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About Angels: Introduction


In This Series
About Angels | Angelic Hierarchy | Fallen Angels

In This Lesson
First Mention of an Angelic Being
Not All Celestial Beings Are "Angels"
Number of Angelic Beings
A Divine Hierarchy
Angels' Characteristics
Are Angels Male or Female?
Zechariah's Vision of Two Women
Who Is the "Angel of the LORD"?
Familiar Angelic Appearances
Other Angelic Attributes
Do People become Angels When They Die?
Facts about God's "Messengers"
Christ Created the Angels
Angels Sometimes Appear to Humans
Angels Serve as Messengers
They Worship God and Christ
They Minister to and Protect Us
Angels Are Mighty
They Refuse our Worship
God Uses Angels for Judgment
Angels Wait for Christ's Commands
What Is the Heavenly "Host"?
A New Era
The Most Important Thing
They Still Minister to God's People

Theologians and Bible Scholars have been discussing and debating for centuries the subject of angelic and celestial beings, their form
and function, and their hierarchy — or even if there is a hierarchical system of governmental structure for the spirit realm. Before we
open this study for discussion, let us remember that the Bible tells us all we need to know in this life, but it does not tell us all there
is to know. Therefore, we assent that the factual accuracy of the materials and opinions in this series of lessons may be disputed.


The Bible mentions angels, Cherubim, Seraphim, powers, authorities, principalities, etc. 183 times in the Old Testament and ±192 times in the New Testament. Thus, although God's Word does not specifically address this topic, by its numerous incidental details, there is sufficient information in the Bible to facilitate a thorough study and understanding of angelic beings.

Since Satan and his demons operate almost exclusively in the spirit realm, and Satan often "masquerades as an angel of light", the only source for learning the truth about these celestial beings is God's Word. All extra-biblical information fringes on the cultic practice of angel worship [either excessive honoring or invoking the names of, or commanding of, angels]. Thus, we would do well to avoid all such references.

Per the "Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries", the word "angel" derives from:

    Hebrew: mal'âk
    From an unused root meaning to despatch as a deputy; a messenger; specifically of God, that is, an angel (also a prophet, priest or teacher): -ambassador, angel, king, messenger.

    Greek: aggelos
    a messenger; especially an "angel"; by implication a pastor: -angel, messenger.

Other dictionaries that assist us in better understanding the term as used in God's Word:

    "Smith's Bible Dictionary"
    By the word "angels" (i.e., "messengers of God") we ordinarily understand a race of spiritual beings of a nature exalted far above that of man, although infinitely removed from that of God whose office is "to do him service in heaven, and by his appointment and succor to defend men on earth." [et al.]

    "Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary"
    1. one of a class of spiritual beings; a celestial attendant of God. In medieval angelology, angels constituted the lowest of the nine celestial orders (seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominations or dominions, virtues, powers, principalities or princedoms, archangels, and angels).
    2. a conventional representation of such a being, in human form, with wings.
    3. a messenger, esp. of God. [et al.]

The terms "messenger" or "angel" in the Bible do not always refer to celestial beings. The Bible also uses both terms for humans, such as:

  • ordinary people who carry messages (cf. Job 1:14; Luke 7:24; 9:52);
  • prophets (cf. Isaiah 42:19; Malachi 3:1);
  • priests (cf. Malachi 2:7); and
  • by implication, pastors (cf. Revelation 2:1,8,12,18; 3:1,7,14)

First Mention of an Angelic Being
Most Christians assume the Bible's first mention of angels is in Genesis 3:24— "He [God] drove out the man [and the woman], and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life." However, that's not entirely true. Actually, the very first mention of a celestial being is implied at the very beginning of Genesis 3 when the serpent — possessed by Satan — refutes God's instructions and tricks the woman into disobeying God.

Of course, we do not normally associate Satan and the other fallen angels with our image and definition of "angels". However, as beings created by God to serve and worship Him, and later to serve mortal man, they are indeed angels, albeit "fallen angels".

