Spiritual Hierarchy & Authority, Part 1
October 20, 2017
This week we will begin a new series dealing with spiritual authority and the hierarchy that exists in the realm of the spirit. My objective in sharing the following is to show believers a picture of the demonic realm, the levels of authority that the Enemy uses against us, and the ultimate authority that we have in Christ over everything demonic or Satanic.
If ever we, as a people and as a nation, have seen spiritual opposition openly manifested, it has magnified during the past months with increasing strength. Della and I were at a prophetic conference in Lancaster, California last year when Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj shared how the Lord took him into the prophetic counsels in Heaven and he was allowed to ask who God had chosen to become America’s next President.
The Lord made it clear that He had chosen Donald Trump, and that his mission was to “clean house” in our political structures in Washington, DC. There was a decidedly mixed audience present, and a chorus of “boo’s” could be easily heard, along with many quiet cheers. What manifested during that moment was not simply an example of political differences but a demonstration of the spiritual divisions and opposition of the Enemy that has permeated and contaminated this nation.
During the past months, our understanding of spiritual hierarchy has greatly enlarged, and we’ve had numerous experiences that have opened up a view of just how extensive the operation of the Enemy is and how he has been working to defeat God’s plans and destiny in us, and in believing Christians at large.
Throughout the years I’ve seen many Christians who were afraid to take on the demonic realm because “Satan is almost as powerful as God.” Hogwash! Next to God, next to the Lord Jesus Christ, and next to every blood-bought believer in Christ, Satan and his realm is a virtual nothing! His power is absolutely time-limited, and he is running scared. As a result, we are seeing unprecedented levels of chaos in this nation and around the world.
This is a study that will likely take several weeks, so let’s lay some foundations in our understanding of demonic hierarchy by looking at something Paul wrote:
Ephesians 6:12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities (arché), against powers (exousia), against the rulers of the darkness of this world (kosmokrator), against spiritual wickedness (pneumatikos/poneria) in high places.
There is a clear hierarchy spelled out in this verse with four levels of Satan’s command-level. Let’s take a look at each of the words that occur in the Greek text.
Arché: A head or a chief; first; creator, initiator; it means a causal beginning or act; origin; Arché means: extremity or outermost point, rule, authority, dominion; the verb form (archoô) denotes being first, or to rule.
Exousia: Permission, authority, right, liberty, power to do anything; Exousia denotes executive power, while arché represents the delegated authority representing that power. Exousia means: it is allowed; one can; it is permitted; denying the presence of some hindrance.
Kosmokrator: Contraction of kosmos (order of world) and kratos (power or authority); this word is used almost exclusively to describe demonic powers which rule or hold authority over certain parts of the world, i.e., a lord of [certain or specific] darkness.
Pneumatikos/poneria: There are two forms of the word pneumatikos – both of which have the root (pneuma: for wind or spirit): the first form denoting a person under the influence or control of sin and its propensities; and the second describing a spiritual man or woman assisted by the Holy Spirit to perform supernatural acts.
Pneumatikos is differentiated from psuchikos (soulishness, soulish control, soulish behavior).
The second word used in this Greek phrase is poneria, which is derived from poneros (a malicious person), and identifies one who is not only evil, but expresses his malice in such a way as to affect or influence or control the behavior and/or activities of others.
The Greek phrase utilizing these two words is usually translated “spiritual wickedness” (in [epouranios] high places), but that translation misses the fact that Paul is describing spiritual forces at work in [usually] political or governmental places, operating through individuals to maliciously alter their lives or their thoughts and activities in such a way as to prevent them from operating in, from and out of the Kingdom of God. How do these spiritual forces work?
A classic example would be Paul’s use of the phrase in his letter to Timothy (I Timothy 4:1), “giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons,” thus causing the individual to be manipulated by these demonic forces into believing something contrary to the Word of God, and thus rendering them ineffective and impotent as believers in Christ.
The use of the Greek word epouranios in Ephesians 6:12 makes the translation “high places” somewhat misleading. This word is universally translated throughout the N.T. as “of the heavens” or “heavenly” places.
As an adjunct to this, we have had teaching during the past months and years dealing with the “first heaven, the second heaven and the third heaven,” often taking II Corinthians 12:2,4 out of context to paint an understanding of how or where demonic powers operate.
I am indebted to E.W. Bullinger for his Greek commentary and lexicon as he draws strictly from the Word to clarify the difference between the first, second and third heaven.
The Greek word, ouranos, is a “one-size fits all” to describe the over-arching and all-embracing heaven beneath which is the earth and all that is therein. (Contrast this to our western thought and mindset which creates boundaries for different heavens.) The plural nominative form of ouranos is epouranios (heavenly) and defines that which is “of the heavenly (or spiritual) realm.”
Genesis 1:1 tells us: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Peter tells us (see II Peter 3:5,6) that “The heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water; whereby the world (kosmos), that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.”
What succeeded is called (see II Peter 3:7) “The heavens and the earth which now are.” John calls these (see Revelation 21:1) “the first heaven and the first earth,” that is to say, the former (see also verse 4). These are “kept in store, reserved unto fire.” In the day of the Lord “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and all the works therein shall be burned up.” Again in verse 12 he says, “The heavens being on fire shall be dissolved.”
