Ephesians: In the Heavenly Realms

Our Need, His Grace

Ephesians 2:1-3

– The Bible Teacher's Commentary –

Paul J. Bucknell

Ephesians 2:2 "The Descriptions of Man’s Satanic World" is part 3 The Bible Teacher's Commentary based on Ephesians 2:1-3. Ephesians 2:2 graphically describes satan's power and authority over mankind and his involvement in this world. This study on Ephesians 2:1-3 closes with a Bible Study Questions.

B) The Descriptions of Man’s Satanic World

Ephesians 2:2

(1) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, (2) in which you formerly 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 (Ephesians 2:1-2).

We just looked at the spiritual state of natural man. Now Paul starts to describe the society or world as it is sometimes called. This is the spiritual world network or the invisible control that somehow affects the people who are caught in it, that is, the people mentioned above. Some people are not convinced that this description in Ephesians 2:2 is an accurate picture of life. They cannot accept the testimony of scripture, Jesus or the apostles. They are sure that images and stories of evil spirits and Satan are mere fables. Secular man has become bold in denying the reality of the evil one.

Mankind insists on looking at this world with bright hope. With the splurge of wealth, material goods and the promise of more nifty inventions, man thinks that they can solve the world’s problems. They believe the world’s problems are inherently do to unequal distribution of wealth or some other issue they can solve like global warming. With all of the fine educational institutions, investments into museums and even fun places for people to enjoy life, there is no room for Satan. They look at organizations like the United Nations and have great hope for world leaders to usher in peace. They hope for world peace. Sin for them is defined as not being tolerant or not focusing on our potential.

Paul frankly exposes the narrowness of those perspectives. The United Nations boasts of their programs, but their corruptness is more well known than any real peace effort. I am not just against political institutions but even those that think they can live apart from Christ are subject to the same polluted dust of the world. Man’s hope in Islam should be broken by the terrorists. Man’s hope in Catholicism should be broken because of its many scandals. Man’s trust in Protestant or evangelical Christianity should be smashed with one of its leaders courting homosexual favors. Do we need to go on and discuss the world or local politics? There is a reason the world apart from Christ has no hope. What does the apostle say? Let’s take a look at three things he says about the world.

1) The world is not so far away from each of us.

“In which you formerly walked according to the course of this world” (Ephesians 2:2).

We are for the most part walking in the world. This is our familiar turf. This is what we are comfortable with. It’s our home. We might not like its excesses, especially when it affects our accounts, the stock market or our lives, but we get along with it. Apart from Christ, the world is our home. We tolerate it because we love it. Yes, there are protesters of war and the big oppressive G5 monetary makers, but they are only trying to protect their world as they know it.

The world ruler satan has the world chained to himself.The world is not far from us. We were all born into it, even Christians from Christian families. They share in Adam’s nature and have yet to acquire Christ’s life. One can say they are DOA-dead on arrival. Children might express their affection for the world differently from the parents, but in the end they are enveloped in it.

Not one of us can say that we are inherently good or noble. Our beginnings and roots are in the mire of the world. As Christian parents, we need to fervently pray. We must not think that we are so far from the world’s influence. Just turn on the television and the world with its sensual message occupies our mind. “The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:7-8).

2) The world is ruled by Satan.

“According to the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).

What Paul says here can easily shake up people’s thoughts about life. It seems that every day someone comments on how nice the weather is where they are. My neighbor told me how glad he was that he could retire in 4 years and 9 months. They sound oblivious to the danger of making the world their final rest. If they belong to the world, then they are ruled by the prince of the power of the air. If this is true (and it is), they would have to admit to actually being Satan’s accomplice. Very few are open to state this other than some witches and warlocks. Like it or not, when we begin to really understand the world, we should be able to see that there is one that steers our world in the direction of darkness.

