Problem: Paul writes, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Some scholars claim that these words (“rulers” “powers” “world forces”) actually refer to human authorities—not demonic beings. Is this the case?
Solution: Surely demonic forces can work through human authorities and systems, but we shouldn’t hold that these are one and the same. Earlier in his letter, Paul writes that the rulers and authorities are “in the heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10). Moreover, in this same passage, the devil is mentioned (Eph. 6:11, 16). Paul tells us that Christ created these authorities (Col. 1:16), and he will ultimately deal with their conquest (Eph. 1:20-22; 1 Cor. 15:24). NT authors constantly mention angels (Rom. 8:38; 1 Cor. 4:9; 11:10; 1 Tim. 5:21; 1 Pet. 1:12; 3:22; Heb. 1:4-2:9; 12:18-24), so it shouldn’t surprise us that it mentions demons as well (Acts 26:18).