ANGELS

 

          The study of angels, angelology, is related to demonology, because fallen angels are evil spirits, or demons, and because they both belong to the legendary realms peopled by fabulous creatures and nature powers - which are called “elemental spirits” in the Bible.  These may be categorized, according to Paracelsus, into four groupings corresponding to the four elements, Earth, Water, Air, and Fire:

 

“ELEMENTALS”

 

EARTH Creatures, in Latin, Gnomi:

Gnomes, Dwarfs, Trolls, Ogres, Pigmies, Satyrs (Heb. Sa’ir: “hairy” - one of which is Azazel), Fauns, Pans, Kobolds, Durdalis, Sylvans, Werewolves, Hamadryads or Dryads (in trees), Oreads (in mountains), Meliads (in ashes), Elves, Brownies, Pucks, Leperchauns, Imps, Goblins (from their king, Gob).

 

WATER Creatures, in Latin, Undinć:

Undines, Nymphs, Mermaids, Sea Maids, Selkies (seal people), Krenaiads (in springs), Naiads (in brooks), Limnads (in ponds), Potamids (in rivers), Nereiads (in seas), Oceanids (in oceans), Water Sprites, Sirens, Gorgons.

 

AIR Creatures, in Latin, Sylvestrć:

Sylphs, Fairies (Pers. Pheri, Peri, Fravashi), Sprites, Pixies, Angels of the Elements: Rain/Wind/Snow/Hail (Spirit Powers of Nature), Angelic Heralds, Angelic Guardians, Astral Angels (“Heavenly Host”), Angelic Warriors (Sabaoth), Cherubim (Heb. cherub: in form, andro-bous: “man-ox,” or, later, medieval putti: “baby boys”), Valkyries (Raven Maidens), Swan Maidens, Hyads (in rainstars), Hesperiads (in sunset clouds), Houris, Incubi, Succubi, Harpies, Vampires, Nightmares, Gremlins.

 

FIRE Creatures, in Latin, Vulcani:

Seraphim (Heb. seraph: in form, andro-ophis: “man-snake,” or Fiery Serpent), Fire/Lightning Angels, Lucifers, Phosphors (Fireballs, St. Elmo’s Fire), Genies (Jinni), Salamanders, Lares, Penates.

 

          Angels originated in antiquity when there was a limited view of God, such that His omnipresence had not been conceived.  It was thought that God’s throne was so elevated above the earth that human activity down below was beyond His vision.  Thus, He had to either “go down” to see what was happening, or else, He had to employ invisible informants to observe conditions and report back to Him.

 

And Yahweh came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built.  And Yahweh said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language...Come, let us go down, and confuse their language...”    Genesis 11:5,7a

 

Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran.  And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set...And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven.  And, behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

              Genesis 28:10,11a,12

 

          The angels on Jacob’s ladder were coming and going from the heavenly court, bearing messages from the Throne or bringing information back to it.  Thus, angels played the part of heralds that were sent out in all directions by an earthly monarch to announce royal decrees throughout his realm.  Accordingly, the Hebrew word malach and the Greek word angelos both meant “messenger” or “angel.”

          Also, in the opening verses of the Book of Job, Satan is seen in the role of a divine spy, who takes notes on the activities of men and reports back to Yahweh.  The narrative does not take into account the omniscience of God, which would obviate His having to ask Satan where he had been.  Also, the omnipresence of God would have allowed Him to observe the movements of Satan anywhere in the universe.

 

Yahweh asked Satan, “Whence have you come?”  Satan replied to Yahweh, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”          Job 1:7

 

          Angels were also called the “heavenly host” (Heb. sabaoth or Gk. stratia), and this was an ambiguous term that could mean either “stars” or “armies.”  In this dual role, the heavenly luminaries were said to take part in battles against the enemies of Israel.  This means that Hebrew angels were envisioned as mighty masculine warriors of terrible aspect, wielding weapons of fire.

 

From heaven fought the stars, from their courses they fought against Sisera.            Judges 5:20

 

So Yahweh opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw.  And, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire...

                2 Kings 6:17b

 

And it happened that overhead, in all the city (Jerusalem), for almost forty days, there appeared golden-clad horsemen charging through the air, in companies fully armed with lances and drawn swords - troops of horsemen drawn up, attacks and counterattacks made on this side and on that, brandishing of shields, massing of spears, hurling of missiles, the flash of golden trappings, and armor of all sorts.  Therefore, all men prayed that the apparition might prove to have been a good omen.       2 Maccabees 5:2-4

 

          By New Testament times, the idea of a multiplicity of heavens was commonly accepted.  God lived in “the heaven of heavens,” and Paul said that he was caught up to “the third heaven,” which he called “Paradise” (2 Corinthians 12:2-3).  Subsequently, a cosmology of “crystal spheres” developed, and angelic inhabitants were assigned to each of these cosmic levels in groupings that were called “choirs” or “orders.”

