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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

1. The scope of this article. -The passages in the apostolic writings in which angels are mentioned or referred to will be examined; some of them are ambiguous and have been interpreted in various ways. The doctrine of the OT and of the apocryphal period on the subject has been so fully dealt with in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) that it is unnecessary to do more than refer incidentally to it here; and the angelology of the Gospels has been treated at length in Dict. of Christ and the Gospels (see Literature below). But the other NT writings have not been so fully examined, and it is the object of this article to consider them particularly. Of these the Apocalypse, as might be expected from the subject, calls for special attention; no book of the OT or the NT is so full of references to the angels, and it is the more remarkable that the other Johannine writings have so few. The Fourth Gospel refers to angels only thrice ( John 1:51;  John 12:29;  John 20:12;  John 5:4 is a gloss [see below, 5 ( b )]), and the three Epistles not at all. There are frequent references to the subject in Hebrews, and occasional ones in the Pauline and Petrine Epistles and in Jude.

2. The literal meaning of ἄγγελος . -ἄγγελος = ‘messenger,’ is found only once in the NT outside the Gospels: in  James 2:25, it is used of Joshua’s spies (in  Joshua 6:25 [Septuagint], which is referred to, we read τοὺς κατασκοπευσάντας οὓς ἀπέστειλεν Ἰησοῦς). In the Gospels ἄγγελος is used of John Baptist in  Matthew 11:10,  Mark 1:2,  Luke 7:27 (from  Malachi 3:1 but not from Septuagint, which, however, also has ἄγγελος), of John’s messengers in  Luke 7:24, and of Jesus’ messengers to a Samaritan village in  Luke 9:52. In  Philippians 2:25,  2 Corinthians 8:23 ἀπόστολος is translated ‘messenger.’

3. The angels as heavenly beings. -From the earliest times the Israelites had been taught to believe in angels, but after the Captivity the doctrine greatly developed. Yet some of the Jews rejected all belief in them, and this sharply divided the Pharisees from the Sadducees, who said ‘that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit’; the Pharisees confessed both ( Acts 23:8).

Angels are creatures , as the Jews had always taught (Thackeray, Relation of St. Paul to Jewish Thought , p. 150). They were created in, through, and unto Christ ( Colossians 1:16), who is the beginning as well as the end of all things (cf.  1 Corinthians 8:6). They are not inferior deities, but fellow-servants (σύνδουλοι) with man ( Revelation 19:10;  Revelation 22:9). Therefore they may not be worshipped ( ib. ); the worship of angels was one of the grave errors at Colossae ( Colossians 2:18). So idolatry is described as a worshipping of demons ( Revelation 9:20).

Much emphasis is laid, lest it should be thought that angels were of the some degree as our Lord, on the fact that Jesus is immeasurably higher than they  ; as in  Hebrews 1:4 ff. (no angel is called ‘the Son’; angels worship the Firstborn),  Hebrews 1:13 (no angel set at the right hand of God),  Hebrews 2:5 (the world to come is not made subject to angels, but to man-v. 8f. shows that the Representative Man is meant, who condescended to be, in His Incarnation, made a little lower than the angels). In  1 Peter 3:22 ‘angels and authorities and powers’ are made subject to the ascended Christ; and so in  Ephesians 1:21. In  Colossians 2:15 (an obscure verse), we may understand either that our Lord, putting off His body, made a show of the principalities and the powers, triumphing over them in the cross (so the Latin Fathers); or, with the Greeks, that He, having stripped off and put away the principalities, made a show of them, etc.- i.e. that He repelled their assaults. Here the evil angels are spoken of. But the complete subjection of the powers of evil to Jesus will not take place till the end of the world ( 1 Corinthians 15:23 ff.).

Angels are spirits ( Hebrews 1:7;  Hebrews 1:14); cf.  Revelation 16:14, ‘spirits of demons.’ In  Acts 23:8 f. they seem to be differentiated from ‘spirits’ (‘no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit … what if a spirit hath spoken to him or an angel?’). But this is not so. The ‘angel’ is the species, the ‘spirit’ the genus (Alford). All angels are spirits, though all spirits are not angels. In  Acts 23:8 the Pharisees are said to confess ‘both,’ i.e. both the resurrection and angel-spirits; only two categories are intended. We must also remember that in  Acts 23:9 non-Christian Jews are speaking.

But, though they are spirits, angels are not omnipresent or omniscient , for these are attributes of Deity. For their limited knowledge cf.  Ephesians 3:10 (whether good or bad angels are there spoken of); it is implied in  1 Peter 1:12 (the angels desire to look into the mysteries of the gospel) and in  1 Corinthians 2:6 ff., if ‘rulers of this world’ are the evil angels (see Demon). It is explicitly stated in  Matthew 24:36,  Mark 13:32. The limitation of the angels’ knowledge is also stated in Ethiopic Enoch , xvi. 3 (2nd cent. b.c.?), where the angels who fell in  Genesis 6:2 (so ‘sons of God’ are interpreted) are said not to have had the hidden things yet revealed to them, though they knew worthless mysteries, which they recounted to the women (ed. Charles, 1893, p. 86f.). In the Secrets of Enoch . (Slavonic), xxiv. 3 (1st cent. a.d.?), God says that He had not told His secrets even to His angels. Ignatius says that the virginity and child-bearing of Mary and the death of the Lord were hidden from (ἔλαθεν) the ruler of this age ( Eph . 19; for this idea in the Fathers see Lightfoot’s note).

The good angels are angels of light , as opposed to the powers of darkness ( 2 Corinthians 11:14; contrast Ephesians 6:12); so, when the angel came to St. Peter in the prison, a light shone in the cell ( Acts 12:7). The name ‘seraph’ perhaps means ‘the burning one,’ though the etymology is doubtful; cf. also  Psalms 104:4.

They neither marry nor are given in marriage  ; and so in the resurrection life there is no marrying, for men will be ‘as angels in heaven’ ( Matthew 22:30,  Mark 12:25), ‘equal to angels’ (ἰσάγγελοι,  Luke 20:36). Some have thought that they have a sort of counterpart of bodies, described in  1 Corinthians 15:40 as ‘celestial bodies’ (Meyer, Alford), though this is perhaps improbable; St. Paul’s words may refer to the ‘heavenly bodies’ in the modern sense (Robertson-Plummer), or to the post-resurrection human bodies (cf.  1 Corinthians 15:48); not to good men as opposed to bad (Chrysostom and others of the Fathers).

They are numberless ( Revelation 5:11 [from  Daniel 7:14],  Hebrews 12:22, ‘myriads’; in the latter passage they are perhaps described as a ‘festal assembly’ [Revised Version margin, ἀγγέλων πανηγύρει]).

The unfallen angels are holy ( Revelation 14:10,  Mark 8:38,  Luke 9:26, and some Manuscriptsof  Matthew 25:31; so perhaps  1 Thessalonians 3:13,  Judges 1:14 [see below, 5 ( a )]; cf.  Zechariah 14:5 ‘all the holy ones’). This is the meaning of ‘elect’ angels in  1 Timothy 5:21 -not angels chosen to guard the Ephesian Church; they are mentioned here because they will accompany our Lord to judgment or (Grimm) because they are chosen by God to rule.

