Angels have been the subject of curiosity and fascination with the human race since ancient times. They have been the topic of countless poems, stories, and artworks in every generation. Sometimes, the word “angel” is also used to describe someone who may be physically attractive or have the characteristic of extreme kindness. Because of our extreme interest with these enchanting creatures, various myths and misconceptions have been formed. Despite the wrong information believed by many, we know angels exist through reading the Bible. In this article, we will debunk the myths about these spiritual beings by giving you the facts about Biblical Angels.
The Truth About Angels
All of us have probably heard or read a story or two about angels at one time or another. So, we can conclude that there are many stories outside the Bible about these spiritual beings. Some people have also claimed that an angel had once appeared in their dreams telling them prophecies, as shown in the Bible. Others often attribute the occurrence of unusual things or miracles as the deed of an angel. Most of these stories are popularized and can be found all over the internet; accessible for everyone to read. All of these stories that have been passed down through generations no doubt have contributed to the world’s view about angels.
However, the truth about angels is not found in any stories that went viral nor on any work of art. Though it contains a bit of truth, most fictional works lead to misconceptions. Angels are directly related to Christianity. Although other religions also believe in beings that function similarly to them, angels are exclusive to religions that believe in the Bible. Hence, our interpretations of them should be based solely on the Bible.
The word “angel” first used before the 12th century. Since then, they were described as beings more powerful than humans and are messengers of God. Throughout decades, the word is used for different contexts and interpreted in unique ways.
- “Angel” came from the Greek word ἄγγελος or “Angelos”, meaning messenger or angel. It is the direct translation for the Hebrew word “malakh” which means angel.
- It is also known to be derived from the old English word “Engel” and an old french word “Angele”.
- The Latin word “Angelus” means messenger.
Names Of Renowned Angels In The Bible
The Bible mentions angels collectively as “heavenly hosts” (Luke 2:3), but only two are mentioned. They are Michael the archangel, and Gabriel the messenger. Though Satan, also known as “Morning Star” (Isaiah 14:12) was at first an angel, most people do not see him as an angel anymore for we have the perception that angels are good spiritual beings. God has thousands of angels who act as attendants, agents, or messengers for God. It is believed that God also gave names to his angels to reveal something about their characteristics.
The angel Michael is known to be the Archangel, indicating that he has an elevated heavenly rank. He is usually illustrated wearing armor, holding scales of justice. This depicts that the archangel Michael is an angel with strength, courage, integrity, and an angel of truth. His name means ‘who is like the Lord’; but despite being powerful, the archangel Michael only follows the directions of God. He is mentioned in Jude 9, Daniel 10:13, Daniel 21, and Revelation 12:7–8. In the Book of Revelation, Michael is the leader of God’s army who fought the enemies.
The most popular angel is probably the angel Gabriel who has the role of God’s messenger. He was seen first in the Old Testament a message to the Prophet Daniel where he explained the meaning of Daniel’s vision (Daniel 8:15-16). He is also known to be the angel who appeared to Zacharias and his wife for the birth announcement of John the Baptist (Luke 1:11 – 23). However, the angel Gabriel is most famously known as the angel who brought the message about the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:26-56). The name Gabriel means “man of God”, and his character trait is strength.
Biblical Facts About Angels
Why did God create angels? What is its purpose? How do they exist and what are their ways of “living”? The facts that we listed below will help us understand and learn about the Biblical angels.
The highest Rank Among Biblical Angels is Called the “Archangel”
Angel Michael has been referred to as one of the “chief princes” by the prophet Daniel (Daniel 10:13). The term “chief princes” was clarified in the Book of Jude as the title of Archangel (Jude 1:9). Additionally, Revelation 12:7-8 tells us that Michael and his angels fought. Why are the angels regarded as Michael’s angels? Because he leads them. As said by the prophet Daniel, he is the chief prince who takes orders from God. Therefore, archangels are those that lead a bunch of angels. In other words, their leader.
Angels are Innumerable
Like how it is impossible to know the exact number of stars in the universe, no one knows how many angels exist. In several verses, it was described that there were thousands and thousands of them. Hebrews 12:22 described them as innumerable. They are beyond count which proves how powerful their Creator is.
Humans are Lower than Angels
As we live our earthly lives, we are considered lower than the angels. We have a lot of limitations and are powerless compared to God’s angels. Angels have authority and power given only by God for them to fulfill His purpose. Psalm 103:20 described angels as beings that excel in strength and do things according to God’s word. Though mighty and powerful compared to humans, that situation will change after the return of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:3).