The next mention of an angelic being in Scripture is in Genesis 16:7-11—
7"The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.
8And he said, 'Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?' She said, 'I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.'
9The angel of the LORD said to her, 'Return to your mistress and submit to her.'
10The angel of the LORD also said to her, 'I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.'
11And the angel of the LORD said to her, 'Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction.'"
(emphasis added)

Of course, from our earlier studies on Level 1 about Jesus in the Old Testament, we know this is no ordinary created angel. In fact, He's not an angel at all, but He is the "Pre-Incarnate Christ" whom we see interacting with humans more than 28 times in the Old Testament. The "Angel of the LORD" does not appear anywhere in the New Testament, however, because of the Incarnation when God the Son "became flesh and dwelt among us." (John 1:14)

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Not All Celestial Beings Are "Angels"
Most of us identify all appearances, visions, or divine revelations of celestial beings in Scripture as "angels". The fact is, however, that there are many different spirit beings that are not "angels", in the strictest sense of the word or by the most exacting definition.

If we limit this series of lessons to "angels", "archangels", and "fallen angels", we would be ignoring the majority of spirit beings revealed to us in God's Word. The lessons in this series do not seek to provide all the information that is available concerning the spirit realm or to answer all questions about angels and other spirit beings.

Rather, our objective in these lessons is twofold:

  1. Firstly, we want to whet your appetite to dig deeper and learn more about these spiritual beings, for in so doing, it may intensify your view of God and all that He has created and desires for us.

  2. Secondly, we want to debunk some of the misinformation about angels that has come to us through various artists' inadequate renderings and through works of fiction — whether books, TV shows, or movies.

Number of Angelic Beings
Scripture tells us these superior beings cannot be numbered. Thus, no one knows exactly how many angels and other celestial beings make up the spirit realm.

"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect," (Hebrews 12:22-23 emphasis added)

Revelation 5:11 provides a somewhat arbitrary number which may nor may not be precise: "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands" (KJV emphasis added)

In Daniel's vision of the Almighty's throne in chapter 7 verse 10, Daniel says: "A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened." (emphasis added)

In Luke 2:13 we read that "a multitude of the heavenly host" was praising God at the Messiah's birth.

So, the number of angels, elders, and other living creatures around the throne of God would be at least 100 million (10,000 x 10,000).

A Divine Hierarchy
The Bible also teaches that these celestial beings consist of different ranks in dignity and power.

"The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia," (Daniel 10:13 emphasis added) "At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people..." (Daniel 12:1a emphasis added)

Ephesians 1:21—

1 Thessalonians 4:16—

See also Zechariah 1:9,11; 2 Corinthians 10:3-4; Ephesians 6:11-13; Colossians 1:16; Jude 9.

Please see the in-depth teaching of angelic classes and hierarchy in the next lesson.

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Angels' Characteristics
All world religions believe in angels and have their own various forms of angels. In fact, many of the characteristics we assign to angels actually come from other ancient religions and mythology, especially the idea of angels being slender beautiful women with wings and halos. That image comes from Walt Disney's fairies, not God.

Are Angels Male or Female?
The only references to the gender of angels is when the Bible calls them "sons of God". For instance...

  • In Job 1:6, we are told: "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them." (emphasis added)

  • In Job 38, God is asking Job a series of "Where were you when..." questions and He mentions creation. In verse 7, He asks Job, "[Where were you...] when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" (emphasis added)

  • "He [King Nebuchadnezzar] answered and said, 'But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.'" (Daniel 3:25 emphasis added)

  • See also Job 38:7 and Daniel 3:28.

In their created, natural form, angels and other celestials are spiritual beings without flesh-and-bones. "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14 emphasis added)

Zechariah's Vision of Two Women
Except for the vision in Zechariah 5:9, whenever angels appear to mortals, they appear as males, not females. This is a debatable point, however, as Zechariah 5:9 tells us about a vision Zechariah had in which two women with wings appeared. "Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, two women coming forward! The wind was in their wings. They had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven."

Were these women truly "angels", or were they mere visions representing God's justice and judgment on the nation of Israel? This is another place where we need to reason and analyze the text in its complete context. Prior to the image of the two women, Zechariah saw a flying scroll, and later he saw a flying basket. However, no one assumes that either the flying scroll or flying basket is an angel [such as we know concerning the winged wheel-within-a-wheel Wheels in the next lesson].

When we read that verse in its context — meaning the entire fifth chapter of Zechariah, which is very short — note that Zechariah says two times, "...the angel who talked with me...", referring to a third being. However, he never refers to the two women as angels of God nor do they converse with him. It seems unlikely that he would mention only the one angel if, indeed, the women were also angels.

