Principalities, Powers and Demons
Their Differences, Their Origins
and Our Authority Over Them
By Dale M Sides
Jesus made reference to something in the Bible from the book of Enoch that will revolutionize our understanding about demons and ultimately our authority over them. Jesus knew something about demons and evil spirits that we do not. If we think that we know everything on a given subject, then we have removed the possibility of learning something new. Jesus’ teaching in Luke 11:24 makes reference to the book of Enoch, chapter 15:8 which will be quoted later in this article. This passage reveals the true identity of demons—that they are not fallen angels as most Christians have assumed.
With this additional insight, we can discover what Jesus knew. Then by following this trail to other related references, we can obtain the same understanding He had. The anointing of the Holy Spirit, along with this awareness, gave Jesus confidence to cast evil spirits out with the finger of God. Perhaps the same result will come to us (John 14:12). This knowledge will allow us to differentiate between demons and principalities or powers, a major deficiency in Christian understanding. When this understanding is gained, we will have learned how to deal with each category in their own rank, order and specific function. Then our faith to deal with evil spirits will increase, since faith comes from hearing and understanding the Word of God. This comprehensive process of acquiring wisdom regarding evil spirits will make us more effective in realizing the Lord’s accomplishments in us, for us, and His commission to us—to exercise authority over the evil spirit kingdom.
Since the beginning of history, the mystery of evil spirits—their origin, function and interaction with mankind—has been a perplexing problem. Images associated with evil spirits vary from giant gargoyles, ghostly shadows, and fiendish phenomena, all the way to mischievous imps and friendly ghosts. Regardless of the associated image, it is obvious that the identity of these spirits has purposefully been obscured or else they would have manifested themselves in a simple, explainable form. The very complexity of the enigma itself leads us to realize that these spirits are creatures of deception. The reason for their stealth is simple: the sinister hand of Satan is behind the scenes, cloaking the issues. He knows that if we discover their true identities, we can claim authority over them. Then their control over us will be greatly decreased.
“Where does evil come from?” is another related question that seems to be obscured right along with this Satanic mystique. Because clear-cut teaching on the origin of evil spirits has been lacking, Christians have often been deceived into attributing evil to God Himself, even though the Bible testifies of Him as a loving, benevolent Father. As we press into this study, we will see that God’s good intentions and His creation of free will have been perverted by evil spirits. They have cleverly deceived people into believing that God is responsible for the evil in the world. Evil spirit manifestations of “smoke and mirrors” intentionally keep them out of sight and beyond explanation, causing mankind to blame God for the evil caused by the evil spirits.
The question “Do evil spirits actually exist?” should not be asked by a truly observant, discerning person. The pitied fool who does not believe in the existence of evil spirits probably has a dog named “Lucky,” who just “coincidentally” is missing. He can be identified by having only three legs, no tail, one eye and thinking he is a cat.
Evil spirits are real! People interested in succeeding in life need to know about these creatures—not for sensational reasons, but for simple survival. This exposé on the subject will help to identify evil spirits and their origin, and will remove the mystique surrounding them. The focus of this exposé is to increase our knowledge and therefore our authority over evil spirits.
This inquiry into evil spirits cannot be dismissed as an insignificant matter by individuals who want to fully exercise and claim the authority that Jesus gave us (Matthew 10:1). God tells us in 2 Corinthians 2:11 that we are not to “be ignorant of Satan’s devices.” We are called as soldiers of the Lord (2 Timothy 2:3), and are actively wrestling against these unseen foes (Ephesians 6:12). We are further instructed in 1 Corinthians 9:26 to fight not as one that “beats the air,” but we are to engage the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). Furthermore, Jesus is looking for overcomers (Luke 11:21; Revelation 3:21).
The salient point of this study is not to give unwarranted attention to demons or to magnify the devil, but rather to increase our understanding of them in order to exercise our authority in Christ over them. Frankly, I am not submitting this article to rehash old issues, to waste your time or mine, but to shed some added light to this subject.
Quite honestly, since most of us have thought that demons are fallen angels, when the evidence is considered, we will have to accept that we have been deceived. We are not to point fingers at teachers, and accuse them of deception, but to uncover Satan’s snare. We all are in the process of learning. Likewise, as a teacher I have been guilty of teaching this erroneously in the past.
The point is this: if we have considered demons to be fallen angels, we have given them too much credit and attributed to them too much power. When we realize their proper identity, one of our main objectives will be accomplished: to shrink them down to proper size and thereby remove any fear of dealing with them. This objective is not just to increase our understanding but to emphasize our ability to exercise our authority over the evil kingdom and bring deliverance to the captives.
