Yesterday I asked the question: what exactly does “Principalities in high places” mean? The reason I asked the question is because for years I’ve heard it explained as the evils of Satan/devil/Lucifer. However taking into account, the history of the translators and the era the bible was translated, in my mind, there is another meaning. So I began this journey by looking for the meaning of the word “principality” in the dictionary as well as the James Strong’s Concordance, after two people answered the question.
The dictionary defines the word principality as the state, office, or authority of a prince; the position or responsibilities of a principal (as of a school); the territory or jurisdiction of a prince: the country that gives title to a prince; and an order of angels. In the James Strong’s Concordance, the word principalities means a commencement, or chief (in various applications of order, time, place, or rank); beginning, corner, (at the, the) first (estate), magistrate, power, principle, or rule. So how are these two definitions combined? The definitions eliminate the actions of the common idea that this is the actions of Satan/devil/Lucifer. The definitions guide us to the practices of human beings.
So where did the idea of this phrase being the actions of Satan/devil/Lucifer? First, the phrase is found in Ephesians 6:12. It states, “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.” Reading this verse alone explains why readers would comprehend the verse as being outside of any human action. The phrase “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood…” is the culprit. To many people, this portion eliminates human involvement. But let’s journey further.
By examining the entire chapter (Ephesians 6), I read something different. It begins with the need to “obey your parents.” Then it speaks of obeying the master. With today’s understanding of slavery, this would push one to believe that it’s speaking of a slave obeying a slave master. Yet, it’s speaking of an employee and employer. At both stages in our lives we learn a system of principals (values). This tells me that the chapter is speaking about building character.
Next we arrive at the verse where we put together the idea of “principalities in high places.” Here, we have to take into account of what was happening when this was written (history). There was a struggle to maintain and gain power. Someone always attempted to take the power away from the ruler (king or queen) as the ruler devised tactics to keep power. Therefore, this is speaking of the competition between principals (value system). Of course in competition, one person’s principles would go against another person’s principles.
So this chapter is telling us to stand strong on our principles, regardless what the ruling (government) powers demand. We know what works for us. We have learned it since our parents or guardians began teaching us the difference between right and wrong. The issue arises when we think that there is only one way to think of what is right and what is wrong.
We are in a time where we are encountering different cultures. The borders have been opened. Now, we do business globally while we are losing jobs nationally. Our times are challenging. But just as the times are changing, so should our way of thinking. To be the most effective, in this day and time, we must respect other people’s principles (values, habits, practices). This in no way means we have to practice the same principles.
If we want to succeed, we must broaden our minds and loose our selfishness, self-pride, and negative arrogance. We aren’t the only people on the planet. Our way is not the way of everyone. Let’s not allow the rulers to tell us that other countries are wrong, and we are the only people right in this world. We must negotiate in order to exchange goods and services. Again stand on your values, but understand that others may not agree with you just as you may not agree with them.