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Christian, tell me why do you believe that angels exist? How are they relevant to our lives today?
Because…They are a part of understanding God’s power and sovereignty.

Are angels real? What do we know about them? What does it matter to us?

First a couple of definitions: The words translated as “angel” — Hebrew malak and Greek aggelos — simply mean “messenger”, and are sometimes used for normal human interactions.

Now, here is what the Bible tells us about angels….

Angel Hosts

Collectively, the population of angels is sometimes referred to as the “heavenly host” or “host of heaven”. The word “host” (Hebrew tsaba, Greek stratia) means any mass group, usually one organized for war. In fact, it is often translated as “war” or “army”. Joshua met a “captain of the Lord’s host” before his attack on Jericho (Joshua 5:13-15). The most recognizable passage is probably from the Christmas story, when “a multitude of the heavenly host” (Luke 2:13-14) was praising God.

And then there is Micaiah’s interesting vision in 1 Kings 22:19-23, repeated in 2 Chronicles 18:18-22. Both passages say that he “saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right and on His left.

During that meeting, God asked for suggestions on how to get Israel’s evil king Ahab to go to his defeat at Ramoth-gilead. One spirit volunteered to get Ahab’s prophets to deliver a deceptive prophecy of victory. God allowed it, and Ahab was defeated. The thing is, Micaiah was describing this vision to Ahab in an attempt to stop him from going to that battle. Ahab went anyway, and was killed.

Did the angelic conference really happen, or was it simply a vision? Was that God’s way of telling Ahab that his prophets (other than Micaiah) were lying to him? Or was it God’s way of foretelling the punishment due to Ahab for his disobedience? It’s difficult to tell, and interpretations differ.

Other references are ambiguous at times: They could be interpreted as simply the stars, or as heaven’s inhabitants that are as numerous as stars. Many are similar to Deuteronomy 4:19:

And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.

Deuteronomy 4:19

Since these passages are generally referring to idolatrous worship, were people worshipping the sun, moon, and stars…or the angels…or both? See these passages: Deuteronomy 17:2-4, 2 Kings 17:16, 2 Kings 21:3-5, 2 Kings 23:4, 2 Chronicles 33:3, Jeremiah 8:1-3, Jeremiah 19:13, Zephaniah 1:4-6.

Other Heavenly Beings

The Bible describes other heavenly beings in addition to “angels”. These may be angels (i.e. messengers) as well. But they seem to have specific roles unique to these particular beings.


Seraphim are mentioned only once, at Isaiah’s calling to be a prophet in Isaiah 6:1-7. They are described as having “six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.” The seraphim were calling out “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.


Cherubim seem to be a very special class of beings associated with God’s presence. They are definitely NOT the chubby baby angels of a Raphael painting! I know of nothing in the Bible that comes remotely close to those cute little guys.

We first see them in Genesis 3:24, guarding the garden of Eden to prevent Adam and Eve from returning there. God is described as being “enthroned above the cherubim” in several passages (2 Samuel 6:1-2, 2 Kings 19:15, 1 Chronicles 13:6, Psalm 80:1, Psalm 99:1, Isaiah 37:16).

Most frequently referenced are the images of cherubim that were part of the Ark of the Covenant. They are first described in Exodus 25:17-22. Then Numbers 7:89 tells us that:

Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him.

Numbers 7:89

In Ezekiel’s visions in chapter 10 and again in 11:22-24, the cherubim are the same as the “Living Creatures” described below. Again, not chubby babies! 🙂

More from Ezekiel: It is from here we learn that Satan began as a cherub before his rebellion. In Ezekiel 28:11-19, the passage is addressed to the “king of Tyre”. But it is obviously speaking to someone more than human:

You were the anointed cherub who covers,
And I placed you there.
You were on the holy mountain of God;
You walked in the midst of the stones of fire.
“You were blameless in your ways
From the day you were created
Until unrighteousness was found in you.

Ezekiel 28:14-15

Living Creatures

Ezekiel and Revelation both record another “species”(?) of supernatural being. Only four of them are mentioned, and their appearance is more unusual than any others described in the Bible.