Angels Had A Union With Humans in History
As mentioned above, angels do not marry. But that does not mean that they can’t. In Genesis 6:2-4, before God flooded the world due to sin, we can see that angels were attracted to the beauty of humans. Because of that, they took them as wives. The results of that union were giants. A half-human and half-angel offsprings were not just bigger than ordinary humans. They were also mighty and renowned, as the Bible described.
Biblical Angels Do Not Marry
After the resurrection, humans will be converted into incorruptible beings, like the angels, who do not marry (Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25). Unions or marriages are done by the flesh and for the union of it. Since angels have no corruptible body like the human flesh, they do not need such unions. In the Bible, the angels encountered are depicted to be male. However, there is no proof nor mention of an angels’ gender. Additionally, throughout history, people have claimed to have encountered angels in both male and female forms.
Angels Live for Eternity
As spiritual beings, the angels are not subject to anything of flesh. They will not get tired nor get sick. Their bodies are eternal and incorruptible by death. The same way, humans will be changed like angels after the day of judgment to be with God for eternity and to worship Him like what the angels do in heaven. (Luke 20:36).
When Were Angels Created?
There has been some sort of confusion between when angels were made. And it comes from 2 verses.
- Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth
- Genesis 2:1-2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all the host of them. And on the seventh day, God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which he had made
The first verse stated that God created the heavens and the earth on the first day of creation. While the other seems to be implying that heaven and its hosts (the angels) were made before God rested. If we were to read the verses listed above, we may also arrive at the conclusion that it is indeed confusing. However, God is not a God of confusion. The first verse clearly implies that heaven and earth were made on the first day. With heaven comes its hosts. It is also supported by Job 38:6-7 where it said that the angels sang while God laid the foundation of the earth.
Additionally, Genesis 2:1-2 does not contradict the first verse. Instead, it has been misunderstood. Also, if seen carefully, the verse uses the term “heavens” rather than “heaven”, implying that both the heavens and the earth were all finished on the sixth day.
Angels Have Their Own Will
Although subject to God’s commandment, angels are still allowed to make decisions for themselves. This is why Lucifer, a former angel, now known as Satan, had the power to choose not to obey God. And like us, their sins will be punished on the judgment day. Fallen angels are now known as demons, for they rebelled against God and followed Satan. The mention of fallen angels in the Bible indicates that angels have free will; and one-third of all angels willingly chose the latter.
Angels Have Emotions
Like the “free will”, angels are also capable of feeling certain emotions. Several verses in the Bible show that angels express emotions like joy and desire. They also rejoice with the Lord when He is delighted.
Biblical Angels Have Wings and They Fly
One of the correct depictions of angels is their characteristic of having wings and their ability to fly. And they fly at a fast speed. The Prophet Daniel described how fast the angel came to him at the time of the evening sacrifice”swift flight” (Daniel 9:21). However, opposite to what most of us believe and depict in paintings, the wings of the angels are not just limited to one pair (Isaiah 6:2).
All Angels Have Their Own Names
There were 3 angels that were named in the Bible; Michael, Gabriel, and Satan. Others have names, but they are secret as their names are beyond human understanding (Judges 13:18). Manoah, without knowing that he was talking to an angel, asked him of his name. The angel replied that it was secret, proving that although a few were named in the Bible, all of them were given an individual name.
Angels Report to the Lord
God talks to His servants and the angels converse with Him. Even Satan comes to present himself to the Lord, making it known that even though he went astray, he is still under the power of the Almighty God (Hebrews 1:14).
God Gives Angels Good Intellectual Capabilities
Created by the power of Most High, angels have a lot of impressive qualities. Angels are equipped with divine wisdom and have the knowledge of all the things on earth (2 Samuel 14:20). This explains why they can help people carry out decisions and shed some light on things they are confused about.
Daniel 10:14 “Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”
Satan Was Once an Angel of God
Just like what’s mentioned above, Satan was so engulfed by his desire for power that he was banished from Heaven. Since then, he is called the “fallen angel”. Not only because he fell from heaven but also because he fell out of God’s grace. He is meant to receive eternal punishment (Revelations 20:10). On his glory days, however, he was not an ordinary angel. The Bible described him as the most beautiful among them.
The Gender of Biblical Angels
In almost all citations of angels in the Bible, it is noticeable that they are always in the masculine form; giving the conclusion that all angels are men. It was also supported by the fact that all the angel that was named in the Bible are masculine ones. Yet, there is one verse that somehow clouds this notion. Zechariah 5:9 described two females with wings. Some scholars said that this verse is proof that angels can appear as women too. However, if we look closely, the angel mentioned in this particular chapter was always regarded with the title of “angel”.
