What does the Bible Say about angels
June 9, 2024

Angelology: The Theological Doctrine of angels or its study. (General Information) Angels are spiritual beings who have intelligence, emotions, and will. This is true of both the good and evil angels (demons). Angels possess intelligence (Matthew 8:29; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Peter 1:12), show emotion (Luke 2:13; James 2:19; Revelation 12:17), and exercise will (Luke 8:28-31; 2 Timothy 2:26; Jude 6). Angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14) without true physical bodies. Although they do not have physical bodies, they are still personalities and occasionally take on physical bodies. Because they are created beings, their knowledge is limited. This means they do not know all things as God does (Matthew 24:36).

They do seem to have greater knowledge than humans, however, which may be due to three things. First, angels were created as an order of creatures higher than humans. Therefore, they innately possess greater knowledge. Second, the angels know what God's Word says (James 2:19; Revelation 12:12). Third, angels gain knowledge through long observation of human activities. Unlike humans, angels do not have to study the past; they have experienced it. Therefore, they know how others have acted and reacted in situations and can predict with a greater degree of accuracy how we may act in similar circumstances.

Though they have wills, angels, like all creatures, are subject to the will of God. Good angels are sent by God to help believers (Hebrews 1:14).

Here are some activities the Bible ascribes to angels: They praise God (Psalm 148:1-2; Isaiah 6:3). They worship God (Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:8-13). They rejoice in what God does (Job 38:6-7). They serve God (Psalm 103:20; Revelation 22:9). They appear before God (Job 1:6; 2:1). They are instruments of God’s judgments (Revelation 7:1; 8:2). They bring answers to prayer (Acts 12:5-10). They aid in winning people to Christ (Acts 8:26; 10:3). They observe Christian order, work, and suffering (1 Corinthians 4:9; 11:10; Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:12). They encourage in times of danger (Acts 27:23-24). They care for the righteous at the time of death (Luke 16:22).

Angels are an entirely different order of being than humans. Human beings do not become angels after they die. Angels will never become, and never were, human beings.

God created the angels, just as He created humanity. The Bible nowhere states that angels are created in the image and likeness of God, as humans are (Genesis 1:26). Angels are spiritual beings that can, to a certain degree, take on physical form. Humans are primarily physical beings, but with a spiritual aspect. The greatest thing we can learn from the holy angels is their instant, unquestioning obedience to God’s commands.

In Angelology, it is commonly understood that there are 3 spheres of angels, based on their proximity to the throne of God. Not based on power or importance.

Seraphim
The seraphim (fiery, burning ones) are angelic beings associated with the prophet Isaiah’s vision of God in the Temple when God called him to his prophetic ministry (Isaiah 6:1-7). Isaiah 6:2-4 records, “Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.”

Seraphs are angels who worship God continually. Isaiah chapter 6 is the only place in the Bible that specifically mentions the seraphim. Each seraph had six wings. They used two to fly, two to cover their feet, and two to cover their faces (Isaiah 6:2). The seraphim flew about the throne on which God was seated, singing His praises as they called special attention to God’s glory and majesty. These beings apparently also served as agents of purification for Isaiah as he began his prophetic ministry. One placed a hot coal against Isaiah’s lips with the words, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6:7).

Cherubim

Cherubim/cherubs are angelic beings involved in the worship and praise of God. The cherubim are first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 3:24, “After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”

Prior to his rebellion, Satan was a cherub (Ezekiel 28:12-15). The tabernacle and temple along with their articles contained many representations of cherubim (Exodus 25:17-22; 26:1, 31; 36:8; 1 Kings 6:23-35; 7:29-36; 8:6-7; 1 Chronicles 28:18; 2 Chronicles 3:7-14; 2 Chronicles 3:10-13; 5:7-8; Hebrews 9:5).

Chapters 1 and 10 of the book of Ezekiel describe the “four living creatures” (Ezekiel 1:5) as the same beings as the cherubim (Ezekiel 10). Each had four faces—that of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle (Ezekiel 1:10; also 10:14)—and each had four wings. In their appearance, the cherubim “had the likeness of a man” (Ezekiel 1:5). These cherubim used two of their wings for flying and the other two for covering their bodies (Ezekiel 1:6, 11, 23). Under their wings the cherubim appeared to have the form, or likeness, of a man’s hand (Ezekiel 1:8; 10:7-8, 21).

The imagery of Revelation 4:6-9 also seems to be describing cherubim. The cherubim serve the purpose of magnifying the holiness and power of God. This is one of their main responsibilities throughout the Bible. In addition to praising God, they also serve as a visible reminder of the majesty and glory of God and His abiding presence with His people. Cherubim were on the cover of the ark.

