Most people in this world believe there are angels or spirits that come from heaven or the heavenly realms and engage in activities on and around earth. In English we call them angels (from the Greek ‘angelos’). In Hebrew they are called malakh, מַלְאָךְ or malakhim; in Arabic and Islam they are called Malaika; in Chinese – 天使 Tiānshǐ; and in Hindu – Svargadooton, स्वर्गदूतों.
This work is not concerned with chasing after false mythology, or examining the myriad of ‘gods,’ ‘devas,’ ‘shining ones,’ ‘shining lights,’ ‘dharmapalas,’ ‘apsaras,’ ‘asuras,’ ‘fravshhi,’ ‘spirit guides,’ and others that are found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Zoroastriasm, Baha’i, Tarot readings, Wicca, or the like. However, it should be noted that all these religions do believe in angels; and that most have taken their terminology from the Hebrew and Christian Bibles – such as from ‘morning stars’ becoming ‘shining lights.’
The purpose of this writing is to examine the real angels revealed to us by the God of Abraham. Jews, Muslims and Christians all believe in angels and the God of Abraham; however, Islam and certain Christian denominations and/or cults add beyond what has been taught by the prophets and apostles of the God. This article will be divided into the following sections: Belief in Angels; Terms and Definitions; The Nature of Angels; Where they inhabit and their Quantity; Some unconfirmed Spirits; and Types of Angels.
Belief in Angels
According to a May 2016 Gallup poll, 72% of Americans say they ‘believe in Angels;’ 12% are ‘not sure about’ them, and 16% ‘don’t believe in’ them. When asked specifically about the fallen angel, the Devil, 61% stated they ‘believe in’ him and 27% ‘don’t.’ This shows both knowledge and belief in the subject varies. In a 2004 Gallup Poll, they found that little more than half of the Brits believed in God; and 36% answered they did ‘believe’ in angels, and 46% did ‘not believe’ in Great Britain. Only 29% of those surveyed in the United Kingdom believed the devil.
In a 2016 Yougov.com.uk study, 46% of the more than 230,000 surveyed had no religion; the same amount were Christian; yet though ‘self-identified’ as Christian, only 55% of those believe in a God. The Study revealed that about 15% of the Brits believe in the Devil; only about a quarter of all British people ‘definitely do believe in’ angels; yet over 30% ‘definitely’ believed in ‘ghosts.’ Another 2016 poll by ICM for Bible Society showed that 39% of women and 26% of men believed in angels; and nearly 1 in 10 felt they had been in contact with one. And, hundreds of millions of mortal humans believe in ‘guardian angels.’
In 2012, a Pew Research Center study involved more than 38,000 ‘face-to-face interviews in over 80 languages’ and 39 countries and found that 69% of Muslims say religion is very important to them; and that 96% to 98% of the Muslims in the Middle East, North Africa and South or Southeast Asia believed in angels; 83% in Central Asia did believe; as did 72% in Sub-Saharan Africa and only 55% in Eastern Europe.
Terms and Definitions
Strong’s Concordance defines the Hebrew word Mal’ak as “to depatch as a deputy; messenger, of God, i.e. an angel (also a prophet, priest or teacher) – ambassador; angel, king, messenger.” The root of this Hebrew term means ‘one who is sent.’ And the Greek word aggelos as “…messenger: esp. an ‘angel’.” Nave’s Topical Bible calls an angel a ‘celestial spirit,’ and notes other biblical references to them: “Morning Stars (Job 38:7); Hosts (Gen. 2:1…; Luke 2:13); Principalities, Powers (Eph. 3:10).” McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia… reminds us they are called ‘holy ones;’ but note that is also translated as ‘saints’ and is used for both men and angels – thus, the context must be taken into consideration (same for ‘the elect’).
Hebert Lockyer in his, All the Angels in the Bible, explains that the Bible shows there are those called: ‘Angels, Seraphim, and Cherubim;’ and that they have other names and titles such as ‘sons of God,’ ‘morning stars,’ ‘watchers,’ ‘thrones, powers, rulers and authorities.’ It such be quickly noted, that they are called ‘sons’ of God in the same fashion that Jews and Christians have been called ‘children of God.’
Angels are mentioned in over half the books of the Bible; at least 34 of the 66 in the King James Version. Some say the term is mentioned nearly 200 times; but if you add the other names and titles they are given; that number increases to about 300; and hundreds of verses speak of them and their works. Daniel called them ‘watchers and holy ones (Dan. 4:13).
