AIR

The , like other Jews of their time, regarded the air as a region between earth and the higher heavens, inhabited by spirits, especially spirits. In Eph 2:2 the air is the abode or Satan (see below); in Eph 6:12 ‘the heavenlies’ (τὰ ἐπουράνια)—a vague phrase used also in Eph 1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10 to denote the heavenly or spiritual sphere, the unseen universe*—is where the wrestling of the Christian against the spiritual hosts of wickedness takes place, and is apparently in this ease equivalent to ‘this darkness’ (cf. Lk 22:53, Col 1:13 ‘power of darkness,’ i.e. tyranny of evil). In Rev 12:7 the war between Michael and the dragon is in ‘.’ This can hardly refer to the first rebellion of Satan, nor yet can we with interpret ‘heaven’ as the ; but rather the righting is in the heavens, a of Satan to regain his lost place, ended by his final expulsion. ‘As the called forth a counter-manifestation of diabolic power on earth, so after the the attack is supposed to be carried into heaven’ (Swete, Com. in loc.). But the conception is not unlike that of St. as noted above.

There are several parallels to these passages in that class of which is thought to be a Christian rehandling of Jewish writings. In the Testaments of the XII. (q.v.) we read of the ‘aerial spirit ’ (Benj. 3). In the (q.v.) there is described an ascent ‘into the firmament,’ where were Sammael and his powers, and there was a great fight (vii. 9); descends from the lowest heaven to the firmament where was continual warfare, and takes the form of the angels of the air (x. 29). In the Secrets of Enoch the apostate angels are suspended in the second heaven awaiting the Last (§ 7; see Thackeray, Relation of St. Paul to Contemp. Jewish Thought, London, 1900, p. 176f.). These works in their present form probably date from the latter part of the 1st or the beginning of the 2nd cent. . The ideas seem to have had much currency among Christians, for we find (de Incarn. 25) speaking of the having fallen from heaven and wandering about ‘our lower atmosphere,’ ‘there bearing rule over his fellow-spirits …,’ ‘while the came to cast down the devil, and clear the air and prepare the way for us up into heaven.’

The of the power of the air (Eph 2:2) is Satan. That he had authority over the evil spirits whose abode is in the air was the general Jewish , except among the Sadducees. St. Paul does not, however, here say ‘powers of the air,’ i.e. evil spirits, but the ‘air-power’ or ‘air-tyranny’ (for this of ἐξουσία see Lightfoot’s note on Col 1:13). Satan is the arch-tyrant whose abode is in the air.

Literature.—See art. .

J. Maclean.

* The Peshiṭta renders it ‘in heaven,’ except in 6:12 when it significantly has ‘under heaven.’

q.v. quod vide, which see.

art. article.

Maclean, A. J. (1916-1918). Air. In J. Hastings (Ed.), Dictionary of the Church (2 Vols.) (J. Hastings, Ed.) (1:46-47). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

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