7. Angels and Devils: (Attributes, Characteristics, Features)
Angels are referred to at least 116 times in the Old Testament (KJV) and 175 times in the New Testament (KJV). The Devil is referred to 55 times (devils 61); in total 116 times throughout scriptures.
Angels are spiritual beings who act as messengers of God and were created by God to serve Him. In this section I address angels as: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good angels are the holy ones, the bad angels are the evil ones, which the Bible calls devils, and the ugly angels are devils disguising themselves as good angels.
The good angels have remained obedient to God and carry out His will, while others, fallen angels, disobeyed, fell from their holy position, and now stand in active opposition to the work and plan of God.
This study of Angels stands to remind us that we are not alone. While invisible to the naked eye, angelic spirits are real beings. Angels have the ability to transverse (cross over) from one dimension into another dimension (between heaven and earth) in order to carry out God’s assignments (Genesis 22:11-12; Matthew 1:20, 2:13; Acts 27:23). We may not be aware of it, but they encamp around us and rescue us (Psalm 34:7, 91:11).
(The Good Ones)
- An angel provided water for Hagar and her son in the desert (Genesis 16:7-11, 21:17).
- Angels rescued Lot and his family from wicked Sodom (Genesis 19:1).
- An angel went before Abraham’s servant in finding a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24:40).
- Angels appeared in Jacob’s dream of a ladder reaching to heaven (Genesis 28:12).
- The Angel of God guided the nation of Israel (Exodus 14:19, 23:20).
- An angel instructed Manoah and his wife on rearing their son, Samson (Judges 13:3-21).
- An angel brought food and water to Elijah and encouraged him (I Kings 19:5-7; II Kings 1:3,15).
- Isaiah saw angels when he encountered God (Isaiah 6:2-6).
- Just one angel killed 185,000 men of the Assyrian army in a single night (Isaiah 37:36).
- God’s angel shut the mouths of lions to protect Daniel (Daniel 6:22).
- Joseph received guidance and warnings from an angel in his dreams (Matthew 1:20, 24, 2:13, 19).
- An angel appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other women at the tomb (Matthew 28:2, 5).
- The angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias about the birth of his son John (Luke 1:11-19).
- Gabriel also appeared to Mary about the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38).
- Angels proclaimed Christ’s birth to the shepherds (Luke 2:9-15).
- Angels stirred the waters at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:4).
- An angel released the apostles from prison (Acts 5: 19).
- An angel directed Philip to the path of the Ethiopian eunuch so he could lead him to Christ (Acts 8:26).
- Cornelius received warning from an angel (Acts 10:3, 7, 22).
- In response to prayer, an angel rescued Peter from prison (Acts 12:4-11)
- An angel assured Paul that no lives would be lost in the shipwreck (Acts 27:23) .
- The Old Testament Law was given to men by angels (Galatians 3:19).
- An angel was involved in bringing a revelatory vision to John (Revelation 1:1, 22:8-9).
This should remind us that we are always under surveillance “because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Angels are not embodied.
As residents of heaven, angels do not possess human bodies. Rather, they are “ministering spirits” (Hebrews 1:14) with supernatural strength that is superior to that of humans (2Peter 2:11; Revelation 10:1, 18:1).
Some are said to have wings (Isaiah 6:2; Ezekiel 1:5-11; 10:5-2; Zechariah 5:9; Revelation 4:8) and can fly swiftly (Daniel 9:21). (See also the golden cherubim in Exodus 25:20; 37:9)
Within the created order, these spiritual creatures were fashioned above humans (Psalm 8:3-5).
Angels are not visible.
Under normal circumstances angels are invisible to the naked eye. However, these invisible and immortal creatures have unique abilities. There are numerous examples in the Bible in which angels temporarily took on a human form or appearance. In some cases, their form and divine apparel reveal a radiant, heavenly brilliance (Judges 13:6; Ezekiel 1: 13; Daniel 10:5-6; Matthew 28:2-4; Acts 10:30). At other times, an angel’s presence was not even noticed initially (Numbers 22:21-3,1).