The Background of the Problem
Though this study is being presented as a biblically based article, it may be of benefit to realize that most major religions try to explain the origin of evil spirits in some way. Some profane sources outside of biblical context try to explain evil spirits as gods and never question their origin. This is largely a Hindu explanation. Others, particularly from a Buddhist perspective, say that evil spirits are reincarnated spirits of dead humans, especially those of dead relatives. Both of these explanations have infiltrated Christian thinking to some degree, since some Christians never question their origin and others think they are spirits of dead men. Another source, primarily from mythology, explains evil spirits as offspring of Zeus or Jupiter. Regardless of the religion, most every belief system gives credence to the existence of evil spirits.
From a biblical interpretation, the most widely-accepted belief attributes all evil spirits as being fallen angels who left their heavenly rank when Lucifer was deposed. There is some marginal belief suggesting they are spirits of dead humans. Another explanation is that they are the spirits of a race of people who lived before Adam and Eve. Each belief claims some biblical basis and grounds for consideration, but all have noticeable discrepancies when compared to the actual biblical characteristics of demons.
We must remember that Satan is the father of lies and the master of deception. Though he is a deceiver, there is a method behind his madness. He has allowed the Christian world to accept that demons are fallen angels. By so doing, coupled with a related lie that angels are superior to men, Satan has imposed a sentence of inferiority upon mankind. His deception has had a purpose—to make people think that demons are more powerful than they really are, and that they are more powerful than men. (Misinformation is a powerful weapon in warfare.)
A major reason why this deception has been successful stems from not differentiating between the category of demons and the category of principalities and powers. This dilemma has arisen from a lack of attention to biblical details. We should not be surprised to find that the entire field of demonology is in disarray concerning terminology. There is a lack of defined terms. Imprecise terminology results in ambiguity at best, and ignorance or confusion at worst. Satan has used our ignorance to hide his functions. For example, we have used the word “devil” interchangeably for “demon” and vice versa. Also, we have said that people are “possessed of devils” when the proper translation of the Greek word daimonizoumenous gives no inkling to a “possession.” It should have been rendered “demonized.” Likewise, we have inadvertently used the word “demon” to describe all unclean spirits, including principalities or powers.
As we move into discovering what demons are and their origin, the differences between these evil spirits will be thoroughly explained. Additionally, we will learn how to deal with each category. For the sake of introducing this subject and grasping the whole concept, the following statement is offered: the genus (or kind, family) of principalities, powers and demons is “evil;” they are, however, different species. Principalities and powers are the one-third of the angelic host who were banished with Lucifer. They still occupy a designated portion of the heavens and are territorially assigned over regions of the earth. Demons, on the other hand, are terrestrial spirits, confined to the face of the earth. They literally “walk” and seek the resting place of a human body. Demons are unclean spirits who primarily invade and corporeally inhabit the bodies of men or women. The origin of this species is different than that of fallen angels.
What Are Demons?
The key to understanding what demons are and the origin of their species is obtained by consulting with the Master, Jesus Christ. He came to reveal their identity and to give authority over them to his disciples. Before studying their origin, it will be helpful to familiarize ourselves with some of their characteristics and attributes.
Using just one isolated section of scripture, Luke 4:32-35, we can learn much about demons.
And they [the people] were astonished at His [Jesus’] teaching, for His word was with authority. Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice: saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know You, who You are - the Holy One of God!” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him. Luke 4:32-35 NKJ
From this passage we see:
1. Demons do not like authoritative people. They usually do not manifest in the first person unless around an authoritative person or when confronted by a person who knows their identity.
2. They are spirits who can live in the bodies of men or women. They do not have their own flesh and bone body (Luke 24:39).
3. They are unclean, meaning that they are not holy and are filthy in habit. We will see more of their habits when we examine their origin. The fact that they are called unclean also indicates that this is one of the criteria they seek in a host.
4. Demons also have a will which is exhibited by the fact that the unclean demon spirit cried out.
5. They do not want to be bothered but lie dormant until discovered.
6. They have an end, meaning that they can and will be destroyed.
7. They are under authority to Jesus and His disciples.
8. They go to church and like to occupy religious people who are ignorant of their methods.
There are many more details about demons that we can learn from other scriptures, but the most relevant details about them and the key to tracing their origin comes from Luke 11:24. In this scripture, Jesus makes reference to truths found in the book of Enoch.
