What is a "principalities"?


Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.g
For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.h
Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.

Is Saint Paul writing about some kind of order in the demonic spiritual realm?


From Haydock’s Commentary:

Ver. 12. Flesh and blood, which may either signify temptations of the flesh, or raised by mortal men. — Principalities and powers; i.e. devils, or apostate angels, who before their fall were in such ranks of spirits, and who are permitted to rule over the wicked in this world of darkness. (Witham) — By which we are to understand the fallen angels. For as by nature, and from their creation, they were the governors of this corporeal world, and were deprived of this their power on account of their pride, they received it (though limited by certain restrictions) in order to tempt man. (Estius) — Rulers of the world of this darkness. By these are meant the devils who exercise their power and authority in our inferior and dark atmosphere, by raising winds, storms, tempests, &c. By darkness may be understood the wicked, in whom Satan reigns as in a citadel. (Menochius) — Our inferior world is called dark and misty in comparison of the world above, which is always bright, serene, and clear. Our atmosphere is called the cloudy and dark heavenly. Cicero, in his Tuscul Quæst. Prudentius likewise, in Hamartigenia, writes thus:

Non mentem sua membra premunt, nec terrea virtus

Oppugnat sensus liquidos, bellove lacessit;

Sed cum spiritibus tenebrosis nocte dieque

Congredimur quorum dominatibus humidus iste

Et pigris densus nebulis obtemperat aer.

Scilicet hoc medium cœlum inter et infima terræ

Quod patet ac vacuo nubes suspendit hiatu,

Frena potestatum variarum sustinet, ac suo

Principe Belial rectoribus horret iniquis.

His colluctamur prædoribus, at sacra nobis

Oris Apostoli testis sententia prodit. ------ (Estius)

— Against the spirits of wickedness: or wicked spirits in the air, says St. Jerome. Literally, in celestials. (Witham) — High places. That is to say, in the air, the lowest of the celestial regions in which God permits these wicked spirits or fallen angels to wander. (Challoner)



The “Principalities” (as well as the “Powers”) are traditionally viewed as one of the nine choirs of angels: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.

The nine choirs of angels are not definitive dogma, though.

You can read more in the Old Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on angels.




When he refers to ‘spirits in the air’, as in , above the earth, could he be talking about what we call UFOs, or again, what we consider to be beings from another world? I cannot think of anything else that ‘wanders’ around in the atmosphere. This would make alot of sense… more and more people today are starting to wonder if extraterrestrial beings ‘seeded’ the earth long ago and they are actually our ‘gods’, seems like this would be right up satans and the demons alley…and they would take full advantage of this in order to draw more people away from the true God.


St. Paul knew everything that flew in the air. UFOs seems an unlikely explanation-- even if he didn’t recognize it. Why “spirit” instead of “Oh look! there’s a bird I’ve never seen.” Why write about that. He was both educated and perceptive.


Well, if people today are seeing UFOs, Im sure they were back then too, and it is likely St Paul knew exactly what these things are. Im starting to think most are demonic in origin, even the craft itself, demons can manifest any form they wish, what would prevent them from taking the shape of a stereotypical alien spacecraft, to fool people?


Holy Paul would have recognized a flying machine as being different from anything that he had seen. Not an animal. Hmm, what could it be he says to himself. Not an angel. There were no ufos in the sense to which we moderns refer.


If they are demonic in origin, maybe they took on a different form when appearing to people back then? today they appear as strange aircraft because that is the stereotypical consensus on what a UFO is, an unknown craft that may be from another planet/ dimension, if its just demons masquerading, they could make the craft take on any shape to fit whatever time period they are in. in biblical times, they may have made the craft resemble an angel of God or just a ball of light.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.