according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience Ephesians 2:2
Authority of the Air – In spite of this very odd phrase, you don’t have to worry that you will encounter Satan’s minions when your airplane leaves the ground. It’s not about the atmosphere. Nevertheless, we need to understand what Paul has in mind here if we are going to be aware of the subtlety and ruthlessness of the ruler of this age.
Paul’s use of the metaphor of the “air” demonstrates just how powerful and how subtle the rule of the enemy actually is. No one thinks much about the air that surrounds us but it is a very important factor in living. We only notice it when something goes wrong, like a tornado or the loss of breath. The rest of the time, it is our invisible reality. In the same way, unless we deliberately pay attention to the reality of the authority of the ruler of this age, we will breathe in his plans and purposes without ever realizing it. If you’re going to be a part of the Kingdom, you will need an oxygen mask. You can’t breathe the air of this age and not expect it to affect you.
Notice how Paul constructs this metaphor. It’s not just the air of the age. It is the authority that is ubiquitous and invisible. Yes, I know that several translation use the word “power” but the Greek is exousia, “authority”. Actually, the entire spiritual battle is about authority. Satan challenges God’s rightful authority and he is actively at work manipulating anyone and anything to endorse that challenge. There was never a battle about power. God’s power is unquestioned. It’s mythology to believe that God and Satan are fighting a battle over power, or even over good and evil. The battle is about authority. It always has been about authority and it always will be about authority until God ends the conflict with power. So, the armaments that you need are not implements of power. The armaments you need are the implements of authority and since authority can only be granted, not earned, the weapons of this warfare come from submitting to God’s authority rather than Satan’s. In other words, God wins this war when we submit to Him, not when we attempt to gather spiritual power to defeat the already-beaten enemy. Satan might temporarily have authority over the spirit of this age, but his only tactic left is to delude as many as he can into endorsing his attempted coup. He knows it’s over. He just wants to take as many as possible with him because in doing so he wounds God’s heart of compassion.
What can we learn from this verse about today’s behaviors? We can start by examining our understanding of power versus authority. We can examine our quest for power, recognizing that power plays into the hands of this deceitful enemy. Think of it like this: Power is ultimately ego-centric. It is focused on me. When I have power or try to gain power, I am accumulating. Authority, on the other hand, is focused on the one who grants it, not on me. I bear the image of the grantor. I have no authority without the grantor. So, it can never be about me. In order to have authority, I have to submit to the one who grants it. The more I submit, the more authority I have – but none of it is mine.
How do we use this information to battle the authority of the air? It’s really pretty simple. Wherever power raises its head in our lives, we give it away. Wherever authority calls us, we submit. No, it’s not what you think. Submission is not always compliance, as we shall see.
Topical Index: Authority