Ephesians 6.11-16

 

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Finally, however, Devil and the Powers are combined, and suddenly the Powers take on a sinister aspect:

Be empowered in the Lord and in the might of His strength.  Put on the full armor (“panoply”) of God, to be able to resist the wiles of Devil.  For our conflict is not against flesh and blood but against the Principalities, against the Powers, against the World-Rulers (Kosmokratores) of this Darkness, against the Spirituals of the Heavens.  (Eph. 6.10-13)

The author continues with the armor-imagery, urging the faithful to be prepared for “the harmful day,” using the shield of faith, to quench the fiery arrows of harm (to poneron) or Harm, the Harmful One (ho Poneros) (Eph. 6.16).

 

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As in the Gospels, I want to avoid the prejudicial term, “the Evil One.”  But whatever we call him, Devil seems pretty evil here, doesn’t he?  He is certainly out to do “evil” to us.  He is wily, a dirty fighter, using burning arrows.  But when we come right down to it, it is our fault if Devil’s arrows hit home, because they can only penetrate through a chink in the armor of our virtue and faith.  Or, to vary the metaphor slightly, Devil is on the look-out for an opening so that he can “occupy” us or our defenses.  The example given is that if we are angry and stay angry, it will give “a place,” some sort of opportunity, to Devil.

There is still the question of Devil’s connection to the Principalities and Powers, the Rulers of the Cosmos.  Earlier on, we saw that God installed Christ in a place superior to the Powers.  One should think that the Powers would be aware of this exaltation of Christ, and therefore “be converted” and accept their new situation of subordination.  But then “Paul” seems to think that the Powers are ignorant of what God had done through Christ, but that they are nevertheless apt subjects for evangelization–to be informed of the riches of God’s wisdom.  However, they end up by being allies of Devil in the battle against the Christian faithful.

Perhaps the connection of Devil with the Powers lies in his role as the Archon of the power of the Air.  But we have to confess that the underlying “force-field” of the Epistle to the Ephesians is puzzling.