And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

My understanding is that the apostle Paul is referring to Satan by "prince of the power of the air". Why would he be called that?

  • Note that air is ubiquitous and vacuous.
    – Andrew
    Apr 4, 2017 at 23:52
  • You may want to consider that a "prince" may be a rank or title in the spiritual realm. Apr 5, 2017 at 20:00
  • This verse may explain most UFOs Apr 5, 2017 at 20:03
  • Ever heard of how people usually blame one's environment on why people do crimes in the first place? What if that environment in itself, which is non-physical, is controlled by a non-physical entity like Satan himself? Satan simply means "adversary" so maybe the message here is that we can't let the bad circumstances of our life control us. Most people in this world have, for example, been abused. Yet some persevere whilst others grow bitter and vent this bitterness through inflicting suffering on others. Aug 10, 2019 at 2:44
  • The air may also refer to how our words, ideas and thoughts etc. are literally communicated to another person through the air. And some of the things we say can literally affect others, obviously in a negative way. A quick history lesson on propaganda can prove this. Satan is most likely the one maintaining this toxic climate, as he sits back and smiles at humanity destroying each other. Aug 10, 2019 at 2:47

4 Answers 4


I would simply add to Mawia's anwer that the expression "the air" is a way of identifying the evil, sentient beings in the spiritual realm; namely, Satan and his minions, or demons.

The Hebrews believed in, and wrote about, three heavens, and in English we would call them "the firmament," "space," and "the home of God" (or "the highest heaven," as in "God resides in heaven," or "God is enthroned in heaven"; see Isaiah 6:1-7).

Interestingly, the New Testament phrase "in the heavenlies" (or "in the heavenly realms") describes the believers' position or standing IN Christ. We are seated in the heavenlies with Him by faith at the right hand of God (see Hebrews 8:1; 12:2). Positionally--that is, in a judicial sense--believers in the eyes of God are IN Christ (see Ephesians 1:3,20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12; and 2 Corinthians 5:17).

By contrast, Satan and his demonic forces, referred to variously in the New Testament as principalities, powers, rulers, authorities, world forces of darkness, and spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places (see Ro 8:38; Eph 6:12; Col 1:16; 2:15; 1 Pet 3:22) occupy, in a sense, the first heaven, although we see the evidence of their work vey clearly on earth, in and through people and perhaps even through some acts of nature (which we sometimes, perhaps mistakenly, call "acts of God"!).

This evidence takes many forms, and not just in obvious ways such as violence, wars, genocide, widespread injustice, and sexual immorality, but also in not-so-obvious ways, as in godless ideologies and worldviews, corrupt and repressive governments, and much more.

Fallen humankind has its own role in the creation and maintenance of wickedness, too. We cannot claim as comedian Flip Wilson did years ago, "The devil made [us] do it"! There is an expression "to be in league with the devil," which encapsulates quite well how both Satan (or the devil) and humankind each assumes a degree of culpability, though Satan assumes more, since he instigated the rebellion against God and exerts more influence than we do within the spiritual realm (see Matthew 18:7). Although Satan is a powerful enemy, we are not to fear him (2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 4:4). We are also to resist him and even on occasions rebuke him in the name of Jesus (see 1 Pe 5:8,9; Jas 4:7; Jude 9).

Moreover, Satan is well organized and systematic in his assault on anything and everything God calls good. Aided by a hierarchy of demons under his control, the hallmarks of his cosmos--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16)--are evident in every society and culture in the world: from the blatant consumerism and materialism of the minority world, to the oppressive political and religious regimes in the majority world, the latter of which are manifested in atheistic communism and radical Islam, for example.

Satan is alive and well on planet Earth. He is organized; his army of demons and unclean spirits is well staffed and well trained, with unwavering loyalty to their "prince; and his mission is clear: to kill, to steal, and to destroy anything and everything that God has made or is in the process of building, including the universal church of His Son and of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (John 10:10).

Empowered both by Jesus' victory on the cross and by the Holy Spirit's empowering and channeling of the unwavering loyalty of God's ever-expanding family on earth, Satan is a defeated foe (see John 10:10; 1 John 3:8; and Revelation 12:10-12).

In conclusion, we thank God that Satan was dealt a death blow at the cross of Christ, which freed God to "wrap things up" by bringing history as we know it to a close in a way that is consistent with His eternal plan, the counsel of His will, and His holy, righteous, and just character. In so doing, God will eradicate completely Satan's strongholds in the world and then usher in a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness will reign supreme, where sin will never again intrude, and where Satan will never again spoil what God has called good (see Revelation 20:10 and 21:1).