4. Ranks of the angels. -There was a great tendency in later Jewish writings to elaborate the angelic hierarchy. In  Isaiah 6:2;  Isaiah 6:6 we had read of seraphim; in Ezekiel 10 of cherubim. But in Eth. Enoch , lxi. 10 (these chapters are of the 1st cent. b.c.?), the host of the heavens, and all the holy ones above, the cherubim, seraphim, and ophanim (= ‘wheels’; cf.  Ezekiel 1:15), angels of power, angels of principalities, are mentioned (cf. lxxi. 7); in the Secrets of Enoch (20) we read of archangels, incorporeal powers, lordships, principalities, powers, cherubim, seraphim, ‘ten troops.’ The ‘genealogies’ of  1 Timothy 1:4 and  Titus 3:9 are thought by some to refer to such speculations. St. Paul shows some impatience at the Colossian fondness for elaborating these divisions; yet in the NT we find traces of ranks of angels. In  Judges 1:9 the archangel (Michael) is mentioned; so in  1 Thessalonians 4:16, where Michael is doubtless meant. In Romans, Colossians, and Ephesians no organized hierarchy is mentioned; and sometimes the reference seems to be to the whole angelic band, sometimes to the evil angels, when principalities, powers, dominions, thrones are referred to ( Colossians 1:16 θρόνοι, κυριότητες, ἀρχαί, ἐξουσίαι;  Colossians 2:10;  Colossians 2:15 ἀρχή, ἐξουσία;  Ephesians 1:21 ἀρχή, ἐξουσία, δύναμις, κυριότης;  Ephesians 3:10;  Ephesians 6:12 ἀρχαί, ἐξουσίαι;  Romans 8:38 ἄγγελοι, ἀρχαί, δυνάμεις;  1 Corinthians 15:24 ἀρχή, ἐξουσία, δύναμις). In the passages in Col. and Eph. St. Paul takes the ideas current in Asia Minor as to the ranks of the angels, but does not himself enunciate any doctrine; indeed, in  Ephesians 1:21 he adds, ‘and every name that is named [ὀνομάζεται, i.e. reverenced] both in this age and in that which is to come.’ Some have thought that he refers to earthly powers; but, though these may perhaps in some cases be included, there can be little doubt that he is speaking primarily of angelic powers, good and bad. ‘Whatever powers there may be, Christ is Lord of all, far above them all.’ In  Ephesians 3:10 only evil angelic powers are referred to-they are in the heavenly sphere (ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις); and so in  Ephesians 6:12, where they are contrasted with ‘flesh and blood’ (see also below). With these passages we may compare  1 Peter 3:22 ‘angels and authorities and powers’; and possibly  2 Peter 2:10 f., where the ‘lordship’ (Revised Version‘dominion’), ‘glories’ (‘dignities’), and angels are thought by some to refer to ranks of angels; if so, the highest rank is ‘angels,’ who are ‘greater in might and power’ than the ‘glories.’ The cherubim of the ark ( Exodus 25:18) are mentioned in  Hebrews 9:5.

The Christian Fathers and the heretical teachers greatly elaborated the angelic hierarchy; of these perhaps the writer who had most influence was pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite ( de Cœl. Hier . vi.-ix., c. [Note: . circa, about.]a.d. 500), who divided the heavenly host into three divisions, with three subdivisions in each: (1) thrones, cherubim, seraphim; (2) powers (ἐξουσίαι), lordships (κυριότητες), mights (δυνάμεις); (3) angels, archangels, principalities (ἀρχαί). On the analogy of this list, the Syriac-speaking Churches divided the Christian ministry into three classes, each with three sub-classes. For other divisions of angels in post-apostolic times see Lightfoot’s note on  Colossians 1:16.

Very few names of angels occur in the NT. Of the holy angels only Gabriel ( Luke 1:19;  Luke 1:26) and Michael ( Judges 1:9,  Revelation 12:7) are named (from  Daniel 8:16;  Daniel 9:21;  Daniel 10:13;  Daniel 10:21;  Daniel 12:1). We also have the proper names Satan (thirty-one one times, nineteen outside the Gospels), Beelzebub (Gospels only, six times), and Belial or Beliar ( 2 Corinthians 6:15). See Devil, Belial. In the Apocrypha we have Raphael in  Tobit 12:15, Uriel in 2 Ezr 4:1; 5:20; 10:28, and Jeremiel in  2 Esdras 4:36 (the last book perhaps is to be dated c. [Note: . circa, about.]a.d. 90). Many other names are found in Jewish writings; see D. Stone, Outlines of Chr. Dogma , London, 1900, p. 38; Edersheim, Life and Times , Appendixxiii.; Eth. Enoch , 20 (Uriel, Rafael, Raguel, Michael, Saraqael, Gabriel; the Gr. fragment [Charles, p. 356f.] has Sariel for Saraqael, and adds Remiel [= Jeremiel]).

5. Function of the angels. -The NT represents the angels as having a double activity, towards God and towards man. Both these aspects are found in  Hebrews 1:14 (see below), as in  Isaiah 6:1-7, where the seraphim worship before God, and one of them is sent to the prophet, and in  Luke 1:19, where Gabriel is said to stand in the presence of God, and to be sent to Zacharias.

( a ) Towards God .-The angels are ‘liturgic spirits’ (λειτουργικὰ πνεύματα,  Hebrews 1:14; cf.  Daniel 7:10 ἐλειτούργουν αὐτῷ [Theodotion; the version in our Gr. OT] for יְשַׁמְּשׁוּנֵהּ, ‘ministered unto him’; the Chigi Septuaginthas ἐθεράπευον αὐτόν); their ministry is an ordered one, before the throne of God: ‘the whole host of His angels … minister (λειτουργοῦσιν) unto His will, standing by Him’ (Clem. Rom. Cor . 34; cf. the 4th cent. Ignatian interpolator, Philad . 9, ‘the liturgic powers of God’). They worship God in heaven ( Revelation 5:11 f.;  Revelation 7:11;  Revelation 8:1-4; cf.  Job 1:6;  Job 2:1), and on earth ( Luke 2:13 f.); they worship the Firstborn when He is brought into the world ( Hebrews 1:6), and are witnesses of the Incarnation ( 1 Timothy 3:16 ‘seen of angels’-but Grimm interprets ἀγγέλοις here as the apostles, witnesses of the risen Christ, and Swete thinks the reference is to the Agony in Gethsemane [ Ascended Christ , 1910, p. 24]). To this heavenly worship there seems to be a reference in  1 Corinthians 13:1 ‘tongues of angels.’ In Jewish thought there were ‘angels of the presence,’ the highest order of the hierarchy, who stood before the face of God, within the veil (Edersheim, Life and Times , i. 122;  Tobit 12:15; Eth. Enoch , 40). There may be a reference to these in  Revelation 1:4 ‘the seven spirits which are before his throne’ (Swete interprets this of the sevenfold working of the Holy Spirit);  Revelation 8:2 ‘the seven angels which stand before God’ (cf.  Revelation 8:4);  Matthew 18:10 ‘in heaven [the little ones’] angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven’; and in  Luke 1:19 (see above).

They will attend on the Son at the Last Judgment ( 1 Thessalonians 4:16,  2 Thessalonians 1:7,  Revelation 3:5); and this seems to be the most probable reference in  1 Thessalonians 3:13 ‘with all his saints’ (or ‘holy ones’-τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ) and in  Judges 1:14 ‘with ten thousands of his holy ones’ (or ‘with his holy myriads,’ ἐν ἁγίαις μυριάσιν αὐτοῦ), where the words are quoted from Enoch , i. 9, the text of the latter in the Gizeh Greek fragment being σὺν τοῖς ( sic ) μυριάσιν αὐτοῦ καὶ τοῖς ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ. The words in Jude are certainly to be understood of the angels, and this makes the similar interpretation of  1 Thessalonians 3:13 more likely. But Milligan ( Com. in loc .) thinks that the latter reference is to ‘just men made perfect,’ who are said to judge, or to be ‘brought with’ Jesus at the Judgment ( 1 Thessalonians 4:14,  Matthew 19:28,  Luke 22:30; cf.  Wisdom of Solomon 3:8; for  1 Corinthians 6:3 see 7 below). No doubt the saints will rule with Christ ( Revelation 2:26 f.;  Revelation 20:4 etc.); but, as all men will themselves be judged ( Romans 14:10,  2 Corinthians 5:10), the interpretation of the above passages as implying that the saints will themselves be judges at the Last Day is somewhat doubtful. The attendance of the angels on the Great Judge is mentioned in all four Gospels ( Matthew 13:41;  Matthew 16:27;  Matthew 24:31;  Matthew 25:31,  Mark 8:38;  Mark 13:27,  Luke 9:26;  Luke 12:8 f., and  John 1:51 [where the reference is to  Genesis 28:12]).

( b ) Towards man .-The angels do service (διακονία) to man as heirs of salvation ( Hebrews 1:14). They ministered to our Lord on earth, in His human nature, after the Temptation in the wilderness ( Matthew 4:11,  Mark 1:13, not in || Lk.), and at Gethsemane ( Luke 22:43 : this may not be part of the Third Gospel, but is certainly part of a 1st cent. tradition; it could not have been invented by the scribes [see Westcott-Hort, NT in Greek , ii. Appendix, p. 67]. The present writer has argued for its being older than Lk., and reflecting the same stage of thought as Mk. [ Dict. of Christ and the Gospels ii. 124b]). In  Matthew 26:53 Jesus says that angels would have ministered to Him, had He so willed, when Judas betrayed Him.

The angels are spectators of our lives  :  1 Corinthians 4:9 ‘a spectacle (θέατρον) to angels’;  1 Timothy 5:21 ‘in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels’;  1 Peter 1:12, the angels ‘look into’-‘glance at,’ or perhaps ‘pore over’ (see Bigg, Com. in loc .)-the Church and its Gospel; they rejoice over the sinner’s repentance ( Luke 15:10).

