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Archangel (Wikipedia)

Hierarchy of angels (Wikipedia)

“Ministering Spirits”





Archangel (Wikipedia)


An archangel is a supernatural being of Zoroastrian Persian, Judaic, Christian, and Islamic theology, counted among the angels. According to the rabbi Simeon ben Lakish of Tiberias (230–270 CE), all the specific names for the angels were brought back by the Jews from Babylon, and many modern commentators would argue that the details of the angelic hierarchy were largely Zoroastrian in origin.


According to the developed Roman Catholic tradition, there are three Archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (sometimes Uriel is included among them). Though in general angelology, there are more archangels, and together with the archangels of the fallen angels, this list grows even larger.


In the Protestant churches, the naming of the archangels can obey any of the following schemes:


* Michael, Gabriel, and Lucifer/Satan (some churches argue that Satan was always called Satan, since the Dead Sea Scrolls state that Satan was Satanail/Satanael before he fell):

o Satan falling from his position at about the year 0 following a dispute with Michael .

o Satan falling from his position sometime in the Creation for wanting to become God and, together with the other rebel angels (confirmed to be 133 306 668 angels by numerous texts), waging a war on God.

o Satan falling from his position sometime in the End Times because of a dispute with Michael.

* Michael and Lucifer or Satan in one of the three falling times abovementioned.

* Michael and Gabriel.

* Michael alone- a view held by some American Protestant evangelical denominations. The reason this is so debated among Protestants is because Michael is the only one who is directly called an archangel and the term archangel is only used in its singular form in the Bible, although Gabriel and Lucifer/Satan seemed to be equal in position to Michael, which leads to the presumption that they are also archangels.


Within the rabbinic traditions of Judaism and the Kabbalah, the usual number given is seven: Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Sariel, Raguel, and Remiel (possibly the Ramiel of the Apocalypse of Baruch, said to preside over true visions).


In Islam, the archangels are Michael or Mikael (Archangel of the Weather and rewards in thi life), Gabriel or Jibril (Dictator of the Koran to Muhammad), Azrael (Angel of Death), Israfil or Isra’afeel (Archangel who is to blow the horn on Judgement Day), Malik (Keeper of Hell) and Munkar and Nakir (Angels of Interrogation that will question deceased souls on their life before their death).


Iblis was chief of the Jinns though not an angel himself, but fell from his position during the Creation for refusing God’s commandment to accept Adam (and man) as superior being and bow to him.


Occultists sometimes associate archangels in Kabbalistic fashion with various seasons or elements, or even colors. In some (possibly early?) Christian rites, all four of the main archangels (Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel) were invoked as guarding the four quarters, or directions, and the colors associated with them are associated with their “magical” properties.


Among the Tarish, the four archangels are Michael, Gabriel, Tariel (aka Raphael), and Lucifer.




Hierarchy of angels (Wikipedia)


According to medieval Christian theologians, the Angels are organized into several orders, or Angelic Choirs. The most influential of these classifications was that put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in the Fourth or Fifth century, in his book The Celestial Hierarchy.


In this work, the author drew on passages from the New Testament, specifically Ephesians 6:12 and Colossians 1:16, to construct a schema of three Hierarchies, Spheres or Triads of angels, with each Hierarchy containing three Orders or Choirs. In descending order of power, these were:


* First Hierarchy

o Seraphim

o Cherubim

o Thrones

* Second Hierarchy

o Powers

o Dominions

o Principalities

* Third Hierarchy

o Virtues

o Archangels

o Angels


During the Middle Ages, many other schema were proposed, some drawing on and expanding on Pseudo-Dionysius, others suggesting completely different classifications. Here is another example, which is expanded in the rest of this article:


* First Hierarchy:

o Seraphim

o Cherubim

o Archangels

* Second Hierarchy:

o Dominions

o Virtues

o Principalities

o Rulers

o Authorities

o Powers

o Thrones

* Third Hierarchy

o Angels


Some authors limited the number of Choirs to seven.


First Sphere


The angels of the first sphere were thought to serve as heavenly counselors.