  • Great answer, no wonder we cannot expect this world to be fair; because we are living in a fallen world after all!
    – Martin
    Sep 3, 2013 at 6:45
  • Your first sentence, sir, is enough to answer this question …twice!
    – Igbanam
    Sep 3, 2013 at 16:29

Satan was a mighty angel (Ezekiel 28:12-14), who was cast out from Heaven because of his pride and rebellion (Isaiah 14:12-15). Latter, Satan deceived Adam and Eve and became the father of sinners.

John 8:44 (NIV) You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Now that Satan had infected the whole world with his sins, he is now the ruler of this world.

John 14:30-31 (NIV) I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me

After we believe in Christ, we became new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Though we are save by the blood of Christ and are born again in Christ, we are still living in the world where Satan rules.

1 John 5:19 (NIV) We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

Therefore, Satan is called the Ruler of the air.

Ephesians 2:1-2 (NIV) As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

Satan is always moving about the air and working in the hearts of men to commit sinful things. The majority of this world population is following Satan or Satan is at work in their life. The air itself is polluted with sins created by the works of Satan. Satan will continue to work until Jesus Christ comes back again to defeat him (Revelation 19:11-21).

  • No wonder we find it so difficult/impossible, to get over our sinful addictions. The enemy has even infected our very body and mind(Romans 7;23). As we live in a world ruled by satan we cannot expect the will of God to be automatically done in us.
    – Martin
    Sep 3, 2013 at 6:43
  • 3
    I would not say "impossible" because, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)
    – Mawia
    Sep 3, 2013 at 6:48
  • 1
    And you have authority over the devil - Jesus said "Resist the Devil and he will flee (as in terror) from you". And, Paul said "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world". And more... you're victorious in Christ!
    – hookenz
    Sep 4, 2013 at 9:24

There are two words in Greek that could describe "air": οὐρανός (ouranos) and ἀήρ (aēr; obviously the origin of the English word). The latter word is what appears in Ephesians.

Whereas οὐρανός usually means "heaven" or "the heavens", ἀήρ refers to the space just above the surface of the earth ("sky"). Sometimes οὐρανός is used to mean "sky" (e.g. Matthew 13:32), but ἀήρ is never used to mean "heaven". It is a rare word and appears only 7 times in the New Testament, and 10 in the Septuagint.

In the Septuagint version of Genesis, οὐρανός is what appears in 1:1 (In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth). ἀήρ, however, is what is hovers over the earth. For example:

Psalm 17:11 LXX

And he made darkness his secret place: round about him was his tabernacle, even dark water in the clouds of the air [νεφέλαις ἀέρων].

The space between heaven and earth - the "sky" - is inhabited by principalities, powers, world rulers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). John Chrysostom's explanation (4th c. Greek) for the wording here is:

Here again he means, that Satan occupies the space under Heaven, and that the incorporeal powers are spirits of the air, under his operation. For that his kingdom is of this age, i.e., will cease with the present age, hear what he says at the end of the Epistle; “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against powers, against the world rulers of this darkness;” (Eph. vi. 12.) where, lest when you hear of world-rulers you should therefore say that the Devil is uncreated, he elsewhere (Gal. i. 4.) calls a perverse time, “an evil world,” not of the creatures. For he seems to me, having had dominion beneath the sky, not to have fallen from his dominion, even after his transgression.1

This "kingdom of the air" is a literal, not a figurative kingdom. When Christ is tempted by the devil in the wilderness, the devil offers him all the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8; Luke 4:5). There is nothing in Scripture that insinuates that all this is not, in fact, Satan's to give. On the contrary: we have the testimony of John that all the world is under the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19)

1 Homily IV on Ephesians

  • You may have not seen this but my sub question was the following, "Quick question is the kingdom of air figurative or literal or both?" You beat around the bush but don't directly answer this question it appears.
    – William
    Apr 4, 2017 at 22:21
  • Ok. I completely missed the sub-question. They put it in tiny, tiny print.
    – guest37
    Apr 4, 2017 at 22:25
  • I added an introductory sentence.
    – guest37
    Apr 4, 2017 at 22:28
  • Actually, I thought better and added a conclusion instead.
    – guest37
    Apr 4, 2017 at 23:00
  • 1
    Peace, Brother. It seems like you already have an answer in mind that you like. Feel free to answer the question as well.
    – guest37
    Apr 4, 2017 at 23:43

The Navarre Bible New Testament1 Compact Edition note on Eph 2:1-10 has:

[...]. The "prince of the power of the air" (v.2) refers to the devil as the leader of superhuman powers which, according to a widely held notion at the time, dwelt in the earth's atmosphere.

1. in the Revised Standard Version with a commentary by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre.

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