They are messengers to man . This is the office of angels which is most prominent in the NT; see  Acts 7:35;  Acts 7:38 (Moses)  Acts 8:26 (Philip)  Acts 10:3;  Acts 10:7;  Acts 10:22;  Acts 10:30 (Peter, Cornelius)  Acts 11:13 (Peter)  Acts 12:7-11 (Peter in prison)  Acts 23:9 (Paul)  Acts 27:23 (Paul on his voyage),  Hebrews 13:2 (reference to Abraham, Genesis 18), and frequently in Rev. ( e.g.  Genesis 1:1;  Genesis 22:6). St. Paul alludes to this work of the angels in  Galatians 1:8, which suggests that they must be proved, as spirits must be ( 1 Corinthians 12:10,  1 John 4:1, etc.; see Demon, § 2), to see whether they are true or false, and in  Galatians 4:14, where there is a climax: ‘as an angel of God, nay, as one who is higher than the angels, as Christ Jesus himself.’ For this function in the Gospels see  Matthew 1:20;  Matthew 2:13;  Matthew 2:19;  Matthew 28:2-5,  Mark 16:5-7,  Luke 1:11;  Luke 1:13;  Luke 1:19;  Luke 1:26;  Luke 1:30;  Luke 1:35;  Luke 2:9 f.,  Luke 2:21;  Luke 24:4;  Luke 24:23,  John 12:29;  John 20:12; here we note that the ‘angel of the Lord’ in the NT is not the same as the ‘angel of Jahweh’ in the OT: it merely means an angel sent by God. This office of the angels does not exclude the Divine message coming directly to man ( Acts 9:5;  Acts 22:8;  Acts 26:14,  Galatians 1:12).

They are helpers of our worship . They offer the ‘prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar’ ( Revelation 8:3 f.). Their presence at Christian worship is a reason for decorum and reverence ( 1 Corinthians 11:10 : a woman should be veiled in the assembly of the faithful ‘because of the angels’; this seems to be the meaning, not ‘because of the clergy who are present,’ as Ambrose, Ephraim Syrus, Primasius, nor ‘because of the evil angels,’ with a reference to  Genesis 6:1 f., as Tertullian [ de Virg. Vel . 7; cf. 17], nor yet ‘because the angels do so,’ i.e. veil themselves before their Superior [ Isaiah 6:2]; see Robertson-Plummer, Com. in loc .). For the presence of angels at worship cf.  Psalms 138:1 Septuagintand Vulgate,  Tobit 12:12;  Tobit 12:15, Three 37.

They fight for man against evil , under Michael ( Judges 1:9,  Revelation 12:7 f.,  Revelation 19:14;  Revelation 19:19;  Revelation 20:1-3); they are ‘armies’ (στρατεύματα,  Revelation 19:14) and a ‘host’ (στρατιά,  Luke 2:13; not in  Hebrews 12:22 Revised Versionwhere μυριάσιν is translated ‘innumerable hosts’). They are the ‘armies’ sent out by the King in the Parable of the Marriage of the King’s Son ( Matthew 22:7).

They were the mediators of the Law ( Acts 7:53,  Galatians 3:19,  Hebrews 2:2); i.e. they assisted at the giving of the Law. St. Paul and the writer of Hebrews argue from this the superiority of the Gospel as being given without the interposition of created beings (Lightfoot on Galatians 3). The presence of angels is not mentioned in Exodus 19, but cf.  Deuteronomy 33:2,  Psalms 68:7; it was emphasized by the Jews as extolling the Law (see Thackeray, op. cit. p. 162), and this is perhaps the meaning in  Acts 7:53.

At death the angels carry the faithful departed to Abraham’s bosom ( Luke 16:22). This was a common Jewish belief ( Dict. of Christ and the Gospels i. 57a).

At the Judgment they will be the reapers of the harvest ( Revelation 14:17-19,  Matthew 13:39;  Matthew 13:49).

They are messengers of punishment ( Acts 12:23 [Herod],  Revelation 14:10), and of judgment ( Revelation 8:6 ff;  Revelation 19:11-14; cf. the pouring out of the bowls,  Revelation 16:1-17, and the seven angels having seven plagues,  Revelation 15:1). In  1 Corinthians 10:10 the ‘destroyer’ (ὀλοθρευτής) is not Satan, bat the angel sent by God to smite the people (the reference is to Numbers 16, where no angel is mentioned; but cf.  Exodus 12:23,  2 Samuel 24:16). Satan is sometimes called ‘the destroyer’ (ἀπολλύων,  Revelation 9:11), but ὀλοθρευτής is not used elsewhere in the Bible (see Robertson-Plummer on  1 Corinthians 10:10).

They intervene on earth to help man  : an ‘angel of the Lord’ releases the apostles ( Acts 5:19) and Peter ( Acts 12:7); and, according to an ancient gloss, probably African, originating before the time of Tertullian, who quotes it ( de Bapt . 5), ‘an angel of the Lord’ also ‘troubled’ the water of Bethesda ( John 5:4). (Tertullian applies this text to Christian baptism, over which he says an angel presides.) Generally, the angels guard men from evil. This leads us to the question of guardian angels . It is an ancient idea that each human being, or even every creature animate and inanimate, has allotted to it one or more special angelic guards. This idea is to some extent confirmed by the words of our Lord about the ‘angels of the little ones’ in  Matthew 18:10. It was a popular belief that these guardians took the form of the person guarded, and the people assembled in the house of Mary the mother of Mark thought that Peter, when escaped from prison, was ‘his angel’ ( Acts 12:15). This Jewish conception was long retained by the Christians. Tertullian thought that the soul had a ‘figure,’ a certain corporeity, an ‘inner man: different from the outer, but yet one in the twofold condition’ ( de Anima , 9); this is not quite the same idea, but we find it more clearly in the 4th cent. Church Order, the Testament of our Lord (i. 40), where all men have ‘figures of their souls, which stand before the Father of Light,’ and which in the case of the wicked ‘perish and are carried to darkness to dwell.’ Similarly there are angels of fire ( Revelation 14:18), of water ( Revelation 16:3 ff.; cf.  Revelation 7:1 f. and  John 5:4), of winds ( Revelation 7:1; cf.  Psalms 104:4), of countries ( Daniel 10:13-20; cf.  Sirach 17:17); and the angel of the abyss, Abaddon ( q.v. [Note: quod vide, which see.] ) or Apollyon ( Revelation 9:11; cf.  Revelation 20:1). For Rabbinical ideas see Thackeray, op. cit. p. 168, and Edersheim, op. cit. Appendixxiii.

6. Angels of the Churches. -In  Revelation 1:20;  Revelation 2:1;  Revelation 2:8;  Revelation 2:12;  Revelation 2:18;  Revelation 3:1;  Revelation 3:7;  Revelation 3:14 the Seven Churches are said each to have an ‘angel.’ These angels represent the Churches; what is said to them is said to the Churches ( Revelation 3:22; cf.  Revelation 1:4); things done by the Churches are said to be done by them. Various interpretations have been offered. ( a ) They are said to be angels as in the rest of the book. The strongest arguments for this view are the writer’s usage elsewhere, and the mention of Jezebel ( Revelation 2:20 : ‘thy wife’ in some Manuscripts), which is clearly symbolic. The difficulty is the sin ascribed to these angels, as in any case a good angel must, if this interpretation be taken, be meant; if so, the meaning must be that the angels bear the sins of the Churches as representing and guarding them. ( b ) They are thought to be earthly representatives of the Churches, either delegates to Patmos or the bishop or presbyters of the Churches. This view accords better with the later than with the earlier date assigned to Rev., with the time of Domitian than with that of Nero. ( c ) They are thought to be ideal personifications of the Churches. On the whole the first view seems to be the most probable. Compare and contrast the following article.

7. Fallen angels. -In the NT both good and evil angels are mentioned; but when the word ‘angel’ occurs alone, a good angel is to be understood unless the context requires otherwise, though perhaps  1 Corinthians 6:3 is an exception (see below). The fall is mentioned in  Judges 1:6,  2 Peter 2:4; and probably in  1 Timothy 3:6, where it is ascribed to pride (see Devil, § 2). The Incarnation was not intended to help the angels. Jesus did not ‘take hold’ of, to help, the angels (or, as Authorized Version, did not take hold of their nature); see Westcott on  Hebrews 2:16. Yet in  Colossians 1:20 God is said to reconcile through (the death of) Christ ‘all things’ to Himself-the whole universe material and spiritual (Lightfoot); but it was not by delivering them from death (Alford): the fallen angels are not saved by Christ’s death. According to some interpretations, St. Paul says that angels will be judged by men ( 1 Corinthians 6:3). Robertson-Plummer interpret this verse, tentatively, as meaning that, as Christ judges, i.e. rules over, angels, so will saints, who share in that rule; but, if the Last Judgment is intended, then fallen angels must be meant here, for good angels, not having fallen, cannot be judged. For  1 Thessalonians 3:13 see above, 5 ( a ). In the end Satan is bound, and Babylon falls (Revelation 18, 20); nothing is said of his angels, but the inference is that his angels fall with him, and this is expressly said in  Matthew 25:41. See further, Adversary, Air, Belial, Demon, Devil.

