Who are angels? How many are there? Do I have a guardian angel? Are they male or female?
The Bible does not spell out the angelic world in detail, but does leave us pieces. Let’s explore what it does say and leave the rest a mystery as it is not integral to our salvation. That relies fully upon Jesus!
MORE: This text was taken from my new faith-based website FaithQandA.com, where we ask big questions and look to the Bible for answers. You can find the angel podcasts and ad-free content there as wells as Is There Proof God Exists? or Who is Jesus?
What is an angel?
First of all, angels are not plump babies with rosey cheeks and wings! No, the angels of the Bible are powerful and mighty. The Greek word “angelos” means messenger. Angels are God’s messengers and do his work. (Heb 1:14). Sometimes the Lord addresses an issue himself, but often times he uses angels.
They are spiritual beings, meaning not of flesh and blood, though sometimes they appear as human. (Heb 13:2, Luke 24:39) They are loyal and worship the Lord endlessly (Psalm 103, Rev 7). They have a will, intellect and emotion. (Jude 1:6) They have duties and a chain of command. (Dan 8:11)
When an angel appears to a human in the Bible, the first words out of their mouth are usually “do not be afraid.” (Luke 1:26-33) They are glorious beings, but they are not to be worshipped or prayed to.
John encountered an angel in a vision and fell at his feet to worship him. “But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!” (Rev 19:10)
How long have angels lived?
Angels are created beings; they have not always existed. (Neh 9:6). They were created through Christ for Christ. (Col 1:16) The Bible says they were created before the earth was formed. In fact, they shouted for joy! (Job 38:7)
How many angels are there?
We don’t know an exact number, but there are “innumerable angels.” (Heb 12:22) Daniel said about God on the throne: “a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.” (Dan 7:10) That’s 100 million right there!
◽️The Lord came from Sinai and dawned from Seir upon us; he shone forth from Mount Paran; he came from the ten thousands of holy ones, with flaming fire at his right hand. Deuteronomy 33:2
◽️The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary. Psalm 68:17
◽️Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands. Revelation 5:11
Are angels male or female?
Angels are masculine in every single Bible reference. The pronoun “he” is always used for them (Rev 12:7, Luke 1:29, Judges 6:21, Zechariah 1:19, Rev 10:1) and they appear dressed as men. (Gen 18:2, 16; Ezekiel 9:2)
Some people think they are neither male nor female based on what Jesus says about resurrected humans in Matthew 22:30: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Others argue that this simply means angels do not marry or procreate.
The long story short is: We don’t know!
What do angels do?
From Got Questions:
◽️Angels praise God (Psalm 148:1-2; Isaiah 6:3).
◽️ They worship God (Heb 1:6; Rev 5:8-13).
◽️ They rejoice in what God does (Job 38:6-7).
◽️ They serve God (Psalm 103:20; Rev 22:9).
◽️ They appear before God (Job 1:6; 2:1).
◽️ They are instruments of God’s judgments (Rev 7:1; 8:2).
◽️ They carry out war against demonic forces (Dan 10:13; Rev 12:7–8).
◽️ They bring answers to prayer (Acts 12:5-10).
◽️ They aid in winning people to Christ (Acts 8:26; 10:3).
◽️ They observe Christian order, work, and suffering (1 Cor 4:9; 11:10; Eph 3:10; 1 Peter 1:12).
◽️ They encourage in times of danger (Acts 27:23-24).
◽️ They care for the righteous at the time of death (Luke 16:22).
Can people become angels?
“Heaven gained another angel,” you might hear someone say when someone has passed, but people cannot become angels. (Genesis 1:26) There are set number of angels and angels do not procreate. (Matt 22:30) Angels are neither born nor die, they are a separate entity, a separate order from humans. (Neh 9:6) Angels, in turn, cannot become human.
FOLLOW @house.of.palms for more faith questions! Next week we’ll be talking about fear and how to squash it!
Is there an angel hierarchy?
God is a God of order and authority. There is a chain of command in the angelic world. Since Christ’s resurrection, angels are under his direction and authority. (1 Peter 3:22) These types of angels are mentioned in the Bible: 1) cherubim 2) seraphim 3) the four living creatures and 4) elect angels.