The Nature of Angels
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994; Part One; 328-329) states: “The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls ‘angels’ is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition. Who are they? St. Augustine says: “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit,’ from what they do, ‘angel;’ With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they ‘always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven’ they are the ‘mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word’.”
CREATED: When Billy Graham was asked, ‘when were the angels created?’ He said, “The Bible tells us that the angels were witnesses to the creation of the world… God asked Job, ‘Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation… and all the angels shouted for joy (Job 38:4, 7)?’ The important thing, however, isn’t when God created the angels – but why He created them… to do God’s will… to be God’s instruments or agents to carry out His work…”
The apostles John and Paul tell us that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, “the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was mad that has been made (John 1:1-3).” “For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things consist (Col. 1:16-17).” “All things were created by God, by His will and for His pleasure they exist and were created and have their being (Rev. 4:11).”
IMMORTAL SPIRITS: They were created immortal (exempt from death; without flesh; eternal); they are not gods and not humanoid. ‘God is Spirit’ and ‘Omnipotent’ (John 4:24; Rev. 19:6 KJV – all-powerful, supreme with unlimited power; NIV as Almighty). Angels are spirits created by God with significant, but limited power. “He makes His angels spirits (as winds); His ministers a flaming fire (Psa. 104:4).”
They “neither marry… and neither can they die… (Luke 20:35-36; Mark 12:25).” They are higher than the order of humans which “He made a little lower than the angels (Heb. 2:7; quoting Psalm 8:5; and Clement of Rome does likewise – 1 Clem. 36:3).’
|Demons (fallen angels) are described as spirits (Matt. 8:16; 12:45; Luke 7:21; Acts 19:12; Rev. 16:14). We are told that our ‘struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places (Eph. 6:12).’ Paul also says that heavenly forces are invisible to us (Col. 1:16).|
FREE WILL: Speaking of their Lateran Council IV (1215), The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC; 391) adds, “The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: ‘The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing’.” Then quoting from 8th century Bishop John Damascene, the CCC says, “This ‘fall’ consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter’s words to our first parents: ‘You will be like God (Gen. 3:5 – ‘knowing good and evil;’ and in spirit – see John 4:24)’. The devil ‘has sinned from the beginning;’ he is ‘a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8)’.” Justin the Martyr (d. 165) wrote, “Because God knew that it would be good. He created both angels and men free to do what is righteous.” And also free to do what is not right (Gen. 4:7).
SERVANTS: They are ‘messengers’ from Who? They are messengers from God in Heaven. They who are obedient to Him do God’s will and that of the Lord Jesus Christ; but those who rebelled against His commands and will have been cast out from God’s kingdom of Heaven. Angels both surround our Father in Heaven – Almighty God; and the Lord Jesus Christ and serve Him with worship and obedience and they serve in God’s saving mission to men, as well as withholding and fighting against the falling angels – their former brethren so to speak. Thomas Aquinas said, “Angels work together for the benefit of us all.”
WORSHIPERS: are spiritual creatures who glorify God; many worshipping without ceasing. Isaiah was lifted up by a vision to see: “the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings… And one cried to another and said, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!’ And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of Him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke… (Isa. 6:1-4).”
John in Revelation chapter 5 describes the throne room also, “I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!’ And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever’!”
CAN HEAL and Purify: Isaiah 6:6. Also, in Christianity, Judaism and Islam many see the Archangel Raphael is the chief healer among angels.
CAN APPEAR in various forms: Angels are spiritual beings (Heb. 1:14) with their own language (1 Cor. 13:1); but they can appear in human form (Gen. 18:1-19; Mark 16:5; etc.). They appear occasionally in such an awesome manner or presence that fear comes upon morals who see them (Luke 2). In heaven, there are angels that are in various physical forms, some with wings (Isa. 6:2) and some with faces ‘like the sun and legs like pillars of fire (Rev. 10:1); and on Earth they can appear in and with various human-like materials (2 Kings 6:17). They can speak with humans (Zech. 3:3-). Hebrews 13:2 says, “Don’t forget to be kind to strangers, for some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”
HAVE GREAT POWER: ONE (1) “the Angel of the Lord went out and put to death 185,000 Assyrians (2 Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36).” And ‘the angel of the Lord’ put to death 70,000 in Israel with a plague (2 Sam. 24:15). And “Michael, one of the chief princes or Archangels’ stood or stands against fallen archangels/demons such as the ‘prince of Persia (Dan. 10:13).