What shall follow is called (see II Peter 3:13) “New heavens and a new earth;” and in Revelation 21:1, “A new heaven and a new earth.”
In Isaiah 65:17, God says, “Behold I create new heavens, and a new earth.” (See also Isaiah 51:16 and 66:22)
We thus have three heavens.
The first heaven is seen in II Peter 3:5, 6: “The heavens were of old and the earth.” Also: “The world that then was.”
The second heaven is seen in II Peter 3:7: “The heavens and the earth which now are.”
The third heaven, then, is revealed in Isaiah 65:17: “The new heavens and the new earth.”
As Bullinger notes in his commentary, “The origin, causes and progress of these changes make up the whole subject matter of the Word of God.”
A great deal has been made of Paul’s comment in II Corinthians 12 about being “caught away into the third heaven,” and this statement has been taken out of the context of all the other scriptures. Our western mindset sets boundaries and tries to proscribe a lower heaven which reaches to a certain boundary, where a second heaven takes over; and from the limits of that second heaven to a third boundary line where the third heaven exists.
What we know from those who have visited multiple levels in Heaven (and I will cite Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj as an example) is that there are at least seven levels. I don't claim to have a complete understanding of that simply because despite my multiple visits to Heaven, I was not really paying that much attention to the different levels. I can easily say that I have witnessed at least three, but because of the nature of my visits and the purposes for which I was taken there, it just wasn't a focus of attrention.
Returning to the description that E.W. Bullinger gives, Paradise was in the First heaven and earth (see Genesis 2). It “perished” with them at the flood, and therefore is absent in the Second. It appears again in the Third, with its Tree of Life (see Revelation 2:7, 22:1, 2, 14). To this “Third heaven” and “Paradise” Paul was caught away (see II Corinthians 12:2, 4), not “up”, in visions and revelations of the Lord.” (See II Corinthians 12:1)
It is, therefore, one “catching away” with a double revelation of the New heaven and the New Earth, the whole earth being then a “Paradise.”
In the light of this revelation we must – in Luke 23:43 – place the comma after the word “today,” which would be required according to the structure of the Greek phrasing (compare Luke 22:34 and Matthew 21:28 with Mark 14:30, Luke 4:21 and 19:9).
We’ve taken this look at the “first, second and third heaven” because it bears directly on Ephesians 6:12. The last phrase in this verse says that we wrestle with “spiritual wickedness in heavenly places” or more accurately “in the heavens.”
Consider this statement, then, in the light of Paul’s comment to the Ephesians.
Ephesians 2:1-2: “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:”
Then we have Jesus’ statements as He was teaching:
John 12:31: Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
John 14:30: Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
John 16:8-11: And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
Three times we see Jesus use this phrase “the prince of this world.” When you juxtapose that statement against Paul’s description that Satan is “the prince of the power of the air,” and we go back to the Greek term, ouranos, which describes “the over-arching and all-embracing heaven beneath which is the earth and all that is therein,” we have a very clear picture of where and how demonic powers operate.
Their domain is “the second heaven.” Consider the exactness of the phrasing in the Greek text of the three verses in John 12, 14 and 16. Jesus NEVER describes Satan as being “the prince of the world.” Instead He uses the phrase êüóìïò ôïýôïõ (kosmos toutou): the prince of “this present arrangement of the world” – a phrase which is totally time dependent and indicates a space of time and order to which Satan has been given delegated authority.
Remember how David put it? (See Psalm 115:16) “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath He given to the children of men.”
The heavens – plural – all three of them (the original, the present, and the future) – are the Lord’s.
Satan’s purpose from day One has been to steal those heavens from the Lord and use them to torment the people of God.
It may seem rather academic, but you’ll notice that Satan is NEVER referred to as “the King of this present world.” Jesus always refers to him in the lower sense as an archon: prince. The more accurate translation of that Greek word would be “magistrate.” A magistrate has permission to exercise power and authority within certain proscribed boundaries.
This is where we will leave our discussion for today. If these first couple of Coffee Breaks dealing with this subject seem to be "teachy" or dull and technical, rather than a practical discussion, please bear with me while I lay some groundwork. We'll get to the practical side of this as soon as I can finish with laying some foundations in your understanding.
For those of you who’ve been participating in our Monday night Healing Prayer Conference Call, we just want to let you know that beginning with the month of July and continuing until the first Monday night in October, we will be taking a break for the summer. We’ve found during the past three years of doing this call that participation during the summer months drops significantly because of folks taking their vacations, and being involved in other activities. That said, we will resume our prayer calls on Monday night, October 2nd.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (712) 770-4160, and the access code is 308640#. We are now making these gatherings available by Skype. If you wish to participate by video on Skype, my Skype ID is regner.capener. If you miss the live voice call, you can dial (712) 770-4169, enter the same access code and listen in later. The video call, of course, is not recorded – not yet, anyway.
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener
RIVER WORSHIP CENTER
Temple, Texas 76504
Email Contact: CapenerMinistries@protonmail.com
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