‘In high places,’ or for heavenly things.
These words contain the last branch in the description of our grand enemy, which have in them some ambiguity—the adjective being only expressed in the original, that is, [the] heavenlies. The phrase being defective, our translators read it ‘in high’ or heavenly ‘places,’ as if the apostle intended to set out the advantage of place which this our enemy, by being above us, hath of us. Indeed this way most interpreters go, yet some both ancient and modern read the words, not ‘in heavenly places,’ but ‘in heavenly things,’ interpreting the apostle’s mind to set out the matter about which, or prize for which, we wrestle with principalities and powers to be heavenly things; saith Occumenius, is as much as if the apostle had said, ‘We wrestle not for small and trivial things, but for heavenly,’ yea, for heaven itself, and our adoption, as he goes on. The same way Chrysostom carries it—in heavenly things, that is, for the heavenly things of God; and, after him, Musculus, and other modern writers. The reasons which are given for this interpretation are weighty.
Reason First. The word elsewhere indefinitely set down, is taken for things, not places, Heb. 8:5, nay, one observes this word used almost twenty times in the New Testament, and never for any aerial place, but always for things truly heavenly and spiritual. The word, indeed, properly signifies super-celestial, and if applied to places, would signify that where the devil never came since his fall.
Reason Second. There seems no great argument to render Satan formidable by his being above us in place. It is some advantage, indeed, to men, to gain the hill, or be above their enemies in some place of strength, but none at all to spirits. But now take it of things, and then it adds weight to all the other branches of the description. We wrestle with principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness, and against all these, not for such toys and trifles as the earth affords, which are inconsiderable, whether to keep or lose, but for such as heaven holds forth, such an enemy and such a prize makes it a matter of our greatest care how to manage the combat. The word thus opened, the note will be this.