What does the Bible say about angels?


The creating of angels

There are over 300 scriptural references that speak of angels; however, their numbers are unknown.  The Bible leads us to believe there could be trillions of angels of various ranks.  When they were first created, however, we do not know because Scripture gives no reference of when that happened.   Biblical speculations are that it could have been thousands, maybe even millions or even billions of years ago, long before the creation of mankind. 

In God's creation, angels were created as good with a purpose, meaning they were created to serve God and minister out His commands.  Before the creation of mankind, angels were given the privilege of ruling over the world.  They were created with the ability to choose, but not given the right of choice.  Most angels were obedient to God’s authority; however, Lucifier, one of the top ranking archangels, defied God in an attempt to overthrow Him and take over His throne.  Lucifer convinced one-third of the angelic hosts to follow him to overthrow God. They thus became evil like Satan, serving him as their master. In the war against God, Satan and his angels were cast out of heaven into the earth.  (Rev 12:7-9)

The appearance of angels

There is no scripture that would support female angelic beings.  Tradition has shown mans' concepts of them with cupid doll faces and curly or long blond flowing hair, wearing white robes, and having wings. While certain variations of angels do have wings, there is no place in Scripture which identifies angels as looking like little girls with cupid doll faces with long blond flowing hair. There have been a few people who have personally seen angels and nearly all of them have stated they are large in stature - all being at least seven feet tall and even as tall as 16-18 feet tall.  While angels are genderless, neither male nor female, they have the appearance of being male, being of strong muscles and bodily power. 

According to the following scripture verses, here are some general things to know about God’s angels: (Gen 18:2,4,6, 19:1-22, Judges 13:6, 2 Sam 14:20, 2 Kings 2:11-12, 6:13-17, Psm 103:20, Mark 8:38, Luke 2:13, 15:10, John 20:12, 1 Cor 13:1, I Cor 15:40, Heb 13:2, Rev 4:8, Rev 12:11-21, Rev 18:1)

  • Angels are created beings of God and must never be worshipped (Col 2:18)
  • They have bodies, yet they are spiritual in nature
  • They are powerful
  • They need no sleep
  • They appear and disappear to the human eye
  • They speak, having their own language
  • They are holy
  • They are wise
  • They are joyful
  • They sing
  • Many angels wear white garments
  • Some ride horses in heaven

Ranks of authority

In all three heavenly realms, ranks of angels roam.  As explained in the article on heaven, the 1st heaven is the air we breath, on up into the clouds - within our atmosphere.  The 2nd heaven is where the other planets are, and the 3rd heaven is where God lives in heaven. Every since Lucifer and his angelic followers went against God, there are good and evil angels, and they roam in the 1st and 2nd heaven.  They are all around us. God's angels also roam in the 1st and 2nd heaven, but also have privilege to be in heaven with God as well.

Ephesians 6:12 supports the thought of powerful wicked angels having various ranks of ruling authority in this world.

  • Principalities
  • Powers
  • Rulers of the darkness of this world
  • Spiritual wickedness in high places 

The Word of God list five ranks of angels.  Each will be discussed below: 

1.  Archangels: Highest rank  There were at one time three archangels; however, there are now only two.

Michael – Warring angel  (Dan. 10:13; Dan. 10:21; Jude 9; Rev. 12:7)

The name Michael means “Who is like God.” Listed four times in Scripture, Michael is a top angel having many angels under his authority.  As one of God’s chief angels, Michael and his angelic troops were responsible for casting Satan out of heaven. Luke 10:18; Rev 12:4.

Michael is also described as the “great prince who stands in times of conflict over the Israelites.  ”He disputed over the body of Moses, and did not dare pronounce a railing judgment against him, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you.” Michael also acted as a special guardian of the Jews.  He has been the defender of the Jews in times of trouble. He is also listed during the New Testament in the Great Tribulation period when the survivors will be delivered and established in the millennial kingdom. His strength will overpower Satan.

Gabriel – Ministering angel: (Dan 8:16, Dan 9:21, Matt 1:20, Luke 1:19, Acts 8:26).

All angels were created holy and “perfect” in their ways by God.  Created with the purpose of serving Him and His creation, God assigned all angels with certain roles and functions within the hierarchy system, having the lowest rank as common angels, then seraphim, living creatures, cherubim and finally, the archangels.  Lucifer, as an archangel, was once one of God’s top angels. As Lucifer, meaning “day star” or light bearer,” he was an anointed cherub (not cheribim), holding a very important leading position in heaven. Out of all of the trillions of angels, Lucifer was one of the few who could come on the mountain of God and spend time in His presence. Ezek. 28:14.