And finally, in Zechariah's vision, the women represent God's judgment against Israel, or to be more precise, His judgment against the worship of false gods. As you read about these two women, keep in mind that God uses feminine pronouns when talking about Israel. He even used a human adulteress and her marriage to a man of God [Hosea] to make His point about her/their/Israel's sin.

Next, in looking for appearances or manifestations of other female personages in the Bible — especially those connected with God's judgments against gods that are not gods and against the world's failed systems of government and religion — we turn to the book of Revelation. Herein, we read about "Babylon the Great" who is represented as a very corrupt woman on whom God will execute His divine judgment and justice.

The rise and eventual fall of Babylon the Great is similar and consistent with the two women in Zechariah's vision and Hosea's marriage to an adulteress because all three pertain to God's judgment, but in different circumstances.

Thus, we maintain that the two women in Zechariah's vision were not "angels", but were representative of God's coming judgment.

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Who Is the "Angel of the LORD"?
"The Amplified Bible, Expanded Edition" explains:

    "'The Angel of the Lord' or 'of God,' or 'of His presence' is readily identified with the Lord God (Gen. 16:11, 13; 22:11, 12; 31:11, 13; Exod. 3:1 6 and other passages). But it is obvious that the Angel of the Lord is a distinct person in Himself from God the Father (Gen. 24:7; Exod. 23:20; Zech. 1:12, 13 and other passages). Nor does the "Angel of the Lord" appear again after Christ came in human form.

    "He must of necessity be One of the three in one Godhead. The 'Angel of the Lord' is the visible Lord God of the Old Testament, as Jesus Christ is of the New Testament. THE CAMBRIDGE BIBLE observes: 'There is a fascinating forecast of the coming Messiah, breaking through the dimness with amazing consistency, at intervals from Genesis to Malachi, Abraham, Moses, the slave girl Hagar, the impoverished farmer Gideon, even to the humble parents of Samson, had seen and talked with Him centuries before the herald angels proclaimed His birth in Bethlehem.'"

For an in-depth teaching and discussion on this Person, go to the lesson "The Pre-Incarnate Christ / Angel of the Lord".

Familiar Angelic Appearances
There are many angelic appearances in both the Old and New Testaments.

  • The lengthiest account of angels appearing on earth in human form is in Genesis 18:1-19:22 where two angels and the Angel of the Lord [the pre-incarnate Christ] appeared to Abraham, and then the two angels with Him led Lot and his family out of Sodom just before the Lord destroyed that city and the city of Gomorrah.

  • Perhaps the best-known accounts of angels appearing on earth in human form are in...
    • Luke 1:11-20 when an angel announced the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias;
    • verses 26-37, when the angel Gabriel appeared to the virgin Mary; and
    • Luke 2:9-13, when an angel appeared to shepherds and announced the birth of the Messiah.

Other Angelic Attributes
God's Word gives us much insight into the attributes, activities, and limitations concerning the angelic realm. For instance...

  • Angels are finite beings who can fall under temptation, as some of them have done. In Job 4:18, God says about them: "Even in his [God's] servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error." (Job 4:18)

  • God grants to them superhuman intelligence and power.
    "...and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels." (2 Thessalonians 1:7 NIV emphasis added)

    "Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!" (Psalm 103:20 emphasis added)

  • But, they are not omniscient, meaning they do not possess perfect knowledge or foreknowledge, as the Lord does.
    "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." (Matthew 24:36) See also Mark 13:32.

  • They long to experience what we experience by God's saving grace.
    "It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things." (1 Peter 1:12 emphasis added)

  • The Bible calls manna "angels' food" to denote its unsurpassed excellence.
    "Man ate of the bread of the angels; he sent them food in abundance." (Psalm 78:25)

  • In Luke 20:36, when Jesus says we will be equal to angels, He specifically points out that they cannot die just like angels cannot die.
    "for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection." (emphasis added)

  • The Bible calls them "holy", meaning "set apart".
    "For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." (Luke 9:26)

  • 1 Timothy 5:21 seems to infer that there are elect [or pre-selected] angels who did not fall.
    "In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality." (emphasis added)

    As we have discussed in the Soteriology lessons concerning humankind's salvation, there is nothing in Scripture to indicate that the "elect" angels were pre-selected and thus unable to rebel. Rather, this may be a term of reverence toward the holy angels whom God has preserved in their sinless state in accordance with His eternal purpose. However, just as God has not arbitrarily chosen some humans for salvation and others for damnation, Scripture offers nothing to cause us to conclude that the "elect" angels have no will of their own or that they couldn't also rebel if they so desired.