The Seraphim are the highest order of angels, serving as the caretakers of God’s throne and continuously singing his praises. It is said that they surround the throne of God, singing the music of the spheres and regulating the movement of the heavens as it emanates from God.


The Seraphim are mentioned in Isaiah 6:1–7 [1] (




The Cherubim are beyond the throne of God; they are the guardians of light and of the stars. It is believed that, although they are removed from man’s plane of reality, the divine light that they filter down from Heaven still touches human lives.


The Cherubim are thought by some as an order or class of angels, though others hold them to be a higher class of heavenly beings than angels. Their rank among angels is uncertain, but they are always categorized in the First Sphere.


Many Christians believe that the Devil is a fallen angel that was among the Cherubim prior to his fall from Heaven. They believe that the Devil was considered as the angel of light before his sin against God.


The Cherubim are mentioned in Genesis 3:24 [2] (; Ezekiel 10:17–20 [3] (; and 1 Kings 6:23–28 [4] (




The Archangels are usually considered the lowest order of the First Sphere; these angels tend the larger arenas of human endeavor and act as the administrative leaders of the Heavenly beings. An archangel is usually given a task of great importance to men. According to Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite’s Angelology, however, the Archangels lie just above the lowest of the angel orders, the common Angels.


The word archangel is used only twice in the canonical Scripture—but several times in the Septuagint, once to refer to Michael the archangel [5] ( and the other to who is believed to be Gabriel during the return of the Lord (Gabriel is preferred over Michael since he is the messenger angel). [6] (


Christians who disagree that Satan was a cherub before his fall from heaven are more modern and believe that he was an archangel, basing this belief on the facts that (a) the cherub that fell was a King on earth; and (b) the matchup in Revelation against the archangel Michael seems to show that he was an archangel [7] (


Second Sphere


Angels who work as heavenly governors.




The Dominions, also known as the Hashmallim, hold the task of regulating the duties of lower angels. They receive their orders from the Seraphim, the Cherubim or God Himself, and are responsible for ensuring that the cosmos remains in order. It is only with extreme rarity that the dominions make themselves physically known to mortals, instead quietly concerning themselves with the details of existence.


It should be noted that the term dominions was used by Paul in Colossians 1:16 [8] ( and Ephesians 1:21 [9] ( but he may have used it to refer to the dominions of nations and men, instead of referring to angels.




The Powers are angelic beings shaped like hazy fumes in bright colors. They are the bearers of conscience and the keepers of history. The angels of birth and death are in this category. They are academically driven, and are concerned with ideology, philosophy, theology, religion, and documents pertaining to those studies. Powers are the brain trusts: a group of experts who serve as advisers and policy planners. Their duty is to oversee the distribution of power among mankind, hence their name.


Paul used the term powers in Colossians 1:16 [10] ( and Ephesians 1:21 [11] ( but he may have used it to refer to the powers of nations, societies or individuals, instead of referring to angels.


Rulers & Authorities


These two types of angels are equal in power and authority. Rulers develop ideologies, while Authorities write the documents and doctrines.


Both Powers and Rulers are involved in formulating ideologies; the difference is Powers are all encompassing, and Rulers are more focused on specific lines of thought.


Authorities specialize in putting those ideas into print and in producing actual documents.


Paul used the term rule and authority in Ephesians 1:21 [12] (, and rulers and authorities in Ephesians 3:10 [13] ( He may have been referring to the rulers and authorities of men or societies, instead of referring to angels.




The Thrones are angelic beings shaped like shiny orbs of shifting colors. Their duty is to carry the throne of God around in paradise, hence their name.They are the companion angels of the planets.


Thrones are fully equal in authority and power in comparison to the Powers. However, Thrones are politically, militarily and economically oriented, and their main concerns revolve around people and world events. Thrones have authority over major divisions of the world.


Paul used the term thrones in Colossians 1:16 [14] ( but he may have used it to refer to the thrones of the kings of nations, instead of referring to angels.




The Principalities are angelic beings shaped like rays of light. They lie beyond the group of archangels. They are the guardian angels of nations and countries, and are concerned with the issues and events surrounding these, including politics, military matters, commerce and trade. One of their duties is to choose who among humanity will rule.