When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ Luke 11:24 NKJ
The usage of “going through dry places” and “seeking rest” are the references that show Jesus’ knowledge of demons can be traced to the book of Enoch. “Walking through dry places” means that they are terrestrial spirits walking on the face of the “dry earth.”
Evil spirits shall they be upon the earth, and the spirits of the wicked shall they be called. The habitation of the spirits of heaven shall be in heaven; but upon earth shall be the habitation of terrestrial spirits, who are born on earth. 1 Enoch 15:8b
Concerning their “unrest,” Jesus was referring to 1 Enoch 15:10.
They [evil spirits] shall cause lamentation. No food shall they eat; and they shall be thirsty; they shall be concealed, and shall rise up against the sons of men, and against women for they come forth during the days of slaughter and destruction.1 1 Enoch 15:10
This reference “to being thirsty” or “walking in dry places” by the Lord Jesus Christ is also recorded in Matthew 12:43. This shows the rest that demons seek—the rest of being in a body.
When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Matthew 12:43 NKJ
This context of the origin of demons in the book of Enoch is also found in Genesis 6:1-6 where “sons of God” lusted after the daughters of men. The usage of “sons of God” is not referring to actual men, but angels whom God assigned to earth to teach men. According to the book of Enoch and other related Old Testament writings, these sons of God or angels were called “Watchers.” They fathered a race of mutated beings which brings us to the origin of this species.
The Origin of Demons
Before going into the origin of demons, perhaps it would be profitable to make note of the book of Enoch. This book gives a complete history of the beginning of the species that we now call “demons.” It is directly quoted in Jude 14 (the parallel reference is found in 1 Enoch 1:9) and Peter references it in 2 Peter 2:4 in dealing with angels in Tartarus (1 Enoch 10:4-17). The book of Enoch has been the subject of much discussion. Its authenticity and reliability have been debated for quite some time,2 hence, it is not new to controversy. It also gives much background information about the “Watchers” that God assigned to watch over mankind and teach them.
The Ethiopian Jews had always included 1 Enoch, along with Jubilees3 and 3 and 4 Ezra in its canon of the scriptures, but many scholars simply passed Enoch off as a post-Christian, apocryphal book and categorized it with Gnostic texts. Yet, when complete copies of Enoch were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which had been preserved and packed away before the birth of Christ, the scholars were forced to take another look at it. Though the facts in Enoch are noteworthy, especially since Jude 14 quotes Enoch, giving it greater credibility, whenever Jesus alludes to it, the significance of further consideration increases dramatically. We are also going to see that the book of Jubilees provides great detail, and in some points, greater specifics than the book of Enoch concerning the origin of demons.
Quotations from Jubilees were found within documents in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which verifies that it also was an early, pre-Christian document. The Jubilees quotations give even more credibility to 1 Enoch and therefore to the Ethiopic canon of scriptures than had been previously considered.
There has been some speculation that these books were intentionally obscured by Satan in an attempt to hide the methods of his operation and the true identity of evil spirits. This suggestion must be considered since 1 Enoch and Jubilees were held in much greater suspicion before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The recovery of their evidence within the Dead Sea Scrolls, establishing their pre-Christian validity, vindicates their reliability. Their recovery, along with that of other manuscripts (such as the War Rules) from the Dead Sea Scrolls, gives greater weight to the possibility that they were intentionally obscured by Satan to hide relevant facts about his methods and operations.
This is not by any means an argument designed to confer upon these books authority equal to the more commonly-accepted canon of the scriptures (although the decision of which books would be included was made somewhat arbitrarily by Gentile scholars in the 4th century). The fact that these records agree with the Bible in these matters—and, equally important, that they do not disagree with the Bible—gives us a greater latitude for consideration. Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, made reference to at least these isolated details, and that gives us greater confidence to rely upon them, since He will be the One on the Judgment Seat.
If referring to the book of Enoch bothers some individuals, then they will need to take the matter up with Jesus, Jude, Peter, the Ethiopian Jews and a host of recognized scholars around the world. Furthermore, the explanation Enoch offers perfectly parallels the Genesis records. Concerning the origin of demons, it simply makes sense. If nothing else, the book of Enoch categorically asserts the theology of religious authors (dating back to at least the first century before Christ) who were recognized by Jesus and other New Testament writers. Even on that note alone, it is worthy of further consideration.
