Origin and Background of the Angels and DemonsThe subject of this essay is angels. The material is presented in a quiz format because we have learned that many people enjoy testing their biblical knowledge in this way. Before going to the quiz, however, a few introductory observations about angels are in order.
Angels are referred to in 34 of the 66 books of the Bible. They are mentioned 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament.(1)
The presence of good angels, and evil ones (demons), are recognized in most of the world's religions. Angels are important figures in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, many Christian cults, and in the occult. "The history of various religions from the earliest times shows belief in Satan and demons to be universal....The great ethnic faiths of India, China, and Japan major in demonism, as well as the animistic religions of Africa, South America, and some islands....To an amazing degree, the history of religion is an account of demon-controlled religion, particularly in its clash with the Hebrew faith and later with Christianity."(2)
Currently interest in angels is very high in the United States, and many books and seminars are being offered on the subject in an attempt to meet this heightened curiosity about angels.
Unfortunately most of these books and seminars are naive, at best, and more often than not, occultic in orientation. Now let's turn to the quiz.
1. What does the word angel mean? The basic meaning of the word angel is "messenger." This is significant because a messenger is given a message by a higher person. Much of the contemporary romance with angels sees them as somewhat independent, if not totally autonomous, but a messenger is on a mission from someone higher, in this case from God...or Satan.
- 2. What are some of the other names used of angels?
- Other terms used to describe angels are: ministers, hosts (the armies of God), chariots, watchers, sons of the mighty, sons of God, elohim (or sons of Elohim), holy ones, and stars.(3)
- 3. Are angels created or have they always been with God?
- They were created by Christ (Col. 1:15-17; John 1:3).
- 4. When were they created?
- They were created some time prior to the creation of the earth because Job 38:4-7 says that the sons of God (angels) sang with joy when the earth was created.
- 5. What about their appearance? How do angels look?
- When angels appear on earth, they usually have the appearance of adult human males and are often described in the same passage both as men and as angels (Genesis 18:1-2). In Mark 16:5 an angel is described as a young man.
- 6. What do angels wear?
- They are often reported to wear white (Acts 1:10), white robes (Mark 16:15), garments white as snow (Matt. 28:3), dazzling apparel (Luke 24:4), and shining garments (Acts 10:30).
- 7. Is it possible to encounter angels and not recognize them as angels?
- Yes, in Hebrews 13:2 we are warned to show hospitality to strangers because "some have entertained angels without knowing it."
- 8. Do angels really have wings?
- Some angels don't have wings, or, at least, they don't manifest wings. Some clearly do. Cherubim are pictured as having four wings in Ezek. 1:5-12; 10:15; 11:22) and seraphim, as having six wings in Isaiah 6:2.
- 9. How do people react upon encountering angels?
- The reaction varies. Sometimes the people are calm, but usually they experience fear, anxiety, emotional upheaval, terror, or the desire to worship the angels. Mary was greatly troubled at first (Luke 1:28-29); armed soldiers at the tomb shook with fear and became like dead men (Matt. 28:4); John, the author of Revelation, fell at the feet of the angel to worship (Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9).
Angels in the Old Testament
- 10. What caused the fall of the angels?
- Satan, the leader of the fallen angels, was before his fall the highest of all created beings, but he was consumed with pride and rebelled against God (Ezek. 28:12-19; Isa. 14:12-14). He seduced a third of the angels to follow him in his rebellion (Rev. 12:4). These treacheries brought about his condemnation by God (1 Tim. 3:6) and the condemnation of the other rebelling angels.
- 11. When did they fall?
- They fell some time after their own creation and before the temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3).
- 12. Does Satan make his first appearance in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3?
- No, a close reading of the account of man's fall in Genesis 3 reveals that Satan doesn't appear in the Garden of Eden though his influence is felt. Though his name isn't mentioned in the passage, he clearly inspired the actions of the serpent. Later, when God curses the serpent in verse 15, the last part of the curse is directed at Satan.
- 13. What do the opening verses of Genesis 6 have to do with angels?
- There the sons of God took wives from among the daughters of men. One interpretation of the passage takes the sons of God to mean "angels" as the term is normally used. If this is so, then these angels are the evil angels who, in a very unique occurrence, cohabited with human females and produced unusual offspring. For this heinous sin these angels are kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day (Jude 6). See also 2 Peter 2:4-12.
- 14. How would evil angels profit by these actions?