  • Ezekiel 1:4-21 describes them as human form but with four faces — man, bull, lion, and eagle — and four wings each. They acted as a unit, each facing a different direction with their outstretched wings touching the being on either side. No one had to turn in order to move a different direction; the entire unit just went wherever they chose. Each being also had a wheel associated with them, with eyes all around the rims, that moved along with the unit. And, the entire group was full of fire and lightning.
  • Revelation 4:5-8 also describe four living creatures around the throne of God. The description is similar but not identical. These creatures have six wings, like the seraphim, but “full of eyes in front and behind“. Rather than having four faces, each of creatures was “like” one of those faces: a lion, a calf, a man, and an eagle. Those four creatures are mentioned repeatedly throughout Revelation (6:1-8, 7:11-12, 14:1-3, 15:5-8, 19:4).

Angel of the Lord

One special “angel” seems to be more than a simple messenger or warrior. There are scholars who believe that the “angel of the Lord” in these passages is actual the pre-incarnate Christ, the second Person of the Trinity in the times before he came to earth as the human man Jesus.

  • When Hagar was running away from Sarah and Abraham, the angel of the Lord stopped her and sent her back. That angel told her “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.” She then called God “the God who sees”, saying “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” (Genesis 16:7-14) Something similar happened later, in Genesis 21:9-21.
  • In Moses’ burning-bush experience in Exodus 3, the opening is “The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush.” Then “God called to him from the midst of the bush“. Throughout the chapter, it is very obvious that God Himself is speaking, not merely a messenger from God.
  • In Exodus, especially in the Red Sea story of Exodus 13:17 through 14:31, the “The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.” (13:21-22) Verse 14:19, though, says “The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them.
  • I’ll include Jacob’s experience from Genesis 32:24-32 here. It is unclear who the “man” is with whom Jacob wrestled all night. But it obviously was not just a man.

Angel Tasks

The Bible describes angels performing several tasks for God. The most common task is acting as messengers, as the word says. Other tasks include acting as caretakers, protectors and warriors. There is some overlap between those tasks, but I’ll try to give appropriate examples below.


The Bible gives many examples of angels bringing God’s message to someone. Some of the passages include:

  • At Jesus’ birth, an angel made the announcement to both Mary (Luke 1:26-38) and Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25). The same angel who went to Mary also went to Zecharias, father of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-24). An angel, followed by a multitude of others, gave the news to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-14). And, it was angel messenger that told Joseph to flee to Egypt to escape King Herod (Matthew 2:13-15), and when it was safe to return (Matthew 2:19-23).
    • Note: The angel sent to Mary and to Zecharias is named: Gabriel. Gabriel is also sent to Daniel in Daniel 8:15-17. He is one of only two angels referred to by name in the Bible. The other is Michael (see below).
    • Note also: There are other angels named in the Apocryphal book of Enoch. They include Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Saraqael, and Remiel (Enoch 20:1-2). These angels are not mentioned in the Bible.
  • At Jesus’ resurrection, it was angels who explained the empty tomb to John, Peter, and Mary (Matthew 28:1-7, Mark 16:1-7, Luke 24:1-7, John 20:11-13).
  • In Judges, an angel told Gideon that he was to lead the people (Judges 6:11-24). Later, it was an angel who told Samson’s father that his future child would also be a leader (Judges 13).
    • Note: Both of these passages use the term “angel of the Lord”. But the actions are not as obviously greater-than-an-angel as some of the other passages discussed above.


Sometime angels performed “comfort” tasks, practical service on behalf of God to His people. Examples are:

  • In 1 Kings 19:1-8, the prophet Elijah was running for his life from evil queen Jezebel. In the wilderness, when he was ready to give up and die, an angel came to him. The angel provided food, water, and encouragement that gave Elijah the strength to return to the battle.
  • In Matthew 4:1-11 and Mark 1:12-13, angels ministered to Jesus as He recovered from His temptation by Satan after forty days of fasting in the wilderness.
  • In the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), Lazarus was carried by angels to his heavenly home.
  • In the garden of Gethsemane, Luke describes an angel comforting Jesus while He prayed (Luke 22:39-43). What a comfort that must have been!