1 Enoch and Jubilees chronicle the events before the flood at the time of Noah. The following is a synopsis, supplying the documentation from the particular sources and cross-referencing them to the Bible.
“Watchers,” a category of good angels (Daniel 4:13,17,23), called “sons of God” (Genesis 6:2,4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7) were assigned to earth to teach men (Jubilees 4:15; Daniel 4:13,17). They were assigned to earth and given bodies (1 Enoch 64:1,2; Jubilees 4:15, 22). The Watchers became enthralled with the beauty of women (Genesis 6:1,2; 1 Enoch 7:2ff; Jubilees 4:22; 5:1) and left their first estate (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6). They entered into union with women and had children (Genesis 6:4; Jubilees 5:2; 1 Enoch 15:2-16:1). The children that were begotten from the union of angels and women became giants in the land (Genesis 6:4; Jubilees 5:2; 1 Enoch 15:2-16:1). These giants, also referred to as Nephilim (Genesis 6:4; 1 Enoch 15:9), corrupted the flesh of man (Genesis 6:12) and caused mayhem on the earth (Genesis 6:6,7) to the point it grieved God that He had made man (Genesis 6:6,7).
(Incidentally, if it grieved God that He had made man this indicates that something had happened that was not in His initial plans. It is therefore logical to assume that evil came to pass as a result of the operation of free will instead of God intentionally and directly creating it. This is another reason to consider that these texts were obscured in an attempt by Satan to “accuse” God of creating evil, instead of mankind discovering that Satan was responsible for its existence.)
The book of Enoch also offers an explanation of the connection between the Watchers and Satan. Because Satan knew the prophecy that the seed of the woman would eventually crush his head (Genesis 3:15), it is predictable that Satan would try to corrupt the woman’s lineage in order to prevent the coming of Christ. What better (or more sinister) way to do this than through the Watchers, and the Watchers corrupting women (i.e., the seed of the woman)? It is obvious that the Watchers were tempted to do something contrary to the will of God. This is in perfect parallel with Satan’s tactics to tempt the Watchers with disobedience in order to corrupt the bloodline and lineage of the Messiah, thereby preventing the fulfillment of prophecy. The book of Enoch relates that the Watchers became messengers of Satan, working with him to corrupt mankind.
...on account of their [the Watchers'] oppressive deeds which they performed as messengers of Satan, leading astray those who dwell on the earth. 1 Enoch 54:6b
For the sin of corrupting the flesh of men, God punished the disobedient angels by chaining them in Tartarus until the final judgment of the ages (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 14; Jubilees 5:2; 1 Enoch 10:11). He then proceeded to have the giants, at the provocation of obedient angels, begin warring against each other to annihilate each other (1 Enoch 10:9; Jubilees 5:3). The remainder who were not killed in that manner died in the flood.
When God destroyed the earth and the creatures that lived on the face of the earth with the flood, He had mercy on Noah and his sons. Noah and his sons found grace in the sight of the Lord (Genesis 6:8) primarily because Noah was perfect in his generations (Genesis 6:9). The corruption between the Watchers and women had not infiltrated Noah’s lineage. The flood was designed to annihilate the corrupted race of man and to leave only a pure lineage on earth afterward.
When the flood destroyed the things on the earth, the giants also were destroyed (Genesis 6:13). The conclusion of the matter is as follows: when the spirits of these mutant hybrids were forced out of their bodies, either by dying before the flood or by drowning at the flood, they had no place to go. Heaven was the place for pure angels and hell the place for evil men. These perverted mongrel beings which did not qualify for either place were left to roam the face of the earth. The spirits of the giants, or Nephilim, were released into the world as spirit-beings with no bodies, looking for a resting place. Even though they have a hybrid nature, they nonetheless still are partially “mankind” and seek the rest of a body (Matthew 12:43; Luke 11:24).
In summary, the spirits of the giants, the Nephilim, are the hybrid offspring of the Watchers and earthly women. When the giants died in the flood, their half-breed spirits had no place to go; therefore, they have no rest. These spirits are what we now refer to as demons. Because 1 Enoch 15:8 says this in a direct statement, there is no room left for speculation.
