According to the Wikipedia article on Territorial spirit:

Territorial spirits are national angels, or demons, who rule over certain geographical areas in the world, a concept accepted within the Charismatic movement, Pentecostal traditions, and Kingdom Now theology. This belief has been popularized by the novel, This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti, as well as by the ministry of Peter Wagner. The existence of territorial spirits is viewed as significant in spiritual warfare within these Christian groups.

Peter Wagner promotes "Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare" (SLSW) which involves the practice of learning the names and assignments of demonic spirits as the first step to effective spiritual warfare.[7] Opponents of this theological construct, and associated beliefs in "spiritual warfare", point out that while the Bible may describe some form of demonic control over geography, it does not prescribe many of the behaviors and teachings that proponents advocate in response. There is no mention in either the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament of believers banding together and praying a form of "spiritual warfare" against particular territorial demons. The battles occurring in the spiritual realms (as described in Daniel 10) have no Biblically identified link to the actions and prayers of God's people in the physical world.[8]

Are the belief in "territorial spirits" and the practice of "Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare" innovations of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement?

Did they borrow these ideas from prior sources?

Can we find evidence of similar beliefs being held in other periods of church history?

Note: an interesting book that reports the alleged application of these ideas in the context of the Argentine Pentecostal Revival is Listen to Me, Satan! by Carlos Annacondia (an interview is available at Carlos Annacondia: The evangelist at the forefront of revival, and a YouTube documentary called Carlos Annacondia - "Listen to Me Satan").

  • No need to be sorry, I'll edit if necessary. This 2009 Liberty University research paper by Dr. Don Fanning (who served and did mission in Latin America, including Argentina) Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare tries to trace the historical roots of SLSW to Latter Rain movement and Dominion theology. A lot of details, I'm still processing it. Feb 22, 2022 at 5:39

2 Answers 2


A biblical basis for "territorial spirits" and the practice of "Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare" can be gleaned from the Book of Daniel. In chapter 10 the prophet receives a powerful vision of a "man" who is clearly a supernatural being:

Daniel 10:5-6

I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was girded with a belt of pure gold of Uphaz. His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult.

The being explains:

Do not be afraid, Daniel... your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me 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.

Since a physical prince could hardly detain a being such as Daniel describes, the "prince of Persia" here must refer to some kind of ruler in the spiritual word. The being who is speaking to Daniel receives help against this "prince" from Michael, who is a "chief prince." The heavenly being then says

I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince. (20-21)

Since the Greeks conquered the area around 336 BC to 323 BC, long after the time of Daniel, the text here speaks of a period of centuries; and the battles referred to are based primarily in the spiritual realm and played out on earth. Chapter 11 describes the earthly consequences in the political realm. Chapter 12 reaches the climax:

Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. 2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. 4 But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.

Conclusion: These verses form a biblical basis for the belief in "territorial spirits" and the practice of "Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare." But I am unfamiliar with Pentecostal angelology. I assume it combines these passages with NT verses about the "ruler of this world" (John 12:31) and "spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). A straightforward reading of the text of Daniel seems to describe a being that I would call the Angel of the Lord, assisted by (the archangel) Prince Michael, who is the spiritual guardian of Israel. It is unclear to me whether the text means the other powerful spiritual "princes" (of Persia and Greece) to be understood as satanic or merely national/imperial.


The primary sources of information for Pentecostal and Charismatic believers are the Holy Spirit and His Written Word.

External to these sources, there is a really good article on this very subject at: https://frame-poythress.org/territorial-spirits-some-biblical-perspectives/#:~:text=What%20does%20the%20Bible%20have%20to%20say%20about,in%20the%20Gospels%20and%20the%20Book%20of%20Acts..

Territorial Spirits: Some Biblical Perspectives JUNE 5, 2012 By Vern Poythress

Also, see:

The claim is that in the beginning God allotted specific angels to certain countries and that after the rebellion by Satan, his fallen angels continued in dealing with these specific nations. The idolatrous superstitions of pagan nations reveals this demarcation by the limits of specific spirits to a certain territory, which in some cases is marked on the land by an altar. For example:

Satan has assigned certain demons to certain territories, nations, cities and subcultures. These demons seek to pervert the peoples in their territory and to turn them against God (e.g. Ezek 28:12 the "King of Tyre"). Angelic beings were originally (see White, 1991, p59) given certain groupings of mankind to oversee. [Dr. John Studley, personal email quoting his MA thesis.]

In NW Nepal the territorial spirits are named Masta and the geographic extents of their territories are known to the local people. Where a Masta boundary crosses a path it is demarcated by an altar. When travellers reach the altar they place votive offerings in the niches to ensure safe passage and protection as they pass through the territory of the Masta. They are appeased with the help of a Dharmi (shaman). [Ibid.] Satan has assigned a hierarchy of principalities, powers and rulers of darkness to specific territories on the earth. [John Dawson, YWAM, Taking our Cities for God, Creation House (1989), p158.]

As you can see from the above, there are other sources from around the world such as Nepal.

But the authority is always the written word of God. And the only source more authoritative than that is the Holy Spirit Himself.

Disclaimer: I am an Independent Evangelical Christian who was originally brought up as a Catholic.

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