Michael the archangel, whose name means “”who is like unto God?” seems to be the angelic leader. (Dan 10:21; 12:1; 1 Thes 4:16; Jude 1:9; Rev 12:7-10) Gabriel, whose name means “hero of God” is an important messenger, entrusted with delivering news to Daniel, Zechariah and Mary.
“He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” Genesis 3:24
“Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.” Isaiah 6:2
Four living creatures
“And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come!’” Revelation 4:6–8
There are also fallen angels, demons, who fall into two categories: free and bound. Some are chained and awaiting judgement (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6). Some are free and serve under Satan’s command.
Do Angels have wings?
Angels are spirits, not humans with wings. (Heb 1:14) Spirits are not of flesh and blood, and do not have need physical body parts as we do; therefore, they would not require wings as a mode of transportation.
However, some angels appear in the Bible with wings, namely the cherubim and seraphim. “Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.” Isaiah 6:2
Most verses describe angels taking human form, without wings, so it seems they can change appearance. Physical properties do not apply to them. The angel who broke Peter out of prison in Acts 12 was able to move through walls and disappear into thin air.
In fact, the writer of Hebrews tells us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” We could interact with an angel and not even know it!
Why did some of the angels fall from Heaven?
God operates with complete order and authority. There is a chain of command and the holy angels always do what he says. The angels who rebelled against his authority were cast out of Heaven.
Lucifer (Satan) was a guardian cherub (Ezekiel 28), one of the angel orders closest to God. He became prideful in his perfect beauty and wanted to be worshipped.(Luke 10) He decided to become God and take the throne. (Isaiah 14:12-14)
A third of the angels joined Lucifer in his rebellion (Rev 12:4) and they were cast down to earth like lightning. (Luke 10:18) They do not live in hell, they roam the earth and the heavens circling it (Job 1:7), seeking to tempt and separate people from God. (1 Peter 5:8)
Satan’s defeat was when Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, covering our sins and paying our debts that would have sent us to hell with the devil. And the fallen angels’ days on earth are numbered. Jesus is coming back to earth and Satan, along with his demons and unbelievers, will be cast into the lake of fire to be “tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Rev 20:10)
And a side note, Satan will not be ruling in hell. He will be tormented, not the tormentor. (Rev 20:10) It is Jesus who holds the keys to death and hades. (Rev 1:18)
Satan is a powerful fallen angel, more powerful than humans, but he has no authority over believers. We are under the authority of Christ, who all things were made through and for.
How do the angels battle in the spiritual realm?
A third of the angels joined Lucifer in his rebellion against God. (Rev 12:4) Some of those demons are locked up awaiting judgement. (2 Peter 2:4) So we know that there are significantly more holy angels than demons.
It is important to mention that these two sides of good and evil are not equal. The fallen angel, Satan, is a created being. He is not omnipresent and omniscient like God. He has rebelled against God, but he is still under God’s authority. Satan has to get permission for everything he does! (Job 1)
Jesus is the commander of all angels, holy and fallen. Demons in every circumstance in the gospels obey Jesus and are in fact terrified of him. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” James 2:19
Spiritual warfare. Angels and demons do not battle to accomplish death (they cannot die), but to either thwart or promote God’s plan.
From the time of Satan’s rebellion and Adam and Eve’s first sin until the day that Jesus comes back and casts Satan, his demons and worshippers into the lake of fire for eternity. The war will not go on forever.
The battle takes place in the heavenlies. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
The how is not clear. We do know that there are mighty displays of power, swords, battle for territory, but angels do not die. They are, however, subject to torture of some kind. When Jesus encountered demons they were fearful he would torment them. (Matt 8:29; Luke 8:28) Legion, a group of demons possessing a man, begged Jesus not to send him to the abysss, where some fallen angels currently are being held.