    The "elect" reference, therefore, seems to indicate, not a divine pre-selection, but a divine electing love on those who did not fall.

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  • We are not to worship them.
    "Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind." (Colossians 2:18 emphasis added)

    "Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, 'You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.'" (Revelation 19:10a & b)

Do People become Angels When They Die?
The idea of the spirits of human beings after death being resurrected or "raised up" as spirit messengers that we call "angels" seems to derive, in no small part, from Jesus' teaching in Matthew 22:30 and Mark 12:25— "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven." (emphasis added)

However, a more careful study of God's Word reveals that Jesus was not saying the resurrected dead become angels, only that they are like the angels. Note Jesus' words in Luke 20:35-36: "...those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection."

This is where we need to exercise our God-given reason.

  • A previously-owned vehicle that's "like new" is still not a new car;

  • a young girl who's "like her sister" does not, by some freakish force of nature, become the elder sister; and

  • the Viceroy butterfly that "looks like" the Monarch butterfly is saved by its appearance, but still is not a Monarch butterfly.

In much the same way, when believers are resurrected from the dead, they are "like" or "equal to" angels in their immortality and perfect joy, but they do not become angels.

Another verse that some use to validate the flawed belief that deceased humans become angels is 1 Corinthians 15:52, which says: "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed." Again, this is flawed reasoning. When we read this verse in its full context, we see that the phrase "we shall be changed" refers to changing the perishable or corruptible to imperishable or incorruptible. If we go back to verse 50, we read in the second part of the verse: "...For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed." (emphasis added)

Thus, while it might help those who are grieving to think their loved one has become an angel in Heaven and is watching over them, there is no Scriptural support for that belief. Scripture, in fact, quite clearly teaches that angels are created beings and were created before the creation of the world. We'll discuss this later in these lessons.

    Here's something to think about. I wish to pose this question: "Would Heaven really be Heaven if people could still see into this realm and see all the disease and hunger and pain and violent crimes and wars?" The Bible says that "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" in Revelation 7:17 and 21:4. It does not say that He continues to wipe away our tears, which surely He would have to do if we could see all the suffering in this world while having escaped it ourselves.

    And just how comforting is it, really, to think our deceased loved ones are seeing our pain and shame, and yet are either incapable of helping or unwilling to help?

And finally, since we're on the subject of what angels are and are not, cherubim are not cute, chubby baby angels with wings, flittering from cloud to cloud. In fact, they are just the opposite; cherubs are perhaps the most powerful angelic beings in God's army and rightly to be feared, not cuddled!

Facts about God's "Messengers"
As we will learn later on in this series of studies, there are various ranks or classes among the angelic realm. The listings that follow, however, do not refer specifically to the different designations, but to all angels or celestial beings, in general. The Bible tells us that:

  • Christ Created the Angels
    "For by him [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him." (Colossians 1:16)

    "but in these last days he [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world." (Hebrews 1:2 emphasis added)

    "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." (Revelation 4:11)

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  • Angels Sometimes Appear to Humans
    "Then I said, 'What are these, my lord?' The angel who talked with me said to me, 'I will show you what they are.'" (Zechariah 1:9)

    See also Genesis 32:1; Zechariah 2:3; Matthew 1:20, 2:13, 28:2; Luke 1:11,28, 2:9; John 20:12; Acts 8:26, 10:3.

  • Angels Serve as Messengers
    Luke 2:9-14—
    9"And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.
    10And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
    11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
    12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.'
    13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
    14'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased;"

    1 Kings 13:18—

    See also Matthew 1:20-21, 2:13, 28:5-7; Mark 16:6-7; Luke 1:11-20,26-27, 24:5-8; Acts 7:53, 10:22, 27:23-24.

  • They Worship God and Christ
    "Therefore God has highly exalted him [Christ] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)

    Hebrews 1:68—

    Isaiah 6:1b-3—
    1b"... I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one called to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!'"

    See also Revelation 7:11.

