The Foundations of Belief: Exploring the Core Doctrines of Christianity – Angels

Luke 15:10: “…there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Angels as a theme of Biblical theological doctrines might seem strange, yet the Bible has much to say about them. The word “angel” appears 213 times in twenty-four of the thirty-nine Old Testament books and 176 times in eighteen of the twenty-seven New Testament books.

The order of creation

Maybe we should start with the order of creation. God existed before all things, as Colossians 1:17 states: “He [Jesus] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

Genesis’s order of creation is straightforward:

Day 1: God creates light (Genesis 1:3-5)
Day 2: God separates the waters above from the waters below to create the sky (Genesis 1:6-8)
Day 3: God creates dry land and plants, trees, and vegetation (Genesis 1:9-13)
Day 4: God creates the sun, moon, and stars to govern day and night (Genesis 1:14-19)
Day 5: God creates sea creatures and birds (Genesis 1:20-23)
Day 6: God creates land animals, including livestock, beasts of the earth, and creeping things, and then creates humans, male and female, in His image (Genesis 1:24-31)
Day 7: God rests from His work of creation and blesses and sanctifies the seventh day as a day of rest (Genesis 2:1-3)

Angelic Beings

There’s one element of creation, however, that’s missing in the above Genesis sequence — angels. Job 38:4-7 indicates the existence of angels before the creation of the world when it states, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?…or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars [angels] sang together, and all the sons of God [angels] shouted for joy?” Ezekiel 28:12-17 indicates the existence of Satan at the time of Eden when it states, “You [Lucifer] were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God…You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you.” Additionally, Genesis 3:1-2 confirms Satan’s encounter in the Garden of Eden by declaring, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He [Satan] said to the woman…”

So, sometime before the creation of the earth, angels were formed. How many? Revelation 5:11 describes a scene in heaven where John sees “thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand”  good angels gathered around the throne, worshiping God. And Hebrews 12:22 mentions “an innumerable company of angels” in heaven. Although this doesn’t specify an exact number, 10,000 times 10,000 alone is 100 million.

We know from numerous Bible narratives that there are good angels, such as Michael and Gabriel, as well as bad angels, such as its chief architect, Lucifer, or Satan. Revelation 12:7-9 indicates how many are on each side, “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon [Satan]. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” Revelation 12:4 elucidates this expulsion, “His tail swept down a third of the stars [demons] of heaven and cast them to the earth.”

Since we know that angels were created beings, what are their qualities? The Bible indicates that they are spirit beings, as Psalm 104:4 remarks, “He makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire.”

As spiritual beings, they are without a physical body or gender. While angels are often depicted in human-like form and referred to using male pronouns, they do not have a biological gender like humans. In Matthew 22:30, Jesus says, “For in the resurrection they [glorified believers] neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

Additionally, angels possess personhood through three identifiable traits: intellect, emotions, and will. Matthew 28:5 shows intellect by their ability to think, perceive, and converse, “But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.” Luke 15:10 illustrates their emotion when it states, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Finally, their will to worship and desire to understand things of salvation is shown in 1 Peter 1:10-12 which records, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets…searched and inquired carefully….things into which angels long to look.”


Bad angels

So, what are angels doing, and why should we be interested?

Bad angels are continuously scheming to destroy God’s effort to establish His kingdom, especially regarding the gospel of salvation and God’s created order of family, gender, leadership, and sexuality. 1 Peter 5:8 advises us to be diligent and warns, “Be sober-minded, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Consequently, demons continue to ply their trade by:

1. Blinding unbelievers to the gospel – 2 Corinthians 4:4 warns, “In their case the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

2. Sowing seeds of doubt – Matthew 13:19 states that even “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart…”

3. Persecuting believers – Revelation 2:10 admonishes, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days [a short while] you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Although the Bible confirms the validity of demonic possession, it clearly shows that believers cannot be so afflicted. Ephesians 1:13 states that believers are “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit…” and 1 John 4:4 announces, “…you are from God and have overcome them, for He [Holy Spirit] who is in you is greater than he [Satan] who is in the world.”


Should people try to bind Satan? Jude 1:9 clarifies this reproach, “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” In a word — no!


4. Promoting false teachings – 1 Timothy 4:1-2 describes, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared.” Scripture explains how one would believe this deception when it states in 2 Corinthians 11:14 – “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

5. Conducting spiritual warfare – Ephesians 6:12 describes this, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”


Good angels

And what are good angels doing?

Good angels serve God, praising Him and carrying out His will. They are:

1. Messengers of God – several verses illustrate this duty, such as Luke 1:26-38 which describes the angel Gabriel bringing a message to Mary about the birth of Jesus: “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph…And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’” Additionally, Revelation 14:6-7 describes angels proclaiming the eternal gospel during the Tribulation to those who dwell on earth: “Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on the earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, [repent and believe] because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.’”

2. Ministering to the needs of believers – Hebrews 1:14 claims, “Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” Also, Psalm 91:11-12 acknowledges, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways…”

3. Administering the wrath of God – Revelation 15:7-8 describes angels administering the judgments of God during the end times: “And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.”

4. Worshipping and praising God – Psalm 103:20-21 describes angels continually praising God: “Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!”

5. Executing spiritual warfare – As discussed above, Revelation 12:7-9 depicts an ongoing spiritual battle. Additionally, Daniel 10:13 illustrates an example of this angelic battle, “The prince of the kingdom of Persia [demon assigned to Persia] withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael [the archangel], one of the chief princes, came to help me…”


Outside of their roles as Hollywood characters, angels are often overlooked. They genuinely exist, both good and bad, and their involvement in the spiritual realm is ubiquitous. The impact of bad angels can be seen in the heinous evils that saturate the world today. The Bible, however, knows how the narrative ends: Revelation 20:10 declares, “And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

And what of the good angels? As we’ll see in the Doctrine series on End Times, Christ will re-create a New Heaven and a New Earth, which will house New Jerusalem, where Christians will spend eternally. In Revelation 21:12, John partially describes this New Jerusalem: “It had a great and high wall. It had twelve gates, and at those gates, twelve angels…” These are only a few of the angels that will never stop praising God or ministering to those who inherit salvation.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email