Whilst the two women who appeared in the wind were just described as those who lift the basket. It was not whether they were a force of evil or good. Hence, it is not enough to conclude if angels have genders or not.
Angels Sometimes Disguise Themselves as Humans
The Bible said that when the angels are out on a mission, they can sometimes take the form of humans. It is very much possible to run into them unknowingly. For that reason, the Bible tells us that we should be kind even to strangers as we may never know if they are angels (Hebrews 13:2). In any case, angel or human, we should be kind to one another and love our neighbors as ourselves.
Angels are Capable of Eating
Even though an angel’s being does not require them to eat, there are verses in the Bible that they actually ate what was served to them. In the Book of Genesis, Abraham and Lot both serve angels some food and it was stated that they consumed it. And it is because the angels that appeared to both Abraham and Lot took a human form, giving them the ability to do what humans can.
They are Subject to Jesus
As the Son of God, all the angels are under His power.
Angels Do Not Easily Intervene in Human’s Lives
Though they watch us and guide us, angels don’t just save us from trouble or spare us from dangers even for our own good. God directs our destiny and everything that happens in our lives and sometimes He allows us to be subject to pain or afflictions, not to harm us but to prepare us for something good.
Types of Biblical Angels
Not all angels are the same. They are unique and classified into categories. When God created the world, he also created angels. As we can see, throughout the Bible, there are different types of angels. Each angel is made with different characteristics and they each have specific roles given by God. Angels are God’s ministering spirits (1 Kings 19:5, Luke 16:22).
This type of angel is usually depicted in paintings and stories as an innocent and cute child with a small pair of wings. The Bible mentioned the word “Cherubims” for a total of 91 times. Cherubim are typically represented with wings, feet, and hands but they are also described in different forms as having more than one face (Ezekiel 41:18). Additionally in Ezekiel 10, the enthronement of God was described in detail. And one of the items mentioned was that below Him are the Cherubims. They are also conceived to be the guardians of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24).
In the Book of Exodus, two cherubs are seated on top of the Ark of the covenant. Most interestingly, the Bible also proves the importance of these angels for God rode upon a cherub (Psalm 18:10). These cherubs do not just stand, sit, or guard.
The word arch means, “Chief”, meaning someone who is the leader of a specific group. This gives us the idea that there is ranking or classes of angels in heaven (Colossians 1:16 – 17). The Archangel in the Bible is known to be Michael (Daniel 10:13 – 21, Revelation 12:7). He is a warrior for God. Though it is not proven, many Christians believe that the angel Gabriel is also an archangel, but just in a different category; the leader of messenger angels. This is because Gabriel has appeared multiple times in the Old and New Testaments (Daniel 8:15–26, Luke 1:26).
Though mentioned just once in the Bible, Seraphims are considered as the highest in the hierarchy of angels because they are stationed near the throne of God. In Isaiah 6:2, they are described as angels with six wings each and covered with twain from head to foot. It was also mentioned that they have the ability to fly and continues to praise God day and night.
Some angels mentioned in the Bible don’t seem to fall into any angelic type or rank. However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t powerful beings for they still work for God. Common angels can be sent by God in different forms, including the form of men. An example of this was when two angels of the Lord went to Lot, telling him to flee as God was going to destroy the city of Gomorrah (Genesis 19). These two angels who were not named in the Bible are thought to be common angels. As Lot did, we should show hospitality to strangers, for they may be angels (Hebrews 13:2).
Like the Seraphims, the “living creatures” were described as creatures that never cease to sing to praise God. According to the Bible. their appearance had the likeness of a man. They were said to have four faces and four wings in which the two are joined together. While their other two wings cover their body. They are enchanting yet terrifying in appearance. These creatures are said to represent parts of God’s creation like beasts and humans.
Fallen angels or demons, is another type of angel. They include Satan who is the first fallen angel and leader of all fallen angels. Christian scholars believe that these angels, now demons, rebelled against God before the Fall of Adam and Eve. Today, some demons are currently bound in judgment while others live among us (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 1:6). However, in the end, all demons will one day be judged by God and sent into the lake of fire for eternity (Revelation 20:10).
Common Myths And Misconceptions About Angels
Angels are fascinating and intriguing creatures. That is why they caught the curiosity and amusement of humans. Hence, every period in history have stories, paintings, and other work of arts that are about them. Therefore that fact about angels is clouded with fictional depictions, creating myths and misconceptions. We listed below the wrong impressions that most people believe with the aim to correct to inline with the Biblical truth.
