The Doctrine of Angels

arch angel michael

“Angels” whether Malak of the Old Testament or Aggelos of the New Testament means, “messenger.”

The term “angel” is generic, in that it applies to all orders of angels, and it is expressive of their office or service.

There are two main categories of angels:

  • Elect Angels – Messengers of God.
  • Fallen Angels – Messengers of Satan, who they elected to follow.

We are also told from the Bible that angels are grouped into various classes such as, “thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, authorities and the host of heavens.” Rom 8:38; Col 1:16; 2:15; Eph 1:20; 3:10; 6:12   

These terms describe the relationship among angelic creatures.  Nevertheless, all are subject to the Lord. 1 Peter 3:22

As we have noted in Rev 5:11, angels are innumerable.  They are called the “heavenly host” which has a dual meaning.  It means both angels and literal stars. Gen 15:5; Duet 17:3; 1 Kings 22:19; Jer 19:13; Neh 9:6; Dan 7:10; Luke 2:13

Angels live in the heavens.

  • 1stheaven = Earth’s atmosphere,
  • 2nd heaven = The stellar universe, and
  • 3rdheaven = God’s throne room outside of our universe.

Gen 1:8; Mark 13:32; 2 Cor 12:2; Gal 1:8; Eph 3:15; Jude 1:6

This was depicted in the pattern of the Tabernacle. Heb 8:5

  • Outer Court = 1stheaven
  • Holy Place = 2ndheaven
  • Holy of Holies = 3rdheaven

Heb 9:24, “Christ passed through heavens.”

Angels have existed for many ages prior to the creation of man. Job 38:7

God’s plan and purpose for the angels continues today and will continue into the future. It is not dependent upon man.

Angels are said to have interest in the things of the earth, and some serve in that manner. 1 Pet 1:12; Eph 3:10; Luke 15:10; 12:8-9; 1 Tim 3:16; Rev 14:10-11

They are said to be present at:

  • The creation of material things, Job 38:7
  • Giving of the law, Gal 3:19; Acts 7:53; Heb 2:2
  • Birth of Christ, Luke 2:13
  • Temptation of Christ, Mat 4:11
  • Resurrection of Christ, Mat 28:2
  • Ascension of Christ, Acts 1:10
  • Second Coming of Christ, Mat 13:37-39; 24:31; 25:31; 2 Thes 1:7

No revelation is given as to the extent and nature of the facts and forces, which constitute the reality in which the angels live.  The Bible is not directed towards the angels, and therefore does not go into depth about their society or mode of operation.

Angels are unseen to the human eye, but this does not mean they do not exist.  Every now and then God allows man a glimpse of the angelic host.  2 Kings 6:17; Luke 1:26; 2:8-15   If angels were seen on a regular basis, man would worship them.  Rev 22:8-9 w/ Col 2:18

Angels are more than mere power emanating from God. They are individual beings created and empowered by God that live, congregate, move, and function autonomously with their own free will.  Yet, they are not self-originating, self-sustaining, or capable of self-annihilation.  Angels do not have the power to create, act without means, or search the human heart.  They, just as all created beings, live and move by the virtue of divine empowerment. Jude 1:9 (Michael fighting with Satan)

Angels may, however, influence the human mind as one person may influence another.  They can possess the unbeliever, Mat 12:22; Luke 13:11‑16, and influence any member of the human race, 1 Tim 4:1-2.

Decisions that can result in demon possession include:

  • Idolatry, 1 Cor 10:19‑21
  • Drug addiction, Gal 5:20
  • Religious reversionistic sensitivity, dabbling in the occult, consulting mediums, the function of necromancy, Isa 8:19
  • Phallic cult activity, Isa 2:6; Luke 8:2; Mk 16:9. This includes demonic orgastic response, auto‑eroticism, lesbianism, homosexuality, verbal response demons, promiscuity demons, group orgies, human sacrifice, idolatry, and unrestrained sexual lust.  (In of themselves, these things do not imply demon possession.)

The believer, however, is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit who makes a temple out of the body of the believer, 1 Cor 6:19‑20.   A demon cannot dwell in that temple.

Demon influence is the infiltration of satanic thought into the soul of a believer or unbeliever, 1 Tim 4:1; Eph 4:17, and/or the substitution of emotion for thought.  Man can stop and reject demonic influence through the use of the Divine power provided to us by God. Eph 6:10-12; 1 John 4:4

1 John 4:4, “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”

Angels who are still embodied have finite bodies made to operate in the law of their being and dwelling place. Compare 1 Cor 15:39-40 w/ vs. 44; and Phil 3:21. Their appearance can change as occasion demands, how else could Heb 13:2 say, “some have entertained angels,” yet elsewhere they are described as dazzling white and blazing glory, Mat 28:2-4.  Christ said that they do not have flesh and blood as men do, but this does not mean they don’t have bodies of their own kind. Luke 24:37-39   Demons however are disembodied and seek embodiment whenever possible. Mark 5:9-13; Luke 8:30-33

