I received the following question:

When Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world during the temptation, were they Satan’s to give?

That is a good question. The passage in Matthew 4:8-10 reads,

8. Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” 10. Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'”

The parallel passage in Luke 4:5-8 reads,

5. Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” 8. And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'”

In both these passages, Satan claims authority over the kingdoms of this world. In the Luke passage, he spells it out clearly, claiming, “This has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” This is a bold claim, but interestingly in Christ’s answer He does not challenge it. Instead, He appeals to the Scriptural command on worship, “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.” In quoting this verse, He lets Satan’s claim that all the kingdoms of the world belong to him stand unchallenged.

There are a few facts we must keep in mind here. First of all is the definition of a “kingdom.” I have set forth at length in my studies that a kingdom is a government. If anything should be clear to the thoughtful observer, it is that God is not in charge of the governments of this world. Their rebellious actions and godless determinations make this clear. What is not so clear is if there is some unseen, supernatural power working behind the scenes controlling and influencing these governments. If there was such an influence, it should not surprise us at all that it would be a malignant one, considering the state of the world’s governments.

Ephesians 2:2 seems to shed some light on this issue. It states,

2. 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,

This verse indicates that the course, the aion, the “flow” of this world is according to the prince of the power of the air. This prince is then further defined as the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience. I would suggest that again this is a reference to Satan as being the one working and influencing those who dictate the course of this world through the kingdoms of the earth.

So, yes, I do believe that Satan has power, authority, and influence over the governments of this world. That is one reason why I believe it is foolish to trust in governments. Many are dedicated to an idea of a government that “takes care” of its citizens. When you consider the force that is working behind the scenes upon the governments of this world, I don’t know that that is such a good idea.

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