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EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 2
Verse 2. Wherein. In which sins, or in the practice of which transgressions.
According to the course of this world. In conformity with the customs and manners of the world at large. The word here rendered world—course aiwn—means properly age, but is often used to denote the present world, with its cares, temptations, and desires; and here denotes particularly the men of this world. The meaning is, that they had lived formerly as other men lived; and the idea is strongly conveyed that the course of the men 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.
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"— arcwn — Archon, means one first in authority and power, and is then applied to any one 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—arcwn— of the devils," Mt 9:34; 12:24; Mr 3:22; Lu 11:15; "the prince of this world," Joh 12:31; 14:30; 16:11.
But why he is here called the prince having power over the air, it is not easy to determine. Robinson (Lex.) 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 heathen, that the air was thickly peopled with spirits or demons. That this was a current opinion may be seen fully proved in Wetstein. Comp. 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, ar 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 men.
(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 men.
(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 men, they should have been permitted peculiarly 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? Men 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 men, than that the power of men 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 any more 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 men.
The children of disobedience. The wicked, Col 3:6.
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