The way the darkness reveals itself might look popular, hip or cool in our generation, but its oppressive and demonic aspects are covered up. Try to explain how a modern country like America or religious country like India or a atheistic country like China can slaughter their own people. It simply amazes me how certain people upset over the 3000 men killed in the war (which indeed is tragic) at the same time think nothing of defending the right to eliminate millions of children at the altar of materialism in the. As our societies move older, they are willing to compromise their convictions and join the evil one in his ways by dissecting a living human and harvesting (we usually call it stealing) its inner parts. Can no one see that this is outright murder?

Notice the difference between the one who came from heaven and the prince and power of the air. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10). We might have expensive memorials for those killed in war or attack, but we cover up our true ambition by secretly coveting and stealing the lives and possessions of many others. Who would want someone legally come to your door and request that you give up your liver or heart for them? If you refuse, then you would be taken by force.

Satan’s greatest bluff at this point is to have man think that there is no spiritual aspect of this world. His greatest lie is that he does not exist! He smudges packs of lies on the eyes of humanists so he can cleverly hide behind the scenes. If you so strongly disagree with Paul’s statement, can I ask what proof do you have that there is no Satan? How do you know for sure there is no sinister evil force about the world? Is there not evidence for him all about us?

Federal judge trashes anti-porn lawCan you explain the tendency for violence the entertainment world to get worse and worse? Can you explain how this culture is so doped up by trying to get prestige for women when pornography has grown by leaps and bounds? Can you explain the terrorists’ actions? This world is converging together. We will see this sinister leader at some appropriate point step out at the right time and take charge. Don’t be deceived. He will first look like a good guy promising you everything, but his purpose is to take everything from you. Although he has been sentenced, he is allowed to rule for a short time.

Don’t be like Edmund in the Chronicles of Narnia who for the sake of Turkish delight, the sweets of the world, pledge yourself to the evil one’s service. God our Creator has allowed the fallen angel so much time, but his time is short. He was kicked out of heaven but rules on earth. Are you hypnotized by the pleasures of the world? Then you are in his service. Do you boast about your life’s accomplishment in your heart? You are ensnared in his plot. Do your eyes glean about with greed in its veins? You are one of the evil one’s servants. Jesus didn’t waste words.

You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies (John 8:44).

3) An evil spirit works in those in the world

"Of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2).

Some people might even get more upset here. Paul is not only saying that there is an evil spirit, but that his spirit actually works in our lives. Well, what does Paul mean? Are are possessed? Does the evil one have such a grasp on our lives that we cannot even recognize it?

If we operate by a spirit, then certainly it deeply influences our very lives. It does say that it is “now working in the sons of disobedience.” What does it mean for the spirit to be working in our lives? The key rests in the meaning and function of the word ‘spirit.’

The meaning of spirit in Ephesians 2:2The word ‘spirit’ has several meanings. We outright dismiss the possibility that it refers to the Holy Spirit with a capital ‘S.’ The context is decisive. We can also exclude the reference to literal ‘air.’ But we can perhaps better understand how the spirit might work our lives by analogy. The word for spirit and air is the same throughout the Bible. This is no doubt because the spirit and the air function in the same way. Just think how air enters and exits our bodies. The oxygen (i.e. air) does not have a casual contact with our lives but actually enters all our cells and swirls throughout our bodies and keeps all the cells alive which in turn keeps the body functioning. We would not live very long without air. The only possible hope for those under cardiac arrest is to force them to breathe and get oxygen into their lungs.

We can only conclude that in a similar way the spirit of the evil one freely works in those who disobey the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His spirit, energy, desires and influence animate those in the world. Freedom is the greatest joke of the modern world. Man is not free. He doesn’t simply make his own decisions. There is a spirit of darkness that animates each of the cells in those who are apart from Christ. Their minds are in darkness. The worst part is that they do not even know it.

What is the apostle doing here by describing the state of the world? He is basically stating that apart from the marvelous and undeserved love and power of Christ we would rightfully be condemned along with the world. Even if man had a speck of light–though he doesn’t; he is spiritually dead, we are so consumed in the world’s ways that it would be impossible to have the light bring us out of darkness. Jesus states it so clearly, those apart from the saving influences of Christ are of our father the devil. They live after his ways as seen in their disobedience. “Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.”” (John 8:12).

