We are going to look at some reference to stars in the New Testament in terms of what they represent. I think it is easy to miss the point being made if we don’t understand the cultural context.  

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:29–31 (NKJV)

13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Revelation 6:13 (NKJV)

7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 1 Corinthians 2:7–8 (NKJV)

It is easy to see the connection between the Matthew and Revelation references but not so easy to see the connection to 1 Corinthians. We will get there and in doing so we will see an already not yet aspect of the kingdom of God. Below is some information regarding how stars were viewed in the scriptural culture.

Star Worship

In the ancient Near East, stars were often worshiped as divine. Although the book of Deuteronomy condemns star worship as idolatry (Deut 4:19; 17:2–5), other passages seem to indicate that the Israelites practiced star worship at times. For instance, in the eighth century bc, the prophet Amos condemned star worship in the northern kingdom (Amos 5:26). Additionally, King Josiah’s reforms of 621 bc (2 Kgs 23:4–14) addressed star worship in the southern kingdom, which had been promoted by Manasseh (2 Kgs 21:3–5; 2 Chr 33:3). – {Edward W. Watson, “Star,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016}.

            The stars in the Matthew and Revelation quotes represent not physical objects but heavenly beings. In this case heavenly beings in opposition to His purposes. When we move to 1 Corinthians 2 and Paul’s theological perspective, we recognize that Paul is also speaking of heavenly beings when he references the ‘rulers of this age.’ The word translated ‘rulers’ is archon in Greek and refers to someone or something as first in rank or power. While it can be used of human rulers that is not how Paul applies the term. In addition to using it in 1 Corinthians 2 Paul uses it in Ephesians 2:2 when he refers to the ‘prince (archon) of the power of the air.’ It is also clear he is not referring to human rulers in 1 Corinthians as he deals with rulers over the ages, extremely long periods of time.

            Thus far what we have is seeing the stars in Matthew and Revelation refer to heavenly beings as does the term rulers in reference to those who crucified Jesus. Humans carried out the crucifixion but it was initiated by the powers of darkens.

We now turn to the already not yet aspect of this idea of falling stars. These heavenly beings orchestrated Jesus’ crucifixion and to their shock the cross was their downfall. We see this in what Paul says in Colossians.

15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. Colossians 2:15 (NKJV)

The ‘it’ here refers to the cross. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection broke the power of darkness. However, Jesus then delegated to His church the responsibility to enforce His rule and make disciples from all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). We are called to represent and extend His kingdom until His return.

            The falling stars in Matthew and Revelation, these heavenly beings, were defeated through the cross but still roam the cosmos seeking to destroy the church that Jesus is building. Seeking to prevent their inevitable final destruction. Yet, through these passages we are assured that we will again see them fall, their final fall, at some point in the future. We can be confident of our victory because it is His victory. Jesus has won the battle and will at the end of the age fully enforce His victory.

Whatever we may be facing we know the true source behind troubles in our world and we know that Jesus assures us of the ultimate victory! In the meantime, we are to carry and extend His kingdom wherever we go. Like Jesus let us be ‘about our Father’s business.’

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I have been walking with Jesus since 1985. I am currently retired from my career in the helping professions but still focused on ministering to others. I completed a Doctorate of Philosophy in Apologetics in September 2020.

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