Paul used the term principalities in Colossians 1:16 [15] ( and Ephesians 1:21 [16] ( & 3:10 [17] ( but he may have used it to refer to the principalities of the world, a nation, a country or a society, instead of referring to angels.


Virtues / Fortresses / Strongholds


The Virtues, also called Fortresses or Strongholds, lie beyond the Thrones and are equal to the Principalities. Their task is to oversee groups of people. They are shaped like sparks of light that inspire humanity to many things, may it be art or science.


It is unclear where the name of this order originated from.


Third Sphere


Angels who function as heavenly messengers.




The Angels are the lowest order of the angels, and the most familiar to men. They are the ones most concerned with human affairs. Within the category of angels, there are many different kinds, with different functions. The angels are sent as messengers to men.




“Ministering Spirits”

# Copeland, Mark. Terms And Descriptions Of Angels (CCEL)


Terms And Descriptions Of Angels




1. The subject of angels has certainly become a popular one...

a. Bookstores are filled with books dealing with angels

b. Popular TV shows and movies depict angels working in our lives (“Highway To Heaven”, “Touched By An Angel”, “The Preacher’s Wife”, “It’s A Wonderful Life”)


2. Angels were an important part of the Jewish religion...

a. Angels assisted with the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai - cf. Deu 33:2; Psa 68:17; Ac 7:53; Ga 3:19

b. They appear throughout the history of Israel, coming to Abraham, Daniel, and many others


3. Angels also serve an important role in the Christian faith...

a. They are described as “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” - He 1:13-14

b. They have certainly ministered in the past - cf. Lk 1:11-38

c. They will certainly minister at the time of Christ’s return - cf. Mt 13:36-43


4. But to what extent do they minister in the present...?

a. This is a subject that is prone to much speculation

b. It is easy to get caught up in idle myths and fables

c. About which we are warned to avoid - cf. 1 Ti 1:3-4; 4:7; 6:20; 2 Ti 2:16; 4:3-4 — Yet angels are a Biblical subject, therefore worthy of careful consideration


[With a desire to be content with what the Bible reveals on the subject of angels, we begin this study with a look at some terms and descriptions regarding angels...]





1. The Hebrew word malak (found 103 times in the OT) simply means “messenger”

a. It can refer to a human messenger - 1 Kin 19:2

1) It is applied to the prophet Haggai - Hag 1:13

2) It is applied to a priest - Mal 2:7

3) It is applied to both John the Baptist and Jesus in prophecy - Mal 3:1

4) The name of the prophet Malachi comes from the same word

b. It can refer to a divine messenger - Gen 28:12

1) Supernatural or heavenly beings sent as messengers to men

2) Agents who carry out the will of God - ISBE

2. The Greek word angelos likewise means “messenger”

a. The word occurs 175 times in the NT

b. Of men, it is used only 6 times in the NT



1. Sons of God - God’s sons by virtue of His creation - cf. Job 1:6; 38:7

2. Holy ones - suggesting they belong to God, ‘set apart’ for His purposes - Psa 89:5,7 (NASB, NIV)

3. Watcher, watchers - likely referring to angels - cf. Dan 4:13, 17,23

4. Host - denoting the armies of heaven, which likely included angels - cf. 1 Sam 17:45

5. Archangel - used twice, once in connection with Michael - 1 Th 4:16; Jude 9

6. Prince, chief princes, great prince - used in the book of Daniel - Dan 10:13,21; 12:1

7. Paul used terms that may refer to angels - cf. Co 1:16; Ep 1:21; 3:10

a. Principalities (archai)

b. Powers (exousiai)

c. Thrones (thronoi)

d. Dominions (kyriotetes)

e. Powers (dynamesis)

— Yet these are sometimes distinguished from angels (Ro 8:38; 1 Pe 3:22), and at times described as negative forces (Co 2:15; Ep 6:12)


[It quickly becomes apparent that the Bible has a lot to say about angels.  More about angels can be gleaned from the Bible as we consider...]