  • Angels Minister to and Protect Us
    "For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone." (Psalm 91:11-12 emphasis added)

    "But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them [the apostles] out, and said, 'Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.'" (Acts 5:19-20)

    See also Genesis 16:7, 19:16, 21:17-20, 22:11; Exodus 14:19, 23:20; 1 Kings 19:5-8; Isaiah 63:9; Matthew 4:11; Mark 1:13; Luke 16:22; Acts 12:7, 27:23; Hebrews 1:14.

    Daniel 3:24-28—
    24"Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, 'Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?' They answered and said to the king, 'True, O king.
    25He answered and said, 'But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.'
    26Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, 'Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!' Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire.
    27And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king's counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.
    28Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, 'Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.'"

    See also Daniel 6:16-17 and 20-22.

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  • Angels Are Mighty
    "Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!" (Psalm 103:20 emphasis added)

    " grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels." (2 Thessalonians 1:7 emphasis added)

  • Angels Do Not Receive Our Worship
    A more accurate statement might be that God's angels, or the holy angels, refuse our worship. From the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, we know that Satan's chief goal in rebelling against God is/was for him to be worshipped. But God's elect angels, those who did not rebel, refuse any and all attempts on our part to worship them.

    "Don't be cheated by people who make a show of acting humble and who worship angels..." (Colossians 2:18a CEV emphasis added)

    Revelation 19:10—

    "...after I had heard and seen all this, I knelt down and began to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown it to me. But the angel said, 'Don't do that! I am a servant, just like you. I am the same as a follower or a prophet or anyone else who obeys what is written in this book. God is the one you should worship.'" (Revelation 22:8b-9 emphasis added).

  • God Uses Angels for Judgment
    "That's how it will be at the end of time. Angels will come and separate the evil people from the ones who have done right. Then those evil people will be thrown into a flaming furnace, where they will cry and grit their teeth in pain." (Matthew 13:49-50 emphasis added)

    Judges 5:23—

    See also Genesis 19:1,13,24-25; 2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Chronicles 21:15; 2 Chronicles 32:21; Isaiah 37:36; Acts 12:23.

  • Angels Wait for Christ's Commands
    Even as powerful and intelligent as they are, the Heavenly host waits for Christ to give the call, to commanding them concerning how He wants to deal with certain places and/or events.

    "And he [the Son of Man] will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matthew 24:31)

    Matthew 25:31—

    "Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53)

    See also Luke 2:13, 22:43; John 1:51; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:11.

What Is the Heavenly "Host"?
The Heavenly "Host" (in Hebrew Sabaoth, meaning "armies") refers to a large army of God's angels, both in the Bible and in other Jewish and Christian texts (cf. Isaiah 31:4; Revelation 19:19). This is not to be confused with passages about "the hosts of the LORD" or "the hosts of Israel", both of which do not refer to angels, but to God's people.

We might also recall the use of the specific term "heavenly host" in Luke 2:13 where we read that "the heavenly host [was] praising God." Many descriptions of angels in the Bible use military terms to describe them, such as:

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  • They Are an Army
    "And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army." (Revelation 19:19 emphasis added)

    Some people say that the person leading the army in this verse is unspecified. However, we need to read the verse in its context, in this case, going back to verse 11 where the rider and horse first come on the scene:

  • "The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war." No angel has the authority to judge. Judgment, we are told in John 5:22 is given to the Son. Jesus said: "The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son."

  • Revelation 19:13: "He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God."

  • Next, who is the one Person throughout history whom we call "The Word of God"? John 1:1a: "In the beginning was the Word..." (emphasis added)

    John 1:14: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." (emphasis added)

  • Revelation 19:16: "On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords." To whom does this designation belong?

    Revelation 7:14 calls Jesus Christ the "Lamb of God" the "King of kings and Lord of lords".

Thus, we may correctly deduce that the rider on the horse, who is leading the Sabaoth of Heaven, is none other than Jesus Christ Himself!

  • They Are an Encampment
    "Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them he said, 'This is God's camp!' So he called the name of that place Mahanaim." (Genesis 32:1-2)

  • They Have a Command Structure
    "For he [God] will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone." (Psalm 91:11-12)

    See also Matthew 13:41; Revelation 7:2.

  • They Engage in Combat
    "Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back" (Revelation 12:7)

    See also Judges 5:20; 2 Kings 6:8,23; Job 19:12.

