Angels are mentioned in three ways in scripture:
- Conventional angels are created intelligences with great power who serve God, Heb. 1:13
- A disembodied spirit, as in Matt. 18:10, Acts 12:15, Heb. 12:23
- Men set in a place of authority and responsibility on earth, as in Ecc. 5:6, Mal. 2:7, Rev. 1-3.
Conventional Angels. Angels play a large role the ways of God. Perhaps a much larger role than many people realize. Morally, there are two classes of angels:
- Elect angels (1 Tim. 5:21) who are also called “holy angels” (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Rev. 14:10) are those who are preserved by God.
- Fallen angels, who are also called “demons”, “the host of the high ones”, and “evil spirits” are those angels who fell with Satan (Rev. 12:9).
Elect Angels. There are thousands and thousands of these angels, “an innumerable company” (Matt. 26:53; Heb. 12:22; Rev. 5:11). What do the angels do?
- In general, all the angels of God are “ministering spirits, sent out for service” (Heb. 1:14).
- The cherubim (plural) are the class of angels that execute the judgment of God. There were at least two Cherubim to guard the way of the tree of life (Gen. 3:24), two Cherubim embroidered on the veil which guarded the way into the holiest (Ex. 26:31), and two Cherubim which looked expectantly down upon the mercy seat (Ex. 25:30). Ezekiel saw four living creatures described in ch.1 and identified in Ezek. 10:1 as cherubim, representing the inflexible judgment of God’s government.
- The seraphim (plural) are a class of angel that defend God’s holiness. They are described in Isa. 6 as calling out to each other; “Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” In Revelation 4, we read of four living creatures that combine the characteristics of both cherubim and seraphim. They execute God’s judgment, but they also defend His holiness, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty”.
- The archangel (Micheal) is an angel of great importance. He once disputed with Satan over the body of Moses, but would not rebuke the Devil because it would have been out of character for one in his rank (Jude 1:9). Some traditions believe there are seven archangels, but scripture only speaks of one.
Fallen Angels. Not all angels are equal in authority or status. There is a great hierarchy that we know only a little about.
- The prince of the power of the air (Satan) is the highest ranking angel in the creation of God (Eph. 2:2).
- Principalities are demonic beings that have dominion over specific regions on the earth (Eph. 6:12). Michael is also a principality. See the princes in Daniel 10; “prince of Persia”, “prince of Greece”, “Michael your prince”.
- Authorities are demonic beings with great power, even over other demons (Eph. 6:12).
- Warlords are universal authorities, perhaps Satan’s right hand demons (Eph. 6:12).