Metaphorically the ‘stake in the flesh’ is called an angel (messenger) of Satan ( 2 Corinthians 12:7). See articlePaul.

8. Comparison of apostolic and other teaching

( a ) Comparison with that of our Lord .-Oesterley ( Hastings’ Single-vol. Dictionary of the Bible , 32) contrasts Jesus’ teaching with that of the Evangelists and other NT writers, and says that our Lord taught that the abode and work of the angels are in heaven, not here below, while His disciples taught (as the Jews did) that they are active on earth. On the other hand, Marshall ( Dict. of Christ and the Gospels i. 54a) maintains the complete identity of teaching between Jesus and the Evangelists. To the present writer the latter view seems to be the right one. It is true that in our Lord’s words the work of angels on earth is not prominent. But in  John 1:51 (our Lord is speaking) the order ‘ascending and descending’ shows that the angels are ‘already on earth, though we see them not’ (Westcott, Com. in loc .). The account of the angelic ministry at the Temptation, like that of the Temptation itself, could by its very nature have come only from our Lord’s own lips. Moreover, in Jesus, teaching, the angels come to the earth to fetch Lazarus’ soul ( Luke 16:22) and to reap the Harvest ( Matthew 13:39;  Matthew 13:49).

( b ) Comparison with the doctrine of false teachers .-In Colossians we find an elaborate angelology, taught by professing Christians whom St. Paul attacks. Their heresy was partly Jewish, partly Gnostic, though some think that two different sects are meant. The Gnostic element shows itself in the tendency to put angels as intermediaries between God and man, and to make angels emanations from God with an elaborate hierarchy of powers, dominions, etc. Against such teaching St. Paul asserts that Christ is the only mediator ( Colossians 1:15-22;  Colossians 2:9-15), and forbids the worship of angels because it denies this. In the unique mediation of our Lord lies the significance of the repeated phrases ‘in the Lord,’ ‘unto the Lord’ ( Colossians 3:18;  Colossians 3:20;  Colossians 3:23). Jesus is the one ἀρχή, or ‘beginning’ ( Colossians 1:18; cf.  Revelation 3:14), of creation, as against the idea, of angelic intermediaries when the world was made (see Lightfoot’s essay on the Colossian heresy [ Col. , p. 71ff.]). Perhaps also in the assertion of the unique mediation of Christ lies the significance of the rhetorical passage in which St. Paul says that no heavenly powers, good or bad, can separate us from the love of God ( Romans 8:38). Passages in Eph. (above, 4 ) seem to show that the Colossian heresy was known also on the Asian seaboard.

A later stage of angelological error is found at the end of the 1st cent. in Cerinthus’ teaching, which resembled that of the Colossian heretics. Cerinthus ( q.v. [Note: quod vide, which see.] ) taught that the world was not made by God, but by an angel, or by a series of powers or angels, who were ignorant of God; the Mosaic Law was given by them (cf. above, 5 ( b )). Cerinthus is the link between the Gnosticism at Colossae and the developed Gnosticism of the 2nd century (for his doctrine see Irenaeus, Haer . i. 26; Hippolytus, Refut . vii. 21, x. 17). He claimed to have had angelic visions, and was a millenarian of the grossest sort (Caius in Eusebius, HE [Note: E Historia Ecclesiastica (Eusebius, etc.).]iii. 28). See also Lightfoot, op. cit. , p. 106ff.

Speculations such as those attacked by St. Paul found a congenial soil in ‘Asia’ and Phrygia. Even in the 4th cent. at the Council held at the Phrygian Laodicea (circa, abouta.d. 380), Christians are forbidden to leave the Church of God and invoke (ὀνομάζειν) angels (can. 35; see Hefele, Councils , Eng. translation, iii. 317). It is the proper jealousy for the One Mediator, on the other hand, which has led many moderns to reject the doctrine of the existence of angels altogether. But both heavenly and earthly beings can help man without being mediators, as we see when one man helps another by intercessory prayer. The NT teaching about angelic helpers, so potent an antidote to materialism, in no way asserts that we are to pray to God through the angels, or contradicts the doctrine that Christ is the only Mediator between God and man.

( c ) Comparison with current Jewish teaching and that of the later Rabbis .-The apostolic teaching is quite free from the wild speculations of Jewish angelology. (For differences between it and current Jewish ideas see Edersheim, op. cit. , i. 142 and Appendixxiii.) Of Jewish speculations the most elaborate were those of the Essenes ( q.v. [Note: quod vide, which see.] ), which had a decided Gnostic tinge. This Jewish sect had an esoteric doctrine of angels, and its members were not allowed to divulge their names to outsiders (Jos. Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) ii. viii. 1; Lightfoot, Col. , p. 87; Edersheim, i. 330f.). A few Jewish speculations may be mentioned. It was thought that new angels were always being created-an idea derived from a wresting of  Lamentations 3:23 (Thackeray, op. cit. p. 150). The angels taught Noah medicine ( Book of Jubilees , 10). The righteous will become angels ( Eth. Enoch , li. 4). An angel troubled the waters of Bethesda for healing (gloss in  John 5:4). An elaborate hierarchical system and numerous names were invented for them (above, 4 ). Contrasted with these ideas, we have in the NT a wise reserve, which refuses to go beyond the things which are written.

One Jewish speculation must he noticed more fully. The Rabbis taught that none of the angels was absolutely good, that they opposed the creation of man and were jealous of him (Edersheim, ii. 754). Thackeray (p. 151f.) considers that St. Paul also makes them all antagonistic to God. If so, he contradicts the teaching both of our Lord and of the other NT writers (above, 3 ). But this view, based on St. Paul’s language about principalities, powers, etc., and on the idea that all the angels are the enemies who must be put under Christ’s feet ( 1 Corinthians 15:25), appears to be untenable. St. Paul, while affirming that some ‘powers’ are evil, does not say that they all are so. See above, 4 .

9. Nature of NT angelophanies. -It is unprofitable to ask whether angels took material bodies when they appeared to men or whether they merely seemed to do so. At any rate, they took the form of men to the mind, though in some cases there was something about them that produced wonder or fear ( Luke 1:12,  Matthew 28:4, etc.). The accounts of the angels who were seen after the Resurrection vary. In  Matthew 28:2 the angel who rolled away the stone was like lightning, his raiment white as snow. In  Mark 16:5 we read only of a, young man in a white robe. In  Luke 24:4 there are two men in dazzling apparel (cf.  Luke 24:23 ‘vision of angels ’). In  John 20:12 there are two angels in white, sitting. In  Acts 1:10 there are ‘two men … in white apparel.’ To Cornelius the angel was ‘a man … in bright apparel’ ( Acts 10:30). Stephen’s face was filled with superhuman glory, ‘as it had been the face of an angel’ ( Acts 6:15; so we reflect, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord,  2 Corinthians 3:18). For an argument that the appearance of the angels was ‘objective’ see Plummer on  Luke 1:11; but this is largely a matter of definition. At the death of Herod ( Acts 12:23) no appearance of an angel is necessarily intended.