  • Because the "hosts" often speak of the armies of Heaven, their specific hierarchy differs slightly from the angelic hierarchy as it speaks more pertaining to military services. The hierarchy of all angels, on the other hand, is a division of all celestial beings into non-military services to God.

    Other References to the Sabaoth
    These passages we've studied illustrate the miraculous way in which God and His angels faithfully and consistently intervene in our lives.

    One of the most dramatic illustrations about the Sabaoth fighting for us is in 2 Kings 6:16-17. Here, we are told that Elisha's servant is troubled by the seemingly-defenseless position in which the city of Dothan found itself when surrounded by the Syrian army.

    When the servant asked how they would defeat such a great multitude of Syrian soldiers, the text tells us: "He [Elisha] said, 'Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' Then Elisha prayed and said, 'O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.' So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." (2 Kings 6:16-17)

    These references serve to encourage us as we go about our everyday battles and struggles. We have full assurance from God's Word that He is indeed very involved in our lives, whether or not we see such involvement manifesting in as dramatic a way as in the above reference.

    Exodus 14:14—

    "The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes," (Deuteronomy 1:30)

    "...for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory." (Deuteronomy 20:4)

    Jeremiah 1:19—

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    A New Era
    The Incarnation [birth of Jesus Christ] introduced a new era concerning the ministries of Angels. Not only did they accompany and serve Christ during His ministry on earth, but...

    • They Predicted His Advent
      "But as he [Joseph] considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.'" (Matthew 1:20)

      In Luke 1:26-38, the Angel Gabriel announces the miraculous event of the Messiah being born of a virgin.

    • They Ministered to Him
      Following Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, the angels came and ministered to Him. "Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him." (Matthew 4:11)

      Angels also came and strengthened Him while He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to His death. Luke 22:43—

    • They Declared His Resurrection and Future Return
      In Matthew 28:2-7, an angel rolled away the stone from the tomb and announced to the women that Jesus had risen.

      John 20:12-13—

      "And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.'" (Acts 1:10-11)

    The Most Important Thing

    If God didn't ordain it or allow it, no power on earth can command it!

    But perhaps the most important thing for us to remember is that God created the Angels to be specifically His agents in carrying out His will and work. And the work that is most important and near to God's heart is the great work of redemption for humankind!

    "For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you." (Exodus 12:23)

    When God sent a pestilence on Israel that killed 70,000 men, Scripture tells us: "And when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented from the calamity and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, 'It is enough; now stay your hand.'" (2 Samuel 24:16)

    "Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!" (Psalm 103:20 emphasis added)

    Psalm 104:4—

    Matthew 6:10—

    See also 2 Kings 19:35; 1 Chronicles 21:16; Acts 12:23; 1 Corinthians 10:10; Hebrews 11:28.

    They Still Minister to God's People
    Hebrews 1:14 asks the question: "Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?"

    Psalm 34:7—

    Psalm 91:11—

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

    See also Acts 5:19; 8:26; 10:3; 12:7; 27:23.

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    Guardian Angels
    Some point to Psalm 34:7 and Matthew 18:10 to support the idea that every individual has a particular guardian angel. These verses, however, merely indicate that God uses His holy angels to deliver His people from affliction and danger, and that the angels do not think it beneath their dignity to assist, even to children or to the least among Christ's disciples.

    Commanding Angels
    There is a growing and dangerous trend in the Church today of people claiming our ability and God-given right to command Angels to do certain things for us. What they apparently either have forgotten or are choosing to ignore is that God's Word is clear that there is one Sovereign over the affairs of humankind. Nothing escapes His notice and absolutely nothing happens on earth which He has not approved or allowed.

    God's Word warns us that "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14 NIV) So, if we believe the Bible is the inerrant full counsel of God and that He is the one true Sovereign, then we can conclude one of the following whenever someone starts commanding Angels:

  • God is the One who determines what the Angels do or don't do; so in effect, it is God who's commanding them, not ourselves.


  • We are following a flawed and dangerous teaching intended by Satan to lead people astray and away from the truth of the Gospel — and God, for His own intention, is allowing such folly.
  • Their ministry to us is at God's choosing, not ours, as they are agents of God's control or guardianship. Thus, we can say with absolute certainty: If God didn't ordain it or allow it, then no power on earth can command it!

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