Angels: Their Names and Ranks and Heavenly Existence

The Scriptures clarify that angels are real, and so is their heavenly dimension where they live.

As noted in the other posts, certain modern interpreters of Scripture, influenced by the anti-supernatural biases in the Enlightenment (1600-1800+), like to “demythologize” passages about angels. That is, they strip them out of the Bible or explain them away, because they are myths, in their opinion. It’s embarrassing for them.

However, they have arrived too late for Renewalists, many of whom have seen them, but mainly who base their beliefs on these clear Scriptures, because all of the Bible is infallible and authoritative for them.

Let’s start with a basic definition and description, as noted in other posts.

Angels:

(a) Are messengers (in Hebrew mal’ak and in Greek angelos);

(b) Are created spirit beings;

(c) Have a beginning at their creation (not eternal);

(d) Have a beginning, but they are immortal (deathless).

(e) Have moral judgment;

(f) Have a certain measure of free will;

(g) Have high intelligence;

(h) Do not have physical bodies;

(i) But can manifest with immortal bodies before humans.

With those basics, let’s get started with the Bible study.

If you would like to see the verses in many translations, please go to biblegateway.com.

1.. Michael is a great prince.

In Dan. 10:13; Dan 10:21, Michael is called the “one of the chief princes” and “your prince.” The latter title indicates that God assigned Michael to Daniel for a specific purpose, to fight and defeat the prince of Persia, another territorial spirit who resisted Daniel’s prayer.

Dan. 12:1 calls Michael the “great prince who protects your people.” Clearly, then, God appoints ruling angels to protect nations, particularly ones that are in trouble.

Jude 9 teaches that Michael was disputing with the devil over the deceased body of Moses, and Michael did not dare to condemn him for slander, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” In other words, Michael did not have authority of the believer in Jesus, because Michael was never saved. I believe we believers in Jesus do have the authority to rebuke Satan.

Rev. 12:7 tells us that Michael defeated Satan in a battle, and the devil and a third of his angels were hurled down to the earth, and now Satan and his demons have power and jurisdiction over the portion of humanity who has never (or not yet) surrendered to Jesus.

2.. Gabriel is named and he stands in the very presence of God, so he probably has a higher rank than other angels.

In the ninth chapter of Daniel, the prophet and administrator prayed to God to restore his people after they sinned. The “man” Gabriel came to him and explained an interpretation of a dream (Dan. 9:21).

The next two passages say that Gabriel stands in the presence of God, so either he was a special messenger or had high rank—or both (Luke 1:19; Luke 1:26).

3.. The archangel leads other angels.

1 Thess. 4:16 mentions that Christ will return with the “voice of the archangel,” implying that there are non-archangels, so we see something of a hierarchy here.

4.. Divine Attendants

Seraphs

Is. 6:2 teaches that they stand near the throne of God. They are also called Seraphim, they are spirit beings like angels who live in heaven. The plural of seraph is seraphim (-im ending in Hebrew is masculine plural).

Here are their functions and appearances: “Each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory’” (Is. 6:2-3)

Then one of the seraphim took hot coal and put it on Isaiah’s mouth and lips because he saw how unclean he was.

Cherubs

Also called cherubim, they are spirit beings like angels who live in heaven. The plural of cherub is cherubim (-im ending in Hebrew is masculine plural).

In Gen. 3:24, they guard the tree of life, so humankind could never access it and short-circuit or bypass death.

In Ps. 18:10, the LORD is poetically described as answering the Psalmists prayer by mounting cherubim and riding to the petitioner’s rescue. Nice image and poetry, but let’s not take it literally—unless the psalmist had a vision of an angel who did that, but even in this case, it is still poetic.

In Ezek. 10:1-22, the cherubim had wings and managed wheels in heaven. So they do not sit idly.

Living creatures

They are around God’s throne.

Ezek. 1:5-14 teaches that they have one head, but four faces, the face of a human, lion, ox, and eagle. Later interpreters cleverly said that each face represented the four Gospels, but the Scriptures are silent about this.

See the first post in a four-part series:

1. Church Fathers and Matthew’s Gospel

In Rev. 4:6-8, the four faces become four creatures, with the faces listed in Ezek. 1. Their function was to lead the praise in heaven. When they repeated three times that the Lord God Almighty is holy, holy, holy, the twenty-four elders lay their crowns at the throne of God and praise God with their own words.

5.. Angels are innumerable.

Deut. 33:2 says there are tens of thousands holy ones who accompanied the LORD on Mt. Sinai.

Ps. 68:17 teaches that there tens of thousands and thousands of thousands (= innumerable) of chariots of God, again connected with the LORD on Mt. Sinai, where the law of Moses was given.

Heb. 12:22 contrasts the mountain of fear (Mt. Sinai) with Mt. Zion, the mountain of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, where myriads (but NIV correctly says “innumerable”) of angels are gathered together in joyful assembly. So Mt. Zion is where Jesus was crucified. Mt. Sinai is where the law of Moses was fearfully thundered from on high and three thousand people died (Ex. 32:28).

Rev. 5:11 describes myriads of myriads (= innumerable) of angels who circle the throne of God and circle the four living creatures and twenty-four angels and offer praise.

6.. Temporarily, they are of a higher rank than humankind.

Jesus became fully human, which means he was a little lower than angels in his human body and human nature (Heb. 2:7). How much more are they above us humans!

7.. But when the Lord returns, believers in Jesus shall judge them.

1 Cor. 6:3 asks the Corinthians in the context of their suing each other in court, “Do you not know that we shall judge angels?” In other words, Christ’s followers experience salvation and redemption, while angels do not (1 Pet. 1:12), so mature believers will be assigned, in some way and from the vantage point of knowing Christ through this salvation and redemption, to evaluate what angels have done. When Christ establishes his everlasting kingdom, we shall have authority over angels, whether temporarily at judgment or forever—a remarkable thought.

How does this post help me know God better?

Heaven is for real, and so are the creatures that populate it. When we get to heaven, we will meet and see them. We shall listen to their praises and witness their service to God and to us. They shall assist us in our heavenly service to God, because we will not just sit around on clouds that play harps forever—but maybe we can learn the harp for a while! In any case, heaven is another dimension. It is not on a planet in this universe. If so, then were did God dwell before he made the heavens and the earth? No, heaven is around us, and if we had eyes to see or if God opened our eyes to see it, we would understand its reality and how close it is. Angels and the other creatures are right.

Written by James Malcolm

SOURCES

Works Cited at Renewal Theology

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