10. The immediate successors of the apostles. -Angelology was a favourite topic of the time; but, the literature of the sub-apostolic period being very scanty, the references are few. For Clement of Rome see above, 5 ( a ). Ignatius says that the knowledge of angelic mysteries was given to martyrs ( Trall . 5): ‘heavenly things and the dispositions (τοποθεσίας) of angels, and musterings of rulers (συστάσεις ἀρχοντικάς), seen and unseen’ (cf.  Colossians 1:16). The ‘dispositions’ would be in the seven heavens. The ἄρχοντες, ‘rulers,’ would be St. Paul’s ἀρχαί i.e. angels (Lightfoot, Ign . ii. 165). In Smyrn . 6 it is said that the angels, if they believe not in the blood of Christ, are judged; this seems to imply that their probation is not yet ended. Sea also above, 3 . Papias (quoted by Andreas of Caesarea, in Apoc. , ch. 34, serm. 12; Lightfoot-Harmer, Apostol. Fathers , p. 521) says that to some of the angels God ‘gave dominion over the arrangement (διακοσμήσεως) of the universe … but their array (τάξιν) came to naught, for the great dragon, the old serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceiveth the whole earth, was cast down, yea, was cast down to the earth, and his angels’ (quotation from  Revelation 12:9). Papias seems to date the fall of the angels after the creation of the world. Hermas (for his possibly early date see Salmon, Introd. to NT , xxvi.) describes the building of the tower [the Church] upon the waters by six young men (cf.  Mark 16:5), while countless other men bring the stones; and the former are said to be the holy angels of God, who were created first of all; the latter are also holy angels, but the six are superior to them ( Vis . iii. 1, 2, 4). In the Martyrdom of Polycarp , 2, martyrs are said to become angels after death (see above, 8 ). In the Epistle to Diognetus , 7, God is said to have sent to men a minister (ὑπηρέτην) or angel or ruler (ἄρχοντα). Justin interprets  Psalms 24:7;  Psalms 24:9 [Septuagint] as addressed to the rulers appointed by God in the heavens ( Dial . 36). To angels was committed the care of man and of all things under heaven, but they transgressed through the love of women ( Apol . ii. 5, referring to  Genesis 6:1 ff.). Angels, like men, have free will ( Dial . 141).

Literature.-A. Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah 9, London, 1897, i. 142, ii. 748 (Appendix, xiii.), etc.; H. St. J. Thackeray,

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

("messengers".) Often with "of God" or "Jehovah" added. Sometimes called the "holy ones," "saints." The "Angel of God" often means the Divide Word, "the Image of the invisible God," God Himself manifested ( Colossians 1:15;  Genesis 22:11-12;  Genesis 16:7;  Genesis 16:13;  Genesis 31:11;  Genesis 31:13;  Genesis 48:15-16;  Genesis 33:14; compare  Isaiah 63:9;  Exodus 3:2;  Exodus 3:6;  Exodus 3:14;  Exodus 23:20-22;  Acts 27:23-24, compare  Acts 23:11;  Numbers 22:22-32-35); accepting as His due the worship which angels reject as mere creatures ( Revelation 19:10;  Revelation 22:9); this manifestation was as man, an anticipation of the incarnation ( John 1:18;  Genesis 18:2;  Genesis 18:22;  Genesis 19:1;  Genesis 32:24;  Genesis 32:30;  Joshua 5:13;  Joshua 5:15).

"Angel," "Son of God," "Gods" ( Εlohim ), "Holy One," in the fullest sense, are names of the divine Word alone. His incarnation is the center by reference to which all angelic ministration is best understood. Compare  John 1:51, Greek ( Aparti ), "from this time forth ye shall see heaven open" (heretofore shut, against man by sin:  Hebrews 9:8;  Hebrews 10:19-20) "and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man," as the antitypical Jacob's ladder, the center of communication between men and God, the redeemed and the angelic world; Jesus' miracles, of which mention immediately follows (John 2), are firstfruit of this newly opened communion of earth and heaven ( Genesis 28:12-17). Secondarily, God's created messengers; as Israel ( Isaiah 42:19), Haggai ( Haggai 1:13), John ( Malachi 3:1;  Malachi 2:7), the priesthood, ministers ( Ecclesiastes 5:6), the rulers or angels of the Christian churches ( Revelation 1:20), as Εlohim , "gods" is applied to judges ( Psalms 82:6); compare Jesus' application,  John 10:34-37.

As to the nature of "angels" in the limited sense, they are "spirits" ( Hebrews 1:7;  Hebrews 1:14), of wind-like velocity, subtle nature, capable of close communion with God; sharers in His truth, purity, and love, since they ever behold His face ( Matthew 18:10), even as the redeemed shall ( 1 John 3:2); not necessarily incorporeal;  Luke 20:36 (compare  Philippians 3:21),  1 Corinthians 15:44, seemingly but not certainly imply their having bodies. Their glorious appearance ( Daniel 10:6), like our Lord's when transfigured and afterward as the ascended Savior ( Revelation 1:14-16), and their human form ( Luke 24:4;  Acts 1:10), favor the same view. Close kindred of nature between angels and men is implied in both being alike called "sons of God" ( Job 1:6;  Job 38:7;  Daniel 3:25;  Daniel 3:28) and "gods" ( Εlohim ) ( Psalms 8:5; Hebrew Εlohim "angels,"  Psalms 97:7;  Luke 3:38).

Finite, but ever progressing in the participation of God's infinite perfection ( Job 4:18;  Matthew 24:36;  1 Peter 1:12). Our fellow servants, "sent forth unto ministry for the sake of them who shall be heirs of salvation" ( Hebrews 1:14), i.e., on ministrations appointed by God and Christ for the good of them who shall be heirs of salvation. Worship and service are their twofold function; priests in the heavenly temple ( Isaiah 6:1-3;  1 Kings 22:19;  Daniel 7:9-10;  Revelation 5:11), and sent forth thence on God's missions of love and justice. As finite, and having liberty, they were capable of temptation. Some "kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation" ( 2 Peter 2:4;  Judges 1:6). "The elect angels" fell not; they take part, by act and sympathy, in our affairs, and shall witness the Judgment ( Luke 15:10;  1 Corinthians 4:9).

The fallen are not yet actually confined in the bottomless pit, but are doomed to it, "reserved unto judgment," and though seeming free, and ranging in our air, under the prince of the powers of the air ( Ephesians 2:2), are really in "chains of darkness" already, able only to hurt to the length of their chain. Satan is their prince, a liar, murderer, slanderer; and such are they ( John 8:44). The probation of the elect angels is over; their crown is won, they are the "holy ones" now ( Daniel 8:13), under the blessed necessity of sinning no more. "Watchers" of men, jealous for God's honor ( Daniel 4:13;  Daniel 4:23). Bad angels are permitted to try believers now, as Job; good angels are God's ministers of vengeance on the bad ( Revelation 12:8-9;  Revelation 20:1-2). Such shall the saints be at last, "equal to the angels," holy, made perfect, judges of angels and the world, ministering mediators of blessing to subject creatures ( Hebrews 12:23;  1 Corinthians 6:2-3;  Revelation 5:10).

In the natural world angels minister, as in directing wind and flame (according to one translation of  Psalms 104:4;  Hebrews 1:7): "the angel of Jehovah" wrought in the plague on the Egyptian firstborn ( Exodus 12:23;  Hebrews 11:28), and on the rebels in the wilderness ( 1 Corinthians 10:10), on Israel under David ( 2 Samuel 24:16;  1 Chronicles 21:16), on Sennacherib's army ( 2 Kings 19:35), on Herod ( Acts 12:23). An angel troubled the pool of Bethesda (the Alex. manuscript supports the verse, the Sin. and the Vat. manuscripts reject it), giving it a healing power, as in our mineral springs ( John 5:4): They act, in an unknown way, in and through "nature's laws." In the spiritual world too: by their ministration the Sinaitic law was given, "ordained by angels" ( Galatians 3:19), "spoken" by them ( Hebrews 2:2), by their "disposition" or appointment ( Acts 7:53; compare  Deuteronomy 33:2;  Psalms 68:17).

From the first creation of our world they took the liveliest interest in the earth ( Job 38:7). When man fell by evil angels, with beautiful propriety it was ordered that other angels, holy and unfallen, should minister for God in His reparation of the evil caused to man by their fallen fellow spirits. They rescued at Jehovah's command righteous Lot from doomed Sodom, Jacob from his murderous brother (Genesis 19; 32). "Manna" is called "angels' food," "the grain of heaven"; not that angels eat it, but it came from above whence angels come, and through their ministry ( Psalms 78:25). When Elisha was in Dothan, surrounded by Syrian hosts, and his servant cried, "Alas! how shall we do?" the Lord opened his eyes to see the mount full of chariots and horses of fire round about ( 2 Kings 6:15;  2 Kings 6:17, compare  Psalms 94:7). By God's angel Daniel was saved in the lions' den ( Daniel 6:22); compare  Daniel 3:28 as to the fiery furnace.

Michael (whom some questionably identify with the Son of God) is represented as Israel's champion against Israel's (the literal and the spiritual) accuser, Satan ( Daniel 12:1, compare  Revelation 12:7-10). Daniel 10 unfolds the mysterious truth that there are angel princes in the spirit world, answering to the God-opposed leaders of kingdoms in the political world, the prince of Persia and the prince of Grecia standing in antagonism to Michael. In patriarchal times their ministry is more familiar, and less awful, than in after times. Compare  Genesis 24:7;  Genesis 24:40 (the angelic guidance of Abraham's servant in choosing a wife for Isaac, and encouraging Jacob in his loneliness at Bethel on first leaving home, Genesis 28) with  Judges 6:21-22;  Judges 13:16;  Judges 13:22. They appear, like the prophets and kings in subsequent times, in the character of God's ministers, carrying out God's purposes in relation to Israel and the pagan world powers (Zechariah 1; 2; 3; 4, etc.).