Now the giants, who have been born of spirit and of flesh, shall be called upon earth evil spirits, and on earth shall be their habitation. Evil spirits shall proceed from their flesh, because they were created from above; from the holy Watchers was their beginning and primary foundation. Evil spirits shall they be upon the earth, and the spirits of the wicked shall they be called. The habitation of the spirits of heaven shall be in heaven; but upon earth shall be the habitation of terrestrial spirits, who are born on earth. 1 Enoch 15:8
This is the origin of the species that we now call demons. They are not fallen angels, but hybrid beings resulting from crossbreeding between the Watchers and women. 1 Enoch 10:9 aptly refers to them as bastards and the children of fornication. The first occurrence of the word “demon” in either the Bible, 1 Enoch or Jubilees is in Jubilees 7:27 when the (disembodied) spirits of the Nephilim were tormenting the sons of Noah after the flood. The word is again used in chapter 10.
In the third week of that jubilee the polluted demons began to lead astray the children of Noah’s sons and to led they to folly and to destroy them.And the sons of Noah came to Noah, their father, and they told him about the demons who were leading astray and blinding and killing his grandchildren. Jubilees 10:1,2
For further documentation that these hybrid spirits of the Watchers and women are “demons,” Noah then prays and says to God...
And you know that which your [God’s] Watchers, the father of these spirits [demons], did in my days and also these spirits [demons] who are alive... Jubilees 10:4
Since we now know the origin of demons, we can deduce their characteristics, nature and predictable operation. Knowing their nature will help us in understanding our enemy and gaining faith for exercising our authority over them.
The Nature of Demons
Demons are infertile hybrids. They are mutated bastards, birthed outside of the will of God in disobedience, temptation, lust, sin, iniquity and transgression (1 Enoch 10:9). They are invariably bound by their nature. Genesis 6:5 tells us their true nature and how a demon thinks.
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man [corrupted, mutated man—the Nephilim] was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5 NKJ
Jubilees 7:22-24 also chronicles the birth of the Nephilim and thereby the spirits of demons. These verses conclude with the same description as is found in Genesis 6:5.
And they [the Watchers] begot sons, the Naphidim, and all of them were dissimilar. And each one ate his fellow. The giants killed the Naphil, and the Naphil killed the Elyo, and the Elyo mankind and man his neighbor. Jubilees 7:22
Demons are murderers. Their influence then, as well as now, spreads all over mankind.
And everyone [mankind included] sold himself in order that he might do injustice and pour out much blood and the earth was full of injustice. Jubilees 7:23
Verse 24 concludes the description of the wickedness of the Nephilim, the spirits of demons.
And afterward they sinned against beasts, and birds and everything which moves or walks upon the earth. And they poured out much blood upon the earth. And all the thoughts and desires of men were always contemplating vanity [selfishness] and evil. Jubilees 7:24
The account in 1 Enoch 15:9 and 10 gives more information about them. It tells us what these spirits do.
The spirits of the giants shall be like clouds#,4 which shall oppress, corrupt, fall, content, and bruise the earth. They shall cause lamentation. No food shall they eat; and they shall be thirsty; they shall be concealed [invisible as spirits], and shall rise up against the sons of men and against women, for they come forth during the days of slaughter and destruction. 1 Enoch 15:9-10
Jubilees 5:2 and 3 summarizes both Genesis 6 and 1 Enoch 15.
And they [the women] bore children for them; [the Watchers] and they were giants. And injustice increased upon the earth, and all flesh corrupted its way; man and cattle and beasts and birds and everything which walks on the earth. And they all corrupted their way and their ordinances, and they began to eat one another. And injustice grew upon earth and every imagination of the thoughts of all mankind was thus continually evil. Jubilees 5:2-3
Demons are inextricably bound by their nature which was sealed at the time of their birth. They are accursed bastards who are driven by the iniquitous passions of their fathers, the Watchers. Demons have no rest aside from finding a body in which they can take up residence. In their own bodies, before the flood, they actually began to devour one another, which shows their selfish, blood thirsty nature. They are a race of hybrid beings—half Watcher, half man—selfishly driven and fully devoted to only themselves.
Both 1 Enoch and Jubilees record that the bodies of the Nephilim were enormous, so they consumed all the food they could find and began to eat each other. This is congruous with the voracious and selfish nature of demons. (They also think that they are bigger than they really are.) They demonize people to cause gluttony, alcoholism and perverse habits of all sorts of excesses. Hence, they are creatures of lust.
Also in Jubilees 10:5 and 6, in his prayer to God for protection against demons, Noah says that they were created for destruction.
And do not let them cause corruption among the sons of your servant. O my God, because they were created to destroy. Jubilees 10:5-6
This passage explains that the nature of demons is to destroy. They have no positive benefit except when God, with His omniscient will, uses them to perfect mankind through trials brought by them.