Sometimes angels are the agents of God’s protection, shielding His people from their enemies. This is expressed in the well-known verse, Psalm 91:11-12: “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.” Examples include:

  • Daniel was kept safe in the lion’s den (Daniel 6). His friends were also, in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3).
  • Angels were behind the apostles’ release from prison in Acts 5:17-21, and Peter’s in Acts 12:1-11.
  • Matthew 26:51-54 quotes Jesus as rebuking his disciples who wanted to fight against His arrest. He told them “…do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” He knew that He could have all the protection He chose.


Sometimes angels are described as warriors, fighting for God and His people. Examples include:

  • In 2 Kings 6:15-17, the enemy king of Aram wanted Elisha to stop thwarting his battle plans by telling them all to the king of Israel. Elisha was in the town of Dothan when his servant saw that Aram’s armies has surrounded the entire city, intent on capturing Elisha. The servant was terrified, until Elisha asked God to show him the even larger army “full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha“.
  • In 2 Chronicles 32:20-22, the Assyrian army had King Hezekiah under siege in Jerusalem. In response to Hezekiah and Isaiah’s prayer, “the LORD sent an angel who destroyed every mighty warrior, commander and officer in the camp of the king of Assyria“. Note: Only one angel was needed!
  • Revelation 12:7-9 describes a great battle between angels in heaven. The angel Michael leads God’s armies, and they defeat Satan, who has his own army of fallen angels. Earlier in the chapter, in verses 3-4, Satan is shown as a dragon whose tail swept one-third of the stars to earth. This is usually interpreted as one-third of heaven’s angels following Satan in his rebellion.
    • Michael had also come to the aid of another angel in Daniel 10:10-14. He was prophesied in Daniel 12:1 to return in the last days.


Angels can be assigned to carry out God’s judgments. For instance:

  • In Sodom and Gomorrah, it was angels who supervised the destruction of the cities (Genesis 19:1-24).
  • In Matthew 13:36-43, Jesus says that in the last days “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
    • In Matthew 16:27, He says that He “is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels.
    • Matthew 24:31 says He “will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
    • Matthew 25:31 puts is as “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.
    • Mark 13:24-27 includes “He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.
  • Psalm 78‘s poetic description of the plagues on Egypt includes “destroying angels” in verse 48.

Angel Lives

Other than tasks like these, what else does the Bible tell us about angels’ lives?

  • They are created by God, obviously, because everything that exists is created by God (John 1:3, Nehemiah 9:6).
  • The ladder in Jacob’s dream shows angels coming and going between heaven and earth (Genesis 28:10-17).
  • They are told to bless and praise God (Psalm 103:20-21, Psalm 148:2, Hebrews 1:6).
  • The Luke 15 parables of the lost sheep and lost coin tell us that the angels rejoice when a sinner repents and comes to Jesus.
  • In replying to the Sadducees attempt to trap Him in a question about remarriage, Jesus said that marriage is not relevant in heaven: “…they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27).
  • 2 Peter 2:4-10 tells us that angels are capable of sin, and of being judged for it. So does Isaiah 24:21.
    • However, we are told of nothing that provides for their redemption. Jesus died for humans, not for angels.
    • Although I can’t imagine God not loving anything He creates, we are not told of His love and desire for personal relationship with angels. Again, that relationship seems to be unique to humans.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:1-6 teaches that the saints will be authorized to judge the angels.
  • Hebrews 1 and 2 go to some length to describe how much superior Jesus is to angels, reminding the readers that angels are ministering spirits but Jesus is above all things.
  • We have seen that angels can appear as human men, if they choose. The men of Sodom learned that! Hebrews 13:2 reminds us “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Bottom Line

All of this is fascinating. It is exciting to read books like Frank Peretti’s “This Present Darkness” and speculate about the spiritual activity going on around us. Still, angels are merely messengers, doing God’s bidding. Our attention should be more focussed on the boss than on the worker bees!

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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