Ephesians 3:10 NIV

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,

Who are these rulers and authorities that Paul is referring in the above text?


2 Answers 2


This verse is universally misunderstood because people do not stay with the context of Paul’s preaching, and because they do not consider how the word “heaven” was sometimes used by the prophets in the Old Testament. The word “heaven” did not always refer to God’s abode in the spiritual realm. In prophesy, the word “heaven” or ‘heavens” often meant the ruling dominion of the king’s country; the territory and land over which the king had control.

”1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

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.” (Isa. 1:1-2, KJV)

Who was Isaiah speaking to, or calling to in these verses? Isaiah was not calling God or his angelic host to hear him. The “heavens” concerning Judah and Jerusalem were the ruling authorities over that land territory of Judah; ie. the king and the High Court, and all of their agents who ruled over the people who were the earth of this prophesy.

”Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.” (Deu. 32:1, KJV)

When speaking to the children of Israel, before they crossed into Canaan, Moses was calling upon the “heavens” of their ruling authorities of the Levitical priests who had been given authority by God to teach His law, and to the heads of each of the tribes who were the “earth” of this prophesy.

The kings and rulers had authority over the land or territory of their kingdom, or tribe / nation. They held that power at God’s hand, as God raises up kings and powers to rule (Dan. 2:21, 37; 4:17; Ezra 1:1-5; Jer. 12:17; 18:7; 22:24; 45:4; John 3:27).

”They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the LORD, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.” (Isa. 13:5, KJV)

In the prophesy against Babylon, the foreign army that would come against Babylon (Persia under Cyrus the Great) would come from “the end of heaven” to destroy the whole land of Babylon. Here, “heaven” referred to the entire dominion of the king of Babylon, to all the borders of Babylon, because the king’s dominion over a part of God’s earth was the king’s heaven, or ruling authority that God had given that king. The king’s dominion was a subset of God’s dominion / heaven/ rule over all the earth, and therefore was the king’s smaller heaven.

Then, looking at the context of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we can see that Paul is talking about the “ecclesia,” or the assemblies, of which Paul was made a minister (vs. 7), to teach the mystery that the gentiles (nations) were to be made fellow heirs (vs. 6) which in prior ages had not been made know to the “sons of men” (vs. 5). Therefore, who was going to be learning this mystery? Men (vs 9), “to make all men see.”

”4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

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, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. (Eph. 3:4-12, KJV)

The word “church” in vs. 10 is Strong’s Gr. 1577, “ekklésia” which means an assembly, or congregation.(1) Then, men were to be making known this mystery of the fellowship throughout the lands and thereby would be making known this mystery to the ruling authorities (kings, princes, and magistrates), or the “principalities and powers” of that land’s kingdom, or “heaven”, the king’s “heavenly places.”

It does not mean that men were going to be preaching to the angelic, or heavenly host which is God’s abode. The ruling authorities over a country or nation are kings, governors, magistrates which make up that nation’s power over the people. The rulers were going to learn of the gospel of Christ through the preaching of the “ekklesia” or church.

”For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1 Cor. 1:21, KJV)


  1. "ekklesia" - Biblehub

The writing style of Ephesians is so markedly different from the author of Romans as to suggest that it is a different author. The author seems to be concerned with the aiwnwn, or "gods of the ages":


[Eph 2:1-2 NASB20] [1] And you were dead in your offenses and sins, [2] in which you previously walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

[Eph 3:10 NASB20] [10] so that the multifaceted wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly [places.]

[Eph 6:10-13 NASB20] [10] Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. [11] Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. [12] 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.] [13] Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Hebrews describes the life of faith as a Hunger Game, but the author of Ephesians construes faith as a cosmic war. He identifies the enemies here:

[Eph 2:1-2 NASB20] [1] And you were dead in your offenses and sins, [2] in which you previously walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

However, that is a corrupt translation. I'll offer this rendering:

[Eph 2:1-2] [1] And you were dead in your transgressions and sins, [2] in which you previously walked according to the course of this religious arrangement, according to the ruler of the power of the air of the breath that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

For the ancient Jews, air was intelligent. It carried and communicated one's innermost thoughts. We see that explicitly stated here:

[1Co 2:6-16 NASB20] [6] Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; [7] but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden [wisdom] which God predestined before the ages to our glory; [8] [the wisdom] which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; [9] but just as it is written: "THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND [WHICH] HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HUMAN HEART, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." [10] For to us God revealed [them] through the Spirit [IE: "the air of the breath"]; for the Spirit [IE: "the air of the breath"] searches all things, even the depths of God. [11] For who among people knows the [thoughts] of a person except the spirit [IE: "the air of the breath"] of the person that is in him? So also the [thoughts] of God no one knows, except the Spirit [IE: "the air of the breath"] of God. [12] Now we have not received the spirit [IE: "the air of the breath"] of the world, but the Spirit [IE: "the air of the breath" so also in the rest of the passage] who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God. [13] We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual [thoughts] with spiritual [words.] [14] But a natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. [15] But the one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is discerned by no one. [16] For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

The word "spirit" is a nonsensical term invented by the Catholics to secure their Trinity ideology.

So Ephesians is saying that Paul (and the other apostles) breathed the same air that God breathed, so they "had the mind of Christ." However, the dogs/sinners breathed the air of the breath of the Jewish world.

