AUTHOR'S NOTE: This article is also available in video format on Timothy Alberino's YouTube channel, and in audio format on his podcast (The Alberino Analysis).
There is a prevailing misconception among Christians regarding the dominion of Adam on Planet Earth. It is widely believed that Adam's dominion was lost at the fall and delivered to Satan who now rules the world from his hellish domain, like Sauron from Mordor. Popular as the notion may be, it is not logically sound nor is it supported in the biblical narrative.
Bible-believing Christians accept the premise that nefarious, non-human forces are at work in the world but the question of exactly how these forces interact with human society is rarely contemplated. What is the mechanism of this interaction? Do so-called "fallen angels" rule the nations from hidden thrones in unseen realms? Do they directly communicate with their human minions? Do they control their actions like puppeteers from behind the curtain of human perception?
The first point that must be conceded, when engaging these questions, is that whatever their authority in the world, angels—fallen or otherwise—are clearly not permitted to physically occupy human thrones and flagrantly govern the nations like the ancient kings of Persia or the emperors of Rome. We have five thousand years of recorded history in the rearview mirror. There has never been a time when anything other than a human being has occupied a throne of Adam on earth (aside from human hybrids, of course, which we will discuss at a later time). This is not due to preference; Satan does not prefer to rule the world from the shadows. The biblical narrative makes it abundantly clear that he desires, above all, to be openly worshiped like the Most High (and indeed, he will be under extraordinary circumstances at the end of the age). The reason why neither Satan nor any other member of the elder race can govern in the terrestrial realm is that they have not been authorized to do so.
In the previous episode, we discussed the concept of dominion and we determined that Adam and his progeny were granted the right to rule on Planet Earth as regents of the King; indeed, they were explicitly created for this purpose. The seal of their authority is the image of God in which they were made and the mandate of their dominion is enforced by the armies of the kingdom. The endowment of mankind is clearly articulated in the Psalms:
"The heavens are the Lord's heavens, but the earth he has given to the sons of men" (Ps. 115:16, RSV).
It is important to recognize that this verse was penned in the postdiluvian age long after the fall of Adam in Eden. It is also important to remember the words of Paul:
"The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom. 11:29, NKJV).
Thus, we can establish with certainty that, according to the Scriptures, Adam's dominion was never lost and cannot be revoked; nor can it be wrestled from him by force. Only the sons of Adam are authorized to exercise governmental authority on earth. All other creatures inhabiting the planet, including the devil and his angels, are subject to the dominion of mankind.
The question arises: If mankind has dominion on earth, then why does Christ refer to Satan as the ruler of this world?
The answer is simple: Satan rules the world through human proxies. His power is perceived and projected through the actions of men. He does not have the authority to occupy a throne of Adam and wield temporal power but he is authorized to tempt those who do. It is precisely because he cannot force men to accomplish his will that he must persuade them to become his willing accomplices. Like wild beasts baited with the pheromones of carnal desire, wicked men are drawn to political power and harnessed for satanic purposes. Motivated by their own selfish ambitions or conscious allegiance to the kingdom of darkness, they become pawns in the devil's game, moving themselves across the board. When his proxies advance into positions of governmental authority, entire nations may be brought under the sway of the evil one.
This rule-by-proxy modus operandi is expressly manifest in the temptations of Christ. By the time Jesus of Nazareth was born at the turn of the first century, the whole world was in thrall to the influence of Satan. Knowing full well that this Son of Man was destined to rule the nations, the old serpent attempted to beguile him with a cunning proposition:
"And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, 'To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will'" (Luke 4:5–6, ESV).
Note that authority over the kingdoms had been delivered to the devil. Nowhere in the biblical narrative is he granted such an endowment by God. Instead, he had gradually accumulated his authority through the willful abdication of his human proxies, who worshipped him in the guise of Jupiter and Zeus.
It is a matter of history, and no coincidence, that the first and greatest Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, reigned at the time of Christ's birth. All the power of the empire, which governed the known world, was invested in its emperors, who claimed to have received their divine authority from Jupiter, king of the gods and patron of the Roman state, in whose image they were often portrayed. Jupiter (or Jove) was the Roman adaptation of Zeus, whom Jesus, in His admonition to the church of Pergamon, identifies as Satan. Pergamon was home to the famed Altar of Zeus, which was no doubt smoldering with burnt offerings at the very moment John penned the Lord's words, "I know where you live—where Satan has his throne" (Rev. 2:13, NIV).