Where they inhabit and their Quantity
REALM/Abode: There was an original place or dwelling of the angels. Jude says, “the angels who did not stay within their positions of authority, but abandoned their proper dwelling; God has kept them bound with eternal bonds under darkness until the judgment of the Great Day (Jude 1:6).” Peter says of these, they are in a certain part of “hell… in chains of darkness to be held for judgment (2 Pet. 2:4). Paul in Ephesians (6:12) states concerning ‘fallen angels;’ that these “rulers… authorities… powers of this dark world and …spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” are in various places on and around Earth and in various parts of the Universe.
We are told that there are ‘four angels that have power’ over the Earth, even to harm it (Rev. 7:2); and by many witnesses of the angels in Heaven (Mark 13:32). And we are told of a final destination or abode for the ‘Devil and his angels’ that rebelled against God will be in the ‘everlasting lake of fire (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:14).’
Isaiah and John have shown us visions of heaven. David said of many of these, “Praise Him, all His angels… all His heavenly hosts (Psa. 148:2).” But what do we know of heaven? Paul said he was taken up to the ‘third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2).’
Lockyer explains that the Judaica (Encyclopedia Judaica; 1971) list seven (7) heavens: Velim – the curtain of night and day (Isa. 40:22); Expanse… (Gen 1:17); Aether… (Psa. 78:27); Habitation – where Michael stands at the altar (1Kings 8:3); Dwelling Place – where the angels sing (Psa. 42:8); Fixed Residence – the dwelling place (1Kings8:39); and Araboth …souls of the righteous (Psa. 49:17).
The Jewish Talmud and the Apocrypha book 2 Enoch both mention seven heavens. And it is not known if the Quran (Islam/Muslims) conceived seven heavens from Jewish sources and traditions that came centuries earlier; but the Koran (Al-Qur’an) in Surah 2:29 states, “He …made the seven heavens;” and “the seven heavens, the earth and all beings declare His glory… (Surah 17:44).”
QUANTITY: Myriads x Myriads and ten thousand x ten thousands (Rev. 5:11; and Dan. 7:10). Thus, somewhere between hundreds of millions and billions (like human populations).
|2 Enoch states, “They… showed me 200 angels who rule the stars… and fly with their wings… (4:1).” And “I saw prisoners hanging and awaiting great judgment in the second heaven, it was full of darkness and weeping all hours… (7:1).” And in “the third heaven… was the Paradise of Eden (8:6);” the “fourth heaven… star, moon and …stars (11:1- the writer then speaks of gates about the sun and angels attending them);” on the ‘fifth heaven’ he says are fallen angels of Satan (18:1) awaiting judgment; and the “sixth heaven… bands of angels, very bright and glorious… shining… these make the orders… government of the world (19:1).” “These are the archangels who are above the angels… overs seasons and years… rivers and seas… harvests… and who keep records concerning all the souls of mankind, and all their deeds (Eccl. 12:14)… in their midst are six Phoenixes and six Cherubim and six six-winged ones continually with one voice singing… before the Lord at His footstool (19:2-3). And the two angels lifted me up to see the seventh heaven, and I saw there a very great light, and fiery troops of great archangels… and dominions, orders and governments, Cherubim and Seraphim, thrones and many-eyed ones… and on the tenth (10) heaven is God… He is called Aravat (Hebrew: ‘Father of Creation’).”|
About one-third have ‘fallen’ (Rev. 12:1-), including Lucifer – Satan, the Devil (Ezek. 14:12; Rev. 12:9). And these fallen ones are called demons or devils or ‘deceitful spirits’ which influence mankind with their ‘teachings (1 Tim. 4:1).’ Peter (2 Pet. 2:4) and Jude tells us that ”the fallen angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, God has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.”
For more on these see: Doctrines of Demons
Hierarchy of Angels
God is high and lifted up on His throne (Isa. 6:1; Rev. 4:2-10; Psa. 47:8). Jesus Christ is not an angel; He is the King of kings and Lord of lords and His name is above all creation (Heb. 1:4; Rev. 19:16). There is a hierarchy of angels, but TheTruthSource and likely no source but God and the Lord Jesus Christ, truly understands the exact order of angels. Jews and Christians often use differ hierarchies for the angels.
