The Prince Of The Air
Ephesians 2: 1-3: “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:
Among whom we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts
of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind;
and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others”.
The prince of the power of the air is said to be the devil, who
is a spirit making people disobedient to God.
1. The words “Satan” and “devil” do not occur here.
2. “Walking”, v. 2, (i.e. living) according to the prince of the power
of the air, is defined in v. 3 as living according to the lust of our
fleshly mind. The “lusts of our flesh” come from within us (Mk. 7: 21-23;
James 1:14) not from anything outside of us.
3. “The power of the air” is clearly a figurative expression - “the prince”
probably is also.
4. “The prince” is “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience”.
The spirit frequently refers to an attitude of mind (e.g. Deut: 2:30;
Prov. 25:28; Is. 54:6; 61: 3; Ez. 18:31; Mk.14:38; Lk. 2:40; 2 Cor. 2:13;
12:18; Eph. 4:23). This is confirmed by v. 3 - such people’s lives are
controlled by “fulfilling the lusts of our flesh (which come from our
heart- James 1:14), fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind”.
Fleshly people do not allow their lives to be controlled by a physical
“prince” outside of them, but by following their fleshly desires which
are in their minds. A physical being cannot exist as a “spirit” in the
sense of an intangible essence. A spirit does not have flesh and bones,
i.e. a physical body (Lk. 24:39); therefore because “the prince” is a
“spirit”, this must be a figurative expression not a physical being. The
“spirit” or attitude of mind is a figurative prince, as sin is a figurative
paymaster (Rom. 6: 23).
5. This passage (and v. 11) speaks of their former Gentile lives. 1 Pet.
4:3 speaks of life before conversion as: “In the time past we wrought
the will of the Gentiles…we walked in lusts”. Their own flesh
was their “prince”. Thus walking according to the prince of the air (v.2)
is parallel with walking in the flesh (v. 11). The more common antithesis
to walking in spirit is walking after the flesh- here termed
“the course of this world”.
1. Verse 1 says that “you” - the faithful at Ephesus - were dead in sins.
Verses 2 and 3 then express the reason for this in four interchangeable
(a) “...ye walked according to the course of this world”
(b) “...according to the prince of the power of the air”
(c) “...the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience”
(d) “...were by nature the children of wrath”.
The “whole world lieth in wickedness (1 Jn. 5:19) because by nature we
all have a fleshly mind or spirit. “The children of disobedience” show
this by their lives “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind”
(v. 1 & 3). Thus “the prince of the power of the air” is our evil,
fleshly mind, i.e. the real devil.
2. There are many links between Ephesians and Colossians. One of the
clearest is between these verses and Colossians 3: 3-7. Colossians 3:3
speaks of us having died to sin as Ephesians 2:1 does. Verses 5-7 amplify
what are “the lusts of the flesh” which “the children of disobedience”
“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication,
uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness,
which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the
children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when
ye walked in them”. These things of v. 5 are “the works of the flesh”
mentioned in Galatians 5:19. These things come from within us, not from
anything outside (Mk. 7:21-23). Therefore the prince of the power of the
air, which causes these things, is again defined as our evil desires.
3. “The air” normally refers to the literal air around us which we breathe.
It is a different word to that translated “air’ in the sense of the heavens,
e.g. “the birds of the air” (Lk. 9: 58). The seven angels of Revelation
16 pour out their vials on people in various parts of the earth in preparation
for the establishment of God’s Kingdom. “The seventh angel poured out
his vial into the air” (Rev. 16:17) because his work affected the whole
of the earth; it is as a result of this vial that the Kingdom of God is
established on the earth and the kingdoms of men are ended. Thus the “power
of the air” is a phrase which figuratively refers to a power which has
influence over the people of the whole earth - and the power of sin, the
fleshly mind, is worldwide.