The Rulers of This Age

garcia“He felt that there is a loose balance of good and evil, and that the art of living consists in getting the greatest good out of the greatest evil.”

~Machado de Assis, from Iaiá Garcia


We live in a broken world led by broken men. In some cases, world leaders go beyond imperfection to various extremes of evil, and clearly, there is evil in the world.

This is not new.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the first century, mighty Rome was known for its heavy and cruel hand. Paul mentions “the rulers of this age” to help the church understand that, yes they are rulers but their reign is not eternal. There are only two such references in the New Testament. After these occurrences, Paul refers to “rulers” in a more general sense using the term “archai” throughout his letters. Here, the Greek term “archon” (“ruler”) is used to help us understand that these powers are fueled by Satan himself.

We have to look at the whole picture. In the book of Romans, Paul writes that governments exist by the appointment of God (Romans 13:1-7) but their leaders often do the devil’s bidding. Believers may be caught in the dilemma of having to obey God rather than human authorities (see Acts 5:29). Jesus helps us to sort this out by instructing us to give Caesar (the government) what is due to them but never at the expense of obedience to God.

All of this is temporary – a problem of this age. Christians can take heart that even the most powerful of godless authorities will ultimately be eternally condemned and stripped of all their ability to harm God’s people.

Victory is the Lord’s.

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1 Corinthians 2:6–8

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.