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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

Taken collectively from the chief magistrate to the lowest, they are styled ajrcaiv and ejxousivai, principolities and powers; the cosmocravtore" tou` saovtou" tou` aijw`no" touvton, the world-rulers of the darkness of this age; who are ta; pneumatica; th`" ponhriva" ejn toi`" ejpouranivoi," the spirituals of wickedness in the high places of the kingdoms.

So the apostle writes of the rulers of the world in his day; and from the conduct they now exhibit before the nations in all their kingdoms, it is clear that the style is as characteristic of the rulers, and of these times, as it was in the first century of the Christian era.

Iniquity has only changed its form and mode of attack against the truth.

The world's rulers, temporal and spiritual, are as essentially hostile to the gospel of the kingdom as ever.

They could not embrace it and retain the friendship of the world.

This is as impossible now as at the beginning.

But things are now quiet with respect to the gospel; not because the world is reconciled to it, but because there are scarcely any to be found who have intelligence of it, faith and courage enough earnestly to contend for it as it was originally delivered to the saints.

In apostolic times, it was the privilege of the church to make known to the world-rulers "the manifold wisdom of God".

This mission brought the disciples of Christ into contact with them, as is related in the Acts.

When they stood before these men of sin, in whom the thinking of sinful flesh worked strongly, the truth of God proclaimed to them brought out the evil of the flesh in all its malignity.

They imprisoned the disciples of Christ; threatened them with death; tempted them with rewards; and when they could not shake their fidelity to the truth, tormented them with the cruellest tortures they could invent.

The apostle styles these the meqodeivai tou` diabovlou, the artifices, or wiles of the accuser: against which he exhorts believers to stand firm, being panoplied with the whole armour of God.

The war being thus commenced by an attack upon the strongholds of power, the magistrates, urged on by the priests, were not content to take vengeance against them when they came in their way; but they obtained imperial decrees to hunt them out, and destroy them.

This they did with destructive energy and effect.

They calumniated the disciples, charging them with the most licentious and impious practices; and employed spies and informers, who personated brethren, to walk among them, and watch an opportunity of accusing them before the judge.

These adversaries of the Christian, being actuated by the same spirit of sinful flesh, the apostle terms oJ ajntivdico" uJmw`n diavbolo," your adversary the accuser; and to express the ferocious spirit that impelled the enemy, he compared him to a roaring lion, walking about, on the look out for prey.

"Resist him," says he; not by wrestling with flesh and blood in personal combat; but by continuing "steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are inflicted in the world upon your brethren".

To walk being dead in trespasses and sins, is to live according to the course (aijwvn) of this world.

So says the apostle.

The course of the world is according to the thinking of sinful flesh, in whatever way it may be manifested or expressed.

If a man embrace one of the religions of Satan's kingdom, he is still "dead in trespasses and sins," and walks according to the course of the world.

In brief, anything short of faith in the gospel of the kingdom, and obedience to the law of faith, is walking according to the course of the world.

To walk in sin is to walk in this course.