Angels are free moral beings and have, at least in the past, held their own destiny within the power of their own choice.  With their volition, some sinned and did not keep their first estate. 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6-7; Rev 12:4

For those who remained in sin, try as they might, they did not and cannot break away from their relation to the Creator and will ultimately give an account to Him. Isa 14:13-14; Ezek 28:16-17; Matt 25:41

Angels are intelligent, spirit beings who experience emotions as noted that they:

  • Render intelligent worship. Ps 148:2; Rev 5:11-12
  • See the face of God. Mat 18:10
  • Know their limitations. Mat 24:36
  • Know their inferiority to the Son of God. Heb 1:4-14

It is assumed that all angels were created simultaneously, Col 1:16-17.  Similarly, it is assumed that their creation was completed at that time and no more were or will be added.

Angels are not subject to death the way humans are, nor are they subject to any form of extinction.  They do not increase, nor do they decrease in number, Mat 22:28-30. 

Although, they had sex with women and had offspring of a mixed race, it appears that they cannot propagate further angelic beings. Gen 6:2-8

Angels are individuals, yet are subject to classifications and varying ranks of importance.

Fallen Angels:  Those angels that remained in rebellion against God.

There are two categories of fallen angels under the command of Satan.

  • The non-operational angels.

1) The angels of Gen 6, who were involved in the angelic attack to infiltrate the human race, who are incarcerated in Tartarus.

2) The 1st demon assault army, incarcerated in the Abyss.  They are not permitted to come out of the Abyss until the Tribulation. Luke 8:31; Rev 9:1-12.

3) The 2nd demon assault army, incarcerated under the Euphrates River. Rev 9:13-21

  • The functional fallen angels. These are the demons that are operational today.  The fact that Satan has an organization of fallen angels means that he is prepared to attack the human race.  His organization is described in Eph 6:12.

There is a specific meaning to each classification.

Rulers – (Generals)

Powers/Authorities – (Officer Corps)

World Forces – (Ambassadors)

Spirits of Evil – (rank and file)

Elect Angels:

Those angels who received a form of redemption or probation, and remain in the service of God.

1 Tim 5:21, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels.”

2 Thes 2:13, (In relation to man): “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” w/ Rom 11:7; Col 3:12; 2 Tim 2:10; 1 Peter 2:9

Similar to Eph 6, there are other verses which describe hierarchy of authority among the angels, both elect and fallen. Rom 8:38; Eph 3:10; Col 1:16; 2:10, 15

Eph 3:10, “So that the multi purposed wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.”

This hierarchy includes Thrones, Principalities, Rule, Authority, Power, and Dominions, meaning those who: occupy places of authority, rule, govern, exercise supremacy, and those invested in imperial responsibilities.

There are three titles that have been given to angels.  They are: Cherubim, Seraphim, and Living Creatures:

Cherubim angles who have four wings:

They are said to be:

  • Defenders of God’s holy character and presence.
  • Defenders of His righteousness in relation to the perfect sacrifice of Christ.

They demonstrated this:

  • In the Garden of Eden, protecting the holy presence in the Garden from man polluting it with sin. Gen 3:24
  • On top of the Ark of the Covenant, being made of one piece with the Mercy Seat, see the effectiveness of the blood sacrifice. Ex 25:18-20
  • Being embroidered into the dividing veil in the temple, separating divine holiness from unholy man. Ex 26:1, 31

Satan was a Cherub Angel. Ezek 28:14

Seraphim angels who have six wings:

The root of their name means, “burner.” In plural = burners. In other words, these angels are on Fire for God!

They are purposed to:

  • Unceasing worship.
  • A ministry of purification and humility.
  • Administering judgment for the purpose of cleansing and humility to bring about salvation. Isa 6:1-8 w/ Num 21:6 (fiery serpents), and Rev 4-6.

The Cherubim and Seraphim combined show us that the sinner will have access to the Divine presence only through a sacrifice, which vindicates the righteousness of God (Rom 3:24-26), and that the believer will be cleansed before serving God. 1John 1:9

Therefore, we can say that the Cherubim have to do with the Altar of Sacrifice, and the Seraphim have to do with the Laver of cleansing.

Living Creatures/Beings:

They are closely related to the Seraphim and Cherubim but are identified uniquely. Rev 4-6 and Ezek 1, 10

In Ezekiel, they are the “Living Beings,” said to be Cherubim, because they each have four wings.

They each had four faces (Man, Lion, Bull and Eagle), except in Ezek 10:14, the Bull was replaced with the face of a Cherub and placed first in order. (This may represent Jesus Christ, the sacrifice, as the Angel of Jehovah.)   They had a wheel each and were under the throne of God.