④ the Aeon as a person, the Aeon (Rtzst., Erlösungsmyst. 268 index under Aion, Taufe 391 index; Epict. 2, 5, 13 οὐ γάρ εἰμι αἰών, ἀλλʼ ἄνθρωπος=I am not a being that lasts forever, but a human being [and therefore I know that whatever is must pass away]; Mesomedes 1, 17=Coll. Alex. p. 197, 17; Simplicius in Epict. p. 81, 15 οἱ αἰῶνες beside the μήτηρ τῆς ζωῆς and the δημιουργός; En 9:4 κύριος τ. κυρίων καὶ θεὸς τ. θεῶν κ. βασιλεὺς τ. αἰώνων; PGM 4, 520; 1169; 2198; 2314; 3168; 5, 468; AcPh 132 [Aa II/2, 63, 5]; Kephal. I p. 24, 6; 45, 7) ὁ αἰ. τοῦ κόσμου τούτου Eph 2:2. The secret hidden from the Aeons Col 1:26; Eph 3:9 (Rtzst., Erlösungsmyst. 235f); IEph 19:2 (Rtzst. 86, 3); cp. 8:1 (Rtzst. 236, 2). Various other meanings have been suggested for these passages.—CLackeit, Aion I, diss. Königsbg. 1916; EBurton, ICC Gal 1921, 426–32; HJunker, Iran. Quellen d. hellenist. Aionvorstellung: Vortr. d. Bibl. Warburg I 1923, 125ff; ENorden, D. Geburt des Kindes 1924; MZepf, D. Gott Αιων in d. hellenist. Theologie: ARW 25, 1927, 225–44; ANock, HTR 27, 1934, 78–99=Essays I, ’72, 377–96; RLöwe, Kosmos u. Aion ’35; EOwen, αἰών and αἰώνιος: JTS 37, ’36, 265–83; 390–404; EJenni, Das Wort ʿōlām im AT: ZAW 64, ’52, 197–248; 65, ’53, 1–35; KDeichgräber, RGG I3 193–95; HSasse, RAC I 193–204; MNilsson, Die Rel. in den gr. Zauberpapyri, K. humanist. Vetenskapssamfundets Lund II ’47/48, 81f; GJennings, A Survey of αιων and αιωνιος and their meaning in the NT, ’48; GStadtmüller, Aion: Saeculum 2, ’51, 315–20 (lit.); EDegani, ΑΙΩΝ da Omero ad Aristotele ’61 (s. Classen, Gnomon 34, ’62, 366–70; D.’s reply in RivFil 91, ’63, 104–10); MTreu, Griech. Ewigkeitswörter, Glotta 43, ’65, 1–24; JBarr, Biblical Words for Time2 ’69; OCullman, Christus u. die Zeit3 ’62.—B. 13. EDNT. DDD s.v. Aion. DELG. M-M. TW. Sv.

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). In A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., pp. 33–34). University of Chicago Press.

So be careful what you inhale.

Searching for an OT/Hebrew origin for this might be concerned with the Watchers:

[Dan 4:17 NASB20] [17] "This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers, And the decision is a command of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, And He grants it to whomever He wishes And sets over it the lowliest of people."

[Dan 10:13 NASB20] [13] "But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was standing in my way for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.

The story of the unhelpful Watchers is expanded on in Enoch:

[Enoch 10] 8 Watchers have disclosed and have taught their sons. And the whole earth has been corrupted 9 through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin.' And to Gabriel said the Lord: 'Proceed against the bastards and the reprobates, and against the children of fornication: and destroy [the children of fornication and] the children of the Watchers from amongst men [and cause them to go forth]: send them one against the other that they may destroy each other in 10 battle: for length of days shall they not have. And no request that they (i.e. their fathers) make of thee shall be granted unto their fathers on their behalf; for they hope to live an eternal life, and 11 that each one of them will live five hundred years.' And the Lord said unto Michael: 'Go, bind Semjaza and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves 12 with them in all their uncleanness. And when their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgement and of their consummation, till the judgement that is 13 for ever and ever is consummated. In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire: and 14 to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined for ever. And whosoever shall be condemned and destroyed will from thenceforth be bound together with them to the end of all 15 generations. And destroy all the spirits of the reprobate and the children of the Watchers, because 16 they have wronged mankind. Destroy all wrong from the face of the earth and let every evil work come to an end: and let the plant of righteousness and truth appear: and it shall prove a blessing; the works of righteousness and truth' shall be planted in truth and joy for evermore.



  • 1
    -1 You say, "The word "spirit" is a bogus term invented by the Catholics to secure their BS Trinity." There is no call for this rude, inappropriate and inaccurate statement. Spirit is a term from the LXX: it is of Jewish origin. Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 15:42
  • 1
    ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος καὶ σκότος ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου καὶ πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἐπεφέρετο ἐπάνω τοῦ ὕδατος Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 2:25
  • 1
    @RevelationLad Do I need special glasses to see the word "spirit" in that passage (Gen 1:2)?
    – Ruminator
    Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 2:29
  • 1
    The only time the breath of God participates in the making of the dry land and sky ceiling etc. is in the making of Adam, into whose nostrils God breathed, and thus animated the clay statue of God. The animals also breathed the breath of life, making them "breathers" (IE: "a living soul/breather"). We also see a reference here: [Psa 104:29-30 NASB20] [29] You hide Your face, they are terrified; You take away their breath, they perish And return to their dust. [30] You send forth Your Spirit [the air of your breath], they are created [κτίζω]; And You renew the face of the ground.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 16:47
  • 1
    I didn't go so far as to say that that is the only way it is to be translated, or did not intend to, because it also speaks of "wind" and other air motion. Notice what John understands being "born of pneuma" to be: [Jhn 3:8 NASB20] [8] "The wind [pneuma] blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going; so is everyone who has been born of the Spirit [pneuma]." So in that case, it might be read, "born of the wind." God is a wind in that he is unconfined by geography:
    – Ruminator
    Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 17:47

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.