 

ANGEL  ORDERS (Eph. 1:21, 3:10, Col. 1:16, 2:10, 1 Pet. 3:22):

 

1. ARCHANGELS (Seven Spirits before the Throne of God, Rev. 4:5, 8:2)

     (The first Four are “Voices” speaking to the four corners of the earth, Isa. 40:3)

 

          Michael: commanding general

          Gabriel: herald and minstrel

          Raphael: cupbearer, healer, and peoples’ advocate

          Uriel, Phanuel: torch bearer and mover of the sun (Rev. 19:17)

          Raguel: prosecutor and keeper of the lots (Urim and Thummim)

          Sariel, Saraqael: executioner, the Death Angel

          Remiel, Jarahmeel: treasurer and dispenser of largess

 

2. THRONES

 

3. DOMINATIONS (DOMINIONS, LORDSHIPS)

 

4. VIRTUES

 

5. POWERS (AUTHORITIES) (in Third Heaven: Paradise, 2 Cor. 12:2-3)

 

6. PRINCEDOMS (PRINCIPALITIES, RULERS):

                 Seventy Patron Angels are shepherd-guardians set over the Seventy Nations                      of Mankind (Gen. 10, 25, 1 Chron. 1:4-27) and subordinate to the Seven

                 Archangels.

                 The guardian Prince for Israel is Michael (Dan. 8:25, 10:13, 12:1).

 

7. LOWER ORDER ANGELS (Menial Laborers and Caretakers):

          Elemental Spirits: Nature Powers of Weather and Water

                        (Gal. 4:3,9, John 5:4, Rev. 7:1, 16:5, Ps. 104:4, Heb. 1:7)

                        Paul called them “weak and beggarly elemental spirits” (Gal. 4:9).

          Watchers: Pages and Errand Runners

                        (Gen. 6:2, 28:12, Dan. 4:13, Matt. 18:10, Acts 12:15)

 

 

THE  AUTHORITY  FOR  NAMES  OF  THE  ARCHANGELS

 

     The definitive source for the names of the seven archangels was the Book of First Enoch.  Relevant passages are given below.

 

(Note: The Book of First Enoch, written about 170 B.C., was the most important extra-canonical writing of the first two centuries before Christ.  It was quoted by the Epistle of Jude as scripture (Jude 14-15 quotes 1 Enoch 1:9).  St. Augustine wrote that “we cannot deny that Enoch...wrote some inspired things, since the canonical Epistle of Jude says so.”  Also, the Coptic Bible includes Enoch, inserted after the book of Genesis.  The influence of this book is seen throughout the New Testament - especially with the messianic title “the Son of Man” and the visions of the Book of Revelation.)

 

And these are the names of the holy angels who watch: Suruel (Uriel), one of the holy angels who is over the world and Tartarus, Raphael, one of the holy angels who is over the spirits of men, Raguel, one of the holy angels who take vengeance on the world and the luminaries, Michael, one of the holy angels who is set over the best part of mankind (Israel) and of chaos, Saraqael, one of the holy angels who are set over the spirits who sin (fallen angels), Gabriel, one of the holy angels who oversee the garden of Eden, the seraphs, and the cherubs, and Remiel, one of the holy angels whom God set over those who rise.  (20:1-7)

 

And after that I saw a hundred thousand times a hundred thousand, ten million times ten million, innumerable and uncountable, who stand before the Lord of the Spirits.  I saw them standing on the four sides of the Lord of the Spirits.  Also I saw another Four Presences among those who do not slumber, and I came to know their names, which the angel who came with me revealed to me, showing me all the hidden things.  Then I heard the Voices of those Four Presences while they were saying praises before the Lord of Glory.  The first Voice was blessing the name of the Lord of Spirits.  The second Voice I heard blessing the Elect One and the elect ones who are clinging onto the Lord of Spirits.  And the third Voice I heard interceding and praying on behalf of those who dwell  upon the earth and supplicating in the name of the Lord of the Spirits.  And the fourth Voice I heard expelling the demons and forbidding them from coming to the Lord of Spirits in order to accuse those who dwell upon the earth.  And after that, I asked the angel of peace, who was going with me and showing me everything that was hidden, “Who are these Four Presences which I have seen and whose Voices I have heard and written down?”  And he said to me, “The first one is the merciful and forbearing Michael, the second one, who is set over all disease and every wound of the children of the people, is Raphael, the third, who is set over all exercise of strength, is Gabriel, and the fourth, who is set over all actions of repentance unto the hope of those who would inherit eternal life, is Phanuel by name.”  So these are his four angels.  They are of the Lord of Spirits, and the Four Voices which I heard in those days. (40:1-10)

 

Cf. Isaiah 40:3:

A Voice cries, “Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness; make straight a highway for our God in the desert.”

 

In Islam, the Quran gives the names of four archangels:

     Gabriel, who reveals and writes decrees.

     Michael, who fights battles of faith.

     Agrael, the death angel.

     Agrafil, the trumpeter of the Resurrection.

 

Some first century Jews did not believe in either angels or demons.

 

For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit...            Acts 23:8a

 

The Apostle Paul disliked Angels, because:

 

     They were being worshiped (angelolatry)

      (Col. 2:8,18,20, Rev. 19:10).