When the Lord of angels became flesh, they ministered before and at His birth (Luke 1; 2;  Matthew 1:20), after the temptation ( Matthew 4:11), in the agony of Gethsemane ( Luke 22:43), at His resurrection and ascension ( Matthew 28:2;  Luke 24:4;  John 20:12;  Acts 1:10-11). Their previous and subsequent ministrations to men ( Acts 5:19;  Acts 8:26;  Acts 10:3;  Acts 12:7, Peter's deliverance,  Acts 27:23) all hinge on their intimate connection with and ministry to Him, redeemed man's divine Head ( Psalms 91:11;  Matthew 4:6), Hence they are the guardians of Christ's little ones, not thinking it beneath their dignity to minister to them ( Matthew 18:10); not attached singly to single individuals, but all or one ready at God's bidding to minister to each. (In Acts 12, the remark, "it is his Peter'S angel," receives no countenance from Peter or the inspired writer of Acts, Luke; but is the uninspired guess of those in Mary's house.)

Rejoice over each recovered penitent ( Luke 15:10); are present in Christian congregations ( 1 Corinthians 11:10); exercising some function in presenting the saints' prayers, incensed by Christ's merits, the one Mediator, before God ( Revelation 8:3;  Revelation 5:8); not to be prayed to, which is thrice forbidden ( Revelation 19:10;  Revelation 22:9;  Colossians 2:18): when we send an offering to the King, the King's messenger durst not appropriate the King's exclusive due. Ministers of grace now, and at the dying hour carrying the believer's soul to paradise ( Luke 16:22), but ministers of judgment, and gathering the elect, in the great day ( Matthew 13:39;  Matthew 13:41;  Matthew 13:49;  Matthew 16:27;  Matthew 24:31). Their number is counted by myriad's ( Hebrews 12:22; Greek "to myriads, namely the festal assembly of angels") ( Deuteronomy 33:2;  Psalms 68:17;  Daniel 7:10;  Judges 1:14).

There are various ranks, thrones, principalities, powers in the angelic kingdom of light, as there are also in Satan's kingdom of darkness ( Ephesians 1:22;  Ephesians 6:12;  Colossians 1:16;  Daniel 10:13;  Daniel 12:1;  Romans 8:38). (See Seraphim ; Cherubim; Michael; Gabriel ) Some conjecture that angels had originally natural bodies, which have been developed into spiritual bodies, as the saints' bodies shall ( 1 Corinthians 15:40-46); for they in Scripture accept material food (Genesis 18) and appear in human form, and never dwell in men's bodies as the demons, who, naked and homeless, seek human bodies as their habitation (see  Luke 20:36, "equal unto the angels":  Philippians 3:20-21).

Many of the momentous issues of life are seen often to hinge upon seemingly slight incidents. Doubtless, besides the material instruments and visible agents, the invisible angels work in a marvelous way, under God's providence, guiding events at the crisis so as to carry out the foreordained end. They "desire to look into" the mysteries of redemption, and they learn "by the church the manifold wisdom of God" ( Ephesians 3:10;  1 Peter 1:12). The saints (the living creatures and 24 elders) occupy the inner circle, the angels the outer circle, round the throne of the Lamb ( Revelation 5:11).

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [3]

Angels are God’s servants and messengers in the heavenly and spiritual realm, where they find true satisfaction in the unceasing worship and service of God. They were created before humans, they belong to a higher order than humans, and their number is countless ( Psalms 103:20;  Psalms 148:2;  Isaiah 6:2-3;  Daniel 7:10;  Luke 12:8-9;  Luke 15:10;  Colossians 1:16;  Hebrews 12:22;  Revelation 4:8;  Revelation 5:11-12;  Revelation 7:11).

Good and bad angels

At some time before the creation of humans, some of the angels, under the leadership of one who became known as Satan, rebelled against God and so fell from their original sinless state ( 2 Peter 2:4;  Judges 1:6). As a result there are good angels and evil angels. Christ has angels and so has Satan ( Job 4:18;  Matthew 25:31;  Matthew 25:41;  Judges 1:9;  Revelation 12:7-9).

Both good and bad angels are under God’s sovereign rule, the difference between them being that the good angels are obedient and the evil angels rebellious. Even the chief of the evil angels, Satan, is no more than a created being under the authority of God. Satan and the evil angels who follow him can do their evil work only within the limits that God allows ( Job 1:12;  Job 2:6; see Satan ).

Because of the high position that angels have as God’s heavenly servants, the Bible speaks of them as holy ones, as stars, and even as sons of God. Again these expressions may apply to good angels and bad angels ( Job 1:6;  Job 2:1;  Job 5:1;  Job 15:15;  Job 38:7;  Psalms 89:5;  Psalms 89:7;  Revelation 9:1;  Revelation 12:3-4;  Revelation 12:9). (The remainder of this article will be concerned only with good angels. For further discussion on evil angels see Demons .)

Dealings with humankind

Angels have many functions in relation to humankind, but above all they are God’s messengers ( Genesis 19:1;  Genesis 28:12;  Exodus 3:2;  Numbers 22:22;  Judges 2:1-4;  Judges 6:11;  2 Samuel 24:16;  1 Kings 13:18;  1 Kings 19:5;  Matthew 1:20;  Matthew 2:19;  Matthew 13:41;  Matthew 16:27;  Luke 1:26-31;  Acts 10:3-4;  Galatians 3:19; e.g. see Gabriel ). In many of the earlier Old Testament references, the angel (or messenger) of God appears to be almost the same as God himself. This is possibly because the angel is so closely identified with God as his messenger that when he speaks God speaks. The angel’s temporary physical appearance is God’s temporary physical appearance (cf.  Genesis 16:7-13;  Genesis 21:17-18;  Genesis 22:15-17;  Exodus 3:2-6).

To the godly, an angel may be a guide ( Genesis 24:7;  Genesis 24:40;  Exodus 14:19;  Acts 8:26;  Acts 27:23), a protector ( Psalms 34:7;  Psalms 91:11;  Daniel 6:22;  Daniel 10:13;  Daniel 10:21;  Matthew 18:10), a deliverer ( Isaiah 63:9;  Daniel 3:28;  Matthew 26:53;  Acts 5:19), an interpreter of visions ( Daniel 8:16;  Zechariah 1:8-14;  Revelation 1:1;  Revelation 22:6) and, in fact, a sympathetic helper in all circumstances ( Mark 1:13;  Luke 22:43;  Hebrews 1:13-14). Yet to the ungodly, angels may be God’s messengers of judgment ( Matthew 13:39;  Matthew 13:41;  Matthew 25:31-32;  Acts 12:23;  2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).

There are various categories of angels ( Genesis 3:24;  Isaiah 6:2;  Ezekiel 10:3;  Colossians 1:16;  1 Thessalonians 4:16;  Judges 1:9; see Michael ). Angels themselves do not have a physical form and do not reproduce their kind as humans do ( Matthew 22:30). When God sends them as his messengers to humans, he may give them a form similar to that of humans, though they are usually sufficiently different to create a feeling of great awe ( Judges 13:15-20;  Matthew 28:2-3;  Luke 2:9;  Luke 24:4;  John 20:12;  Acts 1:10;  Acts 6:15).

Cherubim are spirit beings of one of the higher angelic orders. They usually feature as guardians of God’s throne and protectors of his interests ( Genesis 3:24;  Exodus 25:17-22;  Psalms 80:1;  Ezekiel 1:4-14; Ezekiel 10; cf.  Revelation 4:6-11; see Cherubim ).

Great though angelic beings are, human beings should not worship them ( Colossians 2:18;  Revelation 19:10;  Revelation 22:8-9). Jesus Christ is the one whom people should worship; for he is God, and therefore far above angels ( Hebrews 1:5-13;  Ephesians 1:20-21;  Colossians 2:10;  Revelation 5:11-14). Those who through faith are united with Christ will thereby share Christ’s dominion in the age to come, and this will involve them in judgment of angels ( Hebrews 2:5-9;  1 Corinthians 6:3).

Morrish Bible Dictionary [4]

The words malac ἄγγελος, signify 'messenger.'

