The Angels  

I. Introduction:

A. The interest in angels is high

1. Books

2. Television programs

3. Bible classes


B. What do we know about the angels?

1. Perhaps a better question would be: How little do we know about the angels?

2. There has been much speculation about the angels throughout the New Testament era.

St. Ambrose, 4th century bishop of Milan, conceived and published nine tiers of angels in the descending order of seraphim, cherubim, dominions, thrones, principalities, powers, virtues, archangels, and angels.

Dionysius the Areopagite, an unknown author of about 500 A.D., wrote The Celestial Hierarchy, which he said consisted of nine choirs of angels who were divided into three hierarchies.

Billy Graham in his best seller wrote of ten ranks of angels.

Such rankings of angels are pure speculation.  While Scripture mentions the nine classes of angels noted by St. Ambrose, it reveals nothing to us about the arrangement of their orders or what are their spheres of influence, other than the archangels are princes and rulers among the angels.

Television programs have made much of these speculations.  We should be aware and beware of them.

3. Scripture is our only valid source of information about angels.

The Bible provides a wealth of information about the angels, much more than we could hope to cover in this short study.  Here we can barely scratch the surface of the biblical information provided.

At the same time, however, the purpose of the Bible is this: “. . . the Holy Scriptures . . . are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15).  Our gracious Savior God had the Scriptures written to teach us the gospel of Jesus Christ for our salvation, not to provide us with a text book on the angels.

Our situation, then, is this: While the Bible teaches us a great deal about the angels to glorify God and to comfort us, it by no means answers all our questions, leaving us, perhaps, in the end with more questions than we have answers.  We need to be prepared for this and ready to accept it as well.

II. The Origin of the Angels:

A. Do people become angels after their deaths?

1. Many think so.

2. If this were true, then throughout history the angelic population has been steadily increasing and we would know that angels are an evolutionary progression of human spirits.

B. Searching the Scriptures to discover the source of angels:

1. The evil angels are called rulers, authorities, powers, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms in Ephesians 6:11,12.

11 Put on the full armor of God so you are able to stand up against the schemes of the devil; 12 because our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

2. Colossians 1:15,16 tell us the angels, known as thrones, powers, rulers and authorities, were created.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, 16 for by him all things were created in the heavens and on the earth, visible things and invisible things, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

3. Psalm 148:2,5 teach us the angels were created by the Lord's command.  Likely by the power of his word, "Let there be angels," they came into being.

2 Praise him all his angels, Praise him all his heavenly hosts! . . . 5 Let them praise the name of the Lord, For he commanded and they were created.

4. The angels were created sometime during the six days of creation.

Before the beginning of creation in eternity we know only the Lord himself existed, who then proceeded to create all things, ref. John 1:1-3.  The angels could not have existed from eternity, then, and prior to when the Lord began his creative activity.

Exodus 20:11 informs us the Lord made everything in the heavens and the earth in six days.  The angels were created during those six days as well.

For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them. Then he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Colossians 1:16 clarifies that not only this visible earth was created during those six days, but the angels in their invisible realm as well.

For by him (Chris) all things were created in the heavens and on the earth, visible things and invisible things, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

5. Millions of angels were created.

Numerous passages such as Hebrews 12:22 and Psalm 68:17 answer this question.  But let Revelation 5:11 suffice.

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders, and their number was thousands upon thousands and thousands times thousands.

6. The number of angels is the same now as at the time of their creation.

And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are worthy to attain that age and the resurrection of the dead do not marry, nor are they given in marriage; neither are they able to die anymore, for they are like the angels, and they are sons of God, being the sons of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:34-36).

Since all the angels were created during the six days of creation, and since they do not marry, propagate, or die as we humans do, there are no more or less angels now than when they were created.

7. The spiritual state of all the angels at their creation was good.  They were holy angels.

And God saw all that he had made, and behold it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning – the sixth day. And the heavens and the earth were completed and all their hosts. (Genesis 1:31, 2:1)

III. The Characteristics of the Angels:

A. We are unable here to look up all the pertinent Bible passages to discover what the angels are like.  Therefore, their characteristics are listed below with some of the Bible references.

