I don’t understand Ephesians 6:12 when it says the Christian battle is not against flesh and blood, but against “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Does that mean there is evil in heaven?
My understanding of the “heavenly places” is that God only created two places – heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1).
- Satan is an angel and angels dwell in heavenly places. The verse is consistent with the other uses of the term in Ephesians because if you break it down, it’s basically saying, the fight is not against an earthly being (For our struggle is not against flesh and blood), but it is against a heavenly being (but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places) and again, heavenly beings live in heavenly places.
Hell, as it is today, is an earthly place, and Satan is not there. He does however roam the earth (1 Peter 5:8), just as God’s angels are on earth (Hebrews 13:2 for example).
Before Jesus’ Resurrection everyone who died went to the center of the Earth (hell/Hades). Luke 16: 23-28 speaks of the difference between Hades and Abraham’s bosom and how they were in the same physical location. Abraham’s bosom, of course, was a temporary paradise for God’s people to rest until Jesus came and opened the Kingdom of heaven for everyone. Then go over to Ephesian 4: 9-10 and you’ll see that Jesus went into Abraham’s bosom which was located in the “lower parts of the Earth” or Earth’s core to take the keys of hell and death (Rev 1:18). Now instead of going to Abraham’s bosom, believers go to heaven, but will not stay there forever because God is going to make a new heaven and a new Earth (Rev. 21: 1-4).
God has not created anything since the 6 day creation (+ 1 day of rest). He rested on the 7th day because he was completely done with the heavens and the Earth. The realm where Satan dwells is not a separate place that was created for Satan. He is in the heavenly places, but also roams earth until he is cast into the lake of fire. Matthew 25:41 says that the lake of fire was “prepared for the devil and his angels,” but it doesn’t say that it was created. This place is like the guest room of your house. It’s was always there, but you never intended for anyone to live in it. Lucifer sinned, so God “prepared” the guest room (the lake of fire) for him and his angels – in the heavenly place.