The Angel of the Lord / an Angel (Archangel): We are not sure if this is the same angel or there are two or more. He or they have the Power to destroy tens of thousands of humans in an instant (2 Kings 19:35). And has the “Authority to “call out (forth) in a loud voice to the great four angels (Rev. 7:2).” And has the “key to the Abyss (pit; Rev. 20:1).”
Four Angels: They each have their roles, including the authority to “proclaim the eternal gospel to everyone on earth (Rev. 14:6);” authority to “come out of the Temple (Sanctuary or Throne Room of God; as instructed by God) and cry out with a loud voice to the Son of Man (Jesus Christ our Lord)” at the last day to send forth the angels to reap the “harvest of the earth (Rev. 14:14-; Matt. 13:39 ‘the harvesters are angels’ and the ‘field is the world’).”
Mighty Seraphim (‘burning ones;’ even ‘electricity’): They are in the throne room of God. Isaiah describes them flying with six wings (Isa. 6:1-7). And John described them with six wings and worshipping day and night saying “Holy… is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is and is to come (Rev. 4:6-; 6:1).” Some say they are flying above the Throne area; while the Cherubim remain beside and around it.
Four Living Creatures or Hayyoth (Ezek. 10:20-22): They are Cherubim with four faces and four wings and human hands. Some Hebrew sources call them the Hashmallim (from Ezek. 1:4; and chapter 10). Daniel saw them covered with eyes and surround the Throne of “the Ancient of Days (Dan. 7:7-).” John said they are “covered with eyes… and were like a lion, ox, man and eagle.”
Cherubim: More than one guarded the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24); and their image on the Ark of the Covenant (Exo. 25:19; Heb. 9:5).
Archangels (some are called Arel or Erelim): Only a few are found by name in the Hebrew and Christian Bible; but others are named in the Apocrypha (Book of Tobit, 2Esdras, etc.), Book of Enoch, the Dead Sea Scrolls; and thus by early church fathers, the Talmud and Kabbalah (‘Tradition’); and in turn by mystics and writers such as Milton in Paradise Lost or in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The Bible mentions, Michael, Gabriel and even Abaddon (Apollyon) and Lucifer; the other Christian, Jewish and even Islam sources mention many such as: Adriel, Ariel, Azazel, Raphael, Raguel, Remiel, and Uriel. Paul describes the Lord Jesus coming with ‘the voice of the archangel (1 Thes. 4:16).’
(Gustave Dore: Circle of Angels from Dante’s Divine Comedy; also in Paradise Lost)
These and others also make up: Rulers, Principalities, and Dominions (Rom. 8:38; Eph. 6:12). Then there are hundreds of millions or even billions of ordinary angels or messengers and ministers doing the will of God on Earth and in heaven. They are possibly ones who Jacob saw as on a ladder from heaven to Earth (Gen. 28:12). Some call many of these guardian angels; and many believe every person is assigned an angel; to record your works and even “to guard or watch over you in all your ways (Psa. 91:11).”
Talmud names four angels who would later be known as archangels, surrounding God’s throne: “As the Holy One blessed be He created four winds (directions) and four banners (for Israel’s army), so also did He make four angels to surround His Throne—Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael. Michael is on its right, corresponding to the tribe of Reuben; Uriel on its left, corresponding to the tribe of Dan, which was located in the north; Gabriel in front, corresponding to the tribe of Judah as well as Moses and Aaron who were in the east; and Raphael in the rear, corresponding to the tribe of Ephraim which was in the west.’ Numbers Rabbah 2:10)
South American Aucas witnesses of Angels
In 1956 five missionaries including Jim Elliott and Nate Saint were killed deep in the South American jungle trying to witness to the Aucas Indians. They had previously agreed not to use their guns. It was a big misunderstanding in a way, caused by Satan and superstitions. One of the missionary showed a picture of an Aucas girl who came to the village they were in and received the gospel. But some of the tribesman, when the missionary put the photo back in his pocket, thought he was taking her soul. Anyway, they speared them to death (see movie: End of the Spear; 2005). But after the missionaries were killed, the tribesmen saw lights instantly appear above the treetops singing and testified years later to this – seeing and hear angels. Three years after their deaths, Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint made contact with the Aucas; and Steve Saint (Nate’s son) still keeps in contact (2017).
In other accounts, many missionaries have reported that they have been protected by angels which their aggressors saw in physical great form standing behind the missionary.
May the Lord bless you and have His angels watch over you.