Colossians 2:15 reads, “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” As we seek to understand this precious verse we will try to answer two questions:

1) Who are the “principalities and powers”?

2) In what way did Christ “spoil” them and make “a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it?”

We have no doubt that the “principalities and powers” are Satan and his demonic forces of evil. Ephesians 6:11-12 describe them as the enemies of believers, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts in heavenly places” (NKJV). Ever since the fall of Lucifer and the angels that joined him in his rebellion against God, they have been arrayed against God AND against all who are on God’s side.

It was at the cross that Satan and his demons were defeated. In speaking of the cross, Jesus declared in John 12:31, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” Hebrews 2:14-15 speaks of the same victory that would be gained over Satan at the cross; it says “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil: And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” I can well imagine that Satan and his fallen angels thought they had defeated the Son of God when He died and was buried, but three days later He arose from the dead and later ascended to heaven. Through Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension He has “spoiled” or “disarmed” Satan and his army of demons by stripping them of their power over believers. I believe it was in His glorious ascension to heaven that “He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

On His way to glory He passed through the atmospheric heavens where Satan and his demons reside and in doing so He was openly declaring His victory over them. Ephesians 4:8 adds this amazing truth, “When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” The phrase “led captivity captive” could refer to His leading Satan and his minions captive, or it could be speaking of Christ leading captive those who had formerly been held captive by Satan through sin. In either case the picture is one of a mighty conqueror and the triumphant victory he has gained. We should praise God for the victory Christ gained over the devil and his angels in His death, resurrection and glorious ascension! Satan is indeed a defeated foe and Scripture assures us in Revelation 20:10 and Matthew 25:41 that he will meet his final doom when he is “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone,” which was “prepared for the devil and his angels.” (170.1) (DO)