1. They are spirit beings

a. Called “spirits”, suggesting they do not have corporeal bodies  - He 1:14

b. Though they did reveal themselves at times in the form of human bodies - Gen 18:3

c. They do not function as human beings in such things as marriage - Mk 12:25

d. They are not subject to death - Lk 20:36

2. They are created beings

a. They are part of the creation that is to praise Jehovah - Psa 148:1-5

b. They were created by Christ, among all other things – Co 1:16

3. They are innumerable

a. An innumerable company - He 12:22

b. John’s descriptions suggests their number is countless – Re 5:11

4. They are a higher order than man

a. Man was created lower than the angels - He 2:6-7

b. Angels are not capable of death - Lk 20:36

c. They have greater wisdom, though limited - 2 Sam 14:20; Mt 24:36

d. They have greater power, though it too is limited - Mt 28:2; Dan 10:13

5. They always appeared as men

a. Never as women or children, always clothed

b. Other than Cherubim and Seraphim> (whose classification as angels is suspect), they never have wings - though cf. Re 8:13; 14:6

c. Many times they were so disguised as men they were not first identified as angels - Gen 18:1-2; 19:1; He 13:2



1. The archangel, the “great prince”

a. Michael is called the archangel - Ju 9; cf. 1 Th 4:16

b. Michael is called the “great prince”, who watched over Israel - Dan 12:1; cf. 10:21

c. Michael is mentioned in Re 12:7

d. Some (JWs and others) believe Michael was the pre-incarnate Christ

2. The chief princes

a. Of whom Michael was one - Dan 10:13

b. Some would include Gabriel in this classification

1) The angel sent to explain visions to Daniel - Dan 8:16; 9:21

2) Who also made announcements to Zacharias and Mary – Lk 1:19,26

3. The princes

a. The term applied to angels in the book of Daniel - e.g., Dan 10:13,21

b. Also to what appear to be evil angelic forces - cf. Dan 10:13,20-21

4. The Angel of the Lord

a. An angel who seems to speak as the Lord Himself - e.g., Jdg 2:1; Gen 16:10-13

b. Leading some to wonder if this was the pre-incarnate Christ

5. Cherubim?

a. Thought by some to be an order or class of angels, though others hold them to be a higher class of heavenly beings than angels

b. Whose purpose was to be “proclaimers and protectors of God’s glorious presence, His sovereignty, and His Holiness” - C. Fred Dickason

c. In the Bible...

1) They stood guard at the Garden of Eden - Gen 3:24

2) Their golden figures covered the mercy seat above the ark in the tabernacle - Exo 25:17-22

3) Their designs graced the walls and veils of the tabernacle, and later in the temple - Exo 26:1,31; 1 Kin 6:23-35; 7:29,36

4) They attended the glory of God in Ezekiel’s vision – Ezek 1:1-28; cf. 10:1-20

d. Their description fits those of the four living creatures in Revelation rather than angels - cf. Re 4:4-6

6. Seraphim?

a. Six winged creatures attending the Lord in Isaiah’s vision - Isa 6:1-13

b. Whose name literally means “burning one”, also considered by many as a higher class than angels

c. Their work was to “praise and proclaim the perfect holiness of God” - Dickason

d. Their description is also akin to those of the four living creatures in Revelation rather than angels - cf. Re 4:8-9

7. Satan and his angels

a. Many believe that Satan is a fallen angel

1) That he is “Lucifer”, a name applied to the king of Babylon - Isa 14:1-12

2) That he was among the highest of God’s creation, a cherub whose fall and judgment is applied figuratively to the king of Tyre - cf. Ezek 28:11-19

b. Satan does has his angels, for whom condemnation awaits - cf. Mt 25:41; Re 20:10

c. The doctrine of Satan and his angels (along with demons) will hopefully be examined in another study




1. With this brief introduction it should be apparent that...

a. The Bible has much to say about angels

b. It is easy to speculate about angels


2. My hope and prayer is that our future studies will...

a. Focus on what the Bible actually reveals

b. Avoid the vain speculation that is condemned


In the course of our study, we should never forget the One who deserves our greatest attention:


“For to which of the angels did He ever say: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You’? And again: ‘I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son’? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.’” (He 1:5-6)


Have we joined the angels in worshipping the Son, through our own faith and obedience...?