1. It is used for the mystic representation of the divine presence, as in  Genesis 31:11-13 . "The angel of God" spake unto Jacob saying, "I am the God of Bethel." "The angel of Jehovah" spake to Hagar and said, "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly that it shall not be numbered for multitude."  Genesis 16:7-11 . "The angel of Jehovah" spake to Abraham saying, "By myself have I sworn," etc.  Genesis 22:11,15,16 . Three 'men' drew near to Abraham's tent. One said Sarah should have a son: at which Sarah laughed, and Jehovah said, "Wherefore did Sarah laugh?" Two of the three left, and were called 'angels' at the gate of Sodom, while Jehovah, the third, talked with Abraham.  Genesis 18:1-33 : cf. also  Exodus 3:2,6-15;  Numbers 22:22-35 . Jacob, in blessing the sons of Joseph, said, "The Angel which redeemed me from all evil bless the lads."  Genesis 48:16 . It is generally believed that it was the second person in the Trinity who appeared as a man in the O.T. It is no doubt the same who is called 'the mighty angel' in  Revelation 10:1-3 .

2. The intelligent spiritual beings who are constantly referred to in scripture as God's messengers both as carrying good tidings and, as executors of God's judgements. We know little of their nature: "of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire,"  Hebrews 1:7; and man is described as being a little inferior to the angels.  Psalm 8:5;   Hebrews 2:7 . There are apparently gradations in rank among them, described as principalities and powers, of which Christ as Man is now the head.  Colossians 2:10 . Twice we meet with 'archangel:' an archangel's voice will accompany the rapture of the church,  1 Thessalonians 4:16; and 'Michael the archangel' contended with Satan about the body of Moses.  Jude 9 . He with his angels will fight with the dragon and his angels and cast them out of heaven.  Revelation 12:7,8 . Gabriel is the only other name of an angel revealed to us: he appeared to Daniel, to Zacharias, and to Mary: he said that he stood in the presence of God.  Daniel 8:16;  Daniel 9:21;  Luke 1:19,26 .

Though we are unconscious of the presence of angels we know that they are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall inherit salvation,  Hebrews 1:14 : cf.  Psalm 34:7; and we read also that they ministered to the Lord when He was here.  Matthew 4:11;  Mark 1:13;  Luke 22:43 . There are 'myriads' of these angels,  Matthew 26:53;  Hebrews 12:22;  Revelation 5:11; and they are described as 'mighty,' 'holy,' 'elect,'  2 Thessalonians 1:7;  Mark 8:38;  1 Timothy 5:21 : they do not marry,  Mark 12:25 . We are not told when they were created, but doubtless they are referred to as 'the sons of God' who shouted for joy when God created the earth.  Job 38:4-7 .

The law was given by their ministry,  Acts 7:53;  Galatians 3:19;  Psalm 68:17; and they had to do with proclaiming the birth of the Saviour,  Luke 2:8-14; and they attended at the resurrection.  Matthew 28:2;  John 20:12 . Angels are not the depositaries of the revelation and counsels of God. They desire to look into the things testified by the Spirit of Christ in the prophets, and now reported by the apostles in the power of the same Spirit.  1 Peter 1:12 . The world to come is not to be put in subjection to them, but to man in the person of the Son of man,  Hebrews 2:5-8; and the saints will judge angels.  1 Corinthians 6:3 . It is therefore only a false humility that would teach the worshipping of angels.  Colossians 2:18 . When John fell down to worship the angel in the Revelation, being overpowered by reason of the stupendous things revealed, he was on two occasions restrained from worshipping his 'fellow servant,' as in  Revelation 19:10;   Revelation 22:9 .

In  Psalm 8:5 the word is elohim, 'God:' the name of God being given to the angels as His representatives: cf.  Psalm 82:6 . In  Psalm 68:17 it is shinan 'repetition;' reading "even thousands upon thousands." In   Psalm 78:25 it is abbir, 'mighty:' "every one did eat the bread of the mighty" margin.

3. Fallen Angels

a. We read of angels who kept not their first estate,' but left their own habitation, and are kept in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great day.   Jude 6 . God spared not the angels who sinned.  2 Peter 2:4 . The nature of their sin may be referred to in  Genesis 6:2 . Their punishment and that of Sodom and Gomorrah is held up as a warning against fleshly indulgence, and despising government.  2 Peter 2:10;  Jude 6-8 .

b. Besides the above which are kept in chains we read of angels connected with Satan. The great dragon and his angels will be subdued by Michael and his angels, and be cast out of heaven.   Revelation 12:9 . The lake of fire, or Gehenna, has been specially prepared for the devil and his angels, though, alas, man will also be cast therein.  Matthew 25:41 . Abaddon or Apollyon is the name of 'the angel of the bottomless pit,'  Revelation 9:11 , that is, 'the abyss,' not hell, which, as seen above, is the place of punishment.  Isaiah 14:12-16 and   Ezekiel 28:14-19 , may throw somelight on the fallof Satan, but whether the fall of those called 'his angels' was brought about by the same cause and at the same time is not revealed. Scripture is quite clear that all of them will be overcome and eternally punished.

4. The term 'angel' is used metaphorically for a mystical representative. When Peter was delivered from prison, and knocked at the door, those who had been praying for his release said, "It is his angel."  Acts 12:15 . They supposed Peter was still in prison, and that the one at the door was his representative, his spirit personified, perhaps with very vague ideas of what they really meant. In  Revelation 2,3 , the addresses to the seven churches are made to the angel of each. It signifies the spirit and character of the assembly personified in its mystical representative, each one differing from the others, according to the state of the assembly. The messages, though addressed to churches existing at the time, no doubt set forth the state of the church in its varied phases ever since apostolic times down to its entire rejection as the responsible witness for Christ at the close of the dispensation.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Angels. By the word "angels" ( that is, "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 to succor and defend men on earth".

I. Scriptural use of the word. There are many passages in which the expression "angel of God" is certainly used for a manifestation of God himself. Compare  Genesis 22:11 with  Genesis 22:12 and  Exodus 3:2 with  Exodus 3:6 and  Exodus 3:14. It is to be observed, also, that side by side with these expressions, we read of God's being manifested in the form of Man - as to Abraham at Mamre,  Genesis 18:2;  Genesis 18:22, compare  Genesis 19:1 to Jacob at Penuel,  Genesis 32:24;  Genesis 32:30 to Joshua at Gilgal,  Joshua 5:13;  Joshua 5:15 etc. Besides this, which is the highest application of the word angel, we find the phrase used of any messengers of God, such as the prophets,  Isaiah 42:19;  Haggai 1:13;  Malachi 3:1, the priests,  Malachi 2:7. And the rulers of the Christian churches.  Revelation 1:20.

II. Nature of angels. Angels are termed "spirits," as in  Hebrews 1:14 - but it is not asserted that the angelic nature is incorporeal. The contrary seems expressly implied in  Luke 20:36. The angels are revealed to us as beings such as man might be, and will be when the power of sin and death is removed, because always beholding his face,  Matthew 18:10, and therefore being "made like him."  1 John 3:2. Their number must be very large,  1 Kings 22:19;  Matthew 26:53;  Hebrews 12:22, their Strength is great,  Psalms 103:20;  Revelation 5:2;  Revelation 18:21, their Activity marvelous,  Isaiah 6:2-6;  Matthew 26:53;  Revelation 8:13, their appearance varied according to circumstances, but was often brilliant and dazzling.  Matthew 28:2-7;  Revelation 10:1-2.

Of the nature of "fallen angels," the circumstances and nature of the temptation by which they fell, we know absolutely nothing. All that is certain is that they "left their first estate" and that they are now "angels of the devil."  Matthew 25:41;  Revelation 12:7;  Revelation 12:9. On the other hand, the title especially assigned to the angels of God - that of the "holy ones," see  Daniel 4:13;  Daniel 4:23;  Daniel 8:13;  Matthew 25:31 - is precisely the one which is given to those men who are renewed in Christ's image. Compare  Hebrews 2:10;  Hebrews 5:9;  Hebrews 12:23.

