The term “angelology” comes from two Greek terms, namely, aggelos meaning “messenger” or “angel” and logos meaning “word, matter, or thing.” In Christian theology the term refers to the study of the biblical doctrine of angels. Angelology studies the origin, organization, classification, attributes, and ministry of angels. Some theologians combine the study of Satan’s evil angels under this heading, but we will consider this in a separate chapter entitled “Demonology”.
THE ORIGIN OF ANGELS
Angels are ministering spirits sent by God to do His will:
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation. (Hebrews 1:14)
The title “angel” means messenger. Angels were created by God:
Praise ye Him, all His angels: praise ye Him, all His hosts…Let them praise the name of the Lord: For He commanded and they were created. (Psalms 148:2 and 5)
For by Him were all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)
All of the angels were righteous and holy when they were first created. They worshiped and served the one true God. Later, some angels rebelled against God and lost their position as angels. They became part of a force of evil called “demons”.
THE ORGANIZATION OF ANGELS
There are two kinds of angels: Good angels–the angels of God which are the subject of this chapter–and evil angels (demons) which will be discussed under the subject of Demonology.
God has organized His angels in a special order. The Bible does not reveal the details of that order, but it does indicate such organization:
For by Him were all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16; See also Ephesians 3:10)
The organization of the invisible world is described here in terms of thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers. We are not given details of this structure. We know that they sometimes function in large companies (Psalms 68:17; Matthew 26:53) and that they are innumerable (Hebrews 12:22).
THE CLASSIFICATION OF ANGELS
There are literally multitudes of angels (Luke 2:13-15) who are apparently classified according to the duties they perform. These are the main classifications of angels:
This class of angels is most likely the largest in number. These are the angels composing the innumerable group, visualized by Daniel (Daniel 7:10), who carry out the will of God in Heaven and earth. They interpret God’s will, protect, provide guidance, bring answers to prayer, announce, warn, instruct, bring judgment, encourage, sustain, deliver, and intercede on behalf of believers.
Only one reference is made to elect angels in 1 Timothy 5:21. There is no further information given about this group.
This classification of angels is first mentioned in Genesis 3:24 in relation to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden. They are also mentioned as part of the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:18-22). Ezekiel mentions these beings and describes them as having four appearances: The face of a lion, the face of an ox, the face of a man, and the face of an eagle (Ezekiel 1:3-28; 10:22). This symbolism of the cherubim suggests they are the living creatures surrounding the throne of God in Revelation 4:6. They appear to be the highest order of angels, the guardians of God.
The two cherubim placed on the mercy seat of the ark are called the “cherubim of glory” (Hebrews 9:5). They were placed one at each end of the mercy-seat, with wings stretched upward, and their faces “toward each other and toward the mercy-seat.” They were anointed with holy oil, as was the ark and the sacred furniture. It was here that God manifested Himself on earth in Old Testament times and His visible glory rested. (1 Samuel 4:4; Psalm 80:1; Ezekiel 1:26, 28).
Seraphim, whose name means “fiery ones”, are mentioned in Isaiah 6:2,3,6,7. They are represented as standing above the King as He sat upon his throne, ready to minister unto Him. Their form appears to have been human, with the addition of wings.
This group of angels are mentioned in Ezekiel 1-10 and Revelation 4:6,8; 5:6. This title presents these angels as manifesting the fullness of divine life and their chief ministry appears to be worship of God. They are distinguished from the other angels (Revelation 15:7); they join the elders in a “new song” (Revelation 5:8, 9); they warn of divine justice (Isaiah 6:3-5); and deliver the commission to those who execute it (Ezekiel 10:2, 7). They are also with the elders and the hundred and forty-four thousand who sing the new song (Revelation 14:3), and with the Church in the overthrow of her enemies (Revelation 19:4).
There are two angels mentioned by name in the Bible:
-Michael: Michael, the archangel, is mentioned in Daniel 10:13,21; 12:1; Jude 9; and Revelation 12:7. He is the only angel who is called an archangel. He is represented as having charge over an army of angels in Revelation 12:7 and is said to be the prince of the people of Israel in Daniel 10:13,21; 12:1.
-Gabriel: The meaning of his name is “mighty one.” He is mentioned in Daniel 8:16; 9:21; and in Luke 1:19,26. He is always used to deliver an important message from God. It is Gabriel who interpreted the vision for Daniel in 8:16; 9:21 and who announced the birth of John and Jesus Luke 1:19,26.
-The angel of Jehovah: This is believed to be appearances of Christ in the Old Testament.
Special Groups Of Angels.