     They might possibly stand between a person and God

     (Rom. 8:38).

     They are subject to falling and becoming demons

      (Gen. 6, Jude 6, 2 Pet. 2:4).

     They lust after human women

     (Gen. 6:2, 1 Cor. 11:10).

     They can be deceptive and harmful

     (Job 4:18, 1 Ki. 22:21-22, Ps. 78:49, Gal. 1:8, Col. 2:15, Rev. 9:14-15). 

     They are unruly elemental spirits, controlling “the elements”

     and causing good or bad weather at their whim

     (Mark 4:39, Gal. 4:3,9).

     They are all to be judged by righteous men in the afterlife

      (1 Cor. 6:3).

 

     Dr. James Leo Garrett, Professor of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote: “Those who are concerned about the potentially dangerous, as well as any beneficial results, of the current resurgence of interest in angels may be interested to learn what the Protestant reformer of Geneva, John Calvin, after expounding what he regarded as biblically based teaching about the nature and functions of angels, offered a warning to his generation: ‘For as God does not make them (angels) ministers of his power and goodness to share his glory with them, so he does not promise us his help through their ministry in order that we should divide our trust between them and him.  Farewell, then, to that Platonic philosophy of seeking access to God through angels, and or worshipping them with intent to render God more approachable to us.’”  (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1559 ed., LCC trans., 1.14.12)

 

     Also it should be understood that angels are equivalent to the pagan gods.  (Helios the sun god equals Uriel the sun angel, and Hermes the divine herald equals Gabriel, etc.)  In the Greek Septuagint, the Hebrew terms malachim (messengers) and elohim (gods) were generally translated as “angels.”  The corresponding terms in Greek are angeloi and theoi.  So, in Psalm 97:7, “Worship Him, all ye gods,” could be translated, “Worship Him, all ye angels.”  In the text that admonishes, “Thou shalt not revile the gods” (Exodus 22:28 KJV), the word elohim could be translated “angels” or “God.”  According to Hebrews 2:7, Christ was made “lower than the angels,” but the quotation is from Psalm 8:5, which reads, “...lower than elohim,” which could also refer to “gods” or “God.”


ANGELIC  MISCONCEPTIONS

 

     Angels are now popular among certain religious people and in the entertainment industry, but their images and activities in movies and television programs are seldom correct.

 

     The angels that are depicted in stained glass and in Christmas cards and decorations are commonly blond females, but there are no feminine angels in the Bible, and the hair of purebred Hebrews was black.  The two angels that are specifically named in Scripture are Michael, a warrior with a flaming sword, and Gabriel, a herald with a trumpet.  Another divine being, the Angel of Death, would have been a terrible executioner with a bloody sword.  The Greek word for angel was a masculine noun, angelos, and the Hebrew term sabaoth designated “hosts” or “armies” of God, obviously all male.

 

     Actually, female angels came from classical mythology.  They are a form of Nike, the goddess of victory.  Her Roman counterpart was Victoria, and her most famous image is the “Winged Victory” that stands in the Louvre museum.  Nike carried in her raised right hand a circlet of laurel leaves, the victor’s crown, and in her left hand a palm frond, another symbol of victory.  (It is still customary to say that a winner “gets the palm.”)  When the Bible stated that after death, the faithful believer would receive “the crown of life,” this gave way for the introduction of Nike, the goddess of victory as an angel, giving out awards and prizes to those who had run the race of life.

 

     Likewise with cherubs.  Commonly depicted as baby boys in religious artwork, they are little winged cupids, modeled after the Roman god of love and, thus, adopted from paganism.  To the contrary, in Bible times, cherubs were terrible monsters - winged, human-headed bulls, like those that guarded the palaces and temples of the ancient Babylonians.  “Cherub” derives from karibu, the Babylonian name for a dread demon-creature.  Its closest counterpart in Greece was the minotaur, except that the cherub was a man-headed bull rather than a bull-headed man.  Its counterpart in Egypt was the sphinx, the human-headed lion.  Thus, a cherub can be termed an “andro-sphinx.”

 

     Also, the idea that people become angels in the afterlife is incorrect.  Jesus said that the dead are “like angels” in that they do not marry.  In a letter of St. Paul, it was stated that the faithful will one day sit in judgment on fallen angels that rebelled and became demonic minions of the Devil.  Actually, Paul had little use for angels, because they were being worshiped by superstitious people in his day.  He discounted them as “beggarly elemental spirits,” that is, divine beings who performed, like slaves, the menial tasks of moving the elements; wind, rain, and clouds.  Paul believed that “Angels, Principalities, and Powers” (various angelic categories) should not stand between mankind and God.

 

For I am sure that neither Death nor Life nor Angels nor Principalities...nor Powers...will be able to separate us from the love of God...            Romans 8:38a,39b

 

     Just as the Magi at the Nativity were not Arabs on camels, but Zoroastrian priests astride white Persian stallions, and just as the Devil is not a red-suited satyr, so are angels and cherubs mistakenly represented in common pictures, paintings, and sculpture today.

                                                     Richard L. Atkins