Sometimes angels are indistinguishable from humans and have been mistaken for them (Hebrews 13:2). They are sometimes even described as men. Jacob was said to have wrestled with “a man” (Genesis 32:24), although this being was later identified as an “angel” (Hosea 12:4). Initially, Abraham’s three visitors were characterized as “men” (Genesis 18:2, 16). Later, however, two of them were referred to as “angels” (Genesis 19:1), even though the residents of Sodom, including Lot, at least initially thought these visitors were men (Genesis 19:4-5,8, 10). Some say the third “man” was a theophany (—an appearance of God in a tangible human form) or temporary manifestation of God, since He was called “the LORD” (Genesis 18:1,13,17,33). Keep in mind however no man has ever seen God literally, there is a truthful and more harmonious understanding of passages which speak in reference to the presence of God. (Ref: If No Man Has Seen God, Do The Scriptures Contradict?)
Angels do not marry.
Since they are not mortal and do not reproduce, angels do not engage in marital relationships. This is a significant argument against the idea of some who have claimed that “the sons of God” who “took them wives” and “bore children” before the Flood were actually angels (Genesis 6:1-4).
However, an even stronger argument against this erroneous idea exists in the verse of Scripture that reveals God’s anger was not directed against angels, but against men for God said, “My spirit shall not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3). Further, the Flood did not target and judge angels, but mankind. Apparently, the “sons of God” mentioned referred to the righteous seed and the “daughters of men” referred to the unrighteous descendants of Cain.
When the Sadducees, who denied the existence of angels (Acts 23:8), inquired of Jesus concerning the marital status of a deceased woman who had been successively married to seven brothers, each of whom died in turn, Jesus replied that those who are resurrected remain unmarried just “as the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:23-30). In this world people customarily marry (Luke 20:34); angels and resurrected saints never do (Luke 20:35-36).
Angels do not die.
With rare exceptions such as Enoch (Genesis 5:24), Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), and saints carried up in the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:17), everyone will die (Hebrews 9:27). Angels, however, are immortal. They are eternal spiritual beings immune from suffering death (Luke 20:36; Hebrews 2:9, 15-16).
Angels Were Originally Tested
In the Garden, the serpent tempted Adam and Eve, and they succumbed to the temptation. Consequently, they were punished and ejected from the beautiful garden (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:6, 16-24).
The angels also experienced a testing, or temptation. In Revelation’s dramatic account of the rebellion of Satan along with his angels, a heavenly war ensued and God expelled the forces of evil (Revelation 12:7-9). The Scriptures note that “a great red dragon” used his tail to draw “the third part of the stars of heaven” (Revelation 12:3-4).
This symbolic reference may in fact indicate that one-third of the angels sided with Satan. According to Jude, the angels who fell “kept not their first estate [or ‘their proper domain,’ NKJV], but left their own habitation” (Jude 6).
The vast majority of the angels remained committed to serving God. These are the wonderful, holy, and immortal creatures that we frequently meet in the pages of Scripture that are on our side and seek our best welfare. They are “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).
Heaven, the Headquarters of Angels
Angels may temporarily cross over into earth’s space-time reality, but their eternal home is heaven. There vast numbers of angels live, worship, and receive commands from God. According to Hebrews 12:22, the heavenly Jerusalem is populated by “an innumerable company of angels.” According to Revelation 5: 11-12, “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” of angels gather around the throne worshiping the Lamb. In his comments on this passage in the NIV Application Commentary on Revelation, Craig Keener notes that ten thousand is the largest number in the Greek language, so the number stated here (“ten thousand times ten thousand”) indicates a vast quantity of angels that is beyond calculation.
Angels directly encounter the immediate presence of God, something humans in their current state cannot do physically (Matthew 18:10; John 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 John 4:12). However, someday redeemed humans shall also enjoy this blessed experience (Job 19:26; Matthew 5:8; Revelation 22:4).
