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Ephesians 6:12

    Ephesians 6:12 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    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.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    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.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places .

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against authorities and powers, against the world-rulers of this dark night, against the spirits of evil in the heavens.

    Webster's Revision

    For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places .

    World English Bible

    For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

    Clarke's Commentary on Ephesians 6:12

    For we wrestle not against flesh and blood - Ουκ εστιν ἡμιν ἡ παλη προς αἱμα και σαρκα· Our wrestling or contention is not with men like ourselves: flesh and blood is a Hebraism for men, or human beings. See the note on Galatians 1:16.

    The word παλη implies the athletic exercises in the Olympic and other national games; and παλαιστρα was the place in which the contenders exercised. Here it signifies warfare in general.

    Against principalities - Αρχας· Chief rulers; beings of the first rank and order in their own kingdom.

    Powers - Εξουσιας, Authorities, derived from, and constituted by the above.

    The rulers of the darkness of this world - Τους κοσμοκρατορας του σκοτους του αιωνος τουτου· The rulers of the world; the emperors of the darkness of this state of things.

    Spiritual wickedness - Τα πνευματικα της πονηριας· The spiritual things of wickedness; or, the spiritualities of wickedness; highly refined and sublimed evil; disguised falsehood in the garb of truth; Antinomianism in the guise of religion.

    In high places - Εν τοις επουρανιοις· In the most sublime stations. But who are these of whom the apostle speaks? Schoettgen contends that the rabbins and Jewish rulers are intended. This he thinks proved by the words του αιωνος τουτου, of this world, which are often used to designate the Old Testament, and the Jewish system; and the words εν τοις επουρανιοις, in heavenly places, which are not unfrequently used to signify the time of the New Testament, and the Gospel system.

    By the spiritual wickedness in heavenly places, he thinks false teachers, who endeavored to corrupt Christianity, are meant; such as those mentioned by St. John, 1 John 2:19 : They went out from us, but they were not of us, etc. And he thinks the meaning may be extended to all corrupters of Christianity in all succeeding ages. He shows also that the Jews called their own city שר של עולם sar shel olam, κοσμοκρατωρ, the ruler of the world; and proves that David's words, Psalm 2:2, The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, are applied by the apostles, Acts 4:26, to the Jewish rulers, αρχοντες, who persecuted Peter and John for preaching Christ crucified. But commentators in general are not of this mind, but think that by principalities, etc., we are to understand different orders of evil spirits, who are all employed under the devil, their great head, to prevent the spread of the Gospel in the world, and to destroy the souls of mankind.

    The spiritual wickedness are supposed to be the angels which kept not their first estate; who fell from the heavenly places but are ever longing after and striving to regain them; and which have their station in the regions of the air. "Perhaps," says Mr. Wesley, "the principalities and powers remain mostly in the citadel of their kingdom of darkness; but there are other spirits which range abroad, to whom the provinces of the world are committed; the darkness is chiefly spiritual darkness which prevails during the present state of things, and the wicked spirits are those which continually oppose faith, love, and holiness, either by force or fraud; and labor to infuse unbelief, pride, idolatry, malice, envy, anger, and hatred." Some translate the words εν τοις επουρανιοις, about heavenly things; that is: We contend with these fallen spirits for the heavenly things which are promised to us; and we strive against them, that we may not be deprived of those we have.

    Barnes' Notes on Ephesians 6:12

    For we wrestle - Greek, "The wrestling to us;" or, "There is not to us a wrestling with flesh and blood." There is undoubtedly here an allusion to the ancient games of Greece, a part of the exercises in which consisted in wrestling; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 9:25-27. The Greek word used here - πάλη palē - denotes a "wrestling;" and then a struggle, fight, combat. Here it refers to the struggle or combat which the Christian has to mainrain - the Christian warfare.

    Not against flesh and blood - Not with people; see the notes on Galatians 1:16. The apostle does not mean to say that Christians had no enemies among men that opposed them, for they were exposed often to fiery persecution; nor that they had nothing to contend with in the carnal and corrupt propensities of their nature, which was true of them then as it is now; but that their main controversy was with the invisible spirits of wickedness that sought to destroy them. They were the source and origin of all their spiritual conflicts, and with them the warfare was to be maintained.

    But against principalities - 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; see the notes on Ephesians 1:21. It is probable that the allusion here is to the ranks and orders which they sustained before their fall, something like which they may still retain. The word "principalities" refers to principal rulers, or chieftains.

