Angels are mysterious spiritual beings that appear throughout the Bible. Their origins and nature have fascinated believers for centuries. By exploring the scriptural accounts, we can gain insight into where these celestial messengers came from and what their purpose is according to God’s plan.
Angels play a significant role in the biblical narrative, from Genesis to Revelation. They act as messengers, warriors, worshipers, and more. But where did these powerful heavenly creatures come from? Scripture provides some clues about their origins and celestial roles.
In this extensive blog post, we will dive deep into the biblical texts to uncover the origins of angels. Key topics include:
- Angels as part of God’s creation
- Their creation before or during the seven days
- Spiritual beings made by Christ
- Different types of angels and hierarchies
- Satan’s rebellion in heaven
- Angels role in God’s kingdom
By the end, you will have a thorough understanding of what the Bible reveals about where angels came from and why God created them. The insights can strengthen our awe at God’s intricate cosmology and the part angels play in it.
Angels Originated in God’s Creation
The Bible does not provide an explicit account of the origin of angels comparable to humanity’s creation story in Genesis 1-2. However, we can piece together an understanding of where they came from based on hints throughout scripture.
The most foundational truth is that angels are created beings like humans and the rest of the cosmos. As Nehemiah 9:6 (NKJV) declares:
You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.
This passage describes how Yahweh crafted the highest heavens along with the entire angelic host or army. It confirms that angels did not pre-exist God but were part of his creation.
The origins of angels also appear in Colossians 1:16 (NKJV), which says Jesus Christ created all things:
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
Here Paul explains that Jesus fashioned everything in the spiritual realm, including angelic orders and authorities. This role harkens back to the Gospel of John’s description of Jesus as the divine Word who made all things in the beginning (John 1:1-3).
Thus, Scripture reveals that angels came about through the agency of the triune God before the creation of the world. Their existence springs from the imaginations and power of the Father, Son, and Spirit.
Were Angels Created During the Seven Days?
A fascinating question is whether God made the angels during the seven-day creation account in Genesis 1-2. The text does not state explicitly either way. However, some clues indicate the angels likely originated prior to the material world.
First, we see hints that angels observed the creation unfold. As Job 38:4-7 (NKJV) records God declaring to Job:
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding… When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
This poetic section describes angels (“morning stars” and “sons of God”) celebrating as God laid the foundations of the world. This passage suggests the angels already existed when the creation week commenced.
In addition, angels carry out tasks related to the cosmic structures God made on the days of creation. For example, scripture assigns angels roles in managing heavenly lights (Rev 1:20), stars (Judg 5:20), winds (Rev 7:1), thunder (Rev 14:15), and more. It would make sense if they were made prior to these parts of creation to then rule over them.
While not definitive, these clues indicate God likely crafted the angelic beings before the genesis of the visible universe. This view fits well with the rest of scriptural revelation about the cosmic hierarchy.
Angels as Spiritual Beings Fashioned by Christ
To comprehend the celestial origins of angels, we must also examine their spiritual nature. Angels are not physical beings limited by flesh and blood. Rather, the Bible depicts them as spirits who interface between the physical and spiritual realms.
For instance, the author of Hebrews describes angels as “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Heb 1:14). The Psalmist also speaks of God making “spirits his angels” (Psalm 104:4).
Jesus himself emphasized the spiritual essence of angels when defending the reality of his resurrection. He told the disciples:
“Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” (Luke 24:39)
Here Christ contrasts his resurrected physical body with the purely spiritual bodies of angelic creatures. Scripture presents angels as fundamentally different from humans in that they do not inhabit flesh.
This spiritual composition enables angels to move swiftly between heaven and earth. For example, angels descend from God’s throne to communicate his words to people on earth (Rev 5:11, Rev 7:11). Their spiritual nature empowers their role as intermediaries bringing God’s presence and words across spiritual boundaries.
How did these spiritual beings originate? As mentioned earlier, the Bible credits the pre-incarnate Christ or Son of God for their creation (John 1:3, Col 1:16). Paul specifically refers to angels as “thrones, dominions, rulers or authorities” created by Christ and for him (Col 1:16). This angelic hierarchy exhibits the craftsmanship of the Son shaping these spirit servants for his purposes.
Knowing that the Word of God himself meticulously designed the angelic ranks provides a glimpse into the grandeur of these celestial creatures. Their spiritual essence formed by Christ equips them for their activities bringing God’s will from heaven to earth.
Hierarchies and Types of Angels
The Bible contains many different terms and roles for angels, indicating a complex hierarchy and organization. Let’s explore some of the main categories mentioned:
Seraphim only appear explicitly in Isaiah’s vision of God’s throne room:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isa 6:1-3)
Their name means “burning ones”, indicating their fiery passion in ministering around God’s immediate presence. With 6 wings and ceaseless praise, these are powerful angelic beings immersed in heavenly glory.
Cherubim rank as another high order of angels devoted to serving God on his throne. Genesis 3:24 describes God placing cherubim with flaming swords to guard the entrance to the Garden of Eden after banishing Adam and Eve. Statues of golden cherubim hovered above the Ark of the Covenant as well (Exodus 25:18).
Ezekiel opened his eponymous book with an elaborate vision of these celestial creatures. He said:
As I looked, a stormy wind came out of the north: a great cloud with brightness around it and fire flashing forth continually, and in the middle of the fire, something like gleaming amber. In the middle of it was something like four living creatures. This was their appearance: they were of human form. Each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. (Ezekiel 1:4-6).
