Angelology (Study of Angels)

The word angel in English is a fusion of the Old English word engel (with a hard g) and the Old French angele. Both derive from the Latin angelus which in turn is the romanization of the ancient Greek ἄγγελος (angelos), "messenger",[1] which is related to the Greek verb ἀγγέλλω (angellō), meaning "bear a message, announce, bring news of," etc.[2]It is a translation of מלאך (mal'akh) in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh).[3]

There are many different types of angels. I believe everyone has a personal angel (aka guardian angel) who does so much more than just "guard" us. There is so much more they would like to do but they are limited by our unbelief. Then there are seraphim, cherubim, archangels, etc. Some angels are worshipping angels, before the throne of God in heaven and even in nature here on earth, some are warring angels, etc.

Angels are servants of God but we are sons of God with authority. Unfortunately many Christians spend most of their lives speaking to the demonic realm but they never speak with or know angels.

Several words for angels are used in Scripture, where they are also referred to as "holy ones" (e.g. Ps. 89:5,7) or "host," which is the Hebrew tsaba, "army, armies, hosts." Host or tsaba is a military term and carries the idea of warfare. Angels are referred to as the "host," which calls our attention to two ideas. First, it is used to describe God's angels as the "armies of heaven" who serve in the army of God engaged in spiritual warfare (Ps. 89:6, 8; 1 Sam. 1:11; 17:45). Second, it calls our attention to angels as a multitude of heavenly beings who surround and serve God as seen in the phrase "Lord of hosts" (Isa. 31:4). In addition, tsaba sometimes includes the host of heavenly bodies, the stars of the universe.[4]

Angels are also referred to as "sons of God" (e.g. Genesis 6:2; Job 1:6; 38:7). Genesis 6:2 tells us the "sons of God" took wives from among the "daughters of men." Some scholars suggest that "the sons of God" of Genesis 6:2 refer to the sons of the godly line of Seth and the "daughters of men" to refer to the ungodly line of the Cainites. Other scholars, in keeping with the use of "sons of God" in Job, believe the term refers to fallen angels who mated with the daughters of men to produce an extremely wicked and powerful progeny that led to the extreme wickedness of Noah's day. Most who hold to this latter view find further support in 2 Peter 2:4-6 and Jude 6-7. Still others believe they refer to powerful rulers. Ross writes, "The incident is one of hubris, the proud overstepping of bounds. Here it applies to "the sons of God," a lusty, powerful lot striving for fame and fertility. They were probably powerful rulers who were controlled (indwelt) by fallen angels. It may be that fallen angels left their habitation and inhabited bodies of human despots and warriors, the mighty ones of the earth.[5] Personally I believe "sons of God" refers to angels that were unique (they could obviously mate with women) and they fell (fallen angels). More information about them can be found in my demonology article.

Lastly, angels are referred to as "the Angel of the Lord," which refers to a unique angel that is considered by scholars to be a Theophany or Christophany, a preincarnate (before Christ's incarnation/birth) appearance of God, or in the latter case, Christ. "The angel is identified as God, speaks as God, and claims to exercise the prerogatives of God. Still, in some passages He distinguishes Himself from Yahweh (Gen. 16:7-14; 21:17-18; 22:11-18; 31:11-13, Ex. 3:2; Judg. 2:1-4; 5:23; 6:11-22; 13:3-22; 2 Sam. 24:16; Zech. 1:12; 3:1; 12:8). That the Angel of the Lord is a Christophany is suggested by the fact a clear reference to "the Angel of the Lord" ceases after the incarnation. References to an angel of the Lord in Luke 1:11; and 2:8 and Acts 5:19 lack the Greek article which would suggest an ordinary angel."[6] It is also clear from Scripture that there are "fallen angels," and they have been described by one Bible scholar (Ryrie) as the following: "The Scriptures clearly indicate two groups of fallen angels, one consisting of those who have some freedom to carry out Satan's plans, and the other who are confined. Of those who are confined, some are temporarily so, while others are permanently confined in Tartarus (2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6). The Greeks thought of Tartarus as a place of punishment lower than hades. Those temporarily confined are in the abyss (Luke 8:31; Rev. 9:1-3, 11), some apparently consigned there to await final judgment while others will be loosed to be active on the earth (vv. 1-3, 11, 14; 16:14)."[7]

Jude also speaks of an abode for angels, "And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day." While the meaning of this passage is debated, it does show us that angels not only have a domain or area of authority assigned to them, but a dwelling place. The most likely reference here is to the angels ("sons of God," cf. Gen. 6:4; Job 1:6; 2:1) who came to earth and mingled with women. This interpretation is expounded in the pseudepigraphical Book of Enoch (7, 9.8, 10.11; 12.4), from which Jude quotes in v. 14, and is common in the intertestamental literature and the early church fathers (e.g., Justin Apology 2.5). These angels "did not keep their positions of authority" (ten heauton archen). The use of the word arche for "rule," "dominion," or "sphere" is uncommon but appears to be so intended here (cf. BAG, p. 112). The implication is that God assigned angels stipulated responsibilities (arche, "dominion") and a set place (oiketerion). But because of their rebellion, God has kept or reserved (tetereken perfect tense) these fallen angels in darkness and in eternal chains awaiting final judgment." [8] (see demonologyfor more information).

As you can see, angelology is a somewhat difficult subject. Although angels are found throughout Scripture (in 34 books), there are a lack of explicit details as found with other subjects, so it is somewhat neglected in Bible and theological studies. However, there has been a surge in interest in this subject in the past few decades. In Newsweek's November 28, 1994 issue an article titled "In Search of the Sacred" observed that "20% of Americans have had a revelation from God in the last year, and 13% have seen or sensed the presence of an angel" (p. 54). Angels are servants of God, described in Hebrews as, "ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation" (Hebrews 1:14, see also Psalm 91:11 and Matthew 4:11).

I have had several encounters with angels, the most significant was when rock climbing in Kentucky several hundred feet up. I thought it would be an easy climb so I didn't use my protection (I had $2,000 worth of gear and ropes sitting at the rock floor). Then I got to a tough spot I could not get down from. I was stuck and scared to death! I slipped, fell backwards, and would have fallen over 200 feet to the rock floor below where I would have definitely died, but as I was falling back (and I remember this so vividly!), I was quickened to reach out and slap a hold on some "rock" that couldn't have been there before. It was absolutely amazing! I was able to continue climbing and got to the top without any other problems. Needless to say, I always used protection from then on!

More information on some other angels can be found on my demonology page. Another article on this subject can also be found at where parts of this article were quoted (see footnotes).


1. ἄγγελος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus project
2. Henry George Liddell; Robert Scott [1940, A Greek-English Lexicon; Machine readable text (Trustees of Tufts University, Oxford)] online, retrieved February 14, 2011.
3. "‏מַלְאָךְ," Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, eds.: A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament , p. 521.
4. J. Hampton Keathley, III. "Angelology: The Doctrine of Angels,", retrieved February 14, 2011.
5. The Bible Knowledge Commentary, OT, John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, Editors, Victor Books, Electronic Media, retrieved February 14, 2011.
6. J. Hampton Keathley, III. "Angelology: The Doctrine of Angels,", retrieved February 14, 2011.
7. Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, Victor Books, Wheaton, IL, 1987, chapter 17, electronic media, retrieved February 14, 2011.
8. Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, The Expositors' Bible Commentary, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, electronic media, 1997.

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