Ephesians 6 New International Version (NIV) translation states:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

While most of the passage is clear, since it is about the devil's schemes, what is meant by the specific phrase: "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms"? Does evil exist in heaven?

2 Answers 2


The Greek word that the NIV is translating - ἐπουράνιος - does not necessarily refer to the Heaven that is God's abode. Paul uses the same word in referring to celestial bodies (1 Corinthians 15:40). A better translation in this case might be "high places", as indicated in the King James Version. Ignatius of Antioch, for example, refers to "aerial and terrestrial spirits" when he quotes this verse in his Epistle to the Ephesians (Ch. XIII).

  • While I have no issues with your answer, from a Judaic Christian perspective of creation, what exactly are these "aerial and terrestrial spirits" ('demons') that persecute Christians & where do they come from/what created them? Aug 13, 2016 at 5:58
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    @Dhammadhatu, I am not sure that there is a single Judeo-Christian perspective. My own tradition (Orthodox Christianity) teaches that the demons were once angels who rebelled against God and were cast out of heaven sometime before the creation of man (Job 38:7 LXX, Revelation 12:7-8, Luke 10:18).
    – user15733
    Aug 13, 2016 at 12:41
  • I agree with the accepted answer, but I would add this to it: The origin of evil occurred in a "heavenly place." Whether one thinks of a rebellion of angels prior to the fall or Lucifer deciding to tempt Eve prior to that rebellion, evil had to originate in "heaven." Sep 20, 2023 at 15:25

There are 2 general categories of evil spirits: demons and fallen angels. They are different species and have a different origin.

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    Jul 6, 2019 at 23:47

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