A close-up photo of an ancient, worn-out Bible, open to the page discussing principalities, with a magnifying glass highlighting the word, capturing the essence of biblical wisdom.

What Does Principalities Mean In The Bible?

The concept of principalities in the Bible refers to spiritual forces and hierarchies that exist in the supernatural realm. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: in the Bible, principalities generally refer to high-ranking evil spirits or demons that exert influence over regions, institutions, and people.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the meaning of principalities in depth by looking at relevant Bible verses, commentary from scholars, and examples of how principalities manifest. We will analyze what the Bible says about the origins and nature of principalities, their alleged territorial authority, and how believers can respond to and resist their influence according to Scripture.

Defining Principalities in the Bible

Spiritual Forces and Hierarchies

The term “principalities” refers to spiritual forces and hierarchies in the unseen world. In the Bible, these forces are organized and structured with varying degrees of power and authority (Ephesians 6:12).

Principalities are high-ranking demonic spirits that wield influence over nations, governments, and other earthly authorities.

Several passages depict principalities as territorial demonic spirits assigned to specific geographic areas (Daniel 10:13, 20). They influence the culture, beliefs, and practices in their domain. So principalities exert spiritual control and domination over regions and people groups.

High-Ranking Demons

As part of the hierarchy of evil spiritual forces, principalities refer to demonic spirits of supreme power and command in Satan’s kingdom (Romans 8:38). They govern other lower-ranking demons in carrying out Satan’s schemes.

Principalities dispatch demons to tempt and accuse believers (Revelation 12:10).

These chief demons work to promote idolatry, false religion, deception, and rebellion against God. They influence earthly authorities to oppose the advance of God’s kingdom (Ephesians 6:12). Principalities also aim to hinder and thwart the plans and purposes of God.

Territorial Spirits

As territorial spirits, principalities exert control and influence over specific geographical areas or territories. These powerful evil forces dominate regions, cities, communities, tribes, and other areas (2 Kings 17:24–27).

They rule over people groups worldwide, blinding them from truth (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Principalities as territorial spirits promote sinful cultural values and belief systems associated with their territory. They foster rebellion against God, strife between people groups, and social problems.

Principalities Meaning Summary
Type of beings High-ranking evil spirits, demons
Areas of influence Governments, false religions, regions, cultures
Strategy and aims Deception, blinding truth, foster sin and rebellion

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The Origins and Nature of Principalities

Created Beings

Principalities refer to spiritual beings that were created by God to serve Him and do His will. Though the Bible does not provide extensive details about their origins, it indicates that God created these angelic beings before He created the physical world (Job 38:7).

As spirits, principalities do not have physical bodies but can interact with the material world. They were part of God’s heavenly host and likely had different roles and ranks in carrying out God’s plans.

Opposed to God’s Kingdom

However, some principalities rebelled against God and followed Satan in his rebellion (Revelation 12:3-4). These fallen angels rejected their divine purpose and opposed the establishment of God’s kingdom. Though they retain their power, they now use it for evil rather than good.

The apostle Paul wrote that followers of Christ do not wage war against flesh and blood but against these rebellious spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12). They promote deception, temptation, and destruction in the world.

Deceptive and Destructive

Principalities use their intelligence and influence to deceive individuals and disrupt God’s plans. For example, the prince of Persia opposed God’s messenger to Daniel for 21 days before the archangel Michael intervened (Daniel 10:13).

Satan is called the “prince of the power of the air” and influences people toward disobedience (Ephesians 2:2). However, Christ has disarmed these evil spiritual rulers and authorities through his death and resurrection (Colossians 2:15).

Believers have the power to resist demonic principalities through faith in Christ’s victory over them.

The Territorial Authority of Principalities

Assigned to Nations and Regions

According to the Bible, principalities are territorial spirits that are assigned to nations, regions, cities, and people groups. They seek to influence the culture, beliefs, and identities of these territories.

For example, the prince of Persia that opposed the angel in Daniel 10:13 was a powerful principality who represented the kingdom of Persia.

Other Bible verses such as Deuteronomy 32:8 and Acts 17:26 also point to spiritual powers having authority over geographic regions. God has allowed these principalities to have sway, but they ultimately must submit to Him.

As believers, we don’t fight against flesh and blood but against these spiritual forces in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).

Influence Structures and Systems

Principalities operate through influencing structures, systems and high positions of authority in a region. This includes religious, political and economic systems. They empower the wrong people into positions of influence to promote their agendas.

They can also work through social organizations, educational institutes and multinational corporations.

For example, when Daniel prayed and fasted for 21 days, the prince of Persia hindered the answer until the archangel Michael came to help (Daniel 10:2-13). This shows that principalities can influence earthly authorities and exert control over regions.

But they are not all powerful and can be overpowered through prayer and fasting.

Focus on Strongholds

Principalities try to establish spiritual strongholds over regions by keeping people bound through lies, false religions, idolatry, immorality or occult practices. They blind people from the truth of the gospel and strengthen barriers that prevent people from believing in Christ.

Their ultimate goal is to prevent the advancement of God’s kingdom over their territories. But Scripture declares that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18). When we expose these evil forces through prayer and evangelism, they are defeated.

Believers have authority in Christ to pull down these strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Responding to and Resisting Principalities

The Authority of Christ

As Christians, we can respond to and resist demonic principalities because we have the authority of Christ. When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, He defeated sin, death, and all the powers of darkness (Colossians 2:15).

As believers, we share in His authority and reign with Him (Ephesians 2:6). Through faith in Christ, we have power over the enemy (Luke 10:19).

However, we must be careful not to confront demonic powers in our own strength. We overcome principalities and powers by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). Our resistance against spiritual forces comes from abiding in Christ, not ourselves.

As we walk closely with Jesus each day, His power flows through us by the Holy Spirit to push back the kingdom of darkness.

The Armor of God

In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul urges Christians to “put on the full armor of God” to stand against evil forces. The armor includes the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of gospel peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is God’s word.

This illustrates how we can only resist demonic powers when fully clothed in God’s strength and relying on scriptural truth.

We activate the armor of God through worship, prayer, renewing our minds in the Word, living righteously, proclaiming the gospel, believing God’s promises, and speaking His Word in the power of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-20).

As we do these things, demonic strongholds in our lives and cities are demolished and replaced with God’s light and truth.

Prayer and Intercession

Fervent prayer and intercession are key weapons for pulling down principalities according to Scripture. When Daniel prayed and fasted for 21 days, it resulted in an angelic breakthrough and the prince of Persia being defeated (Daniel 10:12-14).

We are told to pray against spiritual forces in the heavenly realms and make our requests known to God as evil is pushed back (Ephesians 6:12,18).

As we present cities, regions, and nations before God’s throne in prayer, things begin to shift in the spiritual realm. We can specifically ask God to bind up the “strong man” over a territory and launch angelic help (Matthew 12:29, Hebrews 1:14).

United prayer and fasting release spiritual authority to demolish enemy footholds so God’s Kingdom can advance.


In closing, while the Bible confirms the reality of sinister spiritual forces, it also promises us victory through faith in Jesus Christ. God’s power working within and through believers enables us to successfully resist the influence of demonic principalities.

By taking up His full armor, praying against strongholds, and interceding for people and places impacted by evil spirits, we can advance God’s Kingdom into the strongholds where principalities operate.

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