Understanding the Dark World

The Dark World of Spiritual Things
Demon Possession: Is it Biblical?

Understanding How Demons Work
The Devil and His Powers
Sorcery: Satan or Flesh? Gal. 5:19

Other Articles of Interest

Satan's use of bad counsel (Job)
God's purpose for Satan
Satan's Plan to get God's people
Keeping God's Word from God's people
Twisting Truth
Discouraging God's Workers


The church is not just another religion. We need to be careful that it does not become such. The church of God are God’s people of light. They have come out of the evil one’s control. Satan has imprisoned all of us in death. He swallowed us whole in Adam.

Apart from coming to Christ, there is no escape. Young or old, bright or dumb, it does not make any difference. Look at your life. If you are controlled by your desires, is it not clear no matter what you say that you belong to the world? You need to escape the world and follow Christ. Call out to God that He might have mercy on you and save you. This is the experience that each of His true children have. Like the Israelites who came out from Egypt, we are to leave the world and be His people. Paul is showing us our complete inability to save ourselves as well as our need to be saved, without which we will share a common destiny with the evil one in the flames of hell.

Now let us look at the last verse which describes not our general state or the world but our hearts.

Next => C) The Description of Man’s Heart (2:3)

Intro (Ephesians 2:1-3) | Man's Nature (Ephesians 2:1) | Man's World (Ephesians 2:2) | Man's Heart (Ephesians 2:3) | Questions (Ephesians 2:1-3) | mp3 download | Video podcast

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Read more exciting and practical articles on the Book of Ephesians.

Introduction to the Book of Ephesians

Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1:1-3 Every Spiritual Blessing

Ephesians 1:1-3 Every Spiritual Blessing
Ephesians 1:1 Only by the Will of God
Ephesians 1:2 Only in Christ Jesus
Ephesians 1:3 Every Spiritual Blessing
Ephesians 1:1-3 Bible Study Questions

Ephesians 1:4-6 Bible Study Questions
Ephesians 1:1-14 Redemption & Sovereignty
Ephesians 1:15-17 Bible Study Questions

Ephesians 2-3

Ephesians 2:1-3 Our Need, His grace

Ephesians 2:1-3, an Introduction
Ephesians 2:1 A) Man's Nature
Ephesians 2:2 B) Man's World
Ephesians 2:3 C) Man's Heart
Questions (Ephesians 2:1-3)

Ephesians 3:14-21 The Fullness of God's Love

Ephesians 4

Ephesians 4:1-3 Preserving the Spirit's Unity

Intro: Problems of Disunity
Ephesians 4:1 Calling to Unity
Ephesians 4:2-3 Our Oneness of the Body
Ephesians 4:3 Preservation of Unity
Ephesians 4:1-3 Bible Study Questions

Ephesians 4:11-16 The Purpose of Training

Ephesians 4:11-13: A) God's Word in the Church
Ephesians 4:11 Gifts in the church
Ephesians 4:12 Purpose of equipping
Ephesians 4:13 The final goal
Ephesians 4:11-13 Bible Study Questions

Ephesians 4:14 B) Responsibility 1. Deceit
Ephesians 4:15a 2. Speaking the truth in love
Ephesians 4:15b 3. Grow up into Christ
Ephesians 4:16 Summary: Function of the Church
Ephesians 4:14-16 Bible Study Questions

Ephesians 4:11-14 Chart: Equipping of the Saints
Ephesians 4:26-27 The Urgency of Resolving Anger
Ephesians 4:31 The Tree of Bitterness

Ephesians 5-6

Ephesians 5:22,24 Wives be Subject to your Husband
Ephesians 5:25 Marital Love
Ephesians 5:31-32 Redemptive Analogy & Marriage
Ephesians 5:31-33 Building a Great Marriage
Ephesians 6:1-3 Obedience to Parents
Ephesians 6:17 Sword of Spirit

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

Paul J. Bucknell

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