1 Enoch 15:9 and 10 show the initial nature of demons, when they were Nephilim, which indicates their current function.
The spirits of the giants shall be like clouds [nephele] which shall oppress, corrupt, fall, content, and bruise upon earth. They shall cause lamentation. No food shall they eat;5 and they shall be thirsty; they shall be concealed, and shall rise up against the sons of men and against women; for they came forth6 during the days of slaughter and destruction. 1 Enoch 15:9-10
The nature of a demon’s unrest results from its desire to return to a body because it came out of one.
Chapter 16:1 of 1 Enoch reveals God’s judgment upon demons. It refers to them being out of a body and without judgment until the final day when their fathers, the Watchers, are to be punished.
And as to the death of the giants [the physical origin of demons], wheresoever their spirits depart from their bodies, let their flesh, that which is perishable, be without judgment. Thus shall they perish, until the day of the great consummation of the great world. A destruction shall take place of the Watcher and the impious. 1 Enoch 16:1
God, in His mercy, imprisoned the guilty offenders, the Watchers, in Tartarus, but left the spirits of the Nephilim (demons), unchained to roam over the earth until the day of judgment when He will settle the whole matter.
The complete statement given in 1 Enoch 15:8 shows the true identity of demons, that they are not fallen angels, but the spirits of the Nephilim.
Now the giants, who have been born of spirit and of flesh, shall be called upon earth evil spirits, and on earth shall be their habitation. Evil spirits shall proceed from their flesh, because they were created from above; from the holy Watchers was their beginning and primary foundation. Evil spirits shall they be upon earth, and the spirits of the wicked shall they be called. The habitation of the spirits of heaven shall be in heaven, but upon earth shall be the habitation of terrestrial spirits, who are born on earth. 1 Enoch 15:8
It has been firmly established that demon spirits are terrestrial spirits, and their habitation is upon the earth. Now we will see that demons cannot be confused with principalities and powers because the Bible states that their residency is in the heavens.
Principalities and Powers
We have the same purpose in understanding principalities and powers as with demons—to exercise authority over them with the purpose of establishing the kingdom of God on the earth. These are likewise classified in the same genus—evil, but are a different species with a different origin. Principalities and powers are heavenly, not earthly bound, creatures which is their major difference from demon spirits.
From studying the actual words, “principalities” and “powers,” we can derive some much-needed understanding concerning their functions. Principalities is the Greek word arche, which means “first in order and rank.” Power is the Greek word, which means “exercised strength.” The indication is that the “principalities” are higher ranking evil spirits and the “powers” are lower ranking heavenly beings working to enforce their superiors' mandates.7
Holding in mind the insight that demons are terrestrial spirits who walk the face of the earth, upon re-examining the New Testament, little evidence is found—aside from the fact that they are both evil—that would equate a demon to a principality or power. Demons function on the earth, but principalities and powers function in the heavenlies. The scriptures are very clear about where principalities and powers function.
to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, Ephesians 3:10 NKJ
These evil spirits are on the same plane of power and influence as angels.
who [Jesus] has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him. 1 Peter 3:22 NKJ
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, Romans 8:38 NKJ
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 NKJ
Since we can see that these spirits are different from demons, their origin must likewise be different also. Where they came from is spelled out specifically in the scriptures. These are indeed the third of the angels of heaven who were deposed along with Lucifer when he was cast out of God’s presence.
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Revelation 12:9 NKJ
There has been some debate over this scripture—whether it is referring to the past or the future—because it appears in some ways to have already happened, but in other respects it seems to be a future event. The next verse indicates that this is a prophetic picture of the future that will take place during the Great Tribulation.
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” Revelation 12:10 NKJ
This is significant because verse 12 indicates that during the Great Tribulation the principalities and powers along with Satan will be displaced out of the heavenlies and be made to dwell on the earth for those last seven years. This verse gives further credence to the fact that they presently are dwelling and functioning in the heavenlies.
From an abundance of scriptures it is clear that these evil spirits are operating from the heavenly realm and are influencing earth in different ways than demons do. As we recognize their function, we will be better able to exercise authority over them.
A particular section from the book of Daniel gives crucial insight into the function of principalities and powers and how they war in the heavenlies with angels. This section is the account of Daniel praying and fasting for information about the children of Israel. An angel, apparently a subordinate in the army of Michael the archangel, appears to Daniel and gives focal information about these evil spirits and their functions.