The holy angels honor all of God’s commands in Revelation in the end of days: Four angels hold back the four winds of the earth. (Rev 7:1) “The four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind.” (Rev 9:15) Michael and his angels fight agains the dragon and his angels. (Rev 12:7) Seven angels unleash the seven bowls of the wrath of God. (Rev 16) One angel locks Satan away for 1,000 years. (Rev 20:2) Jesus returns with his most powerful angels. (Matt 16:27, 24:31, 25:31)
Humans were meant to rule creation through God. (Gen 1:26) Satan, in opposition to anyone ruling but himself, tries to separate humans from God. He does this by trying convince humans they can be like God and do things apart from him. (Gen 3)
◽️“Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:17
◽️Then the Lord commanded the angel, and he returned his sword to its sheath … but David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the Lord. 1 Chronicles 21:27, 29.
◽️And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when the people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses – all dead. 2 Kings 19:35
◽️And when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 2 Samuel 24:16
How can humans win in spiritual warfare?
Spiritual warfare is real and it does play out on earth, but people tend to do one of two things: 1) ignore it all together or 2) give Satan too much credit and think him more powerful than he is.
“The key to successful spiritual warfare is finding the biblical balance. Jesus sometimes cast demons out of people; other times He healed people with no mention of the demonic. The apostle Paul instructs Christians to wage war against the sin in themselves (Romans 6) and warns us to oppose the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:10–18).” — GotQuestions.org
Here is how you can do battle:
1) You can fight in the heavenlies with prayer. Read this verse from an angel talking to Daniel. God sent the angel out as soon as Daniel started praying! But the angel was held up for 21 days by a high-ranking demon in Persia. “I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, so I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia and came to make you understand what is to befall your people in the latter days.” Daniel 10:12–14
2) You can fight in the heavenlies by submitting to God. Put yourself under his umbrella of authority. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
3) You can fight in the heavenlies by putting on the full armor of God. Imagine that the people during Jesus’ time were accustomed to seeing the Roman armor that Paul is referring to: “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” Ephesians 6:14-18
If you believe in Jesus, you have complete victory over death and no schemes of Satan can separate you from your eternal home.
◽️For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Why does the Bible say so little about angels?
The Bible mentions angels over 300 times, so why do we still know so little about them? We know that there are millions upon millions of angels, yet we only know three of their names — Michael, Gabriel and Lucifer the fallen angel. We don’t know exactly how many there are or how they interact.
Their mystery is quite purposeful. It is so we do not worship angels and that Jesus is the focus. (Col 2:18) They are mighty, glorious beings and we would be tempted to worship them if we became too knowledgable. But they are loyal to the true king, Jesus Christ, and remain behind the scenes, carrying out his plans.
It is good to know truths about God’s messengers, but it is better to know and follow the savior.
◽️And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Do I have a guardian angel?
Scripture is clear that angels guard and protect human beings (Psalm 34:7; 91:11–12; Matt 18:10; Acts 12:9–15), but it is unclear if we are each assigned our own angel.
Although when Peter was released from jail by an angel in Acts 1, the people praying for him couldn’t believe he was at the gate when the servant girl told them. “They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” It’s a possibility that we have guardian angels.
It appears children might be assigned one angel or more. Jesus said: “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).
Finally, angels’ primary care is for those who trust in Jesus. Hebrews 1:14 says, “Are not the angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”
Angels are waiting to carry out the plans Jesus Christ gives them — he is their commander and authority. (1 Peter 3:22) Jesus said, “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.”
If we acknowledge Jesus before others, we are under his authority and under his angelic care. As with the angels, we must submit to the authority of God.
It comes down to this: “You don’t need to decide if angels are real, you need to decide if Jesus is real,” says Dr. Tony Evans.
Are angels still active today?
We see angels are still active in the book of Acts, after Jesus’ resurrection. They are still active in the prophesies yet to be fulfilled. So yes, angels are still at work today.
In fact, the writer of Hebrews says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Not only do angels still serve those “who shall inherit salvation,” it is even possible that we could encounter one!
In fact many people today have had experiences of help from a stranger who suddenly vanishes. Have you had one one these experiences yourself? I’d love for you to tell me in the comments.
This war will not continue forever. Satan has a time limit and we are getting closer every day. Jesus will return with his most powerful angels and defeat him forever! (John 12:31, Rev 12:9, and 20:10)
Have more questions?
I find that oftentimes questions answered only lead to more questions! If you’re curious for more, check out these sites for concise biblical answers:
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