grace.
According to the prince of the power of the air - see Ephesians 6:12; compare the notes at 2 Corinthians 4:4. There can be no doubt that Satan is here intended, and that Paul means to say that they were under his control as their leader and prince. The phrase, "the prince of the power," may mean either "the powerful prince," or it may mean that this prince had power over the air, and lived and reigned there particularly. The word "prince" - ἄρχοντα archonta - "Archon," means one first in authority and power, and is then applied to anyone who has the pre-eminence or rule. It is applied to Satan, or the chief of the fallen angels, as where he is called "the prince - ἄρχων archōn - of the devils," Matthew 9:34; Matthew 12:24; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15; "the prince of this world," John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11. But "why" he is here called the prince having power "over the air," it is not easy to determine.
Robinson (Lexicon) supposes it to be because he is lord of the powers of the air; that is, of the demons who dwell and rule in the atmosphere. So Doddridge supposes that it means that he controls the fallen spirits who are permitted to range the regions of the atmosphere. It is generally admitted that the apostle here refers to the prevailing opinions both among the Jews and pagan, that the air was thickly populated with spirits or demons. That this was a current opinion, may be seen fully proved in Wetstein; compare Bloomfield, Grotius, and particularly Koppe. Why the region of the air was supposed to be the dwelling-place of such spirits, is now unknown. The opinion may have been either that such spirits "dwelt" in the air, or that they had control over it, according to the later Jewish belief. Cocceius and some others explain the word "air" here as meaning the same as "darkness," as in profane writers. It is evident to my mind that Paul does not speak of this as a mere tradition, opinion, or vagary of the fancy, or as a superstitious belief: but that he refers to it as a thing which he regarded as true. In this opinion I see no absurdity that should make it impossible to believe it. For:
(1) the Scriptures abundantly teach that there are fallen, wicked spirits; and the existence of fallen angels is no more improbable than the existence of fallen people.
(2) the Bible teaches that they have much to do with this world. They tempted man; they inflicted disease in the time of the Saviour; they are represented as alluring and deceiving the race.
(3) they must have "some" locality - some part of the universe where they dwell. That they were not confined down to hell in the time of the Redeemer, is clear from the New Testament; for they are often represented as having afflicted and tortured people.
(4) why is there any improbability in the belief that their residence should have been in the regions of the air? That while they were suffered to be on earth to tempt and afflict people, they should have been permitted especially to occupy these! regions? Who can tell what may be in the invisible world, and what spirits may be permitted to fill up the vast space that now composes the universe? And who can tell what control may have been given to such fallen spirits over the regions of the atmosphere - over clouds, and storms, and pestilential air? People have control over the earth, and pervert and abuse the powers of nature to their own ruin and the ruin of each other. The elements they employ for the purposes of ruin and of temptation. Fruit and grain they convert to poison; minerals, to the destruction caused by war. In itself considered, there is nothing more improbable that spirits of darkness may have had control over the regions of the air, than that fallen man has over the earth; and no more improbability that that power has been abused to ruin people, than that the power of people is abused to destroy each other. No one can "prove" that the sentiment here referred to by Paul is "not" true; and no one can show how the doctrine that fallen spirits may do mischief in any part of the works of God, is anymore improbable than that wicked "men" should do the same thing. The word "power" here - "power of the air" - I regard as synonymous with "dominion or rule;" "a prince having dominion or rule over the air."
The spirit that now worketh - That still lives, and whose energy for evil is still seen and felt among the wicked. Paul here means undoubtedly to teach that there was such a spirit, and that he was still active in controlling people.
The children of disobedience - The wicked; Colossians 3:6.
on Ephesians 2 :2
2:2 According to the course of this world - The word translated course properly means a long series of times, wherein one corrupt age follows another. According to the prince of the power of the air - The effect of which power all may perceive, though all do not understand the cause of it: a power unspeakably penetrating and widely diffused; but yet, as to its baneful influences, beneath the orb of believers. The evil spirits are united under one head, the seat of whose dominion is in the air. Here he sometimes raises storms, sometimes makes visionary representations, and is continually roving to and fro. The spirit that now worketh - With mighty power; and so he did, and doth in all ages. In the sons of disobedience - In all who do not believe and obey the gospel.