These past couple of days have been wonderful and I have really enjoyed learning so much. I have a couple of Biblical Questions I would be interested to hear your take on.
Daniel 10: In these passage, an Angel approaches Daniel and speaks to him. This Angel also says he was delayed by the Prince of Persia in his coming and wouldn’t have escaped without the help of the Archangel. Thoughts? Who is the Prince of Persia? A demon? Do demons have power over Angels?
The Bible often mentions Hades when death is concerned. I have extensively studied Greek Mythology and there religious background which has helped me understand many parts of the New Testament. Does the writer actually mean Hades or is this a place holder for Hell/ Sheol?
Lastly, again, Revelation 20:14 speaks of Hades and Death being through into the lake of Fire. To the Greeks, these gods represented all of the Underworld authorities. Is this again just a cultural reference or something more? Other passages in Revelation speak of Hades as a being as well.
While I do not believe in the Greek/ Roman / Egyptian/ Norse gods, I do know that worshiping the wrong spirits can lead to evil places and that dark spiritual forces do exist.
Thanks for these questions (and sorry for the delay, we’re still working our way through some of the questions from Refresh that stacked up!)
My first instinct here is to point you towards the larger RZIM Connect community (especially the Bible Questions section) as well as outside resources such as Got Questions:
Sending you to more resources is my first instinct because these are big-picture hermeneutical conversations about the spiritual realm on which Christians have different perspectives!
The truth is, we’re not promised that we can know the exact mechanisms of how the spiritual realm works. Usually, the Bible’s purpose in talking about the spiritual realm is intensely practical (as opposed to being a list of everything we can/can’t know about it.)
There’s a lot we do know: we have an enemy of our souls who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,” (1 Peter 5:8); we have a high priest who “disarmed the powers and authorities” and “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross,” (Colossians 2); and now we know that “the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” [1 Peter 5:8-9]
Briefly, though, I do want to share my own 2 cents on these issues. Take these as my opinions though, not gospel truth! My task as an apologist is mostly to answer tough questions from culture, philosophy and science: I leave the deep-dive in Biblical hermaneutics to pastors and theologians
Re: principalities and powers I take the chapters in Daniel 10 pretty much at face value: I do think there are specific principalities at work in the heavenly realms, and that these are tied to specific geographical locations. How exactly that works, and what the implications are, I’m less certain about. I don’t think, for example, we should jump to conclusions about causality (“this happened because of the demonic force in charge of this area caused it,”). But yes, at the end of the day, I do see a lot of evidence for specific, geographical principalities in scripture. They show up in Daniel, throughout the prophets, and even in the New Testament (right now I’m thinking of the Greek mob shouting “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Interesting, given that Paul says in his letters that worshipping idols is really worshipping demons.)
Re: Hell/Hades: The Gospels and book of Acts frequently use Greek terms to communicate with their Greek audience. This doesn’t mean that what they’re talking about isn’t real, only that by building a bridge with the Greek world, they weren’t necessarily endorsing all of Greek thinking about the afterlife. Just because Jesus says “hades,” for example, does not mean there is a literal river Styx, and a three headed dog guarding the entrance!!!
For me, then, I think Jesus is using Greek language to expound on a thoroughly Jewish idea of God’s judgement and the afterlife: even if there’s some kind of intermediate stage to which we go right when we die (Abraham’s bosom/hades), what we’re all ultimately looking forward to is the final day of judgement, when God raises the dead, creates the new Heaven and the new Earth, and we sit down at the wedding feast of the Lamb. One thinker I’ve found really persuasive towards this position is NT Wright!
All that to say, there’s no version of scripture we can read where all these mentions of hades/gehenna/heaven/hell are merely poetic. Jesus says he’s coming again to judge the world, and he means business. He’s not throwing terms like “hades,” “gehenna” or “the lake of fire,” around lightly.
Long answer here Savanna, but I hope it’s helpful! Praying God guides you forward as you research and reflect.
All spiritual beings have their ranks (i.e. powers and principalities) and observe this rule in the spiritual realm. It might surprise you but there are demons so powerful and destructive that God had to bind them with “everlasting chains” to limit their activities (Jude 1:6).
You are right, @Savannah.Dam, Hades is a more of a methaporical reference here for everything concerning death that the author thinks is more relatable to his audience back then.