All About Angels
Scripture clearly teaches that angels exist. Thirty-four of the 66 books of the Bible refer to them by the simple term angel (singular and plural), which occurs more than 300 times. Plus, Scripture also refers to them by other terms.
In addition, Jesus Christ referred to angels frequently, speaking about their relationship to children (Mt. 18:10); stating that He could have had more than 12 legions of angels to protect Him (Mt. 26:53); and explaining that angels will attend and serve Him at His Second Coming (Mt. 13:39–41; 16:27; 24:30–31; 25:31).
Number and Nature
Although the Bible does not tell us the total number, it indicates an enormous host of angelic beings exists. The apostle John saw hundreds of millions of holy angels around God’s throne in heaven, according to the Greek text of Revelation 5:11. The prophet Daniel saw a similar sight (Dan. 7:9–10).(These sights of holy angels did not include all the fallen angels who serve Satan.)
The writer of Hebrews indicated that angels are “all ministering spirits” (Heb. 1:14). Because they are spirit beings, several things are true of them all.
Angels Do Not Have Physical Bodies by Nature. Jesus clearly stated that a spirit does not have flesh and bones, and He implied that a spirit cannot be touched or seen (Lk. 24:39). So angels do not have physical bodies of flesh and bones. The apostle Paul indicated that evil angels are “spiritual” and, therefore, do not have “flesh and blood” (Eph. 6:12).
However, there have been instances in which angels have temporarily taken on physical bodies that could be seen and touched when necessary. In Genesis 18—19, three “men” appeared to Abraham. They had feet that were washed, and they ate food. One was the Lord. The other two were sent to Sodom.
The Bible reveals that the two who went to Sodom were angels (19:1, 15). Abraham’s nephew Lot, who was in Sodom, thought they were merely men. He offered to wash their feet, and they ate food in his house. The men of Sodom thought they were men. Yet the angels demonstrated that they were not human by supernaturally inflicting blindness on the men of Sodom without touching them physically. Hebrews 13:2 speaks of people who “unwittingly entertained angels.”
Angels Do Not Have Sexuality by Nature. Sexuality is a very real part of humanness, and sexual relationships involve physical bodies. Because angels have no physical bodies, it should be evident they have no sexuality.
Furthermore, Jesus taught that, when people will be resurrected, they will be like angels in heaven in the respect that they will neither marry nor be given in marriage (Mk. 12:25). Jesus indicated that God instituted marriage because He created human beings with sexuality. Thus marriage exists because of sexuality. Consequently, the fact that angels never marry strongly implies they are not sexual by nature.
Angels Do Not Die. We die because we have physical bodies that are under a curse of sin (Gen. 2:17; 3:19; Rom. 5:12; 6:23). Angels do not have physical bodies, so they do not experience physical death. In fact, Jesus indicated that angels cannot die when He said of resurrected humans, “nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels” (Lk. 20:36). Thus He taught that resurrected humans will be like angels in that they will not be able to die.
It is impossible to kill an angel. Holy and evil angels wage war against each other (Rev. 12:7), but no angel can kill another.
Angels Are Invisible by Nature. As spirit beings, angels are invisible to mortals. In contrast with the visible things of Earth, angels in heaven are invisible (Col. 1:16).
There are two exceptions, however. On occasion, angels take on physical bodies, as was true of the two who appeared to Abraham and Lot (Gen. 18—19).
And sometimes God gives certain people a special vision of angels, as in 2 Kings 6:15–17. The king of Syria couldn’t capture the king of Israel because God kept revealing the Syrian king’s secret plans to the prophet Elisha, who would inform the king of Israel. The king of Syria sent a large military force to the city where Elisha was located. When Elisha’s servant became terrified on seeing that he and Elisha were surrounded, God opened the servant’s eyes to see what, by nature, could not be seen by mortals: “And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (v. 17). They were there to protect God’s prophet.
Where They Come From
God created angels. All of God’s angels are commanded to praise the Lord because He commanded and they were created (Ps. 148:2–5). Paul declared that angels were created (Col. 1:16).
Nature of Their Creation. Because angels by nature are not sexual, they do not reproduce. No angel has come into existence by reproduction. Every angel was created directly and individually by God. They are called “sons of God” (Job 1:6; 38:7), indicating God is their source of origin; they are never called “sons of angels.” Consequently, angels are not departed spirits of deceased people.
Time of Their Creation. Three biblical passages, taken together, indicate when they were created.
Job 38:6–7 indicates they existed before the earth was created. Exodus 20:11 reveals that God created the heavens (plural in the Hebrew text); the earth; the sea; and all the life forms that exist in the heavens, on Earth, and in the sea within the six days of creation of Genesis 1. Angels would be included here.
Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created the heavens [plural in the Hebrew text] and the earth.” Exodus 20:11 states, “In six days the Lᴏʀᴅ made the heavens and the earth.” Thus the creative activity of Genesis 1:1 took place within the scope of those same six days, not before or after. A reading of Genesis 1:1–5 prompts the conclusion that those verses refer to the first day of the six days of creation.
Taken together, these three passages prompt the following conclusions. First, angels were created sometime before the earth (Job 38:6–7). Second, they were created within the six days of creation of Genesis 1. Third, God created the heavens and Earth on the first day of the six days of creation. Fourth, God created the angels on the first day of creation, after the heavens, but before the earth.
Consequently, people who deny that angels exist also deny the truth of Scripture and the reality that a spiritual world exists that they cannot see.