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NIV John 12:31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince [ruler] of this world will be driven out.

In that verse he was speaking about his upcoming crucifixion. But in Ephesians, Paul said:

NIV Ephesians 6:12 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.

If Jesus drove out the ruler of this world with the judgment of his crucifixion, why does Paul speak as though the enemy is still here?

  • I like your question grace. Please indicate which translation you are using and place your scriptural quotes in quote blocks. – user20490 Dec 12 '17 at 4:11
  • Christ (repeatedly) conquered the devil (by resisting his temptations in the wilderness, by performing various exorcisms, and by his death and resurrection). We, however, didn't. We are still fighting, (by struggling with temptation, exorcising our own demons, and being subject to death and resurrection). – Lucian Dec 13 '17 at 20:45
  • How do we know that the "ruler of this world" is Satan and not Christ? Or the high priest? – Ruminator Oct 5 '18 at 22:06
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I don't think it's accurate to say that the verse means that the prince of the world was "driven out" in the sense you suggest.

The full verse (from the NIV, which I believe you are quoting) is:

Now is the time for judgment on this world; Now the prince of this world will be driven out

The literal Greek text does not read judgment on this world, but rather judgment of this world (κρίσις τοῦ κόσμου τούτου). It is a subtle difference perhaps worth pointing out (see below).

The phrase will be driven out translates ἐκβαλλεσθαι ἔξω (ekballesthai exō), which is juridical term used to refer to the removal of convicted and condemned prisoner from court so that he may receive his appointed punishment.1

Since by sin, death entered the world (Romans 5:12), and since it was the devil that first led man to sin (Genesis 3), the devil can be said to have been responsible for slaying the first man and all men since. By attempting to murder Christ - who was guiltless and sinless - the devil overreached his "authority", if we can call it that, and so faced condemnation.

One explanation of this verse in antiquity (John Chrysostom, ca 349-407) explains:

What is, the judgment of this world? It is as though He said, “There shall be a tribunal and a retribution.” How and in what way? “He slew the first man, having found him guilty of sin, (for by sin death entered2) but in Me this he found not. Why then did he spring upon Me and give Me over to death? Why did he put into the mind of Judas to destroy Me?” (Tell me not that it was God’s dispensation, for this belongeth not to the devil, but His wisdom; for the present let the disposition of that evil one be enquired into.) “How then is the world judged in Me?” It shall be said, as if a court of justice were sitting, to Satan, “Well, thou hast slain all men, because thou didst find them guilty of sin. But why didst thou slay Christ? Is it not clear that thou didst it wrongfully?” Therefore in Him the whole world shall be avenged.3

The devil being "cast out" is to be understood as his having been convicted in the legal sense (ἐκβαλλεσθαι ἔξω). The judgment of the world, as the phrase appears in the literal Greek, can be understood not to be a judgment for or against the world - which would divorce the judgment from the devil's being driven out; but rather a sort of judgment by the world. Chrysostom offers an analogy here:

Suppose there is some cruel tyrant, bringing ten thousand evils on all those who fall into his hands. If such a one [i.e. the tyrant] engaging with a king, or a king's son, slay him unjustly, his death will have power to get revenge for [all] the others as well.4

Under the above understanding, John 12:31 does not mean that the devil will be removed from interfering with us altogether. John himself will later write that the whole world is under the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19). The result of the devil's having been convicted (driven out) is stated in the following verse:

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

Note that this verse refers, strictly speaking, to Christ's resurrection and not His crucifixion. "Had he continued dead, and been a mere man, no one would have believed."5

1. Theophylact of Ohrid (1055-1107), Explanation of the Gospel of John (tr. from the Greek; Chrysostom Press, 2007), p.202
2. Romans 5:12
3. Homily LXVII on John
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.

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We're reading into this verse something that isn't there. It says judgment has come to this world. But the second part only says the prince of this world will be driven out period. Not that he will be driven out of this world.

Similar language is used in John 10:4 when it says Jesus has "brought out" all His own.

John 10:4-5 NIV: When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.

The prince of this world has been "driven out" of those who do not follow him and the ways of this world.

  • Welcome to BH.SE and thank you for your answer. I edited your post to use our formatting standards. Could you edit in the translation you are using, for a proper reference? – user2672 Aug 5 '18 at 8:04
  • I tried using the quote but couldn't get it to work right. – Char Aug 6 '18 at 20:06
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1. Question Restatement:

In John 12:31 - When is the Prince of this world driven out?

If Jesus drove out the ruler of this world with the judgment of his crucifixion, why does Paul speak as though the enemy is still here?

NASB, Ephesians 6:12 - 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers ...

NASB, 2 Corinthians 4:4 - in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving ...