- Aside from sensual pleasure, the purpose seems to be that they intended to pollute and pervert the human line. Since Christ needed to be born into the human family and be fully human as well as fully God, a degenerate hybrid-humanity would have prevented Him from being our authentic representative on the cross. This is the reason, some hold, for God's sending the world-wide flood: to wipe out the polluted line and start over with Noah's family.
- 15. Do angels marry?
- No, this is clearly stated in Mark 12:25. It is commonly believed that angels do not procreate and are not a race.(4) (See also Matt. 22:30.) Generally they are portrayed as sexless apart from the difficulties mentioned in question 13.
- They are probably sexless in their basic nature but possibly able to assume a variety of forms, just as they are normally invisible but able to manifest themselves when they desire. (See also 2 Cor. 11:14-15.)
- Angels are referred to in the Scriptures by masculine word forms though neuter forms were available. They appear on earth as human males, but there is the possibility of a female angel in Zechariah 5:9.
- 16. What news did the Lord and two angels give Abraham?
- The Lord and two angels (also described as three men and the Lord and two men) announced that Sarah would have a son and that Sodom would be destroyed.
- 17. What happened when the two angels left and went to Sodom?
- The men of that city, not knowing that they were angels, asked Lot to send them outside so they could have sexual relations with them. The angels blinded the men and warned Lot and his family to leave the city because Sodom was about to be destroyed (Gen. 19:1-29).
- 18. What famous incident involved Jacob and many angels?
- In Genesis 28 Jacob had a dream of a ladder stretching from earth into heaven, and he saw angels ascending and descending on the ladder. In the dream God gave the land around Jacob to him and to his descendants and proclaimed "in you and in your descendants shall all the earth be blessed" (Gen. 28:10-22).
- 19. What is the meaning of this dream and promise?
- It was a reconfirmation of the Abrahamic covenant and indicated that the covenant would go through Jacob's line (not Esau's), that his descendants would be innumerable, and that wherever Jacob went God would be with him. It also looked forward to the coming of Christ through Jacob (Matt. 1:2).
- 20. What famous event involved Jacob and one angel? What happened?
- Jacob, while fleeing from his brother Esau, wrestled all one night with an angel and persisted until the angel blessed him. The angel blessed him by changing his name from Jacob, meaning "trickster," to Israel, which means "he who persists with God." The angel also crippled one of Jacob's legs as evidence that the struggle had really occurred and was not merely a dream. The wrestling figure is described as a man and as God in Genesis 32:24-30 and as an angel in Hosea 12:4. So, the angel was probably the preincarnate Christ.
- 21. What Old Testament character was greeted by the angel of the Lord by this statement, "The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior"?
- Gideon (Judges 6:11-12).
Angels in the Earthly Life of Christ
- 22. Angels were involved in Jesus birth in several ways. Can you identify all these events?
- The angel Gabriel (Luke 1:19) announced the coming birth of John the Baptist who would prepare the way for Jesus (Luke 1: 5-25). Gabriel also announced to Mary, who was a virgin, the miraculous coming birth of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38). An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him not to put Mary away but to marry her because the child she was carrying was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He was also told to name the child Jesus. When he woke up he did as the angel commanded him (Matt. 1:18-25). On the night of Jesus' birth, an angel announced the good news to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks. Then "suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God" (Luke 1:8-15).
- 23. Name the ways angels were involved in Jesus' life and teachings?
- After the coming of the magi, an angel warned Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt to avoid Herod's search for the child. After Herod's death an angel again appeared to Joseph. He told Joseph to return to Israel (Matt. 2:19-20). When Christ was in the wilderness for 40 days, Satan was tempting Him and the angels were ministering to Him (Luke 4:1-2; Mark 1:13). Jesus taught about angels (Luke 16:22) and about Satan and his demons (Luke 10:17-20). He cast out demons, and He gave the disciples power over demons (Luke 9:1, 37-42). Christ was strengthened by an angel in Gethsemane the night He was taken prisoner (Luke 22:43).
- 24. Immediately after He stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee, Christ was met at the shore by a man who claimed to be demon possessed. What evidence was there that the man was demon- possessed?
- He had been bound, but had superhuman strength and had broken away from all human restraints, even chains; he was naked and lived among the tombs, constantly gashing himself with stones while screaming and crying (Mark 5).
- 25. How many demons did he have? What happened to the demons?