Then he [the subordinate angel] said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words [prayers] were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince [principality] of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.” Daniel 10:12-13 NKJ
This usage in Daniel 10:12, along with verse 20, shows that these princes are in heavenly conflict with angels. The verses also show that, through prayers, angels are sent to and from heaven with answers to prayers but are sometimes intercepted by principalities and powers. We also see that more prayers mean more angels get into the fray. The end results of circumstances are not “carved in stone” by the “inalterable will of God” as some fatalists communicate.
There is more contributing information in this section of scripture about principalities and powers, but since our emphasis is to show that their origin is different from demons and how to effectively exercise authority over them, we will not elaborate on those details in this article. Suffice it to say, however, that principalities and powers move effectively in governmental strata (i.e., Persia and Greece), and that war is waged against them, not by being cast out, but by displacement through prayer.
Principalities and powers are evil spirits who function in the heavenlies and are in direct conflict with angels. Principalities and powers are the angels who were deposed along with Lucifer. They are categorically not demons. With this information in mind, we will now see how to specifically deal with principalities, powers and demons and how to exercise authority over each one.
Dealing with Demons and Principalities and Powers
Dealing with these evil spirits is a big subject with many mitigating factors. Now that the foundation of their identities has been discovered, we will be able to use some fundamental truths to help us understand how to exercise authority over each category.
Regardless of whether we are dealing with principalities, powers or demons, some common truths apply:
1. Sin gives each of them strength and access into our lives.
2. More prayer means more angels effectively work for us; less prayer means more principalities and powers effectively work against us.
3. Without the power and information given by the Holy Spirit we are helpless.
4. It is only through the blood of Jesus (its atoning power) and the power of the Holy Spirit that we have dominion over evil spirits and are able to subdue them.
Since we have already dealt with identifying the origin of demons after the flood when the spirits of the Nephilim were released, a comparison of two scripture verses, Genesis 1:28 and Genesis 9:1, will document our inability to deal with evil spirits without the help of the Holy Spirit.
Genesis 1:28 gives the initial assignment of mankind over the earth.
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28 NKJ
After the fall of man, when sin entered and the presence of the Holy Spirit was lost, we see God charging Noah and his sons with a similar commission, yet we find a very important word and portion of the commission is missing.
So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” Genesis 9:1 NKJ
The word and commission that is missing is “subdue.” There is good reason for this omission. The presence of the Holy Spirit had been removed, thereby the power to accomplish the “subduing” part of the assignment was missing. It was not until Jesus came and paid the price for sin that the power of the Holy Spirit was again given to mankind and his spiritual ability to subdue this realm was regained.
The Holy Spirit regenerated the spirit of man (Titus 3:5) and made him alive and sensitive to the spirit realm once again. Now the Holy Spirit can equip us with power and lead us in knowledge to make this “subduing” possible.
It is not coincidental that God spoke to Noah and his sons immediately after the flood when demon spirits, the spirits of the Nephilim, were first released into the world. At that time, mankind did not have power and authority over them to subdue them. It was not until Jesus redeemed mankind and made the anointing of the Holy Spirit available that our dominion and ability to subdue this realm returned.
Jesus returned to us the authority over evil spirits. Always remember, though, it is only possible because of the power of the Holy Spirit that abides in us and comes upon us. One verse of scripture spoken by the Master reveals not only His understanding of the categories of principalities, powers and demons, but our authority over them. Jesus said...
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:19 NKJV
In this verse, Jesus referred to principalities as serpents, powers as scorpions, and demons as the power of the enemy. He gave us authority over each and all of them.
Another reference shows the distinction between them as well as our authority over them. These verses also reveal to us how to deal with each category differently.
And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; Mark 16:17-18a NKJ
It is apparent that Jesus makes a distinction between these categories of evil spirits. He is talking about casting out one and taking up the other. He gives us the simplicity of dealing with principalities, powers and demons in this verse alone: we cast out demons, but we take up the battle against principalities and powers by prayer in order to displace them.
The succinct method of dealing with demons from the Word of God is to cast them out. There are 52 usages of the word daimonion in the New Testament Greek text and 75 percent of these are in the context of being cast out. “Cast out” is the Greek word ekballo and it literally means “to throw out.” The reason that demons must be cast out is because they actually seek to live inside of people. The only rest they can find is to inhabit a body.
