The Four Divisions of Demonic Powers

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, emphasis mine).

We can see from this scripture four classes, or divisions, of demonic powers: (1) Principalities, (2) Powers, (3) Rulers of the Darkness of this Age, and (4) Spiritual Hosts of Wickedness in the Heavenly Places.

The impression that I get from listening to others is the highest class of demonic powers is “Principalities.” I disagree. It’s not that its worth arguing about. It’s not. I’m sure God’s not fretting about us not knowing, but I’d like to give the notes of my personal study.

I’m going to start with the highest class, according to my study, and provide my defense why I believe them to be the highest group.

Also something to think about, if there are four classes or groups of demon spirits, it would stand to reason that each class has a hierarchy with servants below them in the same class.

Spiritual Wickedness in Heavenly Places — The Highest Class

“[Spiritual Wickedness in] Heavenly [Places]: Strong’s Concordance: g2032. ἐπουράνιος epouranios; from 1909 and 3772; above the sky: — celestial, (in) heaven(-ly), high.

  1. AV (20) – heavenly 16, celestial 2, in heaven 1, high 1;
    1. existing in heaven
      1. things that take place in heaven
        1. the heavenly regions
          1. heaven itself, the abode of God and angels
          1. the lower heavens, of the stars
          1. the heavens of the clouds
      1. the heavenly temple or sanctuary
    1. of heavenly origin or nature”

Ephesians 2:6

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4–6, emphasis mine).

We see here in Ephesians 2:6 “heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” The same word for “heavenly places” in this scripture is the same word in Ephesians 6:12. It is “ἐπουράνιος: epouranios.”

If we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, then this would be the highest place in the Kingdom of God, because Jesus is in the highest place in the Kingdom of God seated at the right hand of the Father.

It seems to me that the highest place in the Kingdom of Darkness, where Satan is King, would be in heavenly places, epouranios. It would be a bit confusing if it wasn’t. I’m not saying that Satan sits where God’s throne is at. What I am saying is that the highest place in Satan’s kingdom, where his throne is at, is in heavenly places. Epouranios is the place of the throne of his kingdom. It’s not heaven where God’s throne is at, but it’s heaven where Satan’s throne is at.

Revelation 12:7–11

“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:7–11, emphasis mine).

We see in these scriptures that Satan is cast out of his heavenly realm. We know this is not referring to the time he was cast out of God’s presence at his rebellion, because (1) he deceives the whole world, present tense, (2) the power of the Christ has come at this time, so it’s after Christ’s resurrection, (3) he is has been accusing the brethren day and night before he is cast down, so the brethren are in the earth at this time, (4) the saints are the ones that overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony, so the saints are in the earth at this time, and (5) woe is declared on those in the earth inferring the earth is populated.

This is a different word for heaven than used in Ephesians 6:12 and 2:6. This word is Strong’s Concordance “g3772. οὐρανός ouranos; perhaps from the same as 3735 (through the idea of elevation); the sky; by extension, heaven (as the abode of God); by implication, happiness, power, eternity; specially, the Gospel (Christianity): — air, heaven(-ly), sky,” and is used 284 times in the NT:

  1. AV (284) – heaven 268, air 10, sky 5, heavenly + g1537;
    1. the vaulted expanse of the sky with all things visible in it
    1. the universe, the world
    1. the aerial heavens or sky, the region where the clouds and the tempests gather, and where thunder and lightning are produced
    1. the sidereal or starry heavens
    1. the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings,

Ouranos is the atmospheric heaven above the earth.

We know that Satan isn’t in heaven where God is at, but it makes sense that he would make his throne in the heavenly realm above the earth.