III. Office of the angels. Of their office in heaven, we have only vague prophetic glimpses as in  1 Kings 22:19;  Isaiah 6:1-3;  Daniel 7:9,10;  Revelation 6:11, etc., which show us nothing, but a never-ceasing adoration. They are represented as being, in the widest sense, agents of God's providence, natural and supernatural, to the body and to the soul. In one word, they are Christ's ministers of grace now, and they shall be of judgment hereafter.  Matthew 13:39;  Matthew 13:41;  Matthew 13:49;  Matthew 16:27;  Matthew 24:31 etc. That there are degrees of the angelic nature, both fallen and unfallen, and special titles and agencies belonging to each, is clearly declared by St. Paul,  Ephesians 1:21;  Romans 8:38, but what their general nature is it is useless to speculate.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [6]

Evil angels we read of,  Psalms 78:49. And we read of "angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, that the Lord hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day. ( Jude 1:1:6) And we read that Satan is sometimes - transformed into an angel of light." ( 2 Corinthians 11:14) But the Scriptures are altogether silent respecting their nature, agency, and extent. The Holy Ghost hath been graciously pleased to give general precepts and warnings to the church, respecting the malignity of those evil angels, and to admonish the people of God to resist the devil, and that he shall flee from them. We are taught also, by the several names given to the chief of those evil powers, to be always looking to the Lord Jesus for grace to resist the "fiery darts of this enemy," who is called, "the prince of this world." ( John 12:31) "the prince of the power of the air; the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience," ( Ephesians 2:2) But to numberless enquiries, which we feel highly disposed to put forth, concerning these things, there are no encouragements of any answers to be given in the word of God. It is very blessed, however, to be enabled by the promises of God, to take to ourselves those glorious and comprehensive assurances which belong to the whole church of Christ, and which ensure the present safety of every individual member, and the ultimate triumph in Christ, over Satan and all his angels. One Scripture tells the church, that"no temptation hath them taken, but such as is common to man: and that God is faithful, who will not suffer them to be tempted above that they are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that they may be able to bear it." ( 1 Corinthians 10:13) And another Scripture saith, that "the God of peace shall bruise Satan under their feet shortly." ( Romans 16:20) Here then, is enough for every child of God to know and to rest in, until the whole comes to be explained in eternity.

See Satan

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [7]

Angels, a word signifying, both in Hebrew and Greek, messengers, and therefore used to denote whatever God employs to execute his purposes, or to manifest his presence or his power. In some passages it occurs in the sense of an ordinary messenger ( Job 1:14;  1 Samuel 11:3;  Luke 7:24;  Luke 9:52): in others it is applied to prophets ( Isaiah 42:19;  Haggai 1:13; Malachi 3): to priests ( Ecclesiastes 5:6;  Malachi 2:7): to ministers of the New Testament ( Revelation 1:20). It is also applied to impersonal agents; as to the pillar of cloud ( Exodus 14:19): to the pestilence ( 2 Samuel 24:16-17;  2 Kings 19:35): to the winds ('who maketh the winds his angels,'  Psalms 104:4): so likewise, plagues generally, are called 'evil angels' ( Psalms 78:49), and Paul calls his thorn in the flesh an 'angel of Satan' ( 2 Corinthians 12:7).

But this name is more eminently and distinctively applied to certain spiritual beings or heavenly intelligences, employed by God as the ministers of His will, and usually distinguished as angels of God or angels of Jehovah. In this case the name has respect to their official capacity as 'messengers,' and not to their nature or condition. In the Scriptures we have frequent notices of spiritual intelligences, existing in another state of being, and constituting a celestial family, or hierarchy, over which Jehovah presides. The practice of the Jews, of referring to the agency of angels every manifestation of the greatness and power of God, has led some to contend that angels have no real existence, but are mere personifications of unknown powers of nature: but there are numerous passages in the Scriptures which are wholly inconsistent with this notion, and if  Matthew 22:30, stood alone in its testimony, it ought to settle the question. So likewise, the passage in which the high dignity of Christ is established, by arguing that he is superior to the angels ( Hebrews 1:4, sqq.), would be without force or meaning if angels had no real existence.

That these superior beings are very numerous is evident from the following expressions,  Daniel 7:10, 'thousands of thousands,' and 'ten thousand times ten thousand;'  Matthew 26:53, 'more than twelve legions of angels;'  Luke 2:13, 'multitude of the heavenly host;'  Hebrews 12:22-23, 'myriads of angels.' It is probable, from the nature of the case, that among so great a multitude there may be different grades and classes, and even natures—ascending from man towards God, and forming a chain of being to fill up the vast space between the Creator and man—the lowest of his intellectual creatures. This may be inferred from the analogies which pervade the chain of being on the earth whereon we live, which is as much the divine creation as the world of spirits. Accordingly the Scriptures describe angels as existing in a society composed of members of unequal dignity, power, and excellence, and as having chiefs and rulers ( Zechariah 1:11;  Zechariah 3:7;  Daniel 10:13;  Judges 1:9;  1 Thessalonians 4:16).

In the Scriptures angels appear with bodies, and in the human form; and no intimation is anywhere given that these bodies are not real, or that they are only assumed for the time and then laid aside. The fact that angels always appeared in the human form, does not, indeed, prove that this form naturally belongs to them. But that which is not pure spirit must have some form or other: and angels may have the human form; but other forms are possible. The question as to the food of angels has been very much discussed. If they do eat, we can know nothing of their actual food; for the manna is manifestly called 'angels' food' ( Psalms 78:25), merely by way of expressing its excellence. The only real question, therefore, is whether they feed at all or not. We sometimes find angels, in their terrene manifestations, eating and drinking ( Genesis 18:8;  Genesis 19:3); but in  Judges 13:15-16, the angel who appeared to Manoah declined, in a very pointed manner, to accept his hospitality.

The passage already referred to in  Matthew 22:30, teaches by implication that there is no distinction of sex among the angels. In the Scriptures indeed the angels are all males: but they appear to be so represented, not to mark any distinction of sex, but because the masculine is the more honorable gender. Angels are never described with marks of age, but sometimes with those of youth ( Mark 16:5). The constant absence of the features of age indicates the continual vigor and freshness of immortality. The angels never die ( Luke 20:36). But no being besides God himself has essential immortality ( 1 Timothy 6:16): every other being therefore is mortal in itself, and can be immortal only by the will of God. Angels, consequently, are not eternal, but had a beginning, although there is no record of their creation.

The preceding considerations apply chiefly to the existence and nature of angels. Some of their attributes may be collected from other passages of Scripture. That they are of superhuman intelligence is implied in  Mark 13:32 : 'But of that day and hour knoweth no man, not even the angels in heaven.' That their power is great, may be gathered from such expressions as 'mighty angels' ( 2 Thessalonians 1:7); 'angels, powerful in strength' ( Psalms 103:20); 'angels who are greater [than man] in power and might.' The moral perfection of angels is shown by such phrases as 'holy angels' ( Luke 9:26): 'the elect angels' ( 1 Timothy 5:21). Their felicity is beyond question in itself, but is evinced by the passage ( Luke 20:36) in which the blessed in the future world are said to be 'like unto the angels, and sons of God.'

The ministry of angels, or that they are employed by God as the instruments of His will, is very clearly taught in the Scriptures. The very name, as already explained, shows that God employs their agency in the dispensations of His Providence. And it is further evident, from certain actions which are ascribed wholly to them ( Matthew 13:41;  Matthew 13:49;  Matthew 24:31;  Luke 16:22); and from the Scriptural narratives of other events, in the accomplishment of which they acted a visible part ( Luke 1:11;  Luke 1:26;  Luke 2:9, sq.;  Acts 5:19-20;  Acts 10:3;  Acts 10:19;  Acts 12:7;  Acts 27:23), that their agency is employed principally in the guidance of the destinies of man. In those cases also in which the agency is concealed from our view, we may admit the probability of its existence; because we are told that God sends them forth 'to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation' ( Hebrews 1:14; also  Psalms 34:7;  Psalms 91:11;  Matthew 18:10). But the angels, when employed for our welfare, do not act independently, but as the instruments of God, and by His command ( Psalms 103:20;  Psalms 104:4;  Hebrews 1:13-14): not unto them, therefore, are our confidence and adoration due, but only unto him ( Revelation 19:10;  Revelation 22:9) whom the angels themselves reverently worship.

It was a favorite opinion of the Christian fathers that every individual is under the care of a particular angel, who is assigned to him as a guardian. They spoke, also of two angels, the one good, the other evil, whom they conceived to be attendant on each individual; the good angel prompting to all good, and averting ill; and the evil angel prompting to all ill, and averting good. The Jews (excepting the Sadducees) entertained this belief. There is, however, nothing to authorize this notion in the Bible. The passages ( Psalms 34:7;  Matthew 18:10) usually referred to in support of it, have assuredly no such meaning. The former, divested of its poetical shape, simply denotes that God employs the ministry of angels to deliver his people from affliction and danger; and the celebrated passage in Matthew cannot well mean anything more than that the infant children of believers, or, if preferable, the least among the disciples of Christ, whom the ministers of the church might be disposed to neglect from their apparent insignificance, are in such estimation elsewhere, that the angels do not think it below their dignity to minister to them [SATAN].