1. The term angel means messenger, which designates their office.  But their nature is that of a spirit, a non-physical, immaterial living being. (Hebrews 1:14; Luke 24:39; Ephesians 6:12)

2. Immortal, but not eternal (Psalm 148:5; Luke 20:36)

3. Powerful, but not omnipotent (Psalm 103:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Peter 2:10,11)

4. Knowledgeable, having an intellect, but not omniscient, or knowing all things (1 Peter 1:12; Luke 24:4-7)

5. Present in one place or another, but not omnipresent (the Lord commands and sends them to one place or another, they move about; Psalm 91:10; Zechariah 1:8-11; Hebrews 1:14)

6. Illocal, that is being spirits, they do not take up any physical space such as we do.

7. Invisible (Colossians 1:15,16)

8. Unchanging, that is because they are immortal, immaterial spirits who do not grow up physically or age as we do (Luke 20:34-36)

9. Asexual, that is being neither male nor female, having no sex (Luke 20:34-36)

10. Volitional, that is having a will of their own and a desire (Jude 6; 1 Peter 1:12)

11. Emotional (Luke 15:10; Job 38:7)

12. Winged spirits (Isaiah 6:3; Ezekiel 10:5)

13. Immaterial, yet capable of touching, moving, affecting our physical world (Matthew 28:2; Acts 12:7,9; Genesis 19:11; 2 Kings 19:35 and 2 Chronicles 32:21,22)

14. The good angels are holy, being confirmed by the Lord in their holy state (Mark 8:38; since the wicked cannot dwell with God, ref. Psalm 5:4, and the good angels always are in God’s presence, ref. Matthew 18:10, they must be holy and permanently so.)

15. The holy angels are glorious, radiant, brilliant in appearance (Matthew 28:2,3; Luke 9:26; Acts 12:7)

B. The devil and his demons are angels also, fallen angels.  Being angels they possess the angelic characteristics we noted above with some noted differences.

1. Being fallen angels, they are less than the holy angels, being weaker for example, ref. Revelation 12:7-9, and not possessing the intellect and wisdom of the holy angels, who have the benefit of being in the presence of God.  Satan foolishly self-destructed when he plotted and instigated the crucifixion of Christ.

2. The evil angels are evil, perverse, depraved spirits, that is their very nature in which they have been hardened. (Luke 7:21,8:2; Mark 1:23; the devil is a murderer and liar from the beginning, John 8:44)

3. The devil and his demons are not glorious but wretched, and miserable, having been separated from all the blessings which the holy angels enjoy.  Theirs is a kingdom, not of light, but of darkness. (Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4; 1 Peter 3:18)

4. Being bound in hell for their condemnation to the eternal fire, ref. Matthew 25:41, they have no second chance for repentance, salvation, or restoration to their former, original holy state.

5. The devil is most brash and brazen. He was willing to challenge God himself and tempt Christ, the Son of God (Job 1:9-11; Matthew 4:1f)

IV. The Angels’ Dwelling Places:

A. The good angels:

1. The good angels are always in heaven in the presence of God.

See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 18:10)

2. Yet the good angels are also with us on earth.

For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last ones of all, as men condemned to death, because we were made a spectacle in the world both to angels and to men. (1 Corinthians 4:9).

I (Paul) charge you (Timothy) before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, that you keep these instructions without prejudice, doing nothing by partiality. (1 Timothy 5:21)

Are not all angels ministering spirits, who are sent out into service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)

B. The devil and his evil angels:

1. The evil angels are permanently bound in hell for judgment on the last day.

. . . and angels, who did not keep their sphere of authority but deserted their own habitation, he has kept in everlasting bonds under the darkness of hell for judgment on the great Day. (Jude 6).