In Rev 4-5 they are the “Living Creatures” said to be Seraphim, because they each have six wings. They had one face each. One was a Man, one was a Lion, one was a Bull and one was an Eagle. They were around the throne of God.  They are purposed with manifesting the fullness of divine life by representing all created beings.  They have unceasing activity, lead angelic creatures in the worship of God and call forth the Judgments at the beginning of the Tribulation.

Two winged Angels may be eluded to in Zech 5:9.

Angels are also called “Heavenly Hosts”

  • They are purposed as the rank and file angels including all guardian angels. Ps 91:11f; Luke 2:13   
  • The function of the angelic armies described in Ps 103:21 is praising the Lord. Ps 148:2
  • They are also seen as the “river of fire battalions.” Dan 7:10
  • Whena rank and file angel announced to the shepherds the birth of Christ, he was joined by a multitude of heavenly armies praising God. Lk 2:13 
  • Theministering spirits of Heb 1:14 are also rank and file angels.

In the Old Testament, the angels are sometimes called “Sons of God,” while men are called “Servants of God.” Gen 6:2-4; Job 1:6; 2:1 w/ 1 Chron 6:49; Daniel 9:11; Neh 10:29

In the New Testament, angels and man are joined together in that both are called servants and sons of God. Rev 19:10 w/ Mat 5:9; Luke 20:36; Rom 8:14, 19; Gal 3:26 (son – huios, child = teknon)

This may be due to the fact that in the Old Testament, men are seen as related to this world over which angels are superior; while in the New Testament saints are seen as related to their final exaltation into the likeness of Christ, compared to which the angels are inferior, 1 Cor 6:3.

What’s important is not their relation to the inhabitants of the earth, but rather their service to God, the service of worship.

Angels are not mentioned in the Bible until Abraham, Gen 16:7; 19:1 (Lot); 21:17, and then they are prominent during the time of Christ.  They are mentioned the most in the Gospels, Revelation, Zechariah, and Hebrews.

Visible manifestations of angels does not appear to be prominent during the Church Age, and this may be because of the ministry of God the Holy Spirit indwelling every believer in our age.  A more permanent, vital, exalting, and perfect ministry than the angels could render.

But at the end of this age, they are prominent once again in the calling home of the believers at the Resurrection of the Church and on into the Tribulation and Millennium. 1 Thes 4:16 (Rapture); w/ Mat 24:29-31; Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21; Heb 12:22-24; Rev 21:21 (End of the Tribulation)

  • Angels transported a soul at death into another sphere. Luke 16:22
  • Angels delivered the apostles from prison. Acts 5:19; 12:7
  • Angels delivered messages to the saints. Luke 1:19, 26-28; Acts 8:26; 10:3; 27:23; Dan 9:21
  • They protect God’s people. Daniel 6:22; 10:10-21; 12:21; Jude 1:9

Dan 6:22, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.”

  • Offer encouragement. Genesis 16:7ff, (Hagar)
  • Give guidance. Exodus 14:19, (This was actually a theophany.)

Ex 14:19,The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them.”

  • Bring punishment. Rev 6,
  • Patrol the earth. Ezek 1:9-14; Zech 1:9; 6:7

Ezek 1:14, “And the living beings ran to and fro like bolts of lightning.”

  • Fight the forces of evil. 2 Kings 6:16-18; Rev 20:1
  • Ministered to Jesus: Mat 4:11

There is a group of angels called Guardian Angels.

  • For example, an angel guided Joseph and His family when they escaped to Egypt. Mat 2:13-15, 19-23
  • Angles minister to Jesus after his temptation. Mat 4:11
  • An angle strengthened our Lord when He was in torment over the prospects of the Cross. Luke 22:43

Luke 26:43-44, “Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.”

  • Legions of Angels could have delivered our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. Mat 26:53

Mat 26:53, “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions (12 x 6,000 = 72,000) of angels? “

There are three categories of Guardian Angels.

  • The Guardian Angels of children.  All children have a Guardian Angel to protect them during their childhood.  Mat 18:10

Mt 18:10, “See to it that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I say to you that their guardian angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

  • Angels are the Guardians of Church Age believers who are superior to angels. Heb 1:13-14; Acts 12:15

Heb 1:13-14, “But to which of the angels has He ever said, `Sit down at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet’?  Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to service those who inherit eternal salvation?”

Acts 12:15, “They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, “It is his angel.” (She was speaking about Peter who was release from prison by an angel.)

Other passages speaking of Guardian Angels include. Ps 91:7-14

  • There are Guardian Angels of client nations. Dan 10:13-21; 12:1

Daniel also spoke of Watcher Angels in Dan 4:13-23.

When we view the angels in heaven and see their powers and abilities, it should pierce our souls as to the true glory of God.  To see magnificent creatures so honestly and humbly singing praise and worship to our God, it should lead us to greater heights of prayer, worship, and works for our Lord.

If the angels treat Him as such, we who are currently lower than the angels should treat Him with even more earnestness and vigor!