2. Context - "Kosmos":

I do not know the original bases to translate "Kosmos" as "World", (in the modern sense of "Earth"), in any Biblical passage. It is incredibly inaccurate to translate "Kosmos" in any sense of "The Earth, Planet Thing".

Both John 3:16, (Greek Interlinear) and John 12:31, (Greek Interlinear) use the Greek word "κόσμος", (Logeion Lexicon).

Logeion, κόσμος - ... order, form, government, world-order, regulation, etc..

The writer uses a different word for "The Earth, Planet Thing":

NASB, John 12:24 (Interlinear) - Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth | γῆ (Logeion Lexicon) and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Being Cast Out also Indicates a Loss of Authority and Privilege:

Logeion, ἐκβάλλω - cast out of his seat, depose a king, ἐ. ἕδρας Κρόνον A.Pr.203;

NASB, Genesis 21:10 - Therefore she said to Abraham, “Drive out | ἔκβαλε this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac.”


3. Context - John 12 doesn't actually say, "Cast out of this world":

It is not required to inject "cast out [of this world]" to interpret this verse.

It is perfectly valid to translate and interpret John 12:31, as it is written:

Literal Translation: Now is the judgment of this governing-order | κόσμος; now, the governor of this governing-order | κόσμος will be cast down [from authority];
Note: ἐκβάλλω is translated here as "cast down from authority" instead of "cast out of authority" because "down" indicates a loss of authority, and shame - which is indicated by the context if "governing-order" is intended by the writer of John. Either way, "Cast out of the Earth" is not a justifiable translation or interpretation.

Jesus was making several references to Hebrew Scripture, especially:

NASB, John 3:14 - As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;

NASB, John 12:31 - Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” 33 But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.

NASB, Numbers 21:6 - ... 8 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” 9 And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.


4. Answer - the Ruler of that Governing Order was Cast Down from Authority:

Regardless if the "Rule of this Governing-Order" is the Devil, The Law, or Sin - this verse, and many other New Testament texts, actually indicate that all three were judged and cast down from power. ("Who" this ruler actually is - would be a great follow-up question.)

NASB, Luke 10:18 - And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.

NASB, Job 8:4 - “If your sons sinned against Him, Then He delivered them into the power of their transgression.

NASB, John 8:34 - Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

NASB, 1 Corinthians 15:56 - The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;

NASB, Hebrews 2:14 - Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil ...

This is all explicitly explained by Paul:

NASB, Colossians 2:14 - having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross [lifted up, as Moses did]. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. 16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge ... 20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

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The unholy trinity is 1. Satan; 2. the world; and 3. our flesh. If our flesh gets crucified the other two lose their power over us. The ruler of this world, Satan, gets thereby driven out from our lives.

2 Cor 4:3-11 "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh".

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John 12:31-32 reads literally in the Greek as follows:

Now is judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world shall be cast outside. And I, if I be raised up high from out of the earth, I will draw all to myself.

So, here are a series of questions.

Does the first sentence in the passage mean that the world was judged at the crucifixion or does the judgment come later? Did Jesus draw all to himself at the crucifixion or did it begin at the crucifixion? What does the expression “cast outside” mean? Is it similar to anything else that Jesus said? When are some phony Christians cast into outer darkness as mentioned in Matthew 22:13?

It should also be noted that after the devil has been thrown out of heaven, Revelation 12:12 (NASB) reads

For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.

The devil is now trapped on earth for a short time. From here, the devil is cast into the lake of fire.

  • I do not believe the devil is trapped here on earth. Please show your Scripture references for this statement. – Grace Dec 12 '17 at 16:04
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    Seems like it to me from Revelation 12:7-13. What else could it mean? – Dieter Dec 12 '17 at 21:12
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It is very easy to become confused by the present tense verbs used in the writings from 2,000 years ago. When we read the NT scriptures today we have to keep in mind that we are reading historical records preserved by the Holy Spirit. We have to identify who was speaking, and to whom they were speaking.

The pattern and the process of the gospel conversions are universal for all people of all generations. But, many of the historical events were only speaking of the times of that generation, of those people living during the 1st century A.D.

Jesus and Paul weren't speaking of circumstances that their audience would never live to see happen 2,000 years into the future. Jesus was telling them of things and events that were going to affect them directly.

"The ruler of this world"... Their "world" concerned the ruling authority and power under which they lived in the first century A.D. There was the ruler of Galilee and Perea, Herod Anitipater (Antipas), son of Herod I the Great, and who had inherited part of his father's kingdom with the approval of Emperor Augustus.

All of Judea had been a province under Roman rule. This was the 4th beast kingdom prophesied by Gabriel to Daniel (chap. 7) that would be the world power at the time of Christ. So, the word "world" was associated with the kingdom that ruled their lives. It didn't mean the entire scope of all the earth.