Thrones

The Thrones (AKA: "valiant ones", "heroes", "warriors") are a class of angels mentioned by Paul the Apostle in Colossians 1:16. According to the New Testament, these high celestial beings are among those Orders at the Christ's service. They are the carriers of the Throne of God, hence the name.

Thrones are usually depicted as being moved by wheels, as in the vision of Daniel 7:9. Thrones are also depicted as great wheels containing many eyes.

Dominions

Dominions are a group of angels who help keep the world in proper order. Dominion angels are known for delivering God's justice into unjust situations, showing mercy toward human beings, and helping angels in lower ranks stay organized and perform their work well.

When Dominion angels carry out God's judgments against sinful situations in this fallen world, they keep in mind God's good original intent as the Creator for everyone and everything he has made, as well as God's good purposes for every person's life right now. Dominions work to do what's truly best in difficult circumstances—what's right from God's perspective, even though humans may not understand.

The Bible describes a famous example in the story of how Dominion angels destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, two ancient cities that were full of sin. Dominions carried a God-given mission that may seem harsh: to completely obliterate the cities. But before doing so, they warned the only faithful people living there (Lot and his family) about what was going to happen, and they helped those righteous people escape.

Dominions also often act as channels of mercy for God's love to flow to people. They express God's unconditional love at the same time as they express God's passion for justice. Messengers and Managers for God:   One of the ways that dominion angels regularly deliver God's mercy to people is by answering the prayers of leaders around the world. After world leaders—in any field, from the government to business—pray for wisdom and guidance about specific choices they need to make, God often assigns Dominions to impart that wisdom and send fresh ideas about what to say and do.

Finally, Dominions help keep the natural order of the universe as God designed it, by enforcing universal laws of nature. We do not have a visual reference in the bible what Dominions look like but they are often depicted holding a staff and the seal of God.

Virtues Angels: Angelic Wisdom and Grace

The Virtue angels are often depicted with symbols representing their divine nature and functions, such as: Scales: Representing balance and justice, reflecting their role in maintaining cosmic order. Rays of Light: Symbolizing enlightenment and divine wisdom. Flaming Swords: Indicating their power to cut through ignorance and guide towards truth. The Virtues belong to the second sphere of the angelic hierarchy and are known for their association with divine grace, blessings, and the ability to bestow spiritual enlightenment. The Virtue Angels are seen as the embodiment of divine grace, acting as channels of God’s blessings and virtues to humanity. Their role was to maintain cosmic order and to ensure that divine will was carried out in the universe.

Powers

The "Powers", or "Authorities" The primary duty of the "Powers" is to supervise the movements of the heavenly bodies in order to ensure that the cosmos remains in order. Being warrior angels, they also oppose evil spirits, especially those that make use of the matter in the universe, and often cast evil spirits to detention places. These angels are usually represented as soldiers wearing full armor and helmet, and also having defensive and offensive weapons such as shields and spears or chains respectively.

The Powers are the bearers of conscience and the keepers of history. They are also the warrior angels created to be completely loyal to God. Some believe that Satan was the Chief of the Powers before he Fell (see also Ephesians 6:12). Their duty is to oversee the distribution of power among humankind, hence their name.

Principalities and powers (often come together in scripture)

The phrase principalities and powers occurs six times in the Bible, always in the King James Version and its derivatives (NKJV, MKJV). Other versions translate it variously as “rulers and authorities,” “forces and authorities,” and “rulers and powers.” In most places where the phrase appears, the contexts make it clear that it refers to the vast array of evil and malicious spirits who make war against the people of God. The principalities and powers of Satan are usually in view here, beings that wield power in the unseen realms to oppose everything and everyone that is of God.

It is believed that most of the fallen angels that left with Satan were Principalities and powers. (Debated)

The first mention of principalities and powers is in Romans 8:37–39: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” These verses are about the victory Christ has won over all the forces ranged against us. We are “more than conquerors” because no force—not life, not death, not angels, not demons, indeed nothing—can separate us from the love of God. The “principalities” & “powers” referred to here are those with miraculous powers, whether false teachers and prophets or the very demonic entities that empower them. What is clear is that, whoever they are, they cannot separate us from the love of God. Victory is assured. It would be unfortunate to dwell on identifying the powers and miss the main thrust of the verse, which is assurance about what God has done to save us.

Another mention of principalities and powers is in Colossians 1:16, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether throne or powers or dominions or principalities; all things were created by him and for him.” Here is the clear statement that God is the Creator and Ruler over all authorities, whether they submit to Him or rebel against Him. Whatever power the evil forces possess, they are not out of the ultimate control of our sovereign God, who uses even the wicked for bringing about His perfect plan and purpose (Daniel 4:35; Isaiah 46:10–11).

