Questions From Readers
● Might Satan be responsible for some of the severe storms and floods that have in recent years been so destructive to life and property?—U.S.A.
The Bible does report one instance of Satan’s causing a destructive storm that brought death to faithful Job’s children. (Job 1:12, 18, 19) But we are not to assume on this basis that Satan is directly responsible for all destructive storms. Why not? Because it was by special divine permission that Satan was allowed to test Job’s integrity.
Actually, man himself is often to blame for so-called “natural” disasters. His mismanagement of earth’s resources and interference with natural cycles have had a definite effect on the weather and climate. Observes the Encyclopædia Britannica (1974 edition): “There is growing evidence that emissions into the atmosphere of large quantities of heat, gases, and particles by industrial and other activities are causing changes in the weather and climate.” Additionally, much flood damage has resulted from removal of trees, which help to prevent erosion, and from building towns in the lowlands or flood plains adjacent to rivers. Many authorities recommend that nations prevent this practice, one by which man brings so much suffering on himself.
It may be noted, too, that humans generally have chosen to ignore God’s law in their lives and so the Creator has left them to shift for themselves. As a result, they experience the outworking of his unchangeable law: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.”—Gal. 6:7.
Still, in an indirect way, Satan has been responsible for the calamities that have befallen man. The Devil has definitely influenced humans for harm, causing them to pursue a course of selfishness and greed to the point of ruining the environment. The apostle Paul, when writing to Christians at Ephesus, pointed out that they were no longer molded by that bad influence, saying: “It is you God made alive though you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you at one time walked according to the system of things of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience.”—Eph. 2:1, 2.
Satan is thus referred to as “the ruler of the authority of the air.” Since Christians are shown to be no longer under his influence, it is evident that the “air” over which he rules could not be the literal atmosphere. For, like all others of mankind, Christians are affected by literal atmospheric disturbances. But they are not under the control or influence of “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places” over whom Satan exercises authority. (Eph. 6:12) So the “air” is the superterrestrial realm in which these “wicked spirit forces” operate. And the “spirit” that operates, not in true Christians, but in “the sons of disobedience” is the invisible active force over which the satanic “ruler” has control and which proceeds from him to affect those who, like him, are disobedient to Jehovah God.
Thus it can be seen that there are no clear indications, Scriptural or otherwise, for attributing certain storms and flood disasters of recent years directly to superhuman powers.
● At Revelation 5:10 the New World Translation reads: “You made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.” Does not the Greek word epi, translated “over,” actually mean “on” or “upon”?—U.S.A.
The basic significance of the Greek word epi is “on” or “upon,” but that is not the only meaning. When used in connection with power, authority or dignity, epi can also mean “over.”
Numerous Biblical examples illustrate this. God is referred to in the Bible as being “over [epi] all.” (Rom. 9:5; Eph. 4:6) The Ethiopian eunuch was “over [epi] all” the treasure of Candace. (Acts 8:27) The “faithful and discreet slave” is appointed by his master “over [epi] his domestics.” (Matt. 24:45) Seven certified men were to be selected by the Jerusalem congregation that the apostles might “appoint them over [epi] this necessary business” of food distribution. (Acts 6:3) Clearly, in all these instances the Greek word epi followed by the genitive case cannot be translated “on” or “upon,” but, in harmony with the context, is properly rendered “over.”—Note also Revelation 9:11; 11:6.
Likewise, at Revelation 5:10, those entrusted with rulership are in charge of the earth, exercising dominion over those dwelling on it. The subject matter of this text is rulership, and logically, therefore, the Greek word epi calls attention, not to the location of the rulers, but to the area over which they exercise authority. That they rule “over the earth” agrees with the rest of the Scriptures, which reveal that God’s kingdom by Christ is heavenly and that Jesus’ associate rulers are promised heavenly life.—Luke 22:29, 30; John 14:2, 3; 1 Cor. 15:50-54.
The rendering “over” at Revelation 5:10 thus accurately conveys the apparent meaning of the Greek word epi. Other scholars who have translated epi as “over” in this text include Edgar Goodspeed (An American Translation), Ferrar Fenton (The Holy Bible in Modern English), Richard F. Weymouth (The New Testament in Modern Speech) and Msgr. Ronald Knox (The New Testament in English). See also the Catholic Confraternity’s translation of The New Testament (1941), The Amplified New Testament, The ‘Holy Scriptures’ by J. N. Darby and The New Testament by Charles B. Williams.