What are the ‘Powers of Darkness’ that Paul the Apostle talked about?

According to the Holy Bible, it has been approximately six thousand years from the beginning of humanity (the creation of Homo sapiens sapiens1) to the end of this particular time period in which we now live – this age of Grace. God has spent that entire time educating humankind with the proper knowledge necessary to properly care of this planet and ourselves.

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Being like babes in their early years, our first human couple lived in much ignorance and it was during that time that Satan deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3). Whether or not Satan’s influence arrived through direction from God is much debated, but one thing is certain, the timing of his interference was one of opportunity, for it is easy to deceive a baby, whether an infant or full-grown.

Regardless of the timing, Satan was not originally of this earth, but arrived from elsewhere. He was an invader from the heavens, the realm of God and all spiritual beings. Such angelic creatures can take on a physical form. This ability is demonstrated numerous times in scripture, so much that people are warned, “do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2, NRSV).2

While many still debate if the serpent creature in the Garden of Eden was the devil or not, by the time of Jesus’ life on earth it was pretty much decided as such and stated that way in the last book of the Bible: “that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). ‘Devil’ (Greek: diábolos) is a title meaning ‘slanderer’, and ‘Satan’ (Hebrew: śātān) became a personal name indicating God’s ‘adversary’.3

Satan had many followers that joined him when he rejected and abandoned God long ago; those minions are called fallen angels in the Bible. And there is another group of creatures that associate with Satan; the Bible calls them ‘demons’. So where are the demons from and how did they get here? While Satan and his crew are from the heavenly realm, it is a bit different for demons, for they were created here on earth during the time between Adam and Eve and the great flood in Noah’s day. How?

The fallen angels, in materialized bodies, mated with human women (see Genesis 6) and produced what the Bible calls Nephilim — half-human and half-angel hybrid creatures. Some modern researchers believe the scientifically advanced fallen angels procreated using progressive genetic technologies. That shouldn’t be very hard to believe, for humans are learning how to do this physical gene manipulation into God’s creations at this very moment.

Because of the great debauchery cast into human affairs, God sent the flood to give his earthly creation a reboot. With all that is going on in the world today, do you think our Lord is experiencing a tinge of déjà vu? Is our society in a situation similar to the time of Noah? Jesus himself said, ”Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man” (Luke 17:26).

A deeper study concerning these evil creatures is discussed in the article “What are Demons and the Nephilim?” listed in References & Notes at the end of this article.4 Also see the religious text called the Book of Enoch (a study on that text and its influence on Christian thought is also listed at the end of this article).5

Anyway, the Nephilim were mostly destroyed6 when God flooded the earth during the days of Noah. Physical humans can and do die, but spiritual angels do not die. The flood of Noah’s day killed most humans and also the human part (or physical side) of the hybrid angel-human creatures, but the angel characteristic (or spirit side) lived on as disembodied spirits. Those disembodied spirits are the demons — the unclean spirits — and they still exist today! Demons prefer to occupy physical bodies, rather than remain in a disembodied condition, so when given a chance, they will possess one,7 (see Matthew 8:28-34 for one example).

These demons, along with Satan and his fallen angels, are the invisible dark powers the Bible speaks about. Satan and the fallen angels influence and direct humans in certain ways, and the demons actually take possession of those who can be used to their best advantage. Together they are responsible for all the evil in our world today. They use money, power, fame, sex, and various addictions and tricks to gain control and enlist and enslave people in their fight against God.


While Satan has increased his attacks upon humanity,
humans have gotten smarter, but not smart enough.

By the time of the Second Temple period (516 BC–70 AD), many Jewish thinkers had pieced together a good understanding of Satan, his evil entourage, and his modus operandi. In the latter days of this historical period was the time when Jesus was born on earth; God’s plan for a human savior was ripe, so it was the right time to act. After our Lord’s death, Paul — although not one of the original Twelve Apostles — was very influential in spreading Christianity. He had a keen understanding of the unseen dark powers at work in the world.

We learn from the New Testament that Satan is the god of this age: “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). As one commentator stated, “While God is ultimately sovereign, since he is the creator of everything that exists, Satan has been allowed to exercise a great amount of evil activity on the earth . . . While Satan’s authority is not absolute, neither is it trifling.”8

Paul the Apostle proclaimed that Satan holds unbelieving humanity in his captivity and has blinded them so they cannot see the truth or hear the Gospel of Jesus. So, those who are opposing the true ministry of the gospel have fallen into a trap of the devil.9 This battle for truth has been going on since the time of Jesus and as humankind has advanced in knowledge, so has Satan’s tricks in keeping us under his control. So successfully has Satan done his job that many people think he is winning the battle. How did he manipulate things that way?

