Angels have gained in popularity in recent years. There are figurines, ornaments, calendars, books, and many other items dedicated to angels or the study thereof, and too often there seems to be an unbiblical obsession with these created beings. Many false notions abound concerning angels, too. We will seek the truth in God's Word. (This study was written using the New International Version of the Bible. Due to the number of scriptures which address the issue of angels, scripture references are only representative of the many which, due to space limitations, could not be printed in this study.)
Titles and Names
They are called many things including angel(s), angel(s) of God, angel of his presence, a great company of the heavenly host, his angel(s), my angel, angel of the Lord, man of God, ministering spirits, prince, and archangel. There are two specific types of angels, seraphs and cherubim, described in the scriptures. Of these, the devil was originally created to be a guardian cherub. At least two of God's angels are identified with the personal names Gabriel and Michael. However, some angels apparently have names which are beyond human understanding.
Contrary to popular belief, angels are not female. Perhaps Satan's angels masquerade as females, but God's angels are always male. In the scriptures their gender is identified as he, him, his, man, men, and my lord(s).
The scriptures leave no doubt that angels are quite powerful--stronger and more powerful than men. In fact, they can cause earthquakes, can control the wind, can be given power to harm the land and the sea, and can hold fire. They are capable of swift flight. Angels have the ability to appear. And yet as powerful as they are, angels cannot separate us from God's love. Those who rebel against God can lose their positions of authority and abandon their home. Even angels can be condemned.
Angels are able to take many forms including flames of fire, a pillar of cloud, and winds. Angels are described in the scriptures as being very awesome and holy. The glory of the Lord or a light can shine around them. They are sometimes described as looking like men and are dressed in white or linen. One angel described in the book of Daniel must have been a sight to behold with a belt of finest gold around his waist, his body like chrysolite, his face like lightning, eyes like flaming torches, arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and a voice like the sound of a multitude! It is important to note that only the cherubim and seraphs are described as having wings. Seraphs have six wings, and their voices can shake doorposts and thresholds. And at least some cherubim have four faces and what looks like the hands of a man. They are, indeed, identified as living creatures.
Considering their appearance and power, the biblical accounts of those coming face to face with angels are understandable. The reactions included fear, being startled, terror, fleeing and hiding, losing strength, turning deathly pale, trembling, trembling on hands and knees, anguish, being helpless, and inability to breathe properly. But not all encounters lead to such reactions, for the scriptures also tell us that some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
Where are angels found? In addition to here on earth, according to the scriptures, they can be in dreams, in or from heaven, and in visions.
There are many purposes for angels. They are messengers. Angels carry out and enforce God's will. They fight and deliver judgment and punishment. Angels attended and strengthened Jesus, and they give strength to and serve those who will inherit salvation. Angels deliver, guard, protect, lead, make preparation, teach, and give insight and instruction. They serve as witnesses. Angels praise God and worship His Son and rejoice when a sinner repents. They carry at death. Angels will accompany Jesus at His return. They will harvest at the end of the age, separate the wicked from the righteous, and gather the elect. There are also scriptures in which the purpose of the angels is not clear to this author.
Just how many angels are there? Scripture tells us there were more than 12 legions of angels at Jesus' disposal. There are thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly. And in Revelation, the angels number thousands upon thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand. That's a lot of angels!
In addition to all of the above characteristics and facts concerning angels, the scriptures tell us more. Angels shouted for joy as the earth was created. God's Name is in an angel serving Him. Angels present themselves before God. Some angels are assigned to nations, and some are assigned to Christian congregations. They neither marry nor are given in marriage. They cannot die. Even though Christ is much superior to them, when he came to earth in human form He was made a little lower than angels. They are in submission to Christ. There are some things which angels long to look into. They do not know when Jesus will return. Angels will be judged by Christians. And contrary to some false doctrine, we are never permitted to worship angels.