Theology Bites: Angelology (Part II)

We’re talking ST, and we’re right now discussing the spiritual realm in particular.

This includes topics like Angelology, Satanology, and Demonology.

We started with angels last time, showing the Scriptural witness to angels --- and that, not only do they exist, they’re a major part of God’s creation.

So the physical realm is just one aspect of God’s creation. In fact, we tend to think that it’s all there is, but the truth is that there’s a whole spiritual dimension that we can’t see, touch, or feel.

But having said that, just because it’s not physical, that doesn’t mean that it’s not created, nor that it wasn’t somehow included in the 6 days of Creation (Gen.1).

So we talked about Scriptures occurrences, key terms that are used, and then the creation of angels. So now we’re going to continue the discussion on some further points. And it’s amazing how much the Bible actually speaks to these things.

The Characteristics of Angels:

They are personal beings. They demonstrate intelligence.

We see them worship and praising (Psalm 148:2).

This shows intelligence because the presumption is that they’re praising him for something. 

They need to know something, in order to praise Him for it.

We see them having perception (Matt. 18:10).

We see them evidencing speech (John 20:13).

We see them express curiosity (1Peter 1:12).

They are emotive beings.

They express joy (Luke 15:10).

The also express anger (Revelation 12:17).

They exercise a will (2Pet. 2:4, Jude 9).

They are seen to contain a moral responsibility (Matt. 25:41).

They appear to be deathless in some kind of physical sense.

Luke 20:36“For they [resurrected people] cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”

They do not procreate.

Mark 12:25 - “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

The contain special powers.

They are said to excel in wisdom (2 Sam. 14:17, 20).

(note: in this passage, they’re angels are spoken well of. They have a very respectable reputation by the ancients).

They are said to excel in strength (Gen. 19:11; Psa. 103:20).

They are said to excel in speed (Dan. 9:21).

“while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering.”

The appearance of angels:

Typically angels are invisible to the human eye. They inhabit the spiritual realm. Now how that intersects with the physical realm is not known to us. So in some capacity they are among us, inhabiting our spaces in a non-physical way. But the point is they’re invisible to the human eye. 

When they are made visible, they typically appear in human form.

They appear to be similar in size to men (Rev. 22:8).

Additionally, they’re perceived as “men” or male. (Gen. 18:1; Acts 1:10).

Sometimes, their clothing (or attire) is described as bright and shining (Matt. 28:3; Lk. 24:4).

Other times they’ll be described as having wings (and able to fly).

Now, when talking about angels, it’s helpful to make a distinction between visions of angels and appearances of angels.

---- When a person is caught up into a vision, they’re often said to see angels (and the various classes of angels) in their non-human form. [And this is where angelic creatures are seen to have wings].

---- However, when an angel appears to person (in time, space, and history on earth), they’re then seen in human form. [They don’t appear with wings].

The point is that when you see an angelic creature in non-human form, likely the seer is being caught up in some type of heavenly/spiritual vision. When they’re in human form, they’re seen in human form… and sometimes a person will not even know it’s an angel (e.g., Heb. 13:2 - showing hospitality/entertaining angels and not knowing it).

Various Classifications of angels:

Moral category:

---- Holy (or elect) angels.

This seems to be an apparent reference to those who are considered “unfallen.”

Mk. 8:38 - “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."

1Tim. 5:21 - “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.”

Their abode:

“Heaven” (Matt. 28:2, Mk. 12:25, et. al.).

Primarily, “the third heaven.”

This is where Christ resides.

Biblically, the first heaven is the sky where the birds fly.

The second is outer space (where the sun, moon, and stars reside).

Then the third heaven is where Christ is said to reside. This is where Paul was taken when he saw “paradise” in the presence of God (2 Cor. 12).

However, they have access to all three heavens, plus the earth (Rev. 19:1).

---- Fallen Angels.

Two groups of fallen angels:

There are those which are said to be “bound” (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6; Rev. 19:11, 14).

2 Pet. 2:4 - “For God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment…”

There are those which are said to be “free.”

Eph. 6:10-12Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

So can an angel fall today?

Quite simply, the Scriptures are rather silent on this point.

In Rev. 12:4, there’s an obscure reference to the dragon swiping his tail, causing a third of the stars to fall from heaven.

The interpretational challenge with this passage is that it’s not dated, and in large measure, is a function of how you approach the book of Revelation.

Some view it as future.

Some view it as a reference to what happened long ago.

It’s a debated passage in eschatology, so it’s difficult to be certain.

If you take one of the non-futuristic approaches to revelation, likely this happened in past. However, if you’re a historicist, it may be evidence they can still fall today.

If you take a futuristic approach, then it appears that there will be a time yet future when a third of the angels will fall.

In this final view, if it is possible for angels to fall, then that implies that there will also be a time (yet future) when the angels who remained faithful (along with all believers), will be confirmed in their holiness. They stood firm in their faithfulness.

But in the end, we don’t know for certain.

The hierarchy of angels:


Traditional beliefs ----

Some early father (e.g., Origen) argued that there were three archangels.