Interestingly enough, epouranios not ouranos, is used in Ephesians 6:12 for a spiritual host of wickedness in “heavenly places.” It is also used in Ephesians 3:10 with the same reference to “principalities and powers.” These are the only places I know that epouranios is used for wicked spirits’/Satan’s position. In every other instance I’ve found it’s used as to define God’s place or our position and blessing in Christ. It appears that Paul is using epouranios in Ephesians 3:10 and 6:12 to describe Satan’s position and place in his kingdom which we can see from the verse itself: Satan is the leader of the “hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.” I cannot find a place in the New Testament where epouranios is used to mean the atmospheric heaven as ouranos often is used except when speaking of the throne of dark powers.

Epouranios seems to be, in my thinking, the place of the throne of power. In Revelation twelve, Satan is cast down from his throne of power in the heavens (ouranos), and this is the reason for “anointing” the Antichrist with his power. He’s not cast down from the epouranios, his position of power over the Kingdom of Darkness. To reiterate, Satan is cast from his place of power (ouranos) not his position of power (epouranios) in Revelation 12:7-11.

Epouranios is the seat of power for spiritual kingdoms: the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Darkness. The epouranios for the Kingdom of Heaven is where God resides, and the epouranios for the Kingdom of Darkness is where Satan resides.

God’s home and throne (position) is in Heaven (epouranios). Satan’s position in his kingdom is in epouranios (heavenly places; Ephesians 3:10; 6:12), but his home is in ouranos (heaven, sky, air; Revelation 12:8).

Ephesians 3:10

“To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places [epouranios] (Ephesians 3:10).

In this passage, Paul doesn’t go through the whole list of 6:12 but only list principalities and powers that are in the epouranios (heavenly places). In Ephesians 6:12 we see a spiritual hosts of wickedness in the epouranios (heavenly places) — the seat of power. Satan is the ruler over the dark powers — he sits in the seat of power. Since there are a “spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places”, there must be an order of principalities and powers within the epouranios.

As I said before, if there are four classes of demons, it would stand to reason that each division would have a hierarchy with servants under them.

If this is the case, then another scripture makes more sense to me:

“Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15).

Did Jesus only disarm, despoil, and put off the principalities and powers — the first two classes mentioned in Ephesians 6:12? Of course not. Paul must be referring to the utter defeat of satanic power and the plundering of what Satan had gained from Adam’s treason. Jesus’ victory was top-down — Satan and all of his minions — all those dark forces mentioned in Ephesians six. If Jesus didn’t defeat Satan, He didn’t defeat principalities and powers.

Are there upper classes of dark principalities and powers in the epouranios and lower classes of principalities and powers down the chain in the ouranos? I don’t know, but as I mentioned, it makes sense. If there is a spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places, so there must be some kind of pecking order.

Or maybe epouranios is used more widely in Colossians 2:15 and Ephesians 3:10. Maybe God’s referring to the whole spiritual Kingdom of Darkness — all the classes of evil spirits — because the upper classes of demons, including Satan, have been defeated. They’re still active in the ouranos, but their power over us has been broken. We can enter the Kingdom of God through Jesus. If Satan is defeated, so are the lower classes of demons.

Colossians 1:15–16

“He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven [ouranos] and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers” (Colossians 1:15–16).

We see Jesus is dominate over thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers. This scripture is specifically speaking of things that are created in heaven (ouranos) and earth — what we can see, natural things, and what we can’t see, spiritual things. What unseen things? Well, it would certainly include thrones and dominions. Thrones and dominions aren’t included in Ephesians 6:12 unless they’re included in the “spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places”, which, I believe they are. The word ouranos would include all the upper and lower classes of dark powers in the heavens above us; whereas, epouranios would be the seat of power — the throne of power, so to say.

I suppose we should ask ourselves who sits on the throne of darkness? Satan, of course. Whose seat, as we have seen in Revelation chapter twelve, is in the ouranos.

Rulers (of the Darkness of This Age) — The Second Highest

Strong’s Concordance “g2888. κοσμοκράτωρ kosmokratōr; from 2889 and 2902; a world-ruler, an epithet of Satan: — ruler.

  1. AV (1) – ruler 1;
    1. lord of the world, prince of this age
      1. the devil and his demons

These are rulers of the darkness. They would rule over other dark forces, but would be subservient to the spiritual wickedness in the heavenly realm where the throne of darkness stands.

