1 Corinthians 2:8 – Rulers of This Age

Those who oppose God inevitably believe they are smarter than Him.  They devise plans that oppose His will and think that He doesn’t see and know them.  This is part of their foolishness.  If the Lord knows how many hairs each of us has on our heads (Luke 12:7), then might He not also know the plans secreted within the hearts of the wicked?  Yes, He does.  Consider Jeremiah 17:10 in which He says:

“I the Lord search the heart

    and test the mind,

to give every man according to his ways,

    according to the fruit of his deeds.”

God knows the hearts of those both good and evil.  Because of that, He is able to judge and act accordingly toward all.  In understanding this concept, it’s important to realize that it transcends our natural human plane of existence.  Since God created the heavens and the earth and all things in them (Psalm 146:6), then obviously He also brought forth all heavenly beings.  Thus, the minds of divine entities, such as the sons of God (bene Elohim), e.g. angels, cherubim, seraphim, etc. are as much an open book to Yahweh as are ours.  This is why Paul made the extraordinary statement he did in 1 Corinthians 2:6-8:

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Who are the rulers of this age that Paul writes about?  Looking in the Greek at the word archón (Strong’s #758), we see that it means a “commander with authority or influence in a particular jurisdiction.”  Paul understood the world in which he lived and wrote with a cosmic-geographical world view.  We know this from his famous passage we often quote in Ephesians 6:12:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

The demonic realm has a spiritual hierarchy that is territorially based.  The Bible further tells us this through Deuteronomy 32:8 (ESV):

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,

    when he divided mankind,

he fixed the borders of the peoples

    according to the number of the sons of God.

Following the incident with the Tower of Babel, God placed His divine sons – who were loyal at the time – over the nations.  They all ended up rebelling against Him by presuming to take His position over those nations as their gods.  It was these gods that always enticed the Israelites because of the immoral things they taught the people in the nations under them, which the Israelites in their sinful flesh coveted.

When Jesus came to walk the earth, He was not simply engaged with the prideful, disobedient hearts of men.  He was in an intense spiritual battle.  We see this from the beginning in His temptation in the wilderness by Satan all the way through to the end in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He sweated great drops of blood in His agony of the soul following the possession of Judas by Satan and the knowledge of what was to come.

This brings us back to what Paul said about the rulers of this age.  Consider these three ideas he expresses:

  1. The rulers of this age are doomed to pass away
  2. There was hidden wisdom of God that they could not discern
  3. If these rulers had known God’s plans, they would never have crucified Jesus

Because these evil spiritual entities have been disobedient to the will of God, they will die at some point by losing their immortality.  One place we see this clearly is in Psalm 82:6-7.  In God’s Divine Assembly, in which all spiritual beings are gathered in the heavenly throne room, look at what He says to those which have rebelled against Him:

I said, “You are gods,

    sons of the Most High, all of you;

nevertheless, like men you shall die,

    and fall like any prince.”

God will treat these beings like mere men who have hated and rejected Him.  They will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.

The Lord plays His cards closely when He must.  Seeing all and knowing all, He knew these divine sons of His would rebel and corrupt mankind.  In that knowledge, He devised the plan for the redemption of men, but He kept part of that scheme secret.  Satan and his demonic cast of characters had no idea what God’s plan fully entailed.  The wisdom of it was hidden from them.

Satan tried his best to tempt and corrupt Jesus.  In his failure, he saw what he considered was the opportunity to kill the Son of God.  If Satan couldn’t cause Jesus to bow down and worship him, then by killing him in full view of all men, he would show that God wasn’t so great after all.  Thus, it was Satan’s strategy to betray the Lord through Judas, which would lead to the earthly authorities destroying Him.

When Jesus was crucified, Satan and all his demonic host celebrated.  They thought they had won – that they had beaten God at His own game.  But they didn’t know the mind of God; He knew their minds.

God’s plan incorporated what the world – and Satan – would have considered foolishness.  How could God allow His Son to die – to be horribly crucified in the most shameful death imaginable?

But it was this very act by which God triumphed.  Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God accomplished the means for the atonement of our sin.  It was the very act of the shedding of Jesus’ blood that changed the dynamics of what Satan had long ago wrought through Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Man now had the means of being redeemed of his sin because of the sacrifice and death of Jesus.  If the rulers of this age had known this – that they played right into the hands of God – they would never have crucified the Lord.

This is why Paul speaks of God’s folly, in the eyes of man (and in those of His divine sons), being extreme wisdom.  No one knows the mind of God.  Isn’t that a wonderful thing?  He is above all: omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.  It is what makes Him worthy of all of our praise!

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