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but handed them over for judgment, holding them in chains of darkness in hell, . . . (2 Peter 2:4)

2. Yet the devil and his evil angels are also with us on earth.

And the great dragon was thrown down, the ancient serpent, the one who is called the devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole inhabited earth – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. . . 12 For this reason rejoice, O heavens and those who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you. He is filled with an intense rage, because he knows he has only a short time. (Revelation 12:9,12).

Now the judgment of this world is here, now the ruler of this world will be cast out. (John 12:31).

. . . in which you once walked according to the characteristic ways of this world, according to the ruler of the domain of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience, . . . (Ephesians 2:2).

. . . because our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

V. Guardian Angels:

A. How do we know the good angels guard us?

For he (the Lord Most High) will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in the palms of their hands, so you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:10,11)

B. According to Psalm 91:10,11 above, the angels are always with us to guard us in all of our ways.

C. All of the angels are guardian angels.

Are not all angels ministering spirits, who are sent out into service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)

D. According to Hebrews 1:14, and according to Psalm 91:10,11, which was written about those who take their refuge in the Lord, the Lord's good angels guard us believers who will inherit salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

E. These two passages are the only ones which specifically speak of the guardian angels.  Based on these passages, we believers in Jesus cannot say with certainty that we have one guardian angel assigned to us.   We may have more than one.

VI. Demonic Possession:

A. Spiritual possession:

1. In the wide sense: the devil holds the unbelievers in the spiritual blindness and ignorance of unbelief.

. . . in whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so they do not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4).

2. In the narrow sense: the devil enters a person’s mind and heart, taking control of his will to prompt him to do evil.

Then Satan entered into Judas, the one called Iscariot, who was one of the Twelve. And he went and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Jesus to them. . . And while the evening meal was taking place, the devil already having put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Jesus, . . . (Luke 22:3,4; John 13:2).

And Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart that you lied to the Holy Spirit and kept some of the price of the land for yourself?” (Acts 5:3)

B. Physical possession: a demonic spirit inhabits a person’s body, taking control of all his faculties.

When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking a resting place, and does not find any. Then it says, “I will return into my house from which I came out.” And when it comes it finds the house empty, swept clean, and put in order. Then it goes and takes with itself seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. So the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. So it will be also with this wicked generation. (Matthew 12:43-45).

And when he went out upon the land a certain man from the city, who was possessed with demons, met him. For a long time he had not worn clothes, nor did he live in a house but among the tombs...many times it (the demon) had seized him (Legion) violently, and even though he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, yet he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the desolate places....(After Jesus had cast out the demons from Legion he was) sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind. (Luke 8:27,29,35)

C. Characteristics of those demonically possessed:

1. They are out of their right minds, having lost control of their will, emotions, intellect, sense of decency, bodily functions.  They become different people who are no longer in control of themselves. (ref. Legion, Luke 8:27,35; Mark 9:17-26)

2. They may exhibit superhuman strength. (ref. Legion, Luke 8:29; Acts 19:14-16)

3. They may be afflicted with physical maladies. (ref. the boy who was possessed by a demon which robbed him of his speech, threw him about on the ground and into the fire and water, threw him into convulsions so he foamed at the mouth, made him gnash his teeth and made his body rigid. (cf. Mark 9:17,18; Acts 8:7)

4. They may speak of themselves in the first person plural “we, us,” as being more than one person. (Mark 1:23,24, 5:9)

5. They may speak the most profane, foul, filth.

6. They may have knowledge of things which are humanly impossible to know, speak in foreign tongues which they have never learned, suddenly have artistic talents which they do not possess before or after their seizure, foretell future fortunes, perform other superhuman, miraculous feats, or have inexplicable phenomenon occur while they are present--such as it raining in an indoor room or objects flying and hurdling through the air. (ref. Acts 16:16; 13:6-10)

7. They can be possessed by more than one demon simultaneously (Mark 16:9; Matthew 12:43-45).

8. Their presence may be accompanied by a horrible stench and an eerie cold air or draft.

9. Afterwards their knowledge of the Lord and his Word can be totally wiped from their minds and have no recollection of them.

D. We have no reason to fear the devil and his demons.  Read Psalm 91:1-12.