By Bill Petri
We read of the temptation of Jesus in Matthew chapter four and Luke chapter four. In these scriptures we see Satan pressuring Jesus to carry out sin through the course of specific temptations. One of Satans temptations is recorded as follows:
And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
Satans claim, to be sure, is very disturbing when given a moment of reflection. The above passage is really saying that all the authority and power of all the kingdoms, of all the governments of the world belong to him (Satan). He gives this authority to who he wishes. Those who hold political power, in some sense or another, receive it from Satan. But was Satan telling the truth? In order to really understand the validity of Satans claim we need to consider the word delivered in verse six. Thayer in his Greek Lexicon says the following:
Greek - paradidomi
1) to give into the hands (of another)
2) to give over into (ones) power or use
2a) to deliver to one something to keep, use, take care of, manage
2b) to deliver up one to custody, to be judged, condemned, punished, scourged, tormented, put to death
2c) to deliver up treacherously
2c1) by betrayal to cause one to be taken
2c2) to deliver one to be taught, moulded
3) to commit, to commend
4) to deliver verbally
4a) commands, rites
4b) to deliver by narrating, to report
5) to permit allow
5a) when the fruit will allow that is when its ripeness permits
5b) gives itself up, presents itself
This word then is poignant with meaning. We can go all the back to Genesis one where we read:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Genesis tells us God had given the authority (dominion) of the earth to Adam and his wife. They were to rule on planet earth over the earth. We know the sad tale of how they sinned and were cast out of the Garden of God. Luke gives us further information on what happened. The authority over planet earth had been given into the hands of another. Literally the dominion of planet earth had been transferred to Satan. This is confirmed when we consider Jesus response:
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
We read many instances in the Gospels when Jesus was faced with liars and hypocrites. Direct, open, and honest, Jesus condemned these people and called them what they were, liars and hypocrites. Jesus does not, however, call Satan a liar in regards to this temptation. He does not dispute Satans claim. Instead, Jesus asserted that he will not worship Satan, even though Satan is offering Him the authority of all the worlds governments. If Satan did not truly control the governments of the world, Jesus would have known this, and would not have been tempted by the offer. Instead, Jesus knew Satans offer was legitimate, and was in fact tempted (tested) by it. Choosing to worship God and serve him only, Jesus rejected the offer.
Further Scriptural Evidence
A plethora of scriptural evidence exists to confirm the above conclusion that Satan is in control of human governments and all worldly authority. For starters:
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience
According to Paul, the world is under the control of Satan, (just as Satan himself claimed during Jesus temptation), and that world has a course set by Satan. The implication in this verse is that the unbelievers are still walking according to the course of this world. A constant theme throughout the Apostle Pauls writing is the warning against becoming too involved with Satans world. The earthly world is identified as Satans realm, while Believers are called to reject the world and follow God. The following are just a couple of such passages:
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
We see that this theme is also true in the New Testament writings committed to Israel:
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Rather than following earthly authority in the form of human governments, which derive their authority from Satan, Believers are called upon to follow Gods authority. We are called to be ambassadors for our heavenly government to these present earthly governments.
Ambassadors for Christ
In Matthew 20 (and in a similar passage from Luke 22) an argument broke out amongst the disciples, who were accompanying Jesus to Jerusalem, concerning who would hold positions of power in Jesus' kingdom. They misunderstood the nature of Jesus' kingdom, and Jesus corrected them, explaining the true nature of his kingdom:
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you
It must be noted that Jesus made no distinction: all national rulers exercise authority over their people, an authority which the Jewish followers of Jesus must reject. There are many reasons for this, but of particular concern for this study is the simple fact that governmental authority is derived from Satan. Followers of Jesus should not take part in human governments nor give them any support. Instead, all energies should be focused towards the promotion of the kingdom of God. This is where our true allegiance lies. It will be restated to these Jewish believers by the writer of Hebrews this way:
For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
The Apostle Paul, the Apostle to the Body of Christ nowhere changes this understanding, but rather he adds to it.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead...
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ
The word conversation in Philippians 3:20 is an interesting word. It is the Greek word politeuma, and means the commonwealth of citizens. It is interesting that in the English language we take our word politic from this Greek word. The political language used here, to be sure, is no coincidence. Israel has no city here on earth, no earthly government to which they belong. In like manner, the Body of Christ has conversation (citizenship) in heaven. As citizens of heaven, while on earth, we serve as Christs ambassadors. An ambassador is defined as a representative from one government to another. The government the ambassador lives under is not his own and he does not take part in it; he represents his home government while living under the foreign government. Pauls use of the term ambassador to describe the role of Believers was an excellent choice. We live under a foreign government - the human governments which are controlled by Satan. Just as earthly ambassadors do not take part in the governments they reside under, Believers should not take part in earthly governments. Instead, recognizing that our citizenship lies in heaven, we should serve as representatives to those around us; we should serve as ambassadors for Christ.
Jesus vs. Satan & Human Governments
The Greek Scriptures inform us that, as ambassadors here on earth, our adversaries are the devils who set up the puppet human governments we live under:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
Additionally, the end-time prophesies in both the Old and New Testaments show that in the final battle between God and Satan, Satan will use human governments to fight for him.
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. (In context Gods army in this passage is angelic and contains no people.)
For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Revelation is about the most anitmilitaristic book in the Bible as it never once encourages any humans, never mind Believers, to take up arms or to support any human government. Rather it encourages them to pray and be spiritually prepared to suffer for their faith. A theology of suffering and becoming victors through martyrdom, not through killing, is enunciated in this work. The author would find shameful the way this book has been used in the Left Behind series and by many of the televangelists. Christ, of course, will ultimately gain victory over Satan, the kings of the earth, and their armies.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.
The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.
And once these Satan-controlled human governments have been defeated, they will be replaced by the kingdom of our God.
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.