The four faces represent the greatest creatures on land (lion), in the air (eagle), in the sea (ox), and humanity. The imagery symbolizes how cherubim watch over all of creation.
The term “archangel” comes from the Greek word literally meaning “chief angel” or “ruling angel.” Only Michael and Gabriel are explicitly named as archangels in scripture.
In Daniel, Michael is called the “great prince” of God’s people who contends with spiritual forces in the heavenlies (Dan 12:1). His leadership qualities and protective role mark him as a commander of the angelic hosts.
Meanwhile, Gabriel stands out as a messenger dispatched at pivotal moments. He brought news about the births of John the Baptist and Jesus (Luke 1:11-20, 26-38). His name fittingly means “God is my strength.”
Besides the higher angelic orders, the Bible also speaks of angels in a guardian role watching over people. After testing Abraham, God promises:
By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord: Because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Gen 22:16-18)
This chapter later concludes by saying “The angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven…” (Gen 22:15), implying an angelic mediator delivering God’s oath.
In his teaching, Jesus also referred to guardian angels watching over children:
See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. (Matt 18:10)
This small sampling demonstrates the diversity within the angelic ranks that God created. Their organization and specializations exhibit the creativity of Christ in forming the celestial realms. Let’s turn now to how some of these angels rebelled against their Creator.
Satan’s Rebellion and the Fallen Angels
Tragically, soon after their creation, a portion of the angels rebelled against God under the leadership of Satan. This cosmic coup aimed to usurp God’s reign but only led to their own demise.
Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 poetically recount Satan’s rebellion using the figures of the kings of Babylon and Tyre. Isaiah records:
How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. (Isa 14:12-15)
Revelation 12 portrays an even more explicit account of the angelic rebellion and Satan being cast down from heaven. After a war breaks out, it says:
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Rev 12:9)
Hell was specially prepared as an eternal prison for Satan and his fallen spiritual forces (Matt 25:41). Tragically, their rebellion rooted in hubris caused these angels to abandon their rightful place in God’s kingdom. Pride literally sent them plunging from heaven down to the depths.
Angels Role in God’s Kingdom
In contrast to the fallen angels, the holy angels remain faithful to assist God in establishing his kingdom. They operate in the background as God’s agents carrying out his will invisibly and at times visibly.
The Old Testament presents angels as guardians of God’s chosen people Israel. Jacob’s vision of the stairway to heaven at Bethel displayed the angelic realm overseeing him with God’s blessing (Gen 28:12-13).
In the New Testament, angels shift to heralding and supporting Christ’s coming. An angel announces Jesus’ birth to Mary (Luke 1:26-38). Later a host of angels praise his arrival to the shepherds in Bethlehem (Luke 2:13-14). After Jesus resisted Satan’s temptations in the wilderness, “angels came and attended him” (Matt 4:11). And at the empty tomb following the resurrection, an angel proclaims, “He is not here, for he is risen, as he said.” (Matt 28:6).
Throughout his earthly ministry and return to heaven, angels attend and glorify Christ. They act as heralds declaring the gospel message to the world under Jesus’ command (Rev 14:6-7). The angels’ purpose intertwines with making God’s glory through Christ known to all nations on earth.
In Revelation we also see angels employed to pour out God’s judgments during the end times Tribulation period (Rev 8:2, Rev 15:1). They will fight alongside the glorified Son of Man in final victory over Satan’s dominion when Christ returns (Rev 19:14, Rev 20:1-3). And angels will be sent to gather the elect of God from the whole earth in preparation for judgment (Mark 13:27).
From start to finish, the angelic host carries out critical operations to establish God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. They are devoted completely to his will and glorifying the Son who created them. What an amazing privilege for these celestial beings to serve the divine plan of redemption!
This extensive tour through the Bible’s glimpses into the angelic realm hopefully provided a fuller perspective on their origins and purpose. By piecing together the scriptural passages, we could trace the origins of angels back to their creation by God, likely before the material universe. Their spiritual essence specially equipped them for intermediary roles between the throne of God and earth. Different hierarchies among the angels show the meticulous craftsmanship of Christ in designing the celestial creatures.
Tragically, Satan’s rebellion led many angels to fall and oppose God’s work. But the faithful angels continue serving God’s kingdom by attending to believers, praising Christ, and carrying out his will. Exploring these angelic topics helps us appreciate more fully the majesty of God’s cosmic plan and the unseen battles waging in the spiritual realms all around us.
The celestial origins of angels remain somewhat mysterious but essential for grasping the Bible’s grand narrative. These spirit servants created by God before time stand ready to do his bidding and lift up the Son of Man. Let their example spur us to humility and greater faithfulness as we walk the earth awaiting Christ’s kingdom in fullness!
- Angels originated as part of God’s creation, likely before the material universe.
- The Bible calls angels “host” and “stars” of heaven, indicating their celestial origins.
- As spiritual rather than physical beings, angels can interact between heavenly and earthly realms.
- Jesus Christ as the Word of God is credited with creating and fashioning the angelic beings.
- Various rankings and hierarchies exist among the angels, including seraphim, cherubim, and archangels.
- Some angels rebelled along with Satan and were cast down, becoming demons who oppose God.
- Holy angels serve God’s kingdom by praising Christ, protecting God’s people, and carrying out his will.
- Angels feature prominently throughout scripture, from Genesis to Revelation.
- Appreciating the celestial origins and purpose of angels helps us grasp the grandeur of God’s cosmic plan.