All roads lead to Rome became a truism for a reason, and that is because the Roman empire spread over a large territory. It was the known "world" power of the day.

Then, the ruler of this world was either Herod Anitpas, and/or possibly referred to the authority over Anitpas, the Roman emperor.

In Eph. 6:12, Paul said "we" which would include his audience - the Ephesians - and possibly the collective apostles who were the angels / messengers of the gospel. Their struggles were within the ruling powers in "heavenly realms". They were dealing with persecution from the ruling authorities of the Sanhedrin council, and of the Roman procurators. It was a very troublesome time of tribulation.

While we live on this earth we will always face some troublesome times, and hardships in our life. Most always those hardships are caused by wicked and evil ruling authorities. It is proper to recognize the example to all generations, but do not misappropriate the time period to our generation.

The heavenly realms is a reference learned from OT prophesy where the prophets were sent by God to different nations, and they addressed two groups of people... the heavens and the earth.

Deu. 32:1,

"Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth." (KJV)

Isa. 1:2,

"Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me."

The prophet did not need to tell God in heaven the words he was about to speak. So, which heavens was the prophet calling in these verses?

The two groups of people in a nation are the ruling powers and authorities over and above the common folk of the land. Heaven was a metaphor for their power and authority over the rest of the people. As God above allows rulers to rise and fall, He raises up nations and throws them down. God is over and above all of the entire earth.

The ruling king was a type of heaven over and above the people of his nation. His kingdom was his heaven, his realm of authority. The "earth" was the people under his rule and authority, and was also the occupied land of that kingdom.

So, "Hear O heavens, and Hear O earth" was in our vernacular "Listen up King, and hear me you people of ____ "- fill in the blank for the nation he was sent to warn.

Following through, then the "end of heaven" (Isa. 13:5) and the "ends of the earth" (Jer. 16:19) were the borders of that nation / kingdom. "Throwing down to earth" was the symbol of ruling authorities being thrown out of their positions of power to be among the people of the land. They would no longer have any ruling authority.

And, "heavenly places" was then the palaces of the kings, and governors, etc. These were "the heavenly places that were to know the manifold wisdom of God."

Eph. 3:10,

"To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God," (KJV)

We must use discretion to determine when God is speaking of the kingdoms of men - principalities and powers - and when He is speaking of His kingdom, and His throne. His kingdom and His throne is over all the earth, and He has never abdicated that rule and authority to Satan or anyone else.

For more discussion on this topic see my post "The God of This World And The Prince of The Power of The Air" at ShreddingTheVeil.

The enemy that Paul referred to was an enemy they were facing in the first century A.D., which was two fold: the Sanhedrin council who was terrorizing the people trying to keep the gospel of Christ from undermining their power; and the rulers above them... the Roman emperors.

Jesus drove out the wicked Sanhedrin and Sadducees and Pharisees and Zealots at the destruction of Jerusalem, scattering the power of the holy people (Dan. 12:7) in A.D. 70. The other wicked ruler of that "world" who ruled during the time that the NT books were written was Nero, and he was also dealt with, dying by the sword as he killed by the sword (Rev.13:10).

The enemy in any generation are the children of wrath (Eph. 2:3) or children of disobedience (Eph. 5:6) who will not have God reign over them. These wicked ones will always plague and torment the righteous in every generation. They are the ones pictured who are still outside the city of the New Jerusalem - the church of Christ - the body of Christ - in Rev. 22:15.

That they still exist outside the city indicates that life continued on after the judgment that was pronounced in Revelation. It is a telling clue that Revelation was not an "end of the world" world-wide destruction prophesy. All of the people of every generation since the 1st century A.D. that are baptized into Christ, put on Christ and are entered into the heavenly (ruling authority) under Christ's kingdom, of which the capital city is the heavenly New Jerusalem.

The wicked still exist outside that city unless they repent and are baptized into Christ. Otherwise they will never enter into it.

So, the enemy of the wicked, unrighteous children of wrath are still with us.

(All bold emphasis is mine.)

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If I am correct that John's peculiar use of KOSMOS is to refer to the contemporary Jewish theocratic establishment then the ruler is not Satan but the high priest. In that case then the judgment did not actually fall until 70AD when the temple was destroyed.

KJV Joh 12:31  Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

KJV Joh 14:29  And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass [70AD], ye might believe.  Joh 14:30  Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.  Joh 14:31  But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

Note that Rome did not persecute Jesus or the disciples, the Jewish theocracy did:

Joh 15:18  If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  Joh 15:19  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.  Joh 15:20  Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

Paul's concern is with world rulers and Satanic forces.

NIV Ephesians 6:12 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.

The rulers, authorities and power of this dark world are distinguished from the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

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