Satan's throne as the Altar of Zeus is a fitting portrait of his rule by proxy. Like the Roman emperors, Greek kings were believed to receive their authority from Zeus and governed as his representatives—a brazen adulteration of Adam's original mandate to represent the true king of the gods on Earth. By worshipping Zeus and Jupiter, the Greeks and the Romans were willfully bowing their knees to Yahweh's archenemy, who made a lurid show of triumph through his proxies on two separate occasions. In 168 BC, the Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes, who regarded himself as a manifestation of Zeus (hence, Epiphanes, meaning "god manifest"), sacked the city of Jerusalem and, to the horror of the Jews, erected a statue of Zeus in the Temple of Yahweh before sacrificing a pig on the altar of incense and declaring himself to be God.
Nearly two hundred years later, the Roman Emperor Hadrian raised a temple to Jupiter over the desecrated remains of Yahweh's Temple, which had lain in ruin since the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. In both cases, the message was clear: Satan would be the god of this world.
And indeed, he was, insofar as men worshipped him, which they did with fervent enthusiasm in the age preceding the advent of Christ. The fabulously idolatrous Greco-Roman culture, which had spread its influence over the far reaches of the known world, ensured that Zeus/Jupiter was the supreme deity in the minds of men. It is for this reason that Paul refers to Satan as the god of this age in his letter to the Corinthians:
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them (2 Cor. 4:3-4).
Although Satan does not have the authority to wield temporal power on Earth, he does have a legal claim to his own spiritual seed, whom Christ called serpents and vipers and whom Paul denominates the sons of disobedience and children of wrath. Just as God is the Father of the righteous, who are made alive together with Christ because of his obedience, so Satan is the father of the unrighteous, who are dead in their trespasses and condemned together with him for disobedience. Writes Paul to the Ephesians:
"And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others" (Eph. 2:1–3 NKJV).
The epithet prince of the power of the air has provoked more than a few peculiar ideas. Some have taken it to mean that Satan literally controls the gaseous atmosphere surrounding the planet, through which his demonic forces freely traffic. This concept, archaic and nonsensical as it is, should have been discarded the moment we took flight to navigate the skies in the same way we navigate the oceans. We are no more subject to the power of Satan in the air than we are on land or at sea.
When viewed against the backdrop of the first century, it is evident that Paul is referring to the spiritual atmosphere of the age, which, as we have seen, was saturated with the prolific idolatry of the Greeks and Romans. The power of the air is the satanic influence that pervaded every strata of pre-Christian society like a sinister fog. Having anticipated the coming of Christ, Satan ensured that the minds of men were thoroughly blinded before Jesus of Nazareth was born into the world.
Satan's purchase on his spiritual progeny is one of mutual condemnation. He does not have the authority to override the free will of any human being, nor intervene directly in human affairs. However, as long as men are enamored of sin and love the darkness, the devil will have no shortage of human proxies through whom he may manipulate the course of the world.
In summation, human beings have never benefited from the benevolent rule of an angel nor suffered the tyranny of a demon. Men are the only monsters responsible for the reigns of terror in their realm. Good, bad or indifferent, only the sons of Adam are authorized to govern on Planet Earth.
I have much more to say about this topic in my book so if you are interested in further examining the bounds of satanic influence in the world, pick up a copy of Birthright: The Coming Posthuman Apocalypse and the Usurpation of Adam's Dominion on Planet Earth.
Known as a modern-day Indiana Jones, Timothy Alberino is a writer, explorer and filmmaker whose inquisitive mind and intrepid spirit have led him all over the earth in search of lost cities, lost civilizations, hidden treasures and legendary creatures. His appetite for adventure was manifest at the age of 18 when he dropped out of high school in Cleveland, Ohio and moved to the Amazon jungle in Peru. Alberino is an accomplished autodidact and scholarly researcher. After years of rigorous study, he has garnered an expansive knowledge base that allows him to dissertate with authority on a wide variety of topics.
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