Angels Have Different Appearances
Like what we mentioned above, different types of angels have different appearances. Some may look terrifying, and humans who encounter them tremble in fear. Unlike what most of us think, not every angel looks dashing or extremely attractive from a human’s point of view.
Not Everyone Has A “Guardian Angel”
The term “guardian angel” was not mentioned directly in the Bible. Hence, there were debates about whether they should be believed as part of the Christian faith. According to some stories, God designated a guardian angel for each and every one. This has been believed by many people yet it is not true. Contrary to that popular belief, not all people are given a guardian angel.
One of the most common verses that are cited as proof was when disciples said that Peter’s angel must be knocking at the door (Acts 12:15). Which is definitely taken out of context. In the preceding verses, Acts 12:7, it is clearly stated that the angel of the Lord came to him. According to Psalms 34:7, only people who fear God has an angel who guards them. God sends angels to direct us on things of faith and gives us advice according to the will of God. Evil is forsaken by the Lord. Therefore, people who choose to walk astray of heavenly wisdom is not guarded by His angel/s.
Angels Should Not Be Worshiped
Angels are beings superior to humans. That is why some people tend to worship them and their statues. But an angel himself forbid John to worship him. The angel told him that he is also a servant and not worthy of any praises from anyone. Another misconception is treating angels as meditators. Some regards angel as the way to communicate to God, hence they pray to them. Which should not be done if we want to follow the Bible (Colossians 2:18). The only meditator of God and man is Our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 1:25). Praying to the servant rather than its Lord is an insult and abomination to our Creator.
Angels Come and Go
Contrary to some beliefs, angels are not omnipresent. They are sent by God in places where they needed to be. They move according to the orders from God. We can notice this fact in Luke 1:26-27. It was stated that God sent Gabriel to Mary. Meaning, where he goes is under the command of God. This fact is also evident by how Daniel described the Archangel Michael who “came to help” him.
Angels Do Not Have Human-like Characteristics
In some stories, angels are portrayed to behave like humans. Along with their exquisite beauty, they are also given a comical image that makes careless mistakes sometimes. But these are all far from the facts. Although like humans, they are created by God, their actions solely based on God’s instructions and purpose. They are not made to live like us. Unlike what’s shown in the movies or other fictional works, they do not have free will. As they are created to move according to God’s command, they also do not commit mistakes.
Angels are Not as Powerful as We Think
Nope, angels will not wave their magic wands when they want to spare us from any trouble that comes our way. As much as guardian angels are made to protect and guide us, they do not have the ability to change the future and plans God has made for the individual. Man’s destiny, may it be cruel or not, all rely on God (Jeremiah 29:11 – 13). Angels merely direct the paths by giving direct orders through dreams, coincidences, and miracles with God’s prerogative.
Angels Have Never Appeared as Infants or Toddlers
The belief that angels are like cute infants with a little set of wings is a big misconception that started during the renaissance period. The Italian work of art called “Putto” depicted a chubby and innocent-looking child with a pair of wings. This representation is often attributed to cherubs. But the Bible never mentioned such. Angels appear different from their original looks depending on the mission they are given. Yet there’s no angel with the form of babies or cute children written in the Scriptures.
No Angel Can Be a Spirit of a Dead Person
One of the most famous misconceptions about death is that the soul of the deceased person turns into something else after their body dies. Some believe that they are reincarnated, others have the notion that they become stars that look down upon the one they love from heaven or angels that guard the people they left behind. But none of them were true. Angels are separate beings created before humans for a different purpose. The souls of those who pass away do not transform into an angel nor do they go somewhere else. They stay in the place where God designated the souls to wait for resurrection day. And when it happens, those who died righteously will live with God with the status higher than the angels.
Angels Have No Halo
Depicting angels with a halo is not just a common misconception. It is also a disgrace to their Creator. Halos are often found on arts illustrating Greek and Roman gods also called by the Bible as Pagan religions. As we know, God loathes these religions that worship all sorts of God and creatures on the earth. Egyptians also portrayed their gods with a halo that symbolizes divinity and holiness. Other religions also use this kind of halo to imply sacredness.
Why Should We Know These Biblical Facts?
The Bible is the book intended for our salvation. It’s contents are all important and should not be mixed with other beliefs. Our misconceptions towards some aspects of it may lead us to misunderstand its whole concept and wisdom. Therefore, we should always get our facts straight as our salvation depends on it.