Demons are spiritual parasites and trespassers. When they are outside of a body, they roam about in dry places (walking over the face of the earth as terrestrial spirits), seeking resting places within human bodies. They will have no rest until the day of judgment when they will join the devil and the fallen angels in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41). Access inside a person is given to them by the presence of sin or weakness in someone’s body. Where continual sickness or sin exists, quite often this is because of the abiding presence of a demon. It is no coincidence that Jesus gave His disciples authority over demons, sicknesses and weaknesses at the same time because they are so closely related.
And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power [authority] over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Matthew 10:1 NKJ
On the other hand, there are eight usages of principalities and powers in the New Testament and none of them are cast out. The reason for this is simple. Demons are different than principalities and powers. Demons live in people on the earth but principalities and powers exercise their dominion in the heavenlies.
Nowhere in scripture is a principality or power cast out. They are displaced by prayers as we saw in Daniel chapter 10. This is in agreement with what Jesus said in Mark 16:18, “to take up serpents.” To take up means “to lift up” as is depicted in the constellation Ophiuchus.8 It means to take control and authority over something by lifting it up. This is perfectly described in the commission of binding and loosing:
And I will give you [the church] the keys [authority9] of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:19 NKJV
This is the authoritative power given to the church to enforce the rules and laws of the kingdom of heaven on the earth. We bind principalities away from their influence on earth by loosing angels to war against them in the heavenlies just as in the days of Daniel, when Michael came to fight against the prince of Persia.
Simply stated, demons are cast out of people by a command. Principalities and powers are bound from having influence upon the earth through the vocal orders given through prayers or commands as the Holy Spirit directs individuals.
From the beginning of our study, it has been our expressed desire and intent that we could increase our understanding and therefore our authority over evil spirits. We have learned that demons are the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim (released at the time of the flood) and that principalities and powers are the fallen angels that were deposed at the time of Lucifer’s rebellion. They are the same genus—evil, but different species.
We have also seen the proper way to deal with each category. Demons are cast out, whereas principalities and powers are displaced through prayer and commands issued by the Holy Spirit to the church on earth.
Regardless of the category of evil spirit, we need to remember the distinct statement made by the Lord Jesus Himself.
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents [principalities] and scorpions [powers], and over all the power of the enemy [demons], and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:19 NKJ
As we have gleaned these truths, we should also be reminded what Jesus said...
“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20 NKJ
He concluded with this explanation.
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is but the Father, and who the Father is but the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Luke 10:21-22 NKJ
Not everyone knows the things you know or has had the truths revealed that you have received. Perhaps this article is part of God’s design to educate you so that you can help to free others. That is why Jesus (in Luke 10: 23) turned to his disciples, those to whom He had given authority, those who had been privileged to exercise authority like no others had before them, and said to them privately...
“Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.” Luke 10:23-24 NKJ
We rejoice, not because evil spirits are subject to us, but rather that the Lord has chosen us to learn these things, and especially that we can do something for Him with what we know. Praise the Lord! Yes, our names are written in heaven, and we can help others have their names written there too, as we exercise our spiritual authority over principalities, powers and demons.
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1 “The Book of Enoch,” a translation by Richard Laurence; obtainable over the Internet from http://www.takeitbyforce.com/writings.htm. The Book of Jubilees is also available through this web site.
2 1st Enoch is a pre-Christian work. The like-named counterparts, 2nd and 3rd Enoch, were not found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and thus have been dated as post-Christian, and therefore less assertive on subjects of Judeo-Christian concern. Though the writing styles and some related material is found in 1st Enoch, the books of 2nd and 3rd Enoch have little to do with 1st Enoch except for the name.
3 In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Volume 2, page 47, O.S. Windermute gives an explanation on the origin of evil that comes from the book of Jubilees. He directly attributes the existence of evil to evil spirits and that God is not directly responsible. There is a hint of textual manipulation to obscure these truths. This is a valid question if one considers that Enoch and Jubilees share this insight and were not included in the accepted canon of scripture.
4 “Cloud” is the Greek word nephele, a direct derivative of the Hebrew word Nephilim.
5 R.H. Charles translation adds here; “but nevertheless shall hunger,” p.43.
6 Ibid. Translation reads “...because they have proceeded from them.”
7 There is some speculation that “powers” are demons since the word exousia could mean the ones who enforce the rule of the principalities. The fact remains, however, that they are scripturally defined as heavenly beings.
8 E.W. Bullinger, Witness of the Stars, p. 57.
9 “Keys” are used synonymously with the concept of
authority in biblical language. The Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 3, p. 786