Angels And Their Worship Of God.
Angels are completely subject to Jesus and “all the angels of God worship Him” (Hebrews 1:6). In fact, ever since Jesus ascended into heaven and sat on the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers became subject to Him (I Peter 3:22).
Angels were designed to worship God and are our fellow servants (Revelation 7:11, 19:10, 22:8-9).
The Bible however makes clear that not all angles chose to worship and serve God. Many fell into rebellion, and these fallen angels continually work to promote sin and to counteract the saving influence of the gospel. These messengers of Satan attempt to hamper God’s plan, and they are enemies of truth.
Angels render service to Christians and do God’s bidding.
Angels are under the authority of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:22). They serve as His attendants and messengers, delivering divine judgments and decrees as well as protecting God’s saints from harm. Cherubims were dispatched, for example, to guard the entrance of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24), and an angel was prepared to slay the wayward prophet Balaam (Numbers 22:21-35).
Prompted by Daniel’s supplications, the angel Gabriel arrived to bring Daniel “skill and understanding” (Daniel 9:20-23). The same angel, Gabriel, later appeared to Zacharias, stating: “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings” (Luke 1:19). He announced that Zacharias would be temporarily struck with muteness because of his unbelief (Luke 1:20).
On another occasion, a different angel named Michael appeared to Daniel in a vision (Daniel 10:4-13). After explaining that he had been held up by the prince of Persia (Daniel 10:13), he revealed to Daniel the destiny of God’s people (Daniel 10:14). At other times, angels function as heavenly “tour guides,” leading prophets through visionary experiences and showing them the meaning of mysterious things (Zechariah 1:9-19; 2:3; Revelation 1:1; 10:8-11:1; 17:1; 21:9).
Hagar experienced two angelic visitations. The first announced Ishmael’s forthcoming birth, and the second brought comfort while Hagar and Ishmael wandered in the wilderness (Genesis 21:14-19). Angels visited Sodom before Lot’s rescue and the city’s destruction (Genesis 19:1), and an angel spoke to Abraham when he was about to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:9-18). Angels appeared to Jacob in Bethel on his way to Padanaram (Genesis 28:12), in a dream while in the region of Padanaram (Genesis 31:11), and upon his return to his homeland in a place-Jacob called Mahanaim (Genesis 32:1-2).
Angelic activity increased dramatically during the time preceding the birth of the Messiah (Matthew 1:20, 24; Luke 1:26-38) and His predecessor, John the Baptist (Luke 1:11-19). Angels also appeared during Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:9-15), infancy (Matthew 2:13, 19), temptation (Matthew 4:11; Mark 1:13), prayer at Gethsemane (Luke 22:43), resurrection (Matthew 28:2, 5; Luke 24:23; John 20:12), and ascension (Acts 1:10-11).
Angels were frequently involved during the ministry of the early church (Acts 5:19; 8:26; 10:3; 12:7-11, 23; 27:23-24). In addition, angels will play a major role in Christ’s second coming and the final judgment (Matthew 13:41,49-50; 16:27; 24:31; 25:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Revelation 18:21; 19:17; 20:1).
The Devil & The Demonic World
(The Bad & The Ugly)
As noted earlier, not all angels serve God; some are fallen angels and we cannot trust them.
Many believe the figure we call the devil; known elsewhere as Satan (I Chronicles 21:1; Job 1:6-12; Psalm 109:6; Mark 1:13), which means adversary (Strong’s Concordance), was first known as “Lucifer, son of the morning” (Isaiah 14:12). Lucifer means “light-bearer” and indicated the “shining one” or “morning star” (Strong’s Concordance). Though the passage in Isaiah originally referred to the pompous King of Babylon, by extension it depicted the devil himself.