In the next chapter of Colossians, we read about Jesus’ ultimate power over all other powers: “And having disarmed the powers and principalities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15). In keeping with all things, the powers are created by Christ and therefore under His control. They are not to be feared, for they have been disarmed by the cross. The Savior, by His death, took dominion from them, and took back what they had captured. Satan and his legions had invaded the earth and drawn mankind into captivity, subjecting them to their evil reign. But Christ, by His death, subdued the invaders and recaptured those who had been vanquished. Colossians 2:14 speaks of Jesus being nailed to the cross along with the written charges against us. The record of our wrongdoing, with which Satan accuses us before God, is nailed with Christ to the cross. It is thereby destroyed, and the powers can no longer accuse us; we are innocent in the eyes of God. Hence, they are disarmed.

Ephesians 3:10–11 presents different principalities and powers—those of the heavenly realms: “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Here we see the angelic hosts being shown the wisdom and purpose of God in the plan of salvation through Christ. Angels, both holy and unholy, witness the glory of God and the preeminence of Christ above all creatures in the church, those who are saved and preserved by His power (Ephesians 1:20–21).

Ephesians 6:12 declares the warfare in which we are engaged as we battle throughout our lives “against the principalities, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” So, having been saved, we must continue to struggle to do good things in light of the sure victory promised in Romans 8. It is as though we are facing an army of dark powers who have been disarmed from real power and against whom we have been promised victory. It is our job to demonstrate and depend upon the wisdom and power of God in defeating them in our lives. We can do this by trusting in God’s victory.

The final reference to principalities and powers is Titus 3:1. Here they refer to those governmental authorities whom God has placed over us for our protection and welfare. They are God’s representatives on earth, and submission to Him involves submission to His duly constituted authorities. Those who rebel against earthly authorities are “rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:2).

Archangels

The word archangel occurs in only two verses of the Bible. First Thessalonians 4:16 says, “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” The other passage is Jude 1:9: “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” Michael is the only named archangel in Scripture.

Like all angels, archangels are personal beings created by God. They possess intelligence, power, and glory. They are spiritual in nature, rather than corporeal. Archangels serve God and carry out His purposes.

One of the duties of an archangel, as seen in Daniel 10, is to engage in spiritual warfare. In 1 Thessalonians 4, the archangel is involved in the return of Christ for His church. We also see Michael the archangel contending with Satan in Jude 1:9. Even possessing the power and glory of an archangel, Michael called on the Lord to rebuke Satan. This shows how powerful Satan is, as well as how dependent Michael is on God’s power. If the archangel looks to the Lord for his help, should we do any less?

Common Angels

Matthew 18:10 states, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” In the context, “these little ones” could either apply to those who believe in Him (v. 6) or it could refer to the little children (vs. 3-5). This is the key passage regarding guardian angels. There is no doubt that good angels help protect (Daniel 6:20-23; 2 Kings 6:13-17), reveal information (Acts 7:52-53; Luke 1:11-20), guide (Matthew 1:20-21; Acts 8:26), provide for (Genesis 21:17-20; 1 Kings 19:5-7), and minister to believers in general (Hebrews 1:14).

The question is whether each person—or each believer—has an angel assigned to him/her. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel had the archangel (Michael) assigned to it (Daniel 10:21; 12:1), but Scripture nowhere states that an angel is “assigned” to an individual (angels were sometimes sent to individuals, but there is no mention of permanent assignment). The Jews fully developed the belief in guardian angels during the time between the Old and New Testament periods. Some early church fathers believed that each person had not only a good angel assigned to him/her, but a demon as well. The belief in guardian angels has been around for a long time, but there is no explicit scriptural basis for it.

To return to Matthew 18:10, the word “their” is a collective pronoun in the Greek and refers to the fact that believers are served by angels in general. These angels are pictured as “always” watching the face of God so as to hear His command to them to help a believer when it is needed. The angels in this passage do not seem to be guarding a person so much as being attentive to the Father in heaven. The active duty or oversight seems, then, to come more from God than from the angels, which makes perfect sense because God alone is omniscient. He sees every believer at every moment, and He alone knows when one of us needs the intervention of an angel. Because they are continually seeing His face, the angels are at His disposal to help one of His “little ones.”

It cannot be emphatically answered from Scripture whether or not each believer has a guardian angel assigned to him/her. But, as stated earlier, God does use angels in ministering to us. It is scriptural to say that He uses them as He uses us; that is, He in no way needs us or them to accomplish His purposes, but chooses to use us and them nevertheless (Hebrews 1:7). In the end, whether or not we have an angel assigned to protect us, we have an even greater assurance from God: if we are His children through faith in Christ, He works all things together for good (Romans 8:28-30), and Jesus Christ will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6). If we have an omniscient, omnipotent, all-loving God with us, does it really matter whether or not there is a finite guardian angel protecting us? 

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