The name Gabriel means “Hero of God.” Like Michael, Gabriel is also a top archangel for God, acting as His messenger.  In his authority, Gabriel has many angels under him. The name of Gabriel designates the heavenly messenger sent to explain to Daniel the visions that he saw (Dan 8:16; 9:21), and who rang out the birth of the Messiah when born of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:19).  All other appearances of Gabriel recorded in the Bible are connected with the promise about the coming of the Messiah.  One passage, however, may link Gabriel with Christ's return. In Christian tradition, Gabriel is sometimes identified as the archangel whose voice is heard at the Second Coming of Christ (1 Thess 4:16,) depicted as the trumpeter of the Last Judgment.

Lucifer – Disobedient angel: (Is 14:12-17, Ez 28:12-15, 2 Pet 2:4-5, Rev 12:9).

At one time, Lucifer was one of God’s top archangels (anointed cherub) who held a very important leading position in heaven. Out of all of the trillions of angels, Lucifer was one of the few angels who could come on the mountain of God and spend time in His presence. Ezek. 28:14. 

God gave Lucifer rulership over the earth long before the creation of Adam and Eve – probably having the Garden of Eden as his headquarters. Lucifer, however, used the ability of choice to violate his position and disobeyed God. Pride set in and he dared to war against God in a revolt against His Throne - desiring to be His superior.  He wanted more than earth to rule over. He desired to take over God’s position on the throne and rule over all of the worlds. Ezek 28:12-15.  Lucifer influenced and infected a multitude of lesser angels, and by the power of his persuasion drew one-third of the angelic hosts into battle against God for the heavenly throne.  Isa 14:12-14. Heaven was severed with two forces at war. At God’s command, the archangel Michael, along with the his supportive angels who followed God, warred with Lucifer and his supportive angels. Michael and God’s angels cast Lucifer and his angels out of the third heaven where God ruled from and they went spiraling down to earth.
Luke 10:18; Rev. 12:4.  

Ezekiel 28 tells us  more about this mighty angel than any other angel listed in Scripture.  He was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  God gave him rulership over the earth, having many angels under his authority long before the creation of Adam and Eve, probably having the Garden of Eden as his headquarters.

Ezekial 28:13 tells us that Lucifer was once in Eden the garden of God, being a king and a priest upon the earth, having his own throne and many sanctuaries.  He was beautiful, having precious stones as his covering, with pipes of music already built in him. For that reason, most biblical scholars believe Lucifer was the head over all music in heaven and earth.  He had it within his power to go back and forth from heaven to earth to spend time in God’s presence, to refresh and renew, serve, and then return to his rulership over the earth again. 

All angelic beings were created with the ability to choose, but not given the right of choice. The grandeur of Lucifer’s high office overwhelmed him with pride; thus, he violated his right of choice when pride set in, wanting more than the earth to rule. He wanted it all, which meant taking over God’s position as ruler over all of the worlds.  His goal - defeat God and sit upon His throne in heaven.  Ezek 28:15; Ezek 28:17; Isa 14:13-14. 

Lucifer coerced one-third of the angelic hosts that they could win the battle over God for the heavenly throne; thus a war began in heaven. These angels, very likely, were the ones under Lucifer's authority upon the earth.  In response, God assigned the archangel Michael and all of the remaining angelic beings to battle against Lucifer and his followers. Lucifer not only lost the battle in heaven, he lost his position in heaven and earth. Lucifer and all of his followers were thrown out of heaven and went spiraled down to earth.  Ezek. 28:18; Rev. 12:7-9; Isa 14;12-14; Rev. 12:4; Luke 10:18. 

Upon losing his princely appointment, Lucifer, the once anointed cherub, became Satan the adversary.

Satan - ruler of darkness of this world:  Lucifer, referred now as Satan, and his followers now roam in the 1st and 2nd heaven. The Bible refers to him as a thief, killer, adversary, Beelzebub, serpent, prince and power of the air, the evil one, and dragon just to name a few.  All these names are evil names to fit his character.  Eph 6:12.

The Bible refers to Satan’s (not Lucifer's) personality after he fell from heaven.