The Bible also mentions special groups of angels which include:
-Angels of the seven churches: Revelation 1:20
-Four angels who control the winds: Revelation 1:7
-Seven angels who stand before God: Revelation 8:2
-Seven angels who administer the seven last plagues: Revelation 15:1,7
-Twenty-four elders–who may be angelic beings: Revelation 4 and 5
THE ATTRIBUTES OF ANGELS
Attributes–or traits–of God’s angels include the following. They…
-Are spirits: Hebrews 1:14
-Are sexless: Luke 20:34-36
-Do not reproduce: Mark 12:25
-Are immortal: Matthew 22:28-30
-Have both visible and invisible forms: Numbers 22:22-35
-Appear with the likeness of human form when necessary: Genesis 19:1-22; 18:2,4,8
-Have emotions: Luke 15:1-10
-Have appetites: Genesis 18:8
-Are glorified beings: Luke 9:26
-Are intelligent: 2 Samuel 14:20
-Are meek: Jude 9
-Are powerful: Psalms 103:20; 2 Peter 2:11
-Have no need to rest: Revelation 4:8
-Travel at an unrecorded speed: Revelation 8:13; 9:1
-Speak different languages: 1 Corinthians 13:1
-Are innumerable: Luke 2:13; Hebrews 12:22; Psalms 68:17; Mark 1:13;
-Are immortal: Luke 20:34-36
-Do not marry or have children: Luke 20:34-36
-Are obedient: Psalms 103:20
-Are holy: Revelation 14:10; Mark 8:38
-Are reverent: Their main activity is the worship of God. Nehemiah 9:6;
Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:6
-Are stronger than man, powerful but not omnipotent (all powerful): Psalm 103:20 and
2 Peter 2:11
-Can be visible or invisible: Numbers 22:22; Hebrews 13:2
-Are able to ascend and descend to and from Heaven: Genesis 28:12; John 1:51
THE MINISTRY OF ANGELS
Angels were active throughout the Old and New Testaments–see the Supplemental Studies section of this chapter.
Angels have access to the presence of God in Heaven:
…In Heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in
Heaven. (Matthew 18:10)
They are also active on earth. This is documented by the varied ministries and many appearances of angels recorded in the Bible.
Angels minister in many ways in both Heaven and earth, including special ministries to believers. Study the following biblical references.
The ministry of angels in Heaven includes:
-Worship: Revelation 4:8; 5:11-12; Isaiah 6:3; Psalms 103:20; 148:1-2
-Standing ready to do God’s will: Psalms 103:20-21
-Ministering to the godly who have died in Christ Jesus: Jude 9; Luke 16:22
-Representing children in a special way: Matthew 18:10
-Rejoicing over those who accept the Gospel: Luke 15:10
The ministry of angels on earth includes:
-Ruling nations: Daniel 10
-Ministering to believers in times of testing: Matthew 4:11
-Strengthening believers: Luke 22:43
-Interpreting God’s will for men: Zechariah 1:9; Daniel 7:16
-Guarding believers: Matthew 18:10
-Guiding believers: Acts 8:26
-Bringing judgment on individuals and nations: Acts 12:23; Genesis 19:3; 2 Samuel
24:16; Revelation 16:1
-Bringing answers to prayer: Daniel 9:21-22
-Announcing: Luke 1:11-20; Matthew 1:20, 21
-Warning: Matthew 2:13
-Instructing: Matthew 28:2-6; Acts 10:3-6; Daniel 4:13-17
-Encouraging: Acts 27:23; Genesis 28:12
-Revealing: Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2; Daniel 9:21-27; Revelation 1:1
-Sustaining: Matthew 4:11; Luke 22:43
-Preserving: Genesis 16:7; 24:7; Exodus 23:20; Revelation 7:1
-Protecting: Psalms 91:11; 34:5-7
-Delivering: Numbers 20:16; Psalms 34:7; Isaiah 63:9; Daniel 3:28; 6:22; Genesis 19:15; 48:16; Matthew 26:53; Acts 12:1-19
-Destroying: Acts 12:20-23
-Interceding: Zechariah 1:12; Revelation 8:3,4
-Executing warfare in behalf of believers: Exodus 33:2
-Being active in evangelism: Acts 10:1-3,5; 8:25
-Empowering our worship: Psalm 148:2
-Escorting us in death: Luke 16:22; 1 Corinthians 15:26
The future activities of angels will include:
-Participating in the return of Jesus: 1 Thessalonians 4:16
-Gathering the elect: Matthew 24:31
-Warning and preaching during the tribulation: Revelation 14:6-9
-Separating the wicked from the righteous: Matthew 13:39 and 49
-Executing judgments: Revelation 8,9 and 16
-Binding Satan: Revelation 20
Angels are holy beings with important ministries on behalf of believers, but the Bible gives some important warnings concerning them:
Do Not Worship Angels.
You are not to worship angels:
Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind. (Colossians 2:18)
And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: Worship God. (Revelation 22:8-9)
Reject Angels Preaching “Another Gospel”.
Some people have claimed to see angels who gave them a “new revelation” contrary to God’s written Word. Entire religious movements have been founded on such false revelations. The Bible warns:
But though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8)
You are not to listen to a man, an angel, or any other being that would guide you contrary to God’s Word. The Bible warns:
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
(2 Corinthians 11:14)
Do Not Provoke The Angels.
Read the story of Balaam in Numbers 22, a prophet who was acting in disobedience to God. You will note that he was opposed by an angel of the Lord. When you are disobedient to God, the angels may actually hinder you. You will be fighting a battle, but it will not be warfare against the enemy. Be careful that you do not provoke the angels of God (Ecclesiastes 5:1-6).