    Powers - Those who had power, or to whom the name of "powers" was given. Milton represents Satan as addressing the fallen angels in similar language:

    "Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers."

    Against the rulers of the darkness of this world - The rulers that preside over the regions of ignorance and sin with which the earth abounds, compare notes on Ephesians 2:2. "Darkness" is an emblem of ignorance, misery, and sin; and no description could be more accurate than that of representing these malignant spirits as ruling over a dark world. The earth - dark, and wretched and ignorant, and sinful - is just such a dominion as they would choose, or as they would cause; and the degradation and woe of the pagan world are just such as foul and malignant spirits would delight in. It is a wide and a powerful empire. It has been consolidated by ages. It is sustained by all the authority of law; by all the omnipotence of the perverted religious principle; by all the reverence for antiquity; by all the power of selfish, corrupt, and base passions. No empire has been so extended, or has continued so long, as that empire of darkness; and nothing on earth is so difficult to destroy.

    Yet the apostle says that it was on that kingdom they were to make war. Against that, the kingdom of the Redeemer was to be set up; and that was to be overcome by the spiritual weapons which he specifies. When he speaks of the Christian warfare here, he refers to the contest with the powers of this dark kingdom. He regards each and every Christian as a soldier to wage war on it in whatever way he could, and wherever he could attack it. The contest therefore was not primarily with people, or with the internal corrupt propensities of the soul; it was with this vast and dark kingdom that had been set up over mankind. I do not regard this passage, therefore, as having a primary reference to the struggle which a Christian maintains with his own corrupt propensities. It is a warfare on a large scale with the entire kingdom of darkness over the world. Yet in maintaining the warfare, the struggle will be with such portions of that kingdom as we come in contact with and will actually relate:

    (1) to our own sinful propensities - which are a part of the kingdom of darkness;

    (2) with the evil passions of others - their pride, ambition, and spirit of revenge - which are also a part of that kingdom;

    (3) with the evil customs, laws, opinions, employments, pleasures of the world - which are also a part of that dark kingdom;

    (4) with error, superstition, false doctrine - which are also a part of that kingdom; and,

    (5) with the wickedness of the pagan world - the sins of benighted nations - also a part of that kingdom. Wherever we come in contact with evil - whether in our own hearts or elsewhere - there we are to make war.

    Against spiritual wickedness - Margin, "or wicked spirits." Literally, "The spiritual things of wickedness;" but the allusion is undoubtedly to evil spirits, and to their influences on earth.

    In high places - ἐν τοῖς ἐπουράνιοις - "in celestial or heavenly places." The same phrase occurs in Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6, where it is translated, "in heavenly places." The word (ἐπουράνιος epouranios) is used of those that dwell in heaven, Matthew 18:35; Philippians 2:10; of those who come from heaven, 1 Corinthians 15:48; Philippians 3:21; of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars, 1 Corinthians 15:40. Then the neuter plural of the word is used to denote the heavens; and then the "lower" heavens, the sky, the air, represented as the seat of evil spirits; see the notes on Ephesians 2:2. This is the allusion here. The evil spirits are supposed to occupy the lofty regions of the air, and thence to exert a baleful influence on the affairs of man. What was the origin of this opinion it is not needful here to inquire. No one can "prove," however, that it is incorrect. It is against such spirits, and all their malignant influences, that Christians are called to contend. In whatever way their power is put forth - whether in the prevalence of vice and error; of superstition and magic arts; of infidelity, atheism, or antinomianism; of evil customs and laws; of pernicious fashions and opinions, or in the corruptions of our own hearts, we are to make war on all these forms of evil, and never to yield in the conflict.

    Wesley's Notes on Ephesians 6:12

    6:12 For our wrestling is not only, not chiefly, against flesh and blood - Weak men, or fleshly appetites. But against principalities, against powers - The mighty princes of all the infernal legions. And great is their power, and that likewise of those legions whom they command. Against the rulers of the world - Perhaps these principalities and powers remain mostly in the citadel of their kingdom of darkness. But there are other evil spirits who range abroad, to whom the provinces of the world are committed. Of the darkness - This is chiefly spiritual darkness. Of this age - Which prevails during the present state of things. Against wicked spirits - Who continually oppose faith, love, holiness, either by force or fraud; and labour to infuse unbelief, pride, idolatry malice, envy, anger, hatred. In heavenly places - Which were once their abode, and which they still aspire to, as far as they are permitted.