  • Ruler of this world (John 12:31, John 14:10, John 16:11)
  • Satan is a real being (Job 1:6-12)
  • He has a body (Job 2:1-7, Psm 109:6, Zech 3:1-2, Matt 4:1-11, Rev 10:1-3)
  • He is the father of lies – the father of liars (John 8:44).
  • He is a murderer and wicked one (John 8:44)
  • He is very cunning (2Cor 2:11)
  • He is a coward. He never attacks you when you are strong, only when you are weak (James 4:7).
  • He is a thief, robber, and a killer (John 10:10).
  • He is deceitful (2 Cor 11:14)
  • He is proud (I Tim 3:6).
  • He is cruel and fierce (1 Pet 5:8-9).
  • The accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10).
  • Slanderer or false accuser.

Satan, often referred to as the devil in the New Testament, arbitrarily roams about and seeks to do evil. Throughout the Old Testament, he is displayed as a fallen angel removed from his position of great dignity and honor, who is the supreme enemy of God and man. He sought to destroy the Messianic line and destroy the Jews.

In the New Testament, Satan is the head of the personification of evil spirits (Matt 8:28, Matt 9:34, Matt 12:26, Luke 11:18-19). Jesus referred to him as the god of this world, but one who has already been judged. Satan’s purpose has not changed – destroy Jesus and the Messianic people by taking over the world. It is only a matter of time before God will win the final victory at the end of time over him and evil (1 John 3:8, Matt 25:41, Rev 12:7). The final phase of Satan’s work is listed in Rev 20 where he will be bound for a thousand years and then after a brief entrance back on the cast, he will be cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity in his last ditch to overcome God.

It is important to know that we never need to fear Satan because he is a defeated foe.  In spite of what Satan’s personality demonstrates, we, as believers, have a far more powerful God living on the inside of us through His Holy Spirit. I John 4:4b

2. Cherubim:  Cherub is a term that most people use to refer to all angelic beings. It is important that you do not confuse a cherubim with a cherub. A cherubim is a specific kind of spiritual angelic being. (Ex 25:18-20, Ez 1:6-8, Heb 9:5).

Each cherubim has four faces – the front as a man, the right as a lion, the left as an ox, and the back as an eagle. They have two pair of wings – one pair spreading out from the middle of the back, and another pair used to cover the whole body. The pair on the back is used to fly. Four human hands are located under each wing. They each have legs as men, but feet cloven like calves feet, shining like burnished brass. The duties of the cherubim included guarding the entrance to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden after the fall into sin by Adam and Eve. Two golden cherubim were also constructed at God’s command and were placed at both ends and on top of the ark lid in the tabernacle of the Holy of Holies.

3. Seraphim:  Means “Burning ones.”

Each seraphim has six wings (three pair). Two pair of the wings are used to cover their faces, two to cover their feet, and two are used to fly with. They can be completely engulfed in wings. They are worshipping angels who cry out “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory” (Is 6:1-7).

4. Living Creatures: Worshipping angels in heaven.

The Living Creatures seem similar to the cherubim and the seraphim; however, they are in a separate class by themselves. Their numbers seem to be limited to only four. Each living creature has a different face all covered with eyes - both in front, behind, and on the inside. They see everywhere. One of these angels has the face of a lion, another, the face of an ox, another, the face of an eagle, and still another, the face of a man (Rev 4:6-9, Rev 5:8, Rev 6:1, Rev 3, Rev 5, Rev 7).

Living Creatures are praise and worshipping angels. Without ceasing, they “proclaim God praises day and night.” In other words, they continuously praise the Lord.

5. Common angels:  Ruling and guardian angels

Common angels do most of the work and consist of the greatest number of angels. All of God’s people have at least one guardian angel watching over them. They are sent to minister to those who are heirs of God’s salvation. Heb 1:14; Psm 91:11.

God’s angels have a multitude of duties: (Luke 16:22, 22:43 Acts 5:19-20, Acts 10, I Cor 4:9, Heb 1:14, Rev 20: 1-2, Rev 21:12). These angels are obedient to God, ready at every command to do what is needed. They are very powerful, stronger than Satan or his angels, or any of his forces. On the command of God, they are bound.

  • They impart God’s will.
  • They watch over God’s people.
  • They continuously fight for God’s people, protecting them as believers ask God to put His angels to work.
  • They bring answers to prayer.
  • They minister to God’s people when they need them.
  • They strengthen God’s people when they are in trouble.
  • They can appear in dreams.
  • They receive the saints at death.
  • Angels also guard the twelve gates in New Jerusalem, securing who may or may not enter into heaven.

Written by Pastor Joyce A. Erickson

Believers Bible School, Founder