Lucifer became lifted up with pride, saying in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14). Despite his arrogant claims to exalt himself over God, he was to be brought down very low (Isaiah 14:15).
Since the devil, which means “slanderer” or “false accuser” (Strong’s Concordance), was unsuccessful in his rebellion against God directly, he turned the main weapon in his arsenal (slander) against God’s people. .
The law strictly forbade the practice of making false claims against another (Exodus 20:16; 23:1). “The accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10) works overtime in the enterprise of character assassination, knowing that he does not have much time left (Revelation 12:12). He falsely accused Job of following God only because God protected him (Job 1:9-11; 2:4-5). While the devil and his followers may constantly accuse God’s people (2 Samuel 19:27; Acts 6:11-14; Romans 3:8; 2 Timothy 3:3; I Peter 3:16), God’s angels refuse to return accusations (2 Peter 2:11; Jude 9), and God prohibits His people from doing so (Psalm 101:5; Proverbs 10:18; Luke 3:14).
As the instigator and principal leader of a spiritual rebellion (“I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven,” Luke 10:18), the devil serves as the commander in chief of the forces of evil.
The devil has been sinning “from the beginning” (1 John 3:8). He is against righteousness and promotes hatred (1 John 3:10, 12). He and his followers commit various sins, including lust, murder, lying (John 8:44), and betrayal (John 13:2).
The devil is a liar. Being the father of lies, he diametrically opposes telling the truth. He chose not to remain in truth “because there is no truth in him” (John 8:44). Unfortunately, some have chosen to follow his “seducing spirits,” which teach “doctrines of devils” (1Timothy 4:1).
Throughout history, the devil and his agents have attempted to kill or oppress anyone who would work to further God’s purposes, including Abel (Genesis 4:8), Moses (Exodus 1:16, 22; 2:15), John the Baptist (Mark 6:24), Jesus (Luke 22:2; John 5:18; 7:1), Paul (Acts 14:19; 21:31; 23:15; 25:3), and Antipas (Revelation 2:13).
The World Of Devils
Devils (commonly referred to as Demons) are fallen evil spirits or angels who chose to follow the devil in his rebellion. Some may even preach a false gospel (Galatians 1:8), though outwardly they can seem like angels “of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
According to Jude 1:6, “for they kept not their first “estate” (— Vulgate translates, “their own principality,”) “but left their own habitation” (- left — on their own accord; their own — Greek, “their proper”; habitation — heaven, all bright and glorious, as opposed to the “darkness” to which they now are doomed.) Their ambitious designs seem (habitation, domain, position).
Together with Satan they comprise the hidden spiritual forces with which we must constantly contend: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Note: Those angels leaving their own habitaion is named as the sin, not the punishment; which seems to imply a descent from the region of heaven to that of earth.
Not only do God’s angels and fallen angels (angels and devils) oppose each other (Daniel 10:13; Revelation 12:7), but some angels fight for us and some against us; consequently we are engaged in a great spiritual conflict (Ephesians 6:12) and our main task is to refuse to yield any spiritual ground to the devil (Ephesians 4:27). We are to resist him (Ephesians 6:11; James 4:7).
Demons Are Permanently Set – There Is No Turning Back
Ultimately, demons are opposed to God and all He stands for. When the angels who fell chose to rally themselves with Satan, they eternally sealed their fate. There is no evidence in Scripture that demons ever will have an opportunity to be saved; rather, they will all face judgment and punishment (2 Peter 2:4). Demons have selected their course of action and for them there is no turning back.
Since the devil cannot directly injure God, he targets people. He is our “adversary,” who like “a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
The Book of James exhorts us to submit ourselves to God but to “resist the devil” (James 4:7). (See also I Peter 5:8-9.)
His demons oppress and even possess people, in some cases harming them physically as well as emotionally and spiritually (Matthew 17:15; Mark 9:22; Luke 9:39, 42). Thankfully, however, Jesus came to free and heal “all that were oppressed of the devil” (Acts 10:38).