Perhaps it works something like this: Satan rules over the earth from his throne in heavenly places, and the “spiritual wickedness in heavenly places” rule over continents or large regions under Satan; then rulers of the darkness rule over countries or smaller regions under the authority of spiritual wickedness in heavenly places.

This scripture is interesting:

“Also he [the possessing spirit] begged Him [Jesus] earnestly that He would not send them out of the country” (Mark 5:10, emphasis mine).

This was spoken by the spirit that possessed the man of Gadarene and had the legion of demons. Notice the spirit didn’t want to be sent out of the country. Perhaps he ruled over that country or part of it. Also notice that he had under his authority a legion of other demons that begged to be sent into a herd of pigs (Mark 5:12).

You should read Mark 5:1–20 carefully. You’ll see that the man was possessed by one demon but had a legion.

“Immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit” (Mark 5:2, emphasis mine).

“And he [the spirit] cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.’ For He [Jesus] said to him, ‘Come out of the man, unclean spirit!’” (Mark 5:7–8, emphasis mine).

In both these passages we see that the demonized man was possessed by one spirit. This is the spirit that ruled over the other spirits and invited them into this man’s life.

“Then He [Jesus] asked him, ‘What is your name?’

“And he [the possessing spirit] answered, saying, ‘My name is Legion; for we are many.’ Also he [the possessing spirit] begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country” (Mark 5:9–10, emphasis mine).

The possessing spirit ruled over a legion of demons. Maybe it ruled over legions in that part of the earth.

This is in line with something else that Jesus said:

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Matthew 12:43–45, emphasis mine).

You see, it was the one spirit that actually possessed, or ruled the man, and it invited others to enter into the man. The demonized man of Gadarene was possessed by the one spirit who ruled over a legion that it invited in.

Powers — The Third Ranking

“Powers: g1849. ἐξουσία exousia; from 1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, i.e. (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely, magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence: — authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.

  1. AV (103) – power 69, authority 29, right 2, liberty 1, jurisdiction 1, strength 1;
    1. power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases
      1. leave or permission
    1. physical and mental power
      1. the ability or strength with which one is endued, which he either possesses or exercises
    1. the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege)
    1. the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must…”

The powers would have authority, but it wouldn’t be over the rulers of the darkness. Their authority would be over principalities.

Principalities — Lowest Ranking in Demonic Authority

Strong’s Concordance “Principalities: g0746. ἀρχή archē; from 756; (properly abstract) a commencement, or (concretely) chief (in various applications of order, time, place, or rank): — beginning, corner, (at the, the) first (estate), magistrate, power, principality, principle, rule.

  • AV (58) – beginning 40, principality 8, corner 2, first 2, misc 6;
    • beginning, origin
    • the person or thing that commences, the first person or thing in a series, the leader
    • that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause
    • the extremity of a thing
      • of the corners of a sail
    • the first place, principality, rule, magistracy”
      • of angels and demons

These are principalities, but what are they principalities of? The minions of darkness that do very little thinking of their own. The little monsters that continually harass humans causing fear, divorce, adultery, malicious activity, tormenting thoughts, etc.

A person can be oppressed by demonic spirits and not be possessed. Possession is a demonic spirit inhabiting the spirit of a man. Oppression is pressure against the mind and body — the spirits of fear and infirmities.

Jesus came to deliver us from satanic oppression:

“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).

A person can be oppressed without being possessed.


Of course, this is my conclusion based on my own studies. If I happen to be wrong, oh well. I’ve been wrong before. What makes me go with this order of satanic hierarchy is the “heavenly places” that I commented on at the beginning. As I said, I’m not sure that it makes a lot of difference, but then again, God doesn’t waste His words. I am convinced that during the millennial reign of Christ we will have our understanding enlightened a great deal about many things, and this subject being one of them.

Stay strong and vigilant.

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