- He said he had a legion, meaning literally several thousand. This was probably a figure of speech, but he doubtless had many demons. The demons begged not to be sent out of the country; Christ then sent them into some pigs grazing on a nearby mountainside, and the pigs ran over the cliff into the sea. This is one more evidence of Christ's total control over the demonic world (Mark 5).
- 26. How were angels involved after Christ's death?
- On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to visit the grave. Before they got there, "a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord had descended from heaven and rolled away the stone and sat upon it" (Matt. 28:2). Angels at the tomb announced that Christ was risen (Luke 24:4). Immediately after He ascended, two angels appeared and told the disciples that Jesus would return in the same manner that He had departed (Acts 1:10).
Angels in the Rest of the New Testament
- 27. What person was described as having the face of an angel?
- Stephen, a young man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, was taken before the Sanhedrin and charged with blasphemy. He began to preach. Then "fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel" (Acts 6:15). His sermon, however, so angered the Council that they stoned him (Acts 7:1-60).
- 28. Who was taken by an angel on a missionary journey? What happened?
- Philip was preaching in the villages of Samaria on his way to Jerusalem when an angel spoke to him and told him to go south on a road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza. When he arrived the angel told him to approach an Ethiopian eunuch sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah. Philip explained the passage to the eunuch and baptized him upon hearing his statement of faith in Christ. After they come out of the water, the angel snatched Philip away and set him down in another city where he continued preaching the gospel (Acts 8:25-40).
- 29. What is the attitude of the heavenly angels toward God's plan of salvation?
- There is great joy in heaven among the angels of God when a sinner repents and accepts Christ as Savior (Luke 15:10). They are clearly intrigued by what God is doing and long to know more (1 Pet. 1:10- 12). They observe with great interest the behavior of the church. In fact in a passage about orderliness in the worship (Christ submitting to God, men submitting to Christ, and wives submitting to their husbands), Paul concludes by writing that women in church should have a symbol of authority on their heads because of the angels (1 Cor. 11:1-10). There are different theories about what all this means, but it seems clear that our behavior is to be respectful to the angels present and perhaps even instructive to them. Remember that the sin of the fallen angels began with Satan's pride, his unwillingness to submit and his desire for prominence.
- 30. What individual was freed from prison by an angel?
- Simon Peter (Acts 12:3-10).
- 31. What did the angel do to free Peter?
- He appeared in the cell, struck Peter's side to wake him, caused his chains to fall off his hands, then told him to get up and get dressed, and to follow him. They passed several guards without being seen, then they came to the gate of the city, and it opened by itself. Then the angel vanished.
- 32. Is it possible for an angel to say or teach things contrary to the Scriptures or to God's will?
- Yes, in Galatians 1:8 Paul writes "Even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed."
- 33. Can angels be deceptive in other ways as well?
- Yes, 1 Timothy 4:1 states: "in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons (fallen angels)."
- 34. What Gentile man was told by an angel to send for Simon Peter?
- Cornelius, a righteous, god-fearing Centurion who gave alms to the Jews (Acts 10).
- 35. Why did the angel direct Cornelius to send for Simon Peter come to Cornelius?
- So Peter could tell Cornelius and his relatives and friends about salvation through Christ. And, so Simon Peter could see further evidence of how God was beginning a great wave of conversions among the Gentiles (Acts 9:32-11:30).
- 36. What happened?
- The Holy Spirit fell upon Cornelius and all those listening to Simon Peter's sermon. They began speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter had them all baptized.
Future State of the Angels and Demons
- 37. What future roles will the good angels have?
- They are sometimes involved in punishing unbelievers (Acts 12:23). They will act as reapers toward the end of the age (Matt. 13:39), be involved in the judgments of the Tribulation (Rev. 8, 9, 16), and live forever with the believers of all ages in the New Jerusalem.(5)
- 38. Will the good angels judge the actions of their former comrades, the fallen angels?
- No, believers in their glorified state will judge the fallen angels (1 Cor. 6:2-3). Christ will rule and the believers will rule under Him. Hebrews 2:5 states, "For He did not subject to angels the world to come."
- 39. What happens to the evil angels and Satan?
- The evil angels and Satan will finally be judged by God who will cast them into the lake of fire that burns forever (Luke 20:36; Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10).
1. C. Fred Dickason, Angels: Elect and Evil (Chicago: Moody, 1975), p. 13.
2. Merrill F. Unger, Demons in the World Today (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale, 1971), p. 10.
3. Dickason, pp. 58-61.
4. Ibid., p. 34.
5. Ibid., p. 108.