The Copernican Revolution,10 which began about 1500 AD, was a major philosophical shift in describing God’s universe, by realizing the sun was the center of our solar system. Before then, the common belief was that our earth was the stationery center point and the sun, moon, and other planets all revolved around us. The new heliocentric idea helped birth the European ‘Age of Enlightenment’ igniting major advances in the sciences; it made possible the development of a scientific method based upon reason, observation, and experiment.11

Academics and philosophers began using this scientific method, not only for science and technology, but also for the humanities. The enthusiasm for the new method “produced a distrust of authority and tradition in all matters of intellectual inquiry. This, of course, included the traditions of the church and the authority of Scripture.” Consequently, many of the new “enlightened” scholars rejected previous religious beliefs and either became a deist (denying a Creator’s intervention) or even an atheist (no belief in God whatsoever).12

Before these changes of thought within our society, belief in angels, demons, and the devil were not usually criticized. But after the change of thought, since they couldn’t be observed or experimented upon, they were considered by many as unreasonable and therefore unreal. Today, in most areas of academia, you are thought to be ignorant if you still believe in the old-fashioned habit of putting your faith in scripture. Belief in spirits, and even God, are now regarded as myth. They are thought to be of some importance for conveying theological ideas, but devoid of any real substance. “We continue to live in the shadow of the Enlightenment. This is why in educational institutions all throughout the West the idea of the actual existence of evil spirits is disavowed.”13

For an interesting story about a letter I once received from a well-known and much-published academic atheist (and my reply), see the article “A Letter from an Atheist about the 12 Commandments!” It is listed at the end of this article in References & Notes.14

The New Testament has much to say about Satan and his associates. They lead humans into sin and are responsible for opposition to Christ and the churches. They are rebels that will soon be judged by our Lord. This great serpent and his helpers are the deceivers of the world and continue to harm God’s people. With the rise of the church, members were taught that Satan leads people into moral and theological error and is behind the persecution of the faithful. The history of beliefs about Satan “is in actuality a history of beliefs about God” and serves to “account for God’s just retribution of sinners as well as for the unjust suffering of those who are faithful to God.”15


How do we protect ourselves from Satan’s clutches?

God is using this current age — this last age before the actual restoration of earth to the state in which it was meant to be — to call-out true believers to live the glorious life he meant for his human creation. He wants us to use our own free will and choose to live a righteous life. Right now he is doing his best to open the eyes of unbelievers so they can see the evil of this world and open their ears so they can hear the truth, but this present age is near its end of time and it appears many won’t make it into his paradise.

Satan doesn’t want you to make it to the promised land, so he is stepping-up his activity; he knows his time is running out. He is doing all he can to hold on to those he has captured and to recapture those he has lost. The Apostle Paul knew this and preached about what we can do to resist the devil.

As one example, he recognized the devil’s influence upon the people in Ephesus16 and suggested their bondage could be broken by simple methods. First they should start by removing all occult, astrology, and magic items from the home.17 And new believers were encouraged to confess and divulge their previous evil practices (Acts 19:18).

In adapting common images that the Ephesians would understand, Paul describes a Christian wearing armor similar to that of a Greek soldier, as though equipping the believer for battle. (I have added bold type to show emphasis.)

“Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17).

And exactly what were the evils they were fighting? Paul said: “Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:11-13).

This armor will protect us too, as without it we will be defeated by Satan and his army of evil spirits and demons. Just remember that our battle is defensive only, we are not instructed to be out and about searching to attack dark forces; we are just suiting-up to stand our ground against the attacks when they come. This armor is to stop the power of any evil or demonic agenda over us; “the armor of God is to enable us to bolt and bar the doors of our spiritual lives.”18 A special study on God’s armor of protection, titled “Ephesians 6: Evil Cosmic Powers & the Armor of God”, is listed in References & Notes.19



Sometimes I feel like the crazy character in a cartoon who stands on a walkway holding a sign announcing ‘The End is Near’. As gleaned from scripture, I’m announcing the facts, but few are listening; not many see what I am pointing out. To them I am just another ‘kook’ to be ignored. Lately though, probably because of how weird the world is becoming, I’m beginning to see a slight change indicating a few more people are waking up. I believe that is why God is waiting to fix this problem, because a fraction more of the population is turning to him, escaping from Satan’s control. These few righteous Christians are opening their eyes to see, and their ears to hear.

And because of this, Evil is growing in magnitude as the Satanic world knows time is growing short and they are desperate to use any means necessary to keep their human helpers from deserting the devil’s work. I urge all those still sitting on the fence to quickly jump to the side of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you have a gut feeling that you should direct your life in a Christian way, do so because that gut feeling is probably a message from God himself — a last-minute nudge for you to join his side.

So, if you now stand in a bad place experiencing the powers of darkness with its pending everlasting punishment, you still have a short time to make a change if you act quickly. Start suiting-up with the armor of God to fend off their attacks and ride the upswing to everlasting life.

Our broken old world is on the verge of changing into something good. Its evil is increasing like a stone rolling downhill, but it will soon begin to change as that rolling stone will slowly begin its climb toward a new and better world. In between its passing from wickedness to moral excellence, Jesus is standing in a valley of ‘the in between’. Now is the time to take hold of his hand for the journey into his paradise.

The music video for this study is titled “The In Between” performed by Matt Maher, a contemporary Christian songwriter and artist. Although now living in the United States, he is originally from Newfoundland, Canada. Selected lyrics are below and a link to the music video is listed in References & Notes.20

I was one way,
But now I’m different,
There was a clear change in
A Holy collision,
Who I was,
And who I’ll forever be,
And He was ‘The In Between’.

Copyright © 2023, Dr. Ray Hermann

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References & Notes

  1. Homo sapiens sapiens: the scientific designation (genus, species, and subspecies) of modern humans and characterized by a large brain, a nearly vertical forehead, a skeletal build lighter, and teeth smaller than earlier humans, and dependence upon language, and the creation and utilization of complex tools.
    (Dictionary.com, retrieved 25 May 2023), https://www.dictionary.com/compare-words/homo%20sapiens-vs-homo%20sapiens%20sapiens
  2. Unless otherwise noted, all scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989). Used by permission.
  3. Heiser, Michael S., Demons: What the Bible Really Says about the Powers of Darkness, (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020), p. 176.
  4. Hermann, Ray, “What are Demons and the Nephilim?” (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 29 October 2019), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/what-are-demons-and-the-nephilim-and-that-mayhem-before-the-flood-of-noah/
  5. Hermann, Ray, “The Book of Enoch and Its Influence on Christian Thought”, (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 4 May 2023), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/the-book-of-enoch-and-its-influence-on-christian-thought/
  6. Some Nephilim survived the flood, examples: Numbers 13:33; Deuteronomy 3:11; 2 Samuel 21:20. Because of their half-human nature, they are believed to have eventually died by other causes, releasing their still-living demonic spirits.
  7. Prince, Derek, They Shall Expel Demons, (Christchurch, NZ: Derek Prince Ministries, South Pacific, 1998), p. 97.
  8. Arnold, Clinton E., Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters, (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), p. 93.
  9. Ibid.
  10. “Nicolaus Copernicus”, (History Channel, 9 November 2009), https://www.history.com/topics/inventions/nicolaus-copernicus
  11. Arnold, Clinton E., Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters, (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 1992), p. 170.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Hermann, Ray, “A Letter from an Atheist about the 12 Commandments!” (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 25 July 2021), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/a-letter-from-an-atheist-about-the-12-commandments/
  15. Stokes, Ryan E., The Satan: How God’s Executioner Became the Enemy, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2019), p. 224.
  16. Ephesus: a city along the coast in Ancient Greece. Location of one of the seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
  17. Knowles, Andrew, (Ed.), The Bible Guide, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2001), pp. 621–622.
  18. Thompson, Leonard, Demons, (Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company, 2005), p. 99.
  19. Hermann, Ray, “Ephesians 6: Evil Cosmic Powers & the Armor of God”, (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 17 February 2019), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/ephesians-6-evil-cosmic-powers-the-armor-of-god/
  20. “The In Between”, Artist: Matt Maher; from The Chosen; (copyright: Matt Maher Worship/Provident/Sony Music, 2022; licenses: SME, Provident Label Group, BMI). Used under ‘fair use copyright’ for teaching under Section 107 of the United States Copyright Act of 1976 